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A brief rant about conference proceedings

by uby
Tags: conference, proceedings, rant
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uby
#1
Feb12-12, 03:26 PM
P: 176
(Apologies if this topic is better suited for a different forum - please move if inappropriate.)

Conference proceedings are meaningless when evaluating a CV, as they are not peer reviewed. However, nearly all well regarded journals require exclusivity for the publishing of data (i.e., that it has not appeared in print in any form, including conference proceedings). As a result, the only work that should appear in a proceedings paper is the work in progress.

Given the fierce competition for funding and the ease with which some groups (particularly those in China) can scoop the results and publish/patent your ideas first, it would be wise to never publicly disclose your work in progress. Thus, the dilemma - how does one attend conferences where you are obligated to present your findings in a manuscript while at the same time preserving your ability to publish novel results in peer-reviewed journals?

Why must conferences continue this antiquated tradition? Wouldn't it make more sense for the conference to be an opportunity to speak about recently published/accepted-for-publication work (i.e., within 6 months of the abstract deadline) that has already been peer reviewed?? This would serve the true purpose of the gathering - dissemination of ideas, building new collaborations, etc. - without the expense of your professional work product (i.e., papers/patents). It would also assure quality of the presented content in a more robust manner than the current standards.

As you can tell, I am quite frustrated by my inability to be a speaking participant at major conferences due to the incompatible restrictions w.r.t. journals and public openness of the audience. I am simply unwilling to give incomplete accounts of my work for the presentation and accompanying paper - it is antithetical to how science should operate.
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Vanadium 50
#2
Feb13-12, 05:42 AM
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To first order, conference proceedings exist to provide a practice ground for students and postdocs to learn how to write papers. Deadlines are usually sufficiently late than a senior person has plenty of time to submit the paper first.
Cthugha
#3
Feb13-12, 06:32 AM
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P: 1,658
Indeed, no one really reads conference proceedings. As a consequence in our department we just do not write any conference proceedings anymore. At really rare occasions we write some for invited talks or when the conference proceedings publication could simultaneously be used as a final report of research done for some funding agency. However, I suppose that is a typical "German thing" and does not work that way for funding agencies in other countries.

However, although almost all conferences urge you to write proceedings, few really care in case you do not write anything.

ZapperZ
#4
Feb13-12, 07:15 AM
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A brief rant about conference proceedings

Quote Quote by uby View Post
(Apologies if this topic is better suited for a different forum - please move if inappropriate.)

Conference proceedings are meaningless when evaluating a CV, as they are not peer reviewed. However, nearly all well regarded journals require exclusivity for the publishing of data (i.e., that it has not appeared in print in any form, including conference proceedings). As a result, the only work that should appear in a proceedings paper is the work in progress.

Given the fierce competition for funding and the ease with which some groups (particularly those in China) can scoop the results and publish/patent your ideas first, it would be wise to never publicly disclose your work in progress. Thus, the dilemma - how does one attend conferences where you are obligated to present your findings in a manuscript while at the same time preserving your ability to publish novel results in peer-reviewed journals?

Why must conferences continue this antiquated tradition? Wouldn't it make more sense for the conference to be an opportunity to speak about recently published/accepted-for-publication work (i.e., within 6 months of the abstract deadline) that has already been peer reviewed?? This would serve the true purpose of the gathering - dissemination of ideas, building new collaborations, etc. - without the expense of your professional work product (i.e., papers/patents). It would also assure quality of the presented content in a more robust manner than the current standards.

As you can tell, I am quite frustrated by my inability to be a speaking participant at major conferences due to the incompatible restrictions w.r.t. journals and public openness of the audience. I am simply unwilling to give incomplete accounts of my work for the presentation and accompanying paper - it is antithetical to how science should operate.
I'm puzzled. The conference that I attend makes NO REQUIREMENT that one submits a paper to the proceedings. In other words, I'm not obligated to submit anything to the proceedings. Are the conferences you attend REQUIRE such a thing? How can they enforce it? After all, the conference is over and all you have to do is not submit anything. They can't force you to write something, can they?

Quote Quote by Cthugha View Post
Indeed, no one really reads conference proceedings. As a consequence in our department we just do not write any conference proceedings anymore. At really rare occasions we write some for invited talks or when the conference proceedings publication could simultaneously be used as a final report of research done for some funding agency. However, I suppose that is a typical "German thing" and does not work that way for funding agencies in other countries.

However, although almost all conferences urge you to write proceedings, few really care in case you do not write anything.
It isn't true that no one reads conference proceedings. Until recently, the accelerator physics field relies A LOT on conference proceedings from various PACs , LINACs conferences, and AAC (Advanced Accelerator Concepts) workshops. In fact, the accelerator community has created a JACoW page where conference proceedings from this various conferences are centralized. In fact, these are the quickest and most up-to-date means of getting information from various parts of the community.

Furthermore, it isn't true that all conference proceedings are not refereed. I've been to several in which I had to referee conference proceedings.

Zz.
Cthugha
#5
Feb13-12, 07:34 AM
Sci Advisor
P: 1,658
Quote Quote by ZapperZ View Post
It isn't true that no one reads conference proceedings. Until recently, the accelerator physics field relies A LOT on conference proceedings from various PACs , LINACs conferences, and AAC (Advanced Accelerator Concepts) workshops. In fact, the accelerator community has created a JACoW page where conference proceedings from this various conferences are centralized. In fact, these are the quickest and most up-to-date means of getting information from various parts of the community.
Ok, my personal field of experience is in the range of semiconductor physics and a bit of optics. In most subfields within these disciplines the methods of getting very recent research have once been conference proceedings, but most moved on to using ArXiv preprints for rapid distribution of results. Especially as conference proceedings are not always open access and few institutes are interested in paying for access to these proceedings.

Of course I cannot speak for other branches of physics.


Quote Quote by ZapperZ View Post
Furthermore, it isn't true that all conference proceedings are not refereed. I've been to several in which I had to referee conference proceedings.
Definitely true, I also had to referee proceedings a few times. But from my experience these are not refereed as rigorously as common journal publications are. However, that might also differ from field to field.
uby
#6
Feb13-12, 09:25 AM
P: 176
Quote Quote by ZapperZ View Post
I'm puzzled. The conference that I attend makes NO REQUIREMENT that one submits a paper to the proceedings. In other words, I'm not obligated to submit anything to the proceedings. Are the conferences you attend REQUIRE such a thing? How can they enforce it? After all, the conference is over and all you have to do is not submit anything. They can't force you to write something, can they?
Zz.
Most conferences in my field have proceedings given at the conference. The manuscript must be submitted and accepted well in advance of the presentation, usually a month or so after abstract acceptance. For those that do proceedings after the meeting, papers presented are obligated to goto the conference venue unless given written permission otherwise.
ZapperZ
#7
Feb13-12, 10:43 AM
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The ONE clear evidence that we can gather so far is that there is a WIDE variety of conferences for a WIDE variety of physics fields.

This makes generalization of ANY kind to be impossible. So one simply cannot make any claims about conference proceedings that would be valid somewhere else. And that is what I tried to address here and why the original post is not an accurate reflection of any and all proceedings.

Zz.


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