Thursday, April 4, 2013

Answer: How to find the conference proceedings?

The simplest way to start this quest is by just looking around a bit to see where the canonical version of the proceedings resides.  So I started with the easiest possible query:

     [ “user interface software and technology” ]

I put it in double quotes because these are all very common words that will often appear in nearly this sequence.  But I wanted EXACTLY this sequence of words--hence the double quotes. 

This is what I found. 

shows us quickly that this is an ACM (Association for Computing Machinery) conference, and that the website for this organization is in the /UIST directory.  

If you then click on the “More results from >>” button:

Note that what this does it to add the filter to the query.  Handy. 

What’s great about this set of results, though, is that since they use words like "archive" in their URLs, it’s pretty clear they’ll have a collection of the proceedings.  So I added the term proceedings to my original query:

     [ “user interface software and technology” proceedings ]

This is pretty darn close to what I was looking for—a complete listing of the all the proceedings. 

Pay attention to what happens if you click through on one of those "Proceedings" link, you'll see: 

This is the top-level entry at the ACM Digital Library page for the UIST conference.  As you'll see, there's a wealth of information here.  Excellent work. 

But first, let's check to see what we can find at Google Scholar.  Can we get to the papers via open access?  

If we go to Scholar and do the query:

     [ "user interface software and technology” proceedings ]

what we get are the papers from the conference (not the master collection of papers for each conference).  Why?  Because each paper has in its citation list a mention of "proceedings of the User Interface Software and Technology conference."  

However, notice the [PDF] from on the right column?  That’s a link to an openly accessible copy of the paper.  That is, if you find that link there, you don’t need to be a member of the ACM to be able to read the paper.  (This is a very useful trick to remember:  authors frequently put out pre-publication versions of their articles for just this reason.  They’re not the copyrighted version, but usually an earlier version for colleagues and students to refer to.)  This might not get you 100% of all the papers published in a proceedings, but in some communities (e.g., the UIST community), they're mostly out there.  

To pop back to our task for a second, if we’re still looking for an easy way to find ALL the proceedings, we can just click through to the proceedings page at the ACM Digital Library (DL), then click on the “Table of Contents” tab, and find that they’ve handily linked the preceding and next proceedings to each of the adjoining conferences! 

For the extra credit problem, the one extra trick to employ is to figure out what THEY call themselves on the web.  In this case, doing a search for “American Society for Information Science and Technology” shows you that they’re called ASIS and their content resides at the site.  The same procedure illustrated above will get you to their contents as well. 

Search lessons:  When you're looking for a collection of proceedings (say, an archival collection), it's often useful to figure out what organization is hosting the conference.  In this case, it was the ACM.  So, looking in the ACM Digital Library is awfully handy.  In this case, they provide a previous/next way to walk through the collection from beginning to end.  

On the other hand, if you want the master list of all the links to all the proceedings, then a conference specific title search (with double quotes) and a context term like "proceedings" will get you want you need.  

Search on! 


  1. Hi Daniel.

    You write:

    ...authors frequently put out pre-publication versions of their articles for just this reason. They’re not the copyrighted version, but usually an earlier version for colleagues and students to refer to.

    Please note that many society publishers--including ACM--allow authors to retain copyright of their work if they choose to do so.

    This may seem trivial, but it's important that authors know their rights.

    I enjoy these posts.

    1. Thanks... that's an excellent reminder that policies DO vary from conference to conference. (FWIW, I believe this was not always true with the ACM. They changed their policy a few years back, and I have no idea what this means for older works that were (are?) owned by the ACM.)

      Also worth knowing, in *general*, journals are much more restrictive about copyright ownership. That's what the big brouhaha is these days about open access. I just had a fight with a publisher who wanted me to pay $3500 if I wanted my article to be "open access." Long backstory there, but that just seemed like moneygrubbing to me.

  2. Thanks for the explanation, as always.

    You got me confused with your mention of "". :) After trying to search for this university, I finally dropped the edu and found out what it meant.

    I had no idea that "foo" was the word used by programmers to represent "something" (a "metasyntactic variable", a computer-specific placeholder name, as Wiktionary and Wikipedia inform). Now I feel myself to be a J. Random Loser. ;)

  3. That's right--foo (bar, and baz) are all metasyntactic variables. Good point. But now you're one of the literati!

  4. Good day Dr. Russell Scholar trick is excellent. Yesterday I searched in Google Scholar without site and found nothing like what you found. Thanks for this new trick.

    Have a great day!

    1. I thought about using Scholar but got on another track. Neat trick. I actually went back to see if any 2013 papers were accessible and yes I found 10 pdf files. The other aspect of this search reinforced the importance of knowing the lingo. My experience with conferences like UIST is so limited so terms like proceedings, adjunct, bibliometrixs etc. are quite foreign to me.
      This challenge got me thinking about "what is a scholar journal" so I did a quick search and found this webpage (being in Canada it's what popped up for me). I found it very interesting and it may help me in the future.

    2. Hi Rosemary!!

      I agree with you. Lingo was new for me too in this challenge. And, that it is our advantage: We learn more, new things and we can go many times to stuff that others maybe wouldn´t look because they know the topic.

      Thanks for sharing your url in Scholar journal. All the best!

  5. a bit off subject: first, thanks LMV for clearing up the foodot mystery I was in the dimerati camp (also took a bit to sort out Guionista) being Irish, I associated it(foo) with 'kin'&'ball".
    DrD - just wanted you to know eastcoast G'town clockhands and MIT hacks don't have a corner on the prank realm... Stanford is right there too (Google does a pretty good job in the private sector too)
    •• •• ••
    S engineering
    meanwhile @ MIT
    43 Google

  6. Ah - good to know I didn't miss anything. Professional pride remains intact.
    If I had been doing this search for "real", I would have used scholar to look for specific articles as free PDFs.
    But really, really don't get me started on moneygrubbing publishers!