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University Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

How to Find Conference Proceedings

This guide will help you search for conference proceedings.

What are Conference Proceedings?

Proceedings are the official records for professional meetings of organizations, such as conferences and workshops. Proceedings can be an important source of information, and are many times the most current available on particular research or topics.

They are published in many forms, including articles, books, or parts of a series. Some papers may be edited and re-published in other books or journals.

Note: Not all conferences publish proceedings, and not all published proceedings, are peer-reviewed. Also, not all journals that have the word "Proceedings" in their titles are conference proceedings (e.g., Mayo Clinic Proceedings and Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences).

Working Papers

All of the search strategies and examples in this guide can also be used to find working papers, which cover specialized original research and are usually intended for an academic audience.

Search for Conference Proceedings

There are a number of places you can search for details about conference proceedings and papers. 

Library Catalog

A search in the Library Catalog will find proceedings that are published as books, serials/journals, journal supplements, technical reports, and book chapters.

  • Many conference proceedings have "Congresses" as a subject heading.


Literature databases may link to full-text papers for proceedings.

  • Many literature databases have a "Document Type" search field. Look for proceedings, abstracts, meeting abstract, and conference papers as a document type to search for. 
  • If the database does not have a Document Type or similar field, or even if it does, it can be useful to use appropriate document type terms in the general search -- e.g. proceedings, papers, abstracts, symposia, congresses, expositions, etc.


Tips and Strategies

  • Conference websites may give you additional information, such as the date and location of the meeting. 
  • Include keywords from the name of the conference and not just the title of the paper.
  • The year the meeting was held may be different from the year its proceedings were published. To capture this possibility, limit your search to a range of years, from the date of meeting onwards (e.g., 2014-2017).
  • Sometimes, conferences and/or their proceedings change names, publishers, or sponsors. Finding a previous proceeding can provide a history of these changes.
  • Formal subject headings like LCSH (Library of Congress Subject Headings) and MESH (Medical Subject Headings) sometimes have subject headings specifically for "congresses" or "conferences."
  • Some proceedings will give information about previous conferences and where proceedings are published. This information can be very helpful, particularly when the names of the conference changes, the conference meets irregularly, or the places where proceedings are published varies from meeting to meeting.
  • Check with the Library of Congress Name Authority File for various conference names and sources to best know which search terms to use for the conference.