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Mistakes Abstract Reviewers Make and How to Avoid Them

We often talk about what life is like for an event manager running scientific conferences and the processes involved. After coming across the blog post Mistakes Reviewers Make, we thought it was time to shine some light on abstract reviewers. We hope you’ll pass this post onto your committee and reviewers.

The blog post author, Niklas Elmqvist, refers to the “Craft of Reviewing”. From the event manager viewpoint we tend to think more about reviewing as a stage in the event management timeline and not so much as a “craft”. The craft lies in the ability to give a review that is fair and balanced, this means reviewing the research based on what is presented as a scientific submission rather than what the reviewer feels but more importantly, reviewing the paper, not the author. As Niklas highlights, this is easier said than done.

The pressures on reviewers is high – they’re faced with tight timelines, reviewing multiple papers at once, along with reviewing papers for other conferences and/or journals. On top of this, they are under pressure to provide appropriate feedback and make the right decision. Harsh feedback or a negative review resulting in a rejection can put a young submitter off their game. As Niklas puts it, “Decisions can make or break careers,” not to mention also make or break conferences and the credibility of the host organisation.

Much of Niklas’ blog is largely based on new reviewers, highlighting a lack of training as a major challenge. He says they are too often thrown into the deep end to make important decisions which contributes to the mistakes.

The blog post delves into the traits of an inexperienced abstract reviewers, addresses common inappropriate sentiments mistakes made by reviewers and asks the questions reviewers should ask themselves. You can read the full blog post, Mistakes Reviewers Make here.

“This is not a general guide on how to review papers. Rather, it is a guide on how to avoid the many mistakes that new and inexperienced reviewers tend to make. Actually, as it turns out, some of these mistakes are still common among more senior reviewers! I would encourage everyone involved in the scientific review process to at least skim through what I have to say.” Niklas Elmqvist

About the author of Mistakes Reviewers Make blog post
Niklas Elmqvist is an associate professor in the iSchool (College of Information Studies) at University of Maryland, College Park he writes Mistakes Reviewers Make from the point of a reviewer, committee member and a submitter.

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