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Grey literature

What are conference proceedings?

Conference proceedings are a collection of abstracts and papers presented at conferences. They often present preliminary research findings and the full results may be published in a journal some time later.

Not all conferences publish proceedings. Proceedings that are published may be part of a book, a special issue of a journal, free on the web, or distributed to conference attendees only.

Commonly used synonyms for conference include:

  • Symposium
  • Seminar
  • Forum
  • Congress
  • Convention
  • Assembly
  • Colloquium
  • Panel
  • Meeting
  • Workshop
  • Roundtable

Why are they important?

Conference proceedings may contribute valuable insights into a particular field of research and should be considered when undertaking a comprehensive literature review, particularly in science and health.

The publication process for conference proceedings is normally shorter than for journals so they can provide insights into industry and discipline trends, as well as point to the most current research/studies/trials in a particular field.

The information disseminated through conference proceedings is often not reported anywhere else, or at least not for some time.

The papers presented at a conference have typically been accepted following a review process, however, not all published proceedings are peer reviewed so it is important to assess the quality of the conference.  Criteria to consider:

  • Impact of previous papers (through citation counts)
  • History or longevity of the conference
  • Relationship to industry (sponsors)
  • Submission and acceptance rates
  • Credentials of the conference committee members

How do I find conference proceedings?

Click the images below for larger view.

Screenshot of conference proceedings in findit


  1. Enter your search. Consider adding the keyword conference, or a synonym, to your search.
  2. Filter by Resource Type. You may need to click Show More to find the relevant filter.
  3. Select Conference Proceeding.


Consider filtering your results further, by Publication Date and Discipline for example.

Most conference papers will be part of a journal or a published proceeding. Full-text of the published proceedings may not be available via FiNDit but there are other ways you can get access (check out the other tabs in this section), so don't apply the Full Text Online filter or you will miss these.

Click the images below for larger view.

Scopus is a major databass that index conference proceedings and provide access to the abstracts, but not the full-text. Use the abstract to determine whether or not you should pursue access to the full-text.

If something looks relevant, try the Check for Full Text option. If that doesn't work, check out the info in this section under Google and Still can't find it?

Sreenshot of a Scopus search

  1. Enter your search
  2. Open the Limit options
  3. Select Conference Paper from the Document Type list
  4. Click Search

Some proceedings may be freely available online. Start by searching the conference website because many organisations provide details of past (and future) conferences here and this may include the full-text of papers. Sometimes you might only find the abstract or presentation slides.

Not sure what conferences might be of interest?

  1. Try a web search within your broad discipline area, e.g. "biomedical science" conferences
  2. Explore conference directories:

Postgraduate students and academic staff can request items via document delivery. Submit a request if you can't find what you are looking for after searching the Library's resources and the web. 

Contact your Liaison Librarian if you have further questions about how to find conference proceedings.

How do I reference conference proceedings?

The University Referencing Guide has examples for published conference proceedings and unpublished paper presentations (i.e. collected or viewed at the conference).

The APA Style Blog has further examples that may be relevant.