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There are two ways of treating conferences that are commonly mentioned on this site:

  • Conferences are publication venues for papers (or similar). Submissions will be subjected to a serious peer review, are citable as evidence, and are a relevant achievement. Submitting the same material to two different conferences or a journal and a conference would be considered self-plagiarism.

    This applies to computer science and engineering (or at least some subfields thereof) – for details, see: Is the status of conference publications in Computer Science really absolutely unique?

  • Conferences are not publication venues. The material presented there is typically also published in journals, books, and similar – but this process is not tied to the conference; it may occur before the conference, later, or even not at all. Submissions are only subjected to minimal review¹, are not citable as evidence, and not considered a big achievement. Participating in conferences is still considered important though. It is common that authors present the same material at different conferences.

    This applies to the majority of fields.

    ¹ to weed out utter crap or to decide what should be a talk and what a poster

In light of this Meta question, I am interested whether the above two cases are the only two. To me, it would not be surprising if this actually is the case, as the two categories have a self-preserving mechanisms. For example, for a conference belonging to the first category, weakening the criteria for submission would usually be a bad move. On the other hand, I am very well aware that I do not know every field’s customs. Hence, I am asking: Are there conferences that hold a status not described by the two categories above? Please answer only if you can name and describe such a conference – if this question remains unanswered, this would be an acceptable and meaningful outcome.

Note that this is only about what is submitted directly to the conference for the purpose of being presented there. Whether articles corresponding to the presented material will be collected for a book, special issue of a journal, or other form of proceedings – be it with separate peer review or not – is irrelevant for the purposes of this question.

  • What if you present at a conference but don't publish anything? So maybe the Beamer-files of your presentation get uploaded, but there is no written form of publication, no paper-like summery of your talk? – Dirk Aug 31 '17 at 12:32
  • @DirkLiebhold: That sounds like the typical second case. (I edited the question to make this a bit more clear.) – Wrzlprmft Aug 31 '17 at 12:39
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    Although it is true that some conferences have only a very limited review process, others can be quite competitive, because there are limited spots in very specific sessions, so applicants are not guaranteed they will be able to present, and "reject" applications will be redirected as posters. – Herman Toothrot Aug 31 '17 at 12:46
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Yes, there's a third type where a single conference uses multiple submission categories, and submissions to one category are thoroughly reviewed and published as papers in the proceedings, whereas submissions to the other category only appear with short abstracts in the conference booklet or similar, and may also be restricted to specific sessions (such as poster sessions).

I know such conferences in mathematical oriented engineering fields. As just one example, I can mention the Vienna International Conference on Mathematical Modelling. If you look at their call for papers, they have a category "Full Contribution", where full papers are solicited, to be published in the formal proceedings after the review and presentation. But they also have categories "Discussion Contribution" and "Student Contribution", where only abstracts are submitted, and there's no formal publication associated with the submission.

There are other conferences in the same field which make this distinction as well within their submission categories.

  • Another field like this is social network analysis. – Stella Biderman Sep 15 '17 at 14:11
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Are there conferences that hold a status not described by the two categories above?

Yes. An example of such a conference is the ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI). They accept full papers, notes, work-in-progress short papers, posters, demos, etc. and have different selection criteria and processes for each submission type:

  1. Refereed content: is rigorously reviewed by members of the program committee and peer experts. The process includes an opportunity for authors to respond to referees’ critiques. Submitters can expect to receive formal feedback from reviewers. The program committee may ask authors for specific changes as a condition of publication. Papers and Notes are refereed content.
  2. Juried content: is reviewed by a committee but in a less rigorous process than refereed and does not include an author’s response or conditional acceptance. Juried content is generally not required to make the same level of lasting and significant contribution to our knowledge and understanding as refereed content. Authors who submit to juried tracks may expect to receive light feedback of up to a few paragraphs in length. The following tracks contain juried content: Late Breaking Work, Case Studies, alt.chi, Student Design and Research Competitions.
  3. Curated content is highly selective but does not necessarily follow a reviewing process by a committee. Curated content may be selected from submissions or invited by the track chairs. Authors who submit to curated tracks should not expect to receive formal feedback on their submission other than the selection decision. The following tracks contain curated content: Workshops/Symposia, Panels, Courses, Doctoral Consortium, EXPO, Special Interest Group (SIG) meetings, Videos.

(source: https://chi2018.acm.org/selection-processes/)

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    Does any content from the types 2 and 3 lead to some sort of publication (other than a short abstract in the conference programme)? – Wrzlprmft Aug 31 '17 at 14:05
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    Yes, for example: work-in-progress and demo papers are published (archived) in the ACM Digital Library and included in the Proceeding. I believe authors retain authorship and can republish the work. – dsfgsho Aug 31 '17 at 14:13
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    Publications for categories 2 and 3 are usually "extended abstracts", which are usually considered non-archival (i.e. not part of the academic literature). They are stored on the ACM DL and appear in conference proceedings, but a work that is published only as an extended abstract doesn't usually block novelty claims. – nneonneo Aug 31 '17 at 20:16
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    @nneonneo "Non-archival" does not mean "not part of the academic literature". – JeffE Sep 1 '17 at 10:45
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There is also a rather new hybrid journal-conference model, such as the one implemented in Ubicomp 2017:

New Publication Model

Starting with the 2017 edition, UbiComp no longer considers full paper or note submissions. Instead, it will invite for presentation papers published by the Proceedings of the ACM on Interactive, Mobile, Wearable and Ubiquitous Technologies (IMWUT). IMWUT has 1 volume per year with 4 issues per volume, published in March (Issue 1), June (Issue 2), September (Issue 3), and December 1 (Issue 4).

The UbiComp 2017 main technical tracks will consist of papers in IMWUT 2017 Issues 1-3. Authors of these papers will be invited, but are not obliged, to present at UbiComp. The conference will retain its workshop, poster, and demo tracks, which will have their own publication outlet.

To explain the change, in earlier years this conference was the category 1 conference-as-publication-venue, with peer review and proceedings published. Now full papers have been moved to a multiple deadline per year model in a journal, and authors of papers accepted to the journal are then invited - but not required - to attend and present at the yearly UbiComp conference. A number of other conferences in related fields are discussing possibilities of adopting similar styles of hybrids.

This is not a case of an already common practice of a journal inviting submissions from conference proceedings, such as turning a smaller conference paper into a full journal article. To attend and present as an author of a full paper, you have to go to the journal to get to the conference, rather than the other way around.

Note that one of the influencing reasons for all this is in multi-disciplinary fields, where publication cultures clash because - as a single example - someone from psychology and someone from computer science want to co-author a paper, but one field doesn't respect or acknowledge conferences and the other field has a variety of reasons for not wanting to use traditional journal models. There is also a variety of other concerns, but those go beyond the topic of discussion anyhow. Supporters of this method hope that it will better support fields who only count journal articles, while at the same time still supporting the conference culture of networking and dissemination of conference publishing communities.

  • IEEE Conference on Decision and Control uses a similar hybrid model with the journal IEEE Control Systems Letters since very recently, although you can still submit papers to the conference only. – silvado Sep 1 '17 at 12:55
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I don't think those are “categories” at all or that there is a sharp distinction between what's citable “as evidence” or not.

As you requested specific examples, consider design conferences like the biannual Design Research Society conference. You need to write a short paper, it's reviewed and distributed afterwards but having been involved in both I can tell you the reviewing process is a lot less thorough than at CHI.

These papers can be and are cited but it's also quite common to republish them, typically with some revisions, sometimes at the invitation of the conference organisers, sometimes independently. As far as my employer was concerned, this counted as a publication when measuring the output of our department but not on a par with a journal publication, another crucial difference with the computer science model.

3

Conferences in the field of bioinformatics have been experimenting with different formats, since they bring together people from several different disciplines that have various publication models.

Some of these include peer-reviewed papers that appear in proceedings but are not considered a journal publication in biology, and can be independently submitted to a journal. In fact, sometimes a conference will associate with a specific journal and offer co-submission such that it is reviewed in both the conference and the journal at the same time, and later all accepted papers get published in a special issue of the journal.

Another non-standard idea is something called a "Highlights Track", in which papers which have recently been accepted to a journal and are potentially of significant interest to the community can be submitted and a subset is selected for presentation.

Often you have multiple submission tracks in the same conference in order to accommodate the needs of the different disciplines.

If you would like specific examples I suggest looking at current and past ISMB (Intelligent Systems in Molecular Biology) and RECOMB (Research in Computational Molecular Biology) conferences.

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Not sure if they are a really separate category - I wouldn't say so, but: whereas the bigger conferences within neuroscience are merely following your 2nd category (minor review of abstracts, not unique content, no strict correspondence between submission and presented material (in case of posters of work-in-progress)), posters presented there are, often, citable. This can be either as "poster at a conference", or the submitted abstract may even be published in some kind of journal (e.g. Clinical Neurophysiology). Whereas citation of such material is rare, since usually the material will be published in form of a proper paper later, it does happen.

  • While I don’t doubt that those posters are citable (everything is), I doubt that they are citable as evidence, given that they are usually not available to posterity for control. Being on the fringes of neuroscience myself, I have never heard of posters being trustworthy sources. – Wrzlprmft Aug 31 '17 at 19:58
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I guess this is a hybrid of sorts: The EWTEC conference series (which is application rather than discipline-specific, but is probably more engineering than anything else) peer-reviews submissions - even those that are eventually presented as posters - and they are considered relevant outputs that can be cited and put on a CV. However, the community tends to consider such papers as being worth less than an journal article - and anecdotally, peer-reviewers tend to go a little easier on them - and indeed the copyright transfer to EWTEC specifically allows the author to use their conference paper as the foundation for an expanded version for a journal.

Summary: Conferences whose proceedings are valid, citable outputs, but that are considered inferior to journal articles.

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