Are Conference Publications As Valuable As Journal Publications?

We all know the term “publish-or-perish” in academia. Publishing your work in a peer-reviewed journal with a high impact factor is a goal all academics strive for. Achieving this goal means a better chance of promotion, tenureship, and funding.

Conferences also serve as a means for the promotion of research, not only for presenting but also for publishing in conference proceedings. Are these publications worth anything to an academic?

Before you get accepted to present your work at a conference, you need to submit your work to the conference organizers. They will read your work and decide whether you will have a session at the conference in which you share your work with colleagues in your field. Consequently, a session could be in the form of a poster presentation, oral presentation or workshop style discussion. The format, however, will depend on the conference.

Presenting your Work at a Conference Boosts Your Career

Sharing your research with colleagues in your field has many advantages such as:

  • Networking
  • Practicing mock interview
  • Receiving feedback from other researchers in your field
  • Opportunities to publish in a journal after the conference (with permission requirements satisfied)
  • Collaborations
  • Opportunity to travel

Who Publishes Conference Proceedings?

The conference organizers have an editorial team that, as mentioned above, read the research submitted to them before they accept it. The accepted papers are collated into a book or journal known as the conference proceedings. The conference participants (and anyone else who may be interested) before or after the conference get a copy of these proceedings.

Elements of a Conference Paper

Things to consider when you write your conference paper:

  • Title: Your title should be catchy and give a clear indication of your focus.
  • Abstract: Your abstract should give a snap-shot of your work.
  • Style: Ensure your ideas flow uniformly throughout your paper.
  • Focus: Concentrate on one focus, rather than multiple ones as commonly done in a journal article.
  • Body: Give a brief background of your research and detail your methods and results, besides presenting your research in a logical order.
  • Conclusion: Conclude your paper with a takeaway message for the readers.

The Difference Between a Conference Publication and a Journal Publication

Conference publication Journal publication
Faster feedback Take longer to be published, hence the feedback received is slower.
Present work in progress Present completed work
Peer interaction Peer review
Lower impact factor Higher impact factor
Present new concepts and techniques that you are in the process of developing. Report on new concepts and techniques that have been validated by your experiments.

Conference or Journal Publication: Which is Better?

Peer-reviewed journal publications are given preference over conference proceedings when researchers read and cite research. Following factors will provide why:

  1. Journal articles contain completed research.
  2. They have undergone extensive review by experts in your field through a blind reviewing process.
  3. The journal has an impact factor to gauge the quality of the research.
  4. Institutions give credit to peer-reviewed articles.

Many researchers go on to publish the work that they presented at a conference in a journal publication. It is a useful route to take because conference attendees will comment on your presentation, ask questions and provide their input. The conference proceedings contain the first draft or your journal article. After the conference, you can tweak your experiments, add more data and reflect on your conclusion while taking the input you received from the conference into consideration.

Would you prefer to publish your research in conference proceedings or a peer-reviewed journal article? Do you think conference proceedings are a good stepping stone to publishing in a journal? Please let us know your thoughts in the comments below!

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