Every now and then, intellectuals climb down from their ivory towers and gather to swap ideas and discuss research. These are known as academic conferences and often serve as the ground from which new ideas grow.
As such, you may need to cite conference proceedings – the collected presentations given at a conference in published form – when writing a paper. Most referencing systems have a format for how to cite this kind of source, so it’s important to familiarize yourself with the rules.
Herein we provide details of how to cite conference proceedings using Harvard style referencing. There are other referencing systems available, though, so remember to check which system your college or school prefers.
The papers presented at a conference are often published as a collection known as the ‘conference proceedings’. If you need to cite the entire proceedings of a conference, the format to use is:
Surname, Initial(s). (Year) Full Title of Conference Proceedings. Conference Location, Date. City of Publication, Publisher.
So, for example, if you were citing the proceedings of the Third Annual Proofed Conference as a whole, it would appear in your reference list as:
Proofed (2015). Proceedings of the Third Annual Proofed Conference. Cambridge, May 24-27, 2015. Cambridge, PMP Publications.
More commonly, you’ll want to cite one paper from published conference proceedings. In this case, your reference should include the specific paper you’re citing followed by where it can be found:
Author Surname, Initial(s). (Year) ‘Title of Paper’, Full Title of Conference. Location, Date. City of Publication, Publisher, page range.
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If, then, you wanted to cite Alan Presenter’s paper from the Third Annual Proofed Conference, it would appear in your reference list as:
Presenter, A. (2015) ‘The Glory of Conferences’, Proceedings of the Third Annual Proofed Conference. Cambridge, May 24-27, 2015. Cambridge, PMP Publications, pp. 105-127.
You may also need to include access details for papers found online (e.g., a URL and a date of access).
More occasionally, you may want to cite a presentation you saw at a conference, but which isn’t available in published form. In these cases, you’ll need to provide the following details in your reference list:
Contributor’s Surname, Initial(s). (Year) ‘Title of Presentation’, paper presented at Title of Conference. Location, Date.
If you were to cite Alan Presenter’s paper before it was published, the reference list entry would therefore look like this:
Presenter, A. (2015) ‘The Glory of Conferences’, paper presented at Proceedings of the Third Annual Proofed Conference. Cambridge, MA, May 24-27, 2015.