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Conference vs. Journal Papers

Updated: October 13, 2017

Background: There has been a lot of confusion in our community over the issue of conference papers appearing as journal papers (or more rarely, vice versa).  The goal of this policy and webpage is to reduce or ideally eliminate this confusion by articulating a clear policy.

The following is the policy at the IEEE Transactions on Wireless Communications, which is consistent with the IEEE policy (see IEEE Publications Services and Products Board Operations Manual, Section 8.1.7.E) and the ComSoc Policy, which is to encourage authors to submit papers that are extensions of their conference papers.

  • Conference papers cannot simply be republished without significant differences. The meaning of “significant” is left at the discretion of the Editor. There is no quantitative threshold in determining whether the differences are significant.
  • During the submission process, the conference version (or versions, if the paper is based on multiple conference papers) should be cited in two places when submitting the journal paper: (i) in the Manuscript Central field requesting this information, and (ii) in the journal paper itself.  For conference papers of 8 pages or more, a summary explaining the differences/similarities must be included as a supplementary document in the submission.
  • Text and figures can be exactly copied from the conference paper(s) into the journal paper.  This is not double publishing.  An at least slightly different title should be used for the journal paper, to describe the typically broader contribution of the journal paper and to avoid confusion in the archival record.
  • It is possible to submit the journal and conference version at the same time.  Or the journal version can even be submitted first. However, the journal version should not have appeared on IEEE Xplore (in final form or as Early Access) at the time of submission of a conference version of that paper.
  • It is the responsibility of the Authors to ensure that any copyright commitments they have made outside the IEEE, however, are not violated by the eventual IEEE journal publication.

Overall rationale for this policy:  Authors should be encouraged to present their work to the community at IEEE conferences, which inevitably involves publishing a conference version.  A policy that prevented conference papers from being later published in a journal version would have the opposite effect and discourage researchers from presenting their best work at conferences.  Similarly, it would damage the quality of IEEE journals if innovative ideas are barred from publication in them, simply because they have been presented in a conference format.