Academic conferences are events, perhaps continuing for two or three days, where people present news about their recent research and findings. Many conferences are held annually, sometimes at a different location each year. The conference organisers often collect the presented papers and publish them as the conference proceedings. Calls for papers alert you to forthcoming conferences, where you might want to present a poster or paper yourself.
You can search for conference papers in both indexing/abstracting databases and full text collections. However, increasingly, many conference papers are circulated freely online in open access archives or conference websites, and can be found using search engines.
Indexes to conference papers
Many subject orientated abstracting databases include conference papers within their coverage, e.g. ERIC, Historical Abstracts and PsycInfo. There are also two databases, which provide a multidisciplinary coverage: Web of Science and ZETOC.
Web of Science indexes conference papers across STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering and medicine) and the social sciences from 1990 onwards. Each conference paper is accompanied by an abstract. You can access Web of Science through the Web of Knowledge portal.
ZETOC includes table of contents access to around 16,000 new conference proceedings per year, as they are received by the British Library. It also indexes approximately 20,000 current journals. ZETOC covers all subjects, from 1993 onwards. One of the ZETOC’s strengths is its alerting service, which you can use to keep up-to-date with relevant new articles and conference papers.
Full text conference papers
Three of the Library's databases offer access to full text conference papers:
The Library also holds various conference proceedings in print. Some of these are shelved with journals (if there is a sequence of proceedings over several years) and some are shelved with books (if the proceedings are only available for one year). To find whether the Library holds the proceedings of a particular conference in print, you should check the catalogue.