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For example, I see a "book" on Springer published in 2017 that is identical to a conference article presented in 2011. What is happening here?

In my opinion, duplicate publications are not good for the research community. I am annoyed because if I cite the Springer version in my paper, then the reader will see e.g., 2017 and think that the work was proposed in 2017 when actually it was proposed in e.g., 2011. Furthermore, if I come across a paper published in 20XX in Springer, I have to play detective to make sure there isn't a version 5 years old that is identical...

Edit1: I must point out that the "book" versions of the papers I am referring are not extended versions but instead are identical.

Edit2: So, the specific case I am thinking of is a paper presented at a conference. The publisher of the book and conference are both Springer, but I am confused as to why conference proceeding are being published 5 or more years after the conference.

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  • Does the book cite its journal version?
    – user39093
    Dec 16 '20 at 19:00
  • @ssquidd I deleted/undeleted my question. So, the paper I am thinking of was presented in a conference. Springer is indeed a publisher for this conference, so I guess my confusion is why are papers being published from a conference after 6 years?
    – Ralff
    Dec 16 '20 at 19:20
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    Due to my suspicious nature, I figure a for-profit would like to sell a thing twice, if possible. Dec 16 '20 at 19:25
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    I am apparently less suspicious than @paulgarrett. Rather than nefarious motives, I think the Occam's Razor explanation might be an exceptionally disorganized set of book/proceedings editors who took years to push it through the editorial process.
    – Houska
    Dec 16 '20 at 20:09
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    @paulgarrett if this is a conference proceeding, then they already barely sell (<50 copies outside of the bulk purchase). It is very, very unlikely that Springer can actually break even, let alone make money, off selling the proceedings "again".
    – Allure
    Dec 17 '20 at 4:21
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I don't know what book you're looking at, but it could be a reprint volume. These are, as their name indicates, collections of reprinted works. They are usually reprinted works of some famous person (example), or they might be works which the editor of the volume has decided are worth including (example).

These books will usually make it quite clear the works contained are reprints though, so there should be no confusion over the date the original work was published.

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Let me suggest that this is benign. A conference will often make arrangements with a publisher to publish all accepted papers. The original date of the paper is the conference date and there may be some distribution of "proceedings" to attendees and, perhaps, to members of the sponsoring organization. ACM SIGPLAN, for example.

But conferences are on a frequent and tight schedule. Book publishing, on the other hand may take a while to organize, so the promised general publication, available to the public has a later copyright date. Publishers prefer a late copyright date so that expiration comes later than otherwise. And publishing in a book gives things a wider audience, since conference proceedings are extremely unlikely to ever be reprinted.

I will guess that the book references the conference and includes the date on which it was held. If you found the paper in the book, then you can reference the conference year as the original publication year.

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  • Sometimes there will be selected papers published in a journal volume, but all the papers are then collected into a 'book'.
    – Jon Custer
    Dec 16 '20 at 20:08
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Springer (and other commercial publishers) publish things because they expect to make a profit. They only act in the interests of the research community if those interests are aligned with Springer's profit.

Springer is able to profit because most of their sales are bulk sales. Since Springer has a monopoly on certain essential content, they can force their library customers to buy nonessential content.

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