I have the feeling that more and more people cite workshop papers to sustain their claims. As if workshop papers were peer-reviewed. They are not. At most, they are “peer-filtered” (meaning that the PC of the workshop checked the work to make sure authors were not saying anything completely stupid or out of the scope). In the vast majority of workshops*, acceptance rate is >75%.
Sometimes because workshops didn’t get enough papers (a common case, now that every conference comes with plenty of associated satellite events that fight to attract people), others because the workshop wants to give many people the chance to attend and participate in the discussion. Whatever the reason, workshop papers should not be regarded as sound scientific work. And therefore, they should not be cited as such. One of my mentors told me once: “You’re not supposed to know and read all workshop papers. If they had good ideas, authors will publish them in a more “serious” venue later on”.
And to be clear, I’m not asking workshops to put in place strict peer-review processes. In fact, I would prefer the opposite, have them more and more open and a place for scientific exchange (and not for a sequence of scientific monologs as conferences tend to be). I’m just asking you not to cite those discussions as if they were final works.
*: Add your own exception here
I would not say “never” city workshop papers. As always, it depends on what you want to sustain with the cite. Sometimes, workshop papers are worth citing: they present a tool, a motivation, some interesting facts/numbers, a (maybe novel) position…
Sometimes we at academia are too conservative (I’d say self-preserving), and novel ideas don’t always achieve those “serious” venues, or take much time — esp. for ‘outsiders’ in the community.
And let’s not forget about the reliability of peer review… especially in software engineering, where we have lots of room for improvement in reproducibility and transparency.