In this blog post I will explain why conference proceedings are increasingly important in disciplines such as computer science. Find out more about the role of conference proceedings for researchers and why they play a critical role in computer science below.
So, what are conference proceedings?
Proceedings are not a book of abstracts. Papers in conference proceedings contain original/primary research results, published as full or short papers. These papers are peer reviewed by the conference program committee, normally using single- or double-blind peer review. Some communities are experimenting with open or transparent peer review, but to date the uptake has been slow.
Most of the conferences prefer to have their proceedings published before the conference, to guarantee a timely record of the research presented. Some conferences like to carry out an additional round of reviewing after the event, or to give authors the opportunity to update their papers with the insights they have gleaned from the meeting. In these cases, the proceedings are published after the event.
In Springer Nature’s computer science editorial group, we select conferences for publication using the editorial boards of or via trusted partner societies. We look at the topics, people involved, past history, and the peer review process.
In which disciplines do researchers publish in conference proceedings?
Let us look at the numbers from Scopus (11 October 2019), which I chose for two reasons. First, it does a great job of indexing conference papers, even if they appear in journals or books; second, the coverage of conference proceedings in the Web of Science is less predictable, with fewer proceedings covered.
Note that Scopus assigns the same paper to several categories, so most computer science papers appear in the engineering or mathematics categories as well.
And, using SpringerLink to compare how this overall picture compares with the distribution of topics at Springer, we see:
As you can see the top areas in both databases are computer science, engineering, physics, and mathematics.
Proceedings in computer science
Authors of primary research in computer science often favor conference proceedings over journals because the format helps them get their work out to the global community faster. In fact, conferences are pivotal to the entire research lifecycle in this field, with the commissioning process, ongoing exchange of ideas, and publishing schedules closely tied to large international events. When we analyzed primary research in computer science in Scopus for 2012-2016 we found that 63% of original research results are published in conference proceedings, with only 37% published in journals.
In a viewpoint published in Communications of ACM, Lance Fortnow explains that computer science emerged in the 1950s as a new field. It was easier to start from scratch in terms of how research was communicated, and the conference system therefore developed as a vehicle for the rapid dissemination of research papers through conference proceedings, fast reviews, and community get-togethers. It was natural that publishers and societies then started publishing the resulting conference proceedings, and that these are recognized as valuable contributions to the field. In 2013, for example, the ACM Distinguished Service Award was given to Gerhard Goos, Juris Hartmanis, and Jan van Leeuwen, the founding editors of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science (LNCS) series.
Conference proceedings play a key role in the dissemination of research results in computer science and electrical engineering. Serving on program committees, reviewing papers, and publishing in proceedings has significant benefits for one’s career as a scientist. In recognition of this, and in order to better track conferences and related scientific activities, in 2018, Crossref and DataCite launched a Working Group on Persistent Conference IDs and CrossMark for proceedings. Stay tuned for more updates on this vibrant field!
Below you can find some conference proceedings highlights around topics in the field of computer science, such as medical image computing, computer vision, cryptology and data mining:
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