I was quoting a paper from the ICLR 13 and noticed that I could not find any information about the publishing of the conference. So far I have only seen proceedings which published the papers of the conference in a book entitled 'proceedings of the xth international conference ...'

Q: Is it possible for a conference not to be published, i.e. the papers can only be found online (or via a database, e.g. arXiv). Is this a common thing? Why?

  • sites.google.com/site/representationlearning2013/…
    – user102
    Sep 20, 2014 at 12:40
  • Yann Lecun (one of the chairs of ICLR13) has well defined views on the future of publishing papers, yann.lecun.com/ex/pamphlets/publishing-models.html, Which it seems is the basis for what ICRL is doing Sep 20, 2014 at 12:43
  • 15
    This is probably field dependent. In mathematics, there are only very few conferences that have published proceedings at all. For the most part math conferences are just talks, and if you have a paper you publish it wherever you want. Sep 20, 2014 at 12:46
  • 1
    In my field, electronic conference proceedings are very uncommon, and printed versions almost inexistent. Generally they attract little attention in contrast with journal articles.
    – Cape Code
    Sep 20, 2014 at 13:46
  • 3
    Things that are online are published. Sep 22, 2014 at 2:25

1 Answer 1


The important distinction that you want to pay attention to here is whether the proceedings are archival or not. Fewer and fewer publications (conference or journal) are actually put onto dead trees: it's expensive and heavy and takes up lots of space in your office.

An archival publication is one whose proceedings are in the custody of an institution that guarantees their long-term preservation and availability. This can be anything from a traditional journal to a large society like IEEE or ACS to a database like arXiv or even a memo collection like the IETF RFCs. If it's archival, it's a "real" publication because it will be there if somebody goes looking for it in 20 years. Prestige of the venue is a completely orthogonal question...

Anything that is not archival is transient, and might vanish at any moment. This happens often with communities that don't have peer reviewed conferences (e.g., many biology communities). This is fine if the point of what you wrote was to have a ticket to give a presentation or to have a discussion. If it's not archived somewhere, though, it's not really a publication, because there is no persistent reference that can be followed.

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