Progress report on how you’ve helped my research

At this point at least 20 people have helped me look for conference proceedings (some haven’t left a name so it’s somewhere between 20 and 42), which is awesome: thank you all so much! Last week saw us pass the halfway mark, an exciting moment. As of this morning, statistics are:

  • 1187 out of 1958 conferences investigated = 59% done
  • 312 have proceedings free online (26%)
  • of those without free proceedings, 292 have non-free proceedings online
  • of those without any online proceedings, 109 have physical proceedings (especially books or CDs)
  • 472 have no identifiable proceedings (40%)

I’ve got locations for all 1958, pending some checking. Remember this is out of conferences that New Zealand researchers presented at and nominated for their 2012 PBRF portfolio.

The top countries are:
New Zealand    492
Australia    315
USA    304
UK    133
Canada    69
(with China close behind at 68)

In New Zealand, top cities are predictably:
Auckland    154
Wellington    98
Christchurch    53
Dunedin    38
Hamilton    35

Along the way I’ve noticed some things that make the search harder:

  • sometimes authors, or the people verifying their sources, made mistakes in the citation
  • or sometimes people cited the proceedings instead of the conference itself – this isn’t a mistake in the context of the original data entry but makes reconciling the year and the city difficult.
  • or sometimes their citation was perfectly clear, but my attempt to extract the data into tidy columns introduced… misunderstandings (aka terrible, terrible mistakes).
  • or we’ve ended up searching for the same conference a whole pile of times because various people call it the Annual Conference of X, the Annual X Conference, the X Annual Conference, the International Conference of X, the Annual Meeting of X, etc etc.

On the other hand I’ve also noticed some things that make the search easier – either for me:

  • having done so many, I’m starting to recognise titles, so I can search the spreadsheet and often copy/paste a line
  • when all else fails I have access to the source data, so I can look up the title of the paper if I need to figure out whether I’m trying to find the 2008 or 2009 conference.

And things that could be generally helpful:

  • if a conference makes any mention of ACM, whether in the title or as a sponsor, then chances are the proceedings are listed in http://dl.acm.org/proceedings.cfm
  • if it mentions IEEE, try http://ieeexplore.ieee.org/browse/conferences/title/  If it’s there, then on the page for the appropriate year, scroll down and look on the right for the “Purchase print from partner” link – chances are you’ll get a page with an ISBN for the print option; plus confirming the location which is harder to find on IEEEXplore itself.
  • if it’s about computer science in any way, shape or form, then http://dblp.uni-trier.de/search/ can probably point you to the source(s). This is the best way to find anything published as a Lecture Notes in Computer Science (LNCS) because Springer’s site doesn’t search for conferences very well.
  • if you do a web search and see a search result for www.conferencealerts.com, this will confirm the year/title/location of a conference, and give you an event website (which may or may not still be around, but it’s a start). Unfortunately I haven’t found a way to search the site directly for past conferences.
  • a search result for WorldCat will usually confirm year/title/location and (if you scroll down past the holding libraries) often give you the ISBN for the print proceedings.

And two things that have delighted me:

  • Finding some online proceedings in the form of a page listing all the papers’ DOIs – which resolve to the papers on Dropbox.
  • Two of the conferences in the dataset have no identifiable city/country – because they were held entirely online.

I I am of course still eagerly soliciting help, if anyone has 10 minutes here or there over the next month (take a break from the silly season? 🙂  Check out my original post for more, or jump straight to the spreadsheet.

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