Good abstract management software can dramatically reduce the administrative burden on your conference committee and reviewers. It is however, important to first consider a number of items before configuring your abstract submission system in order to streamline submission and eliminate confusion among users down the line. We’ve compiled this list of the most important things to consider:
1. Collect all necessary information
It is important to decide on the information fields to capture from authors beforehand as it becomes problematic to add fields after submission opened. Make sure your software can customize the submission form.
2. Define your topics of submission
Clearly defined topics will make life easier for authors and make it possible to create review groups where reviewers are given access only to specific topics. It should also be possible to override the topic under which an abstract was submitted.
3. Define roles required to manage submission and review
The roles will vary according to the software you are using, but the basic requirement would be (i) an organiser who will configure the software, invite reviewers, and send notifications, (ii) committee that will make the final decision on acceptance, (iii) reviewers that will add reviews.
4. Have clear instructions for submission
It would reduce author queries and the requirement for the committee to request amendments to abstracts if there are clear guidelines for authors available on your conference website and/or app.
5. Assign reviewers based on their expertise
This will make it easier and faster for them to review as they would not have to research topics. Also very important not to overload reviewers with too many abstracts to review – reduce the number of reviews required if this is an issue.
6. Define your marking criteria for reviews
Clearly defined scoring criteria would make it easier for the committee to make a final decision of which abstracts to include in the conference programme. Make sure your software can accommodate designing your own customized review form.
7. Is this a blind review process?
Decide if it’s a blind review process where reviewers are not allowed to see author names and authors cannot see the reviews that were added.