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Engineering: How to Find Conference Proceedings

About Conference Proceedings

Researchers often share information with their colleagues at professional conferences about their current and on-going work.  Information is typically delivered to audiences as formal oral presentations.  Many conferences publish the contents of presentations as proceedings, that is written accounts of the topics presented.  These works provide insights into on-going and cutting edge research, generally earlier than can be published formally in journals.  As such, conference proceedings are not peer-reviewed and often do not present a thorough analysis and discussion of research results.  However, they are an important source of information, especially in fast-paced technology fields such as engineering disciplines where research and development can advance more rapidly than the publication process.  Proceedings also provide information about who is working in various specialized areas.     

Searching for Conference Proceedings

Conference proceedings can be difficult to locate, either online or in print.  Often they have limited distribution, especially for smaller regional conferences.  A conference sponsor (e.g., professional society, academic institution, government agency, non-profit organization) may post proceedings for varying periods of time on their own website, or even limit distribution to printed copies provided to meeting attendees. 

Search Tips

Conference proceedings are also called Symposiums, Congresses, Colloquiums, Workshops, Meetings, Transactions, Papers, etc.  Try using a variety of these terms in your search string.  Truncate keywords using a wildcard (i.e., an asterisk) to search singular and plural forms at once (e.g., congress*). 

If you know the name of a conference, use unique terms from the name as KEYWORDS when searching sources.  Also try searching the conference name as an AUTHOR search.  Use an acronym for the sponsoring organization in your search (e.g., ASME, SME, ASCE, IEEE, ACM).

Include the date (year) of the conference as a KEYWORD.

If necessary, try to verify citation information using Google Scholar or the WorldCat library database.


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Databases with Conference Proceedings

Some library article databases index collections of Conference Proceedings.  Try searching the databases listed below.  Refine or filter your results by selecting a Source Type of Conference Proceedings or similar terms.

WorldCat Database

WorldCat (also available in the alphabetical listing of library article databases) includes catalog listings of books, monographs, media, and other publications from libraries worldwide.  Searching WorldCat can be helpful in verifying the correct name of a conference or the title of a proceedings.  WorldCat records will indicate what other libraries have copies of an item.  To borrow an item from another library, use the Interlibrary Loan service to initiate a request. 


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David Brown
Subjects: Tutorials


Do you have a citation for a conference proceedings paper but can't locate a copy by searching likely sources?  Use Interlibrary Loan and our library staff will try to locate a copy for you.