Is there a consensus as to whether or not conference papers are counted as publications?
I know that if something is a journal paper then that thing is tacitly understood as a publication, but is the converse true?
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To elaborate a little on Pete L. Clark's excellent comment, if your paper appeared in publicly available conference proceedings, then it is a publication. How valued or respected this form of publication is depends on the customs in your field, whether the paper was refereed, etc. Computer scientists may be more impressed by prestigious conference papers than journal papers, while mathematicians often view conference proceedings as an inferior publication venue. Still, the question isn't whether it's a publication in the first place, but rather how significant or worthwhile a publication it is.
On the other hand, some people use the term "conference paper" to refer to a paper they presented at a conference, which may not even have had published proceedings. If there aren't proceedings or the proceedings don't contain the paper, then it isn't published.
And of course there are borderline cases. If there were only a few copies of the proceedings, and they are not available in major libraries (even by interlibrary loan) or online, then the paper is at best just barely published. But this shouldn't occur for a conference sponsored by a reputable organization.
If the conference paper was refereed before been accepted for the conference, that counts as a refereed publication. If it was not, it is a non-refereed publication, and should be counted as such.
Different fields have different rules for how publications are accounted for, specially in how multi-author publications are handled, so you should at least state which field you are talking about.