Since this was a point of discussion on my answer here, I felt this might be a good place to offer an extended analysis (since it also serves as an answer to the current question).
I had stated:
While in some fields, conference papers are akin to talk abstracts, in areas like computer science, conference papers can be very meaty and there is a high churn of papers in conferences. Top conferences can have acceptance rates around 10%, and as such, A+ conference papers are often held in high regard within the community: these venues are far more competitive than many of the good journals. Still, even in the CS area, metric-wise (for hiring, positions, funding, etc.), journals will often still count for more than a conference following the norm in other academic fields.
To which Suresh countered:
the last line of the answer is just not true at all.
It's based on my experiences (at different levels) evaluating work and people, and watching how others do it, and how people talk about research work. It's not an absolute statement, but CS departments have spent many years in battles with deans convincing them that conferences count for more than journals.
"even in the CS area, metric-wise (for hiring, positions, funding, etc.), journals will often still count for more than a conference" — Speaking as the chair of the faculty recruiting committee in a top-5 CS department: This is simply incorrect. I don't recall anyone on my committee ever pointing out a CS journal paper in any junior candidate's CV. (For interdisciplinary folks, it's important for research to be published in journals in the other area: Biology research in biology journals, for example.)
This is counter to my own experience in applying for jobs, and in my current department, where journal papers are held in higher esteem. I know there are Computer Science Departments with their own by-laws and policies whereby conferences can be given as much weight as journals, but this is why I said "often", not "always". It is also my experience that such departments tend to be the more famous ones: the ones with enough clout to have their own policies. Smaller/less-well-known departments (which are by their nature more numerous) often have to abide by wider faculty/collegial policy.
In any case, to try to put some meat into the answer, I tried Googling for some tenure-track and hiring criteria in Computer Science. I'll pick out relevant quotes:
1) Department of Computer Science at the University of Vermont: Guidelines for Tenure-Track and Tenured Faculty
Publication of refereed articles in both journals and conferences is very important; in many areas of computer science, publication in top-tier conferences is considered as prestigious as publication in top journals.
2) Department of Computer Science & Engineering, University of Minnesota: Criteria for Promotion and Tenure
A 1994 NRC Committee on Academic Careers for Experimental Computer Science stated “The requirements for good research and engineering in experimental computer science and engineering (ECSE) are different from those of many other academic disciplines” and then added “Because conferences are the vehicle of choice in ECSE for the dissemination of research, well-refereed conference proceedings (as well as work published in refereed private journals) should be given as much weight as archival journal articles in evaluating a candidate's research portfolio for promotion and tenure”. Certain proceedings articles should be weighted equally or even more heavily than archival journal articles when evaluating the candidate's research contributions
3) Duke University, Computer Science Department, By-Laws
[...] recognising the important role played by conferences, book chapters, and other non-journal research documents.
4) University of Stockholm: Tenure-Track Position, Department of Computer Science
The quality of the research should be documented by presentations at well-established conferences and publications in high quality international journals and conferences.
5) Computer Science Department: Appalachian State University: Criteria for Promotions and Tenure
Examples of Indicators of Excellent Performance
- Publishes an article in a refereed journal.
- Publishes a textbook.
[nothing about conferences]
6) Wright State University, Department of Computer Science By-Laws
Primary indications of quality normally include, but are not limited to, the following:
- publication of research results and of extended scientific and engineering reviews in peer-refereed journals of acknowledge stature (particularly those of scholarly professional societies such as the ACM and IEEE);
Secondary indications of quality include, but are not limited to, the following:
- refereed conference proceedings;
The first two departments explicitly state that conferences can be considered as highly as journals, the next two state that conferences will be considered alongside journals without any explicit ranking, and the last two state that conferences count less than journals.
These are six examples, and are biased due to having "Computer Science" in the title, meaning that they are CS-specific criteria (whereas I suspect many smaller departments would fall under more generic by-laws).
Though many CS departments (esp. the more prestigious ones) have won the battle of giving conference papers their due weight, it is still my understanding that other departments have not, and must fall in-tow with faculty/collegial guidelines.
So to answer this question:
Journal vs conference publications when looking for a job in in computer science
It depends. Though I may not have fully substantiated this here with only two anecdotes, I still hold by the position that in many CS departments (particularly smaller departments), journal articles often (not always) count for more than conference papers by merit of simply being journal articles.
(Some related discussion here.)