Publishing formats and media
Statement: It is understood that professional scholarly associations frequently publish print and CD-ROM versions of conference proceedings to honor subscriptions with libraries and to partially recoup conference costs through post-conference single sales. However, when possible, online access through a standard searchable, browsable web portal is preferred to both print and CD-ROM access. Within the online portal, articles should be browsable by date, author(s), title, panel, and subjects or keywords. In terms of article formats, PDF format is prefered over HTML format due to the need to provide accurate tables and graphs of data, which is especially important in science and technology fields.
Rationale: Given that most conference papers are submitted to the conference in electronic formats, it makes sense that they be accessible to researchers in an electronic format. Furthermore, accessing materials in print or CD-ROM can be inconvenient to patrons who can not or will not make it to the physical library. In addition, publishing conference proceedings in print format introduces a significant time lag between when the research is presented and when it is actually seen by other scholars. This time lag is detrimental to scholarship in the sciences and technology, where timely access to research results is at a premium.
Best Practice Examples:
Large professional associations:
ACM (Association for Computing Machinery): The ACM Digital Library provides an easily browsable, alphabetical list of conference abbreviations, as well as providing searching capability for sponsor names, location and conference year. Conferences are also browsable by year within the record for each conference.
AIAA (American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics): The AIAA Research Library enables the researcher to search the full text all meeting papers by keyword. In addition, one can search papers by title, author, author affiliation, conference title, AIAA paper number, reference number, ISBN number as well as limit by date range. All papers are available in PDF format.
IEEE: IEEE Xplore allows one to browse conference titles either alphabetically or by keyword (which is really nice when the conference name has changed in significant ways over the years, but still includes some keyword like "Imaging"). Within the entry for a particular conference, one can do a keyword search through the full text, all fields, document title, author, or abstract. In addition, if one searches Google, one frequently will retrieve citations to relevant IEEE conference papers. Papers are available to subscribers in PDF format.
Association for Business Communication:
All conference proceedings freely downloadable from 2003 onward via: http://www.businesscommunication.org/conventions/procedings.html
Proceedings are in PDF format. There are no search options, however. Conferences are browsable by year. Within each conference, one can browse by panel. A keyword search for one of the papers in Google retrieved a direct link to the paper at this site. So the site appears to be indexed by Google to some extent.
International Workshop on Grid Computing Environments: http://library.rit.edu/oajournals/index.php/gce/index
On this site, sponsored by RIT Libraries, one can browse the 2006 and 2007 conference proceedings by issue, author, and title. Papers are searchable by those fields, and as well as by abstract and full text. A keyword search for one of the papers in Google found a link to the author page in this site. So the site appears to be indexed by Google to some extent.
Engineering Conferences Online (ECO): http://eco.pepublishing.com/home/main.mpx
Open access engineering conference portal sponsored by the Professional Engineering Ltd publishing branch of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers. Currently, only conference proceedings available on this site are from the 19th International Conference. CAPE 2005: Computer-Aided Production Engineering. Papers from this conference are available in PDF format and each has a digital object identifier or DOI. One can search keywords in "all text", conference series, conference name, venue, organizer, paper title, abstract, author, and by date. Note that a keyword search in Google for several of the papers in this proceedings did not retrieve any links to this website, so it appears not be indexed by Google. This site is a good model, though, for what is possible in terms of archiving conference proceedings online in an open access model.
comment (Ed) 2.2.09: I've found several smaller engineering conferences that do post their proceedings online in a browsable format. Some are indexed by Google but not all. See what you think, Tracy.
comment (Tracy): In the best practice examples - would it be helpful to include a smaller society or an independent conference that does a good job of this? - Good Idea Tracy - I'll look for this. - Ed E.