Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Wednesday search challenge (4/3/13): How to find the conference proceedings?

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. 

Search on! 


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.


  1. First search was ["User Interface and Software Technology Conference" 2012]. Not much I could use here other than the fact that UIST is the common name for the conference and ACM Press publishes their papers.

    Next did a search [UIST proceedings 2012] and came up with: Not much useful info wise but felt like searching within the site was a good direction.

    Next search was { papers 2012] and got this page:

    Again, not much useful question wise but noticed this text: All CCS 2012 papers are accessible at ACM digital library during the conference at the following link.

    I clicked the link and was brought to: Not exactly what I wanted but then decided to search

    From there, I could search by the ACM publications including proceedings. Scrolling to User Interface... and they have all of the conference proceedings. Clicked on 2012 ( and then on Table of Contents and was able to get a listing of the sessions with links to .pdfs of each. From there you can buy the article.

    I'm not sure if you were looking for free access or not, so I'm stopping there. One can access the previous four years from the same site.

    Total time was about 15 minutes although I feel like I didn't provide exactly what you were looking for.

    The triple extra credit will have to wait until I am less busy :)

  2. I'm almost sure I'm missing something because I found all 3 answers in very short time with a very obvious method.

    Anyway, here it goes:

    [ proceedings synonyms ] to access a site I use all the time,, because English is not my first language and I assumed that could be said in different ways; not many, in fact, as I found out. Anyway, chose "acta" as a possible alternative

    [ user interface and software technology conference proceedings OR acta ]. I purposely chose not to include the year, because I might find the answer to question (2) which includes the answer to question (1). In fact there it was, apparently, as guessed from the snippet on the 6th search result: Proceedings of the 2011 ACM Symposium on User Interface .... These are the proceedings' abstracts for the 2011 conference, including all links for the whole papers. It also includes links to every other year's proceedings since 1988.

    For question (3), [ American Society for Information Science and Technology annual conference proceedings OR acta ] gave me as 3rd result Conference Proceedings | › Publications. This is the front page of the Conference Proceedings for years 2009..2012. Through a series of easy steps, you'll be given the 2012 Detailed Conference Program, which includes links to all the papers. The same applies, probably, to all other years (I haven't checked this).

    So, this took me a couple of minutes, not including the time to write this answer.

  3. searched for [User Interface and Software Technology Conference proceedings 2009..2012]

    seems that everything can be found at

    5 minutes

  4. think I found the proceedings relatively quickly - this seemed to be handy for all the ACM conference proceedings:
    ACM digital library
    ACM home
    ASIST info
    am curious why you used a "23. November 1969 RIGGS LIBRARY STACKS, THIRD FLOOR, SOUTH WING - Georgetown University, Healy Building" as the illustration for the question today?
    it does have a distinctive railing -
    Riggs stacks
    a more genteel Riggs
    it's not about The Exorcist is it? or is it a cast iron fascination? ~ an hour of looking about... now I need to find a priest... hard to type with my head spinning.
    Healy Hall

    1. a little Hoya Saxa/Jesuit addition - was the colleague you mentioned from Georgetown... or even the Vatican? (plenty of research going on there.)
      The long time tradition of campus hijinks - think MIT, for example, but $9k in damages seems a bit excessive -- it's all fun until someone dies or undergoes an exorcism.
      Healy hands
      ominous Healy
      Warner Brothers
      who knew the Jesuits had a foothold in Qatar and now VC?
      VCL resource
      always enjoy some of the other places your questions lead to...

    2. Why that particular photo? Mostly because it was a nice-looking photo from a .GOV site, so I knew it was almost certainly copyright free. No other Georgetown connection expressed or implied. (And certainly no Jesuitical connection as well!)

  5. Easy as pie! 1 minute. I copied the name of the conference, pasted it into a Google search box, put quotation marks around it, and voila! The fifth hit was for, which I assume is the sponsoring organization, although I didn't take the time to verify that. They have a listing of the papers with links to the full text, and the same for previous years back to 1988. The same strategy worked for ASIS&T

  6. Good Day Dr. Russell


    "User Interface and Software Technology Conference" papers 2012

    Page shows previous UIST

    "Interface and Software Technology Conference"
    There clicked in Previous and in UIST archive.

    [ACM Digital Library]

    Here we can read the abstracts from 2012.

    [American Society for Information Science and Technology] There found digital library

    [Asis annual conference papers]


    Only found abstracts. Full view requires to buy it.

    Papers except for 2011


    Have a great week, Dr. Russell and fellow Researchers.

  7. (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 A ND 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. 
    What do I know?
    Conference papers will be available digitally.
    Dan Russell attended, may have a link
    Year 2012, date and location, do I need it?
    Scholar journals
    Find the 2013 conference and look for archives.

    Terms needed-- collection of conference papers,
    Query [ User Interface and Software Technology Conference 2013]
    Result ---
    Complete archive up to including 2010. Tempting to stop here but...
    Have to do specific search for 2011 and 2012
    Link...ACM for 2011
    Link ACM for 2012
    15 minutes preplan. 15 minutes search.

  8. This is the 25th conference. All the papers are at the acm digital library but you do have to pay.
    I searched in Google first which gave me acm. I also found a Usist archive which seemed to have older papers for free.
    I then tried Google books for confirmation that the conference was right and maybe a preview. No preview.
    Went back to acm and found isbn of conference.
    Searched Worldcat for isbn but only link is back to acm digital which didn't surprise me.
    So while you can get the older papers free online- for 2012 you have to pay. And as it was never published in paper you can't borrow a copy either - unless a nice person who attended will loan you theirs!!!
    As a librarian this was an interesting and typically frustrating search. I occasionally get asked for conference papers and they can be a real pain to find. (try orthopaedic conference from 1972 for a real challenge ;)
    And don't get me started on epubs ahead of print or publishers who charge fortunes for access to publicly funded research.
    This was interesting though if a bit of a busman's holiday for me.

    1. It is great to have a librarian here because you have first hand experience. I must admit that I just got lucky when I did verified that the .pdf file could be downloaded for free. I downloaded a couple papers but I now see they were from the 2008 Conference. It may have been only some of the papers authorized by the specific authors. I now see the more current conferences require payment for each article.

      I wanted to mention in general comments that I did search for videos and I had a look at Google Plus for any UIST references. I found some links but not any complete works. Mind you I don't know my way around Google+ but I am learning.

      Also I noticed a keynote speaker at a UIST conference by the name of Daniel Russell one year, I don't recall the year at the moment, could it be our Dr. Dan? If so, well done.

    2. Be sure to read through the answer. There's a Scholar trick to finding freely accessible versions of (many of) the papers.

      BTW -- I wasn't the keynote speaker at UIST that year. I was merely the introducer for David Woods, who WAS the keynote speaker! (For the record, I have done many keynotes in my life, just never at UIST.)

  9. Dr. Russell it is great and new for me to know about "conference proceedings". Thanks for doing this SearchResearch Challenge! Now I will learn more.

  10. First I googled ["User Interface and Software Technology Conference"]. This post was the top result, so I knocked 'conference' off, and found the webpage for the 2013 UIST Symposium ( They have the UIST archive in the header links, and clicking on '2012' and the sidebar link to 'Program' will bring you to a list of the panels and papers by day, with links to the available papers next to them (

    I also found the Adjunct Proceedings for UIST Symposiums by googling [UIST symposium] and following the third link down ( From there I could find the right year, and access the full text article for many of the other presentations that didn't have a direct link on the UIST archive page (eg the article titled 'Synchrum: a tangible interface for rhythmic collaboration').

    I'm accessing this through a university library portal, so haven't encountered some of the access problems of other commenters (presumably my library has a database subscription that covers ACM Digital Library).

    Estimated time: 10 minutes to find, with another 5-10 to be sure I'd found the right papers.

  11. A quick search for the conference title and filetype PDF showed several files that highlighted the conference title was shortened to UIST and was run by ACM. Most conference papers can be found on conference sites after the conference these days so searched for UIST 2012 conference. This took me to list of conference sites
    Quite often after a conference is over papers are linked to the program
    However in this case they are not free unless you are lucky enough to work for an institution that has a subscription to the ACM Digital Library.
    At this point (if I didn’t have access) I would look for a paper I was interested in by searching for the paper title in Google Scholar. Many Universities push open access these days so I may be lucky enough to find an open access copy and if not I would email the author as they will usual happily supply a copy.

    Part 2
    To get a clean list of all papers and DOI’s simply click on any record from above record to go through to the ACM Digital Library (free as long as you don’t download anything) and select the Table of Contents Tab below the article data from here you can also go to previous proceedings and get a similar list.

    Total Time 15 mins