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Generally, abstracts for papers to be presented at conferences are published, prior to and during such conferences, in online and printed program books. However, in many cases, such abstracts are no longer available after the meeting is over. Would academics/researchers benefit from permanent access to conference paper abstracts?

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    Please clarify: Currently, the question sounds like you are referring to a field where papers are presented on conferences, and only on these conferences, and those papers disappear later on (or else, the abstracts could be obtained along with the published, and thus permanently available papers - based upon the paywalled sites that I know, the abstracts are usually even accessible without having access to the full paper). Is that what you are referring to? – O. R. Mapper Sep 11 '16 at 21:35
  • Sorry for the confusion. The possibilities for what eventually happens to papers presented at these conferences are not limited. Some form of them may or may not be published in a journal, and they may or may not be presented at other conferences. My guess would be that the majority of such presentations are never published and never presented elsewhere, but I could be mistaken. The societies that I'm affiliated with do not publish conference papers in a proceedings volume. – cjo30080 Sep 13 '16 at 21:09
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There's a huge range of conference formats. At one extreme are conferences at which presentations are given with an abstract but without any associated paper. These presentations might be associated with journal papers published at a later date. At the other extreme are conferences in which every presentation corresponds to a paper in a published conference proceedings volume and those papers will not appear later as journal papers (or perhaps only extended versions of the papers will be published in journals.)

In cases where there are only abstracts, these abstracts might be published in a printed program of abstracts or (more commonly these days) might just be available on a conference web site. Some people do cite such abstracts, so it's a generally a good idea to keep them in some permanent form.

As an example, look at the AGU meetings abstract database. These abstracts describe presentations that were made at AGU meetings, but in many cases the presentation never gets turned into a journal paper. These abstracts are sometimes cited by other authors. The AGU has maintained this database over the years.

https://meetings.agu.org/abstract_db/

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