Should conference papers be counted as publication?
Most of the researchers publish their research articles in conference because its a faster way of making the results available. At many places, papers published as conference proceedings are not considered during promotion, on the other hand, at few places it is counted as publications but with less credits.
I appeal to my senior research fellows, kindly give your precious comments over this issue.
In South Africa, one conference paper is given the same credit as 1/2 a journal paper. This is fair enough, as in my estimation, two conference papers require just a little less that the work required to get a journal paper accepted.
All of this arithmetic keeps many bean counters busy! The trouble is that invariably there is a best match conference/journal for the content you have written. Next, the best match may not be have a high impact factor, particularly if what you are researching is were the action is: it may be interdisciplinary research or in a new field that does not yet have impact factors!
I understand under the word "Publications" all disseminated research including: peer-reviewed papers (in journal with or without impact factor), conference proceedings, workshops and symposia (in condition that you have disseminated a manuscript), and conference posters with a manuscript, etc...
The conferences are then differentiated into two main categories: refereed full-paper, and refereed abstract (just the abstract is refereed).
I think that conference proceedings are often not refereed seriously. Thus conference proceedings paper may contain more errors or omissions that refereed journal papers. Therefore they should not be given the same weight as real journal papers.
Industry interest in conference proceedings is higher because the information is available without 6-18 month delay. The delay is less relevant to academics who need the impact factor (1 x Nature paper gets a lot of kudos).
I agree in part with Steffen Petersen about paper review but this will depend strongly on the conference. I have seen conference papers with better content and analysis than some papers accepted by journals. My experience of conferences such as EuMC and CPEM is that the technical committee take the selection process seriously. Also, a conference sponsored by IEEE or IET will be searchable and downloadable through iExplore.
The key point is how does your institution get funded? If they bean count the journal papers to determine your funding then that is how you must publish your results. It's all about the money.
I have been an academic for more than 30 years and I am now working in the private domain, editing papers, mostly for academics from non-English speaking countries. I am also an active reviewer for several journals, so what I am saying is based on my personal experience.
As everybody here knows, there are several kinds of conferences, and there should be a distinction made between them. Discussing 'conferences' in general is not sufficient. There are conferences in which the proceedings go directly to journal submission without a separate submission. These will eventually count as journal submission if they are accepted. If they are not accepted by the journal there will only be an abstract from that conference on your record. I think that the IEEE and MRS conferences also belong to the latter category, i.e. their symposia proceedings count as journal publications. Likewise meetings of some American societies, such as AVS, American Ceramics Society, etc. (For Jacek: I am not sure that they count as such in Poland, but they should).(Note: Some of what I am saying here I said in another discussion mentioned by Jacek, namely that I am talking about how a system should work to make sense, not how various administrative systems count papers. In general, having exact rules for counting papers for promotion is in my view ridiculous, but that's beside the discussion).
Other conferences are divided between invited and non-invited, and peer-reviewed and non-peer reviewed, and the latter can be small conferences of the local chapter of a society. I think that the latter should be listed on your resume to show continuous professional activity, but what I recommend for all conference proceedings is turning them into journal articles by expanding them a little bit. Journals usually do not like to hear that the paper has been published elsewhere, but it always depends on the field. You can add a note "This paper was presented at the conference such-and-such" and see how it goes. The problem is not simply whether the publication counts or not. When such a conference paper is cited in a journal article but the reviewer and the reader do not have access to it, the citation cannot be verified. Nowadays with online access one should be able to verify that what the author says is correct (i.e. that a cited reference indeed says what it claims) and I found this to be quite a problem in many cases, with people misquoting articles. So the problem is not with the conference papers but with their dissemination or lack thereof. And in view of this situation, I think that conference organizers of peer-reviewed conferences should reach prior agreements with journals in the field (sometimes more than one) to publish the conference proceedings as a special issue. In other words, my advice is not to bother with conferences that do not have such an arrangement, unless you have a good reason to participate, for example to promote a particular topic among peers.
Good. One more quantitative parameter can be introduced. IFC -Impact factor of the conference. Where is the end ? One should not concentrate on the quantity but quality. Now high-quality. A scientist try to solve the problem of the society for the betterment. Ultimately the society has to accept it and adopt it. Evaluation can be parametric and non-parametric. The time tested methodology is nothing but acceptance by a large number of people.We have to dissociate evaluation for the purpose of promotion or awards from the evaluation of research in absolute terms
Peer review of articles may be more accurate than accepted conferences or conferences by invitation, I am a reviewer of some good jornals, and sometimes the paper comes and then it is changed , trying to reach quality , new references and clear expression. Impac Factor is an expression of the quality of the journal and not the value of a given article. There are many differences among disciplines. I think that we can't find an universal recipe better than the good criteria of an accademic committee, without influences of local politic or systems The purpose of evaluation is one of the main criteria to consider a scientific contribution .Impact factor or H index may change the expectations of a young researcher. I prefer a total evaluation, including the presentation and defence of a Thesis, a project or a teaching and research grade in an University or Institute, the ascendent novelty and quality of technological and scientific papers. and last but not least, the personality of the scientist.
When attending a conference, the purpose is to get in contact with scientists in that field and less to publish a paper.
However in order to avoid spoiling the research results it it should be preferable that the conference has serious reviewers and the proceedings are published by a major publishing house.
But, life is not fair. Scholars from developing countries have dificulties with the visa, conference fees, transportation, daily alowance, etc. So, for them the primary objective of conferences - to get in contact with scientists in that field - is harder to obtain.
Because cost more and provide integration in the specific environment, YES, conferences should have their weight in estimating the scientific value of a work group.
Of course, in a professional environment, plagiarized work and shallow research (recherche bidon in French) are identified more quickly also.
In my opinion conference papers be counted as a separate impact rather than as a paper because although presenting paper in conference is a hard job and takes lots of effort to present something but still paper published in a normal way should be given more value because who ever do lots of hard work and publish paper with lots of effort and his/her paper is reviewed by editor and then by referee and then it get accepted for publication..... rather than on the other hand if you have lots of money then you apply for simple conference and get your paper publish in that particular conference and most of the time if you go through those types of publication then you will realize that though there is quantity of work but they they have quality of work........
Btw, relevant to this discussion is the fact that a conference paper can be recycled, i.e taken to a number of conferences, whereas it is harder to do this with papers...But this is not the problem that concerns those who find it difficult to attend one conference, let alone more than one in one year...
If I wasn't involved in editing papers I would probably think like you. I cannot give examples because it would be unethical of me, but there are authors I know who go from one conference to the next with the same invited lecture but with a slightly different title, and a few changes in the abstract. AND this is fine, because these presentations are intended to raise awareness of their field, not because they are seeking impact factors. Conferences may serve to expose a newly emerging field and for this purpose recycling is OK in my view. Also, I am talking about conferences that are not published in any journal, just a proceedings books, or sometimes even just an abstract collection.
I have also met these people that have the audacity and temerity to repeat a paper, with even the same title and author line! This is not fine. It cannot be condoned at research conferences and is highly questionable at commercial conferences. Research conferences are about what is new, not was has been presented elsewhere in the world before. How will science ever advance if we only repeat what others (including ourselves) have said before? Sorry, recycling is NOT OK. Please name and shame.
Hi Ian, you are perfectly right. But life is not fair. Recycled papers should be identified and rejected by the organizing comitee. Most conferences should do that but the volume of abstracts and papers is so large that it cannot be warranted 100%.
We are faced in Romania with the plagiarism issue (see the Mang case which is available through the internet) and the web page plagiate.ro . The author rights law and the procedures we have appear to be insufficient to stop impostors.
The referee's reports are an elegant way to serve the editor but can't stop organized impostors efficiently
Since I raised the issue, I think I have to answer. Recycling a particular (good) result under a slightly different title is done usually for 'marketing' purposes. Most often the audience is not aware of the recycling, and regard the paper as new because they hear it for the first time. I am tallking in particular about an invited talk, and the reason the person was invited was a particular subject or discovery waiting to be disseminated to a wide audience as soon as possible. Often the conference organizers are aware that the paper is recycled but don't care.
It's not that I condone or promote this method, but this is not really plagiarism, in particular if the conference in question is not linked with a particular journal.
Recycling conferences may be considered as autoplagiarism. However, when a conference is presented to a different audience or in other country's Congress , it may be the way to expand the knowledge about a new technique or the study of a new system. I agree with Rafael and Kashif.
I believe Rafael was not referring to author rights and royalties for a given solid piece, but to the data the author has obtained and modelling that data, which is more fluid. If such, it would be difficult if not impossible to discern auto-plagiarism.
"Autoplagiarism" is not defined in the laws, but rather in the academic folklore, where the case of John Foggerty case is notorious. The famous rock singer of Creedence Clearwater Revival was accused by the copyright holder of his former song "Run through the Jungle" to have "autoplagiarized" the tune. The court ruled that he has the right to "plagiarize" himself against the copyright holder of the former work.
Intelectual property, such as poetry (famous poems), song lyrics, software etc along with scientific papers is bringing lots of money. I have in mind the prices for Encyclopedias: Nanosciences, Sensors, the Physical Metallurgy, of 10 volumes each, priced at 6-10 thousands of dollars each. Also good journals are priced at 6-10 thousand dollars per year also.
Scientific research itself is not free also. Costs of an institute are usually 5 times the salaries of all rearchers (PhDs) working there, apart of the infrastructure provided by the employer.
So the results should be scaled at the benefit brought to the employer. It is a pitty the employers loose time in counting ISI points instead of planned benefits, as Rafael pointed out in a different thread.
From the scientist point of view, research should bring notoriety, an asset specific for liberal bussinesses, apart of money.
And finally, I come to the point: YES conferences are important to the notoriety of both employer and author, despite the recycling issue which is not well defined as an intelectual property issue.
Yes, I don't intend to 'take over' this discussion, but, to follow up on what Decebal-Radu and Ahmad say, notoriety is important for the group and for the university, it attracts students, it attracts citations and overall is 'good for business'. Although professors do not gain percentages from notoriety, good advertising is overall important for the research group. Also, of course there is the old saying 'it doesn't matter what you know, it matters who you know'. In this case the saying can be modified: "It does matter that people you know know what you know"...:-)
I was once at a conference in which participants asked the presenter what's new in this talk from the one he presented last week at another conference and the answer was ..."mainly the audience". Btw, I am not talking about presenters for whom the impact factor is still a factor. They do not do it to attract citations but to increase notoriety.
Posters, please note: In English, the word 'notoriety' is only used in the negative sense! The word 'fame' is used in the positive sense. What posters to this thread are convolving are the three different types of speakers: Commercial (sales) presenters, Invited speakers and Real researchers. Sales presenters pitch their services and products. Invited speakers set the example and tone for the conference. Researchers present new findings that may only be partially finished. They are not seeking fame. They just wish for their new ideas and techniques to have exposure and review by their peers.
Ian, you are right, my apologies, I was picking up a word from an earlier post. I am not sure though that 'fame' is the right word; I believe that the word that expresses this better without any negative connotation is 'wide dissemination'.
KCES's Institute of Management & Research, Jalgaon
Dear, Rafael, Regina & Ian
We have a difference of opinion on the same. I think in some of the field repeating the paper in different conferences is need of the time may be for awareness like Serious Medical/ Social issues....
But again It should be properly disclosed before organising committee wherever the paper is presented.
Ethics Shall be the base of Research.
Regarding Conference papers, many times it is published as book article, also many organisation have collaborated with Journals & they publish a Special Issue of conference. So credits will be there, depending on quality of your paper & conference.
I have introduced the word "notoriety" as a milestone for liberal professions Sorry if in English it might have a particular sense. That is not confirmed by my dictionaries However if p is probabilituy and 1-p is lack of probability, the original sense of the word is preserved.
Conference paper is counted as scientific publication. But most of the educational institutions need a peer reviewed indexed journal publication for the promotion purpose. Conference abstract peer review system and journal system is totally different.
As someone mentioned conference publication is the norm in Computer Science. How worthwhile the publication is depends on the prestige and selectivity of the outlet -- some conferences are "better" than some journals.
I am not at all an expert in the field, but from my brief encounters with computer science papers I am sure that any IEEE-associated conference is viewed in high regard (but of course IEEE is an American society and for that reason I am more familiar with it). I am sure there are other affiliations that have good reputation.
Hi Rafael, you are right, American professional associations have their journals of high quality. Not only IEEE but also Metall. Engineers(Metal. Trans), American Physical Society (Phys Rev), American Chemical Society etc.
The ISI indexing of journals and ordering by impact factor has outlined the prevalence of American journals and US research against the rest of the world. That appears to be true and is an important parameter for librarians. In a diffrent thread I have criticized the "ISI only" concept for other purposes.
Prof. Ciurcea, thanks for your correction, but I was referring actually to a remark by Robert who asked about Computer Science. The fact that ISI is heavily biased towards English-language journals and American ones in particular makes this ranking really unreliable..(Btw, in Physics there is also AIP that publishes the Journal of Applied Physics and also Applied Physics Letters and in ceramics the American Ceramics Society, and any paper in one of their conferences goes to their regular journal...not to mention MRS in materials research...In the UK there are also a few highly respected societies, but mostly US is prevalent... At the turn of the 20-th century it was German that counted, French as well. Newton was writing in Latin, but these times are gone... Who knows, by the looks of it, in the not-too-distant future you won't be able to advance without knowing Chinese...:-)
Conferences may be considered as journal publication, if the process to evaluate both of them is in the same range. the methods and results are clearly exposed, the discussion is convincent and there is already enough time dedicated to presentation , including images, tables and text. The publication of the conference in a journal connected with the Congress allow the audience to read it more than once and see if the references are appropiate. You can ask ¿which are the differences.? Sometimes wider diffusion or publication in less time, the interaction with colleagues, more attention by the audience . a bit of fame and so on.
Conferences may be considered as journal publication, if the process to evaluate both of them is in the same range. the methods and results are clearly exposed, the discussion is convincent and the there is already enough time dedicated to presentation , including images, tables and text. The publication of the conference in a journal connected with the Congress allow the audience to reade it more than once and see if the references are appropiate. You can ask ¿which are the differences.? Sometimes wider diffusion or publication in less time, the interaction with colleagues, more attention by the audience . a bit of fame and so on.
I think conference means technical meeting but its counted as publication if conference conducted by highly technical knowledge organization like IEEE. some Institutions conducting their own without any support of any society that would be less value. If you send paper to conference conducted by eminent societies like IEEE and Elsevier those will publish in online then you will get citation if your work is good. Then that is counted as good publication in u r career.
An author publishing a paper is assumed to submit a genuine paper, "not published before". If title, author list and content differ, that is another paper. As about the data in scope of the paper, it can come from someone else's paper and be reconsidered in the currenrt one, by avoiding plagiarism, of course.
As stated above the aim of conferences is not to publish quickly, which can be done differently but to get in touch with peers in the field of the conference.
Generally, publishing a paper in the conference book is the initial work of the new subjects that the writters working on. When the article is published in the familiar scientifis journal there are completely finished almost all aspects related these new ideas.
Conference materials are generally accepted view of scientific publications. But, with some citation of scientific papers is not well recorded conference proceedings, preferring scientific journals. For example, such is the Russian system of "Russian Science Citation Index" (http://elibrary.ru/defaultx.asp). I heard that a popular system "Scopus" accounts, papers of scientific conferences. About «Web of Science» This just can not tell.
There are different levels of conferences: (1) Come here, pay some money and we will let you present a paper and we will clap at the end of it. (2) We are interested in what you are doing, and will publicize what you have done by publishing the title of your paper on the Web. (3) We know you are doing something important and will publish your Abstract on the Web so that we can get more suckers to come to our next conference. (4) We will promise to put your paper in a proceedings of the conference -- maybe. (5) We will put your paper and powerpoint behind a paywall. (6) We will openly referee then publish your paper in the proceedings.
Well, I must say that in Ian's reply there is one level that's missing, and that's the one with the proceedings that go a journal. To answer Sergey, I recently came across a journal that does not accept conf. proceedings as valid references. This is a bit far-fetched, but is in line with what I mentioned earlier about verification of references. My recommendation after this discussion is that because of the various levels that Ian mentioned, people should be very selective when deciding whether or not to attend a particular conference. Sometimes you go to a conference because the employer pays and you get some frequent flyer mileage, so why not...:-) Some other times you go to meet people and see who is doing what in your area in your country or abroad. There are some international technical societies that don't have journals but their conferences are refereed and the paper gets you respect in the community, and let's not forget that beside the academic world there is a world of business and commerce out there, and they do participate in this kind of conferences, and sometimes you can find some research funding there. The bottom line is that there are more things that count than just the publication.
Back in the '80s, when I was young I was denied by the system: passport, visa, travel expenses, the right to talk to fereigners and many other normal things.
At that time, it was not clear that the Iron Courtain will disapperar, and we, the ambitious scientists of that time have suffered much of these interdictions.
On the contrary, the nomenklatura guys had no interdictiopns. Even today, they are the ones beancounting the new contributions of the new generations and throwing them their high ISI factors and Hirsch indexes. This is a huge ethical issue here. The lustration procedure (stay out one 20 years round) was not formulated for the academic and scientific field.
So, YES, scientists should congregate and learn from each other. I go further to associate the scientific positions with the human rights of free circulation and free speach so as to allow the young scientists to be evidenced by peers in public, during the conferences. Eventually they qualify for PhDs and post-docs in the teams of the peers also.
Publication is a legal means of authoring. But ANY means of publication, including oral, such as conferences, is a way of publishing your ideas.
The point here is that some conferences are not indexed by ISI. Actually, in 1987, a conference proceedings volume was published by Elsevier. Recently that papers were indexed by ISI, a process which could be imitated by all peer reviwed conferences in the past, not beeing included in a journal
Because of the different regulations in the nuclear field, IAEA has his own alert and abstract publication system which is used by scientists in the field. But, well, this system is not for scholars. However the legal aspect is covered in this way also.
As many people have said, it really depends on the field, the institution, where you are presenting the data to, etc. etc....
I personally think that a well-written conference proceeding should be regarded as a full publication provided the paper goes through a rigorous review process, is more than a few pages, and the acceptance rate is reasonably low. Most of the IEEE flagship conferences meet these requirements. For example in the signal processing field, the papers in IEEE ICASSP are four full pages, double column, and are rigorously reviewed by at least three reviewers (most of the time very harsh and critical). The acceptance rate is well below 50 % most of the time (in reality much lower for the rest of us since there is good evidence that the session organizers give out the majority of the slots to informally invited speakers in the field).
On the other hand, there are proceeding that are reviewed and accepted with just abstracts (or extended abstracts) only, and there are proceedings with just a half page manuscripts. Obviously these should be excluded from being listed as publications.
Yes, it should. This question never arise 20 years ago. At that time, conference is really a place to discuss high impact finding. Even some professors prefer to submit to conference as the time needed for his finding to be available to public is not so long. If he submit to journal, at least he need to wait for 1 year until his finding can be available to public. As rapid feedback is one of the important part in research, conference is a better place to present our finding.
However, in the last 10 years, conference organizer start to focus on the profit than the scientific quality. This changed the perception on the conference, especially to the new comers. Conference it said to be second class, and in some institution can not be considered as publication. But the 'real' conference still exist. One way I practise is to look on how many times the conference was organize..e.g.34th Conference on...
I have been following this discussion for a while. Looking at the various contributions I think that there is a general confusion about the value of attending and presenting at a conference and publishing your finding in a conference proceedings as opposed to in a regular refereed journal. I find well organized conferences wonderful - but I still prefer to publish my findings in a properly refereed journal. And I seldom trust proceedings papers, since they, in my view, are never thoroughly refereed, and sometimes suffer from language issues. And as Ahmad Abas observes, conferences has become profit targets for professional conference organizers, thus leading to a deterioration of quality, and most certainly in the quality of the proceedings.
Hi Steffen. As many contributors say, there is a huge difference between conferences given in a congress whose Scientific Committee is dedicated to review in advance the submited text, and other congresses where the work adds points to the organizers CV. The second type of contributions needs a further review to be accepted in the journal or proceedings linked with the meetting.
It depends of the field of research. There are research fields that to submit a conference paper and be accepted is not an easy task. There are conferences with high standards and very prestigious. Nevertheless, the most common scenario for a promotion or for a researcher to be awarded with an academic position is to have publications in prestigious journal magazines. But as I have said before, it depends on the field of research.
Goswami Ganesh Dutta Sanatan Dharam College (GGDSD)
I think the conference papers can become very fruitful for researchers and users so it can be considered as publication. But the papers to be presented and published in conferences should be checked for plagiarism and peer-reviewed by editorial team before final publication so that only the qualitative work comes forward.
Publishing original ideas, which are rigorously reviewed should be a focal point of discussion; whether it is published in a journal or a conference proceedings. Since rigorous review is a tedious task for even good journals due to lack of sincere reviewers, time constraints, etc., it is very difficult to maintain the quality in conference publications( there are some exceptions). In conference papers, the scope for correction/revision is very less. I prefer to publish my preliminary ideas in some conference proceedings, update/correct these ideas as per the review comments and comments raised by the conference participants and prepare the paper with elaborate illustrations for journal publication.
Conferences are better platforms to meet peer researchers and exchange ideas.
TEAGASC - The Agriculture and Food Development Authority
"Brownie Points" for scientific publications are ranked from minimal to top, depending on where published. Maximum points are for peer-reviewed papers in "high impact journals". See http://www.sciencegateway.org/rank/index.html
Papers given at Conferences have a much lower ranking because they are not peer-reviewed. They are useful, however, because the authors usually get feedback from colleagues, which allows them to tidy-up the paper for futuer publication in a high-impact journal.
In my experience conferences are peer reviewed. How much weight is given to a particular publication depends on both the importance of the publishing venue and the perceived importance of the publication itself. As several people have pointed out Computer Science is a conference field. If we discount conference publication too much then nobody in CS will ever get tenure!
The importance of the publication itself in tenure and promotion proceedings may be measured by one or all of the prestige of the outlet, citation count for the article or external reviewers. Note the following from The European Association of Science Editors (EASE) (cited in your Wikipedia link: "EASE recommends that journal impact factors are used only - and cautiously - for measuring and comparing the influence of entire journals, but not for the assessment of single papers, and certainly not for the assessment of researchers or research programmes either directly or as a surrogate.: http://www.ease.org.uk/publications/impact-factor-statement
As per my experience with R&D in addition to teaching in the field of Biochemistry/Biotechnology, it does not matter what and where you are publishing outcome of your research, but should be interesting to researchers in relevant area. There is no doubt at all that the interaction with experts at conferences/symposia definitely helps in upgradation of research propagation. But the nature and status of conference matters a lot. Therefore, I take a privilege to advise (taking you in confidence) budding researchers to process accordingly.
In my opinion yes. It should be counted as publication if the proceedings are edited. However if the extended form or refined version of data is published in a journal. The Authors may set high standard by not accounting one data in two publications. Further if only extended abstracts are published in proceedings, the methodology adopted in research (most important aspect) is not reproducible or clear. Hence it may not be counted as an independent publication.
fields and relevant habits are important and probably make the difference; anyway, as long as there is a valuable relation between quality of the paper and credits; I think it would be better not to distinguish between conference and reviews. If we refer to the citation index for instance, in my opinion is not important if the cited paper has been published to a conference or to a review. What is important is that there is an interest stimulated by that paper and testified by the number of citations. But of course this is not the only parameter and I agree that reference community make the difference.
As far as I know, American Chemical Society and SSR deal with peer reviewed research publications. i welcome other valuable and scientifically significant international societies/bodies dealing with 'Research Publications' of defined impact.
Do not submit in a conference unless it is a ISI or scopus indexed conference. Some conferences also publish the same paper in the linked journal. that is beneficial. Else submit your paper short form in the conference and other changed extra part for the journal. it will add double value to your research work.
I agree to John Wiedenhoeft's comment, it depends on the field. Important conferences in mechanical and production engineering have their own conference proceedings being published frequently together with journals of the same society and in cooperation with a known publisher. Because of their partially rather stringend peer review system, they manage to reach relatively high SCI scores and gain internationally high recognition.
My own limited experience is that a conference paper is often followed up by a more detailed journal paper. Conference papers can get rushed out to meet the submission deadlines for the conference, but journal papers don't generally have that problem.
If someone only ever writes conference papers and never, or very few, journal papers I would be wondering why. I'm sure things like that are very dependent on the field you are in and the institution you are working at.
I feel that the conference paper also can be treated as publication provided thereafter papers are published in peer reviewed journals. Resaon behind it is that it is the initial stage of a researcher to start his / her research work, wherein he / she gets the concept clear about the methodology of presentation. Based on that individual goes for next scale of research. Conference is a platform, wherein individal makes concepts clear, its like a foundation to the further research.
Hello Prasanth G. Narasimha-Shenoi , the Problem is this case is, that usually confetrence and organizers are known , but the Editors of the conference papers might not be disclosed. This is different, in case of a planned publication in a generally acknowledged Journal.
I don't know about other researchers but I for one, do examine publications for their content and relevance to my area of research. To this end, I have gathered quite a bunch of information from conference publications rather than journal ones. Which
ever way we look at it should depend on the readership of the article; afterall journals do have "hierarchy".
It looks that this thread is coming to life again after some hibernation. Some of the new answers have already been given some time ago. To summarize: some conferences that are organized by professional bodies such as IEEE, American Chemical Society, American Ceramics Society, etc. have automatic peer review and are published in journals if accepted. Other conferences only publish proceedings but are still peer-reviewed. I think that non-peer-reviewed conferences are good for short preliminary papers. Such papers can be upgraded later to full papers and sent to journals. So in a sense they are good because they serve to bring the author and the topic to the attention of colleagues...but they do not count much in the cv in normal institutions.
The primary aim of conferences, should be, creating interactive knowledge environment. For a researcher the primary aim, especially with PhD students should be, to interact with experts in the same field rather than to account for publishing. The outcomes of this interaction create very good feedback for the ongoing research/ thesis.
There are many academic conferences around the world where easily you can publish with them once the conference registration fee paid and they do not require researchers to present and discuss their papers. It looks they account more for money rather than academic benefits.
As PhD candidate, I have learnt that targeting academic conferences that have more experts in the field is more important to account for publications. Despite significant number of published papers, my thesis has been refused twice and needs to do intensive revision. With high quality conferences, the raised issues by examiners would be overcame if not all, the most.
I agree with you Rayed that the most valuable aspect of a conference is often the conversations you can have with the other delegates working in the same field. However for many universities in Australia academics would not be funded to attend a conference unless their university can 'count' that conference paper as a research output for the purposes of government assessment of the university. This has generated a climate where some academics write papers to increase their 'count' rather than to actually contribute anything intellectually to their research area. It also means that some people attend conferences just to be seen to be presenting their paper rather than to listen to anyone else and engage in the ongoing discussions.
If you are asking in terms of tenure and promotion that will heavily depend upon your university. Many conferences that publish proceedings will also offer journals to publish upon making any enhancements to proceeding.