When you’re tackling a new field for the first time, a great way to get an overview of an area is to survey the collected works in that area. In many scientific and technical fields, people hold conferences and workshops to meet, talk over what’s happening, and swap stories about what’s working (and who has funding).
And so an excellent way to get a quick overview of a field (or even a deep understanding, depending on how much time you have) is to read through a collection of conference papers from a recent meeting. Yes, you can read through a journal in the area, but journal articles are often long, written to excess, and usually deeply embedded in the scientific culture—difficult to read without a ton of background.
By contrast, conference proceedings are often more accessible, with a broader range of topics and writing styles.
But how do you find such a collection?
It used to be that conferences would publish hardcopy proceedings—a collection of all the papers accepted to the conference that year. A largish conference (say, 3,000 – 5,000 attendees) would produce a 600 – 1000 page book big enough to stun an ox if you swung it at the head end. You can still find these proceedings at university libraries where they take up a huge amount of shelf space.
But for the past several years, conferences have been publishing mostly online. Conference attendees frequently get a CD or DVD with all of the papers (and videos!) so they can read them while at the conference. (This is incredibly handy, by the way. It’s changed the way I attend conferences.)
This past week I had a colleague at a well-known university asked me a question about how to find these collections. This is a natural SearchResearch question that I’ll pose to you:
(1) I’m looking for all of the papers published in the User Interface and Software Technology Conference from 2012. How can I get a complete listing of all the papers AND access to the papers for reading?
For extra credit:
(2) How can I get a complete listing of all the papers from this conference for the past 4 years? (Is there any clean way to do that?)
As usual, please tell us HOW you found the answer (so we can all learn from your search insights) and HOW LONG it took you to figure this out.
For triple credit by the truly committed:
(3) Same question (past 4 years of papers) from the American Society for Information Science and Technology annual conference.