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Why and how publishing a paper in proceedings?
What are the difference with a "classical" journal?
What's the list of the main proceedings in which one can publish?
Do proceedings papers (never, sometimes, often or always) appear on mathscinet?

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    $\begingroup$ I think you are supposed to publish in the proceeding of a conference in which you've participated, not just abstract proceedings. Some schools don't count them as publications; in general, there's something fishy about them in all those "citation index" services. $\endgroup$ – Alex Degtyarev Mar 3 '15 at 14:03
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    $\begingroup$ When I see a proceedings paper, I check if there is a journal paper elaborating on it. If not, I start wondering whether it has been disproven before it could get published... $\endgroup$ – darij grinberg Mar 3 '15 at 14:11
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    $\begingroup$ @darijgrinberg: This is really strange when heard from a scientist; this is a typical administrator's point of view. Once something is published, why bother to send it elsewhere? $\endgroup$ – Alex Degtyarev Mar 3 '15 at 14:30
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    $\begingroup$ some very influential recent works have only been published in conference proceedings, here is just one example ieeexplore.ieee.org/xpl/… $\endgroup$ – Carlo Beenakker Mar 3 '15 at 15:01
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    $\begingroup$ @CarloBeenakker: Computer science has a different approach to publications, where conferences are more important than journal publications. $\endgroup$ – Per Alexandersson Mar 3 '15 at 15:21
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Proceedings of conferences are often published as special issues of "classical" journals. But even those that are not are usually included in MathSciNet if they include a statement (often a footnote on the first page of each paper) to the effect that the papers are in final form and will not be published elsewhere.

Some but not all conference proceedings are refereed less thoroughly than reputable journal articles. As a result, mathematicians are sometimes suspicious about results published in conference proceedings, and administrators sometimes assign less value to such publications. Some conference proceedings have responded to this problem by explicitly saying (usually in the preface of the proceedings volume) that the papers have been refereed to the standards of such-and-such journal. Nevertheless, I would advise young (= not yet tenured) mathematicians to publish most if not all of their work in regular (and reputable, of course) journals. Once you have tenure, so that administrators' opinions are less critical for your life, it becomes reasonable to contribute more to conference proceedings.

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    $\begingroup$ Various mathematical societies sometimes publish conference proceedings as books. For example, the American Mathematical Society series Contemporary Mathematics is one such. In order to counteract the suspicion that you mention, the AMS requires that the articles be fully refereed, and they also discourage the editors from putting "Proceedings" in the title. $\endgroup$ – Timothy Chow Mar 4 '15 at 2:30
  • $\begingroup$ You talk about "conference proceedings", but there exist journals which are not "conference proceedings" but which still contains the word "proceedings" in their name (for examples: Proc. Amer. Math. Soc. or Proc. Indian Acad. Sci. Math. Sci.). Do you think that mathematicians can also be suspicious about papers published in such journals? $\endgroup$ – Sebastien Palcoux Mar 31 '15 at 11:55
  • $\begingroup$ @SébastienPalcoux The word "Proceedings" in the title of a journal tells me nothing about the quality of the Journal. Proc. Amer. Math. Soc. is a high quality journal. (Full disclosure: Some years ago, I was on its editorial board.) Proc. Indian ... might also be a good journal, but I'd have to check; I never heard of it until just now, and that makes me a little suspicious. $\endgroup$ – Andreas Blass Mar 31 '15 at 12:55
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I agree completely with Andreas' answer. One further consideration is publicity. It is easy for papers published in conference proceedings to become lost to general knowledge, or known only to very specialized groups. By publishing in a regular and reputable journal, the chances others will read your paper goes up.

Further, it is not only administrators who hold the opinion that many conference proceeding volumes are of lower quality (at least in mathematics, but not, say, in computer science).

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    $\begingroup$ For publicity and access it is enough put the paper to arxiv, so this is a non-issue. $\endgroup$ – Igor Belegradek Mar 3 '15 at 21:58
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    $\begingroup$ @IgorBelegradek: I disagree that posting a paper on the arxiv always gives it the same level of publicity (especially in terms of acclaim) as publishing it in a solid journal, but that's just my personal opinion. $\endgroup$ – Pace Nielsen Mar 3 '15 at 22:25
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    $\begingroup$ @IgorBelegradek : There may be some confusion surrounding your use of the word "publicity", which to most people connotes actual awareness of the paper by many people, or at least active effort to make people aware of it. I believe that Pace Nielsen is saying that some mathematicians are more likely to be totally unaware of what is posted on the ArXiv compared to what is published in journals. (Of course nobody disagrees that the ArXiv provides the public with excellent access to its papers.) $\endgroup$ – Timothy Chow Mar 4 '15 at 2:22
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    $\begingroup$ @TimothyChow: for most people I know the exact opposite is true-they check arxiv but not journals. It is hard to get excited when a paper appears in the Annals several years after it was written. Yes, I know a few people who never read papers on the internet, but then they do not read journals either. $\endgroup$ – Igor Belegradek Mar 4 '15 at 3:47
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    $\begingroup$ @IgorBelegradek : My impression is that there is a generation gap at work. There are people who check journals but not the ArXiv, but they tend to be older. Also, the situation varies somewhat depending on your subfield. Some subfields of mathematics have lagged behind other subfields in their adoption of the ArXiv. $\endgroup$ – Timothy Chow Mar 4 '15 at 16:09

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