Almost all researchers have been there. The amount of confusion between the two has only been increasing in this Internet age where access to journals and conferences alike is readily available online. Let us just begin by saying that whether you are writing a conference paper or a journal paper, you are on the right track. You are not only learning from the academic community, but you are also positively and actively contributing to it and you may well be the reason why advancement in a certain field could be accomplished.
First thing’s first, we must understand what a journal is and what a conference is. A journal is a periodical publication that focuses on a certain discipline. It contains a number of peer-reviewed papers that are generally considered credible and are very good sources to cite. A conference, on the other hand, is a place where scholars, researchers, professors, and academics gather to discuss research and developments in a certain field. In most academic conferences, people gather to present their newest research while others attend to observe these milestones. Research is often presented orally with visualization.
The papers submitted to a conference are usually reviewed during a specific period and authors receive their acceptance or rejection letters at the same time. Conference papers are usually short and concise with a limit on the number of pages allowed. For journal papers, on the other hand, the amount of time needed for publishing is very flexible. If your paper is promising but there are edits required, there could be a lot of back and forth between you and your editor until your paper is ready to be published. The revision process for a journal paper undergoes a very meticulous peer-review process, far more detailed than conference revisions, that takes a very long period of time. For some journals, the revision period may not even be fixed, but open until the paper is ready. This usually depends on the publication frequency of the journal whereas a journal that publishes an issue twice a year will probably have a less flexible revision period than a journal that publishes an issue a year. Other journals have ‘open issues’ where an issue remains open and new papers are published in that same issue when they’re ready. If you ever find an issue containing just 1 or 2 papers, it’s most probably an open issue and if you go back and take another look a few weeks later, chances are you’ll find a couple more papers added to the issue.
So there you have it, you now know the difference between the two but all of this raises the question of where each type of paper could be published. Generally speaking, a journal paper will only be published in an open or closed access journal and will not be included in a conference proceedings book or online proceedings repository. However, a conference paper, though usually published in a conference proceedings book or online proceedings repository, could possibly be published in a journal. This usually depends on the conference organizers as well. If your conference organizer offers you the opportunity to be published, chances are you will be published in proceedings online repository or a proceedings book. However, if your paper is truly above average and is regarded as very high-quality work, you may be offered the opportunity to be published in a journal.
The last question that you probably need to be answered is “is it bad that my paper wasn’t selected to be published in a journal?” The answer is No. The fact that you conducted your own research for months, maybe even years, was accepted to present in a conference, presented in front of fellow scholars and professors, and got your work published for the masses to read is something that you should be proud of. If you absolutely want to be published in a journal, you could just target a journal directly without submitting to a conference.