It has been discussed and explained many times that in (at least some subdisciplines of) Computer Science, conference publications have a special status compared to many other fields - where in other fields, journals are the only way of publication, in Computer Science, many conferences allow publications with a comparable peer-review process as a journal, and consequently, reputable conferences in some subfields have a similar standing as reputable journals.

Some exemplary resources that outline this peculiarity:

While the perception of a special treatment of conferences in Computer Science appears to be evident, there are sometimes hints this can actually be observed in a few other fields, as well:

Daniel Standage writes in his question:

(...) whereas some of the more quantitative and technical fields (comp sci and engineering especially) seem to be focused on getting accepted to high-profile conferences with low acceptance rate (...)

Fomite responds:

(...) CS and related fields very heavily weight conference presentations and proceedings papers (...)

badroit cites from the 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

On the other hand, there is also the contrary claim, that Computer Science is an absolute exception with this. For instance, aeismail remarks in one of his answers:

(...) I would argue that the weighting of conference papers seems to be restricted to computer science (...)

Likewise, Lance Fortnow starts his article Viewpoint: Time for computer science to grow up by stating:

Unlike every other academic field, computer science uses conferences rather than journals as the main publication venue.

As it is notable that a rather unspecific "engineering" is consistently mentioned in the examples that imply a few other fields use conferences the same way as CS, I have tried to track down those fields, but could not come to any useful conclusions. In particular, I am not even sure what to look for, because "engineering" might mean various things:

  • It might mean all of engineering, which I find improbable (that would probably mean peer-reviewed conference publications are not as unheard of in other fields as some CS people suggest).
  • It might mean a few subfields in engineering. To find more information, knowing which subfields those are would probably be helpful.
  • It might actually be a pleonasm for computer science, in a way that a department for "engineering and computer science" wants to highlight it does not only deal with theoretical aspects, but also investigates "technical", "practical" sides of computer science.

Thus, my question is: Are there any other fields beside Computer Science that use peer-reviewed conferences for publication, where such conference publications have a similar standing as journal publications? If so, what are some examples of such other fields?

Note: I consider this an answerable question, not an indefinite list question. One or a few verifiable examples for other fields that use conferences as described - or a sufficiently convincing statement or reference that shows there are no such other fields at all - are completely sufficient, I am not looking for an exhaustive list of fields.

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    Perhaps most of engineering is similar to what I've experienced in the integrated circuit design sub-field of electrical engineering. There are several prestigious conferences that essentially have similar "stature" as traditional journal publication venues. For example, the IEEE ISSCC is seen as one such conference. But, those who publish at ISSCC typically have expanded papers published in similarly-prestigious journal venues such as IEEE JSSC. So a conference paper is not seen so much as a "replacement" as it is a supplement. Maybe CS is this way as well(?), not sure.
    – Mad Jack
    Commented Feb 28, 2015 at 23:51
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    @MadJack: As a short summary of what is also said in the linked resources: Yes, the concept of extended papers in journals based on conference papers exists in CS, though from what I have seen, by far not every CS conference paper gets an extended journal version (or is ever intended to have one). The extended version is sometimes used to present updated or more complete information, not necessarily new results and findings, but sometimes just more elaborate explanations, examples, or lists of supported features. Commented Mar 1, 2015 at 0:01
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    @MadJack: Many of the most successful CS conference papers are never published in any extended form in a journal. I have published many CS conference papers in the best conferences in my CS sub-field and have never published anything based off those papers elsewhere.
    – mako
    Commented Mar 1, 2015 at 0:58
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    @BenjaminMakoHill and OP: Interesting. Well, I, too, would be curious to know if there are other disciplines similar to CS in this regard.
    – Mad Jack
    Commented Mar 1, 2015 at 1:22
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    "It might mean a few subfields in engineering." - There are many subfields of engineering where people working in those fields are commonly found in both CS and engineering departments (EE for example.) For example: computer networks, signal processing, information theory. Are you categorizing those as CS or engineering?
    – ff524
    Commented Jan 12, 2016 at 23:59

3 Answers 3


I have recently written a note about this issue, with some interesting data from the UK REF 2014 and GSM, that may be of interest.

"Again, the role of conference publications in Computer Science and Informatics"

Abstract: It is often claimed that in the Computer Science and Informatics many top tier conferences are high profile venues, with journal-equivalent status or even higher.

The goal of this note is to highlight further evidence, based on recent publicly available indicators from the UK REF 2014 evaluation exercise and Google Scholar Metrics, of the special nature and purpose of conference venues in CS and related fields, not shared by most conference venues in other fields of science and engineering. We believe that our analysis is particularly interesting for anyone involved in research evaluation at large, but not necessarily familiar with the CS field.

In particular, we focus on the comparison between the status of conferences and journals in different science and engineering fields, and discuss the status and role of conference and journal papers within the CS field itself.



Engineering would most probably be "electrical engineering" and examples of venues where conference proceedings are published would include: * IEEEXplore (BTW, IEEE stands for "...Electrical and Electronics Engineers" * LNEE series published by Springer: http://www.springer.com/series/7818 You can also check http://www.springer.com/series/11156 at Springer, which publishes a lot of conference proceedings. I have recently did several author workshops for researchers in medicine, and they have told that in their field it is also common to have proceedings (of full papers, not a book of abstracts) of a conference. However, I do not have any evidence for that.

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    Interesting, though are publications in such proceedings in electrical engineering and medicine regarded anywhere near journal publications in terms of reputation, reliability, and (possible) significance, as is the case in (some subfields of) computer science? Commented Mar 2, 2015 at 9:31
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    I once participated in the proceedings of a conference that was somewhat interdisciplinary but mostly medicine and while it contained full papers, there was no classical peer review, papers were rather of the stuff-we-did-not-bother-publishing-elsewhere type and some people did not participate because it was adding too little to their CV. I cannot say to what extent this observation can be generalised to the whole discipline, however.
    – Wrzlprmft
    Commented Mar 2, 2015 at 11:16
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    As I mentioned above, there are conferences where EEs publish that have high reputation and significance. I suspect, though, that, since most of the designs that folks publish about in these conferences are highly complex structures, an additional paper in a journal is needed to cover those design details that cannot fit in the proceedings paper due to space limitations.
    – Mad Jack
    Commented Mar 2, 2015 at 14:53

Although maybe not a main field, Robotics as a field is a bit similar to highly regarded conferences. The two largest are ICRA and IROS. Not that it is the best method, but you can see the importance of ICRA as being top ranked in googles metrics. I think you can see a few of these trends within the google rankings as very few disciplines have a conference ranked in their top 20. Of course, the computer science fields do. Using what I believe is the same methodology SCImago(h-index), an older (2010) blog post discussed some of the robotics journal rankings as well, which also produced ICRA as top.

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    I would call robotics clearly a sub-discipline of computer science, given its history.
    – jakebeal
    Commented Mar 3, 2015 at 7:06
  • @jakebeal , although robotics includes mechanical engineering and electrical engineering. Commented Mar 3, 2015 at 11:47
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    Of course: that's why I specifically called out the history of robotics. Culturally, it is a child of computer science, no matter where it has broadened in its multidisciplinary nature now.
    – jakebeal
    Commented Mar 3, 2015 at 14:38
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    @jakebeal the link with the subsection you called out was history of 'autonomous robotics', if you read the first paragraph of your link 'history of robotics', it started much before the 'computer science' field was interested in conferences vs journals. Commented Mar 3, 2015 at 14:46

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