As we know, peer reviewing helps the convenors and the committee decide what is presented at a conference. This makes abstract review stage a one of the most important in the entire abstract process. It’s a stage that requires precision planning and coordination to ensure it is efficient and effective.
Here’s how you can avoid a lengthy abstract review stage:
Set tight abstract review deadlines
In our abstract management guide, Little Book on Abstracts we set aside one month for the entire review process. Our timeline takes into consideration allocations, reviewing and feedback. It also allows for second round reviewing if required.
A month might sound like a long time but there is a lot to get done. With this in mind, set tight deadlines for your reviewers, we recommend around 2 weeks. This creates urgency and will save you time by not having to chase up your reviewers over long periods. In saying this, it is important to consider the workload you are asking your reviewers to undertake. Be considerate of your reviewers, many of whom are volunteering their time. To make their life easier, Monday deadlines are better than Friday, this gives them a weekend to complete their allocates.
Assign reviewers based on their expertise
If the reviewer has expertise in the area they are reviewing, you’ll save time because they understand the discipline and won’t need to spend time trying to comprehend the subject area. Secondly, they’re better equipped to score abstracts critically and based on scientific rigor. This benefits the overall quality of the conference and will aid further facilitation of learning and research at the conference – this is why a conference is held after all.
Mitigate conflict of interest early
Determine any conflicts or bias that occur between submitters and reviewers early on. This is not always easy to do without the input of reviewers and therefore you need to have clear guidelines about conflicts of interest in your reviewer’s guide. Reviewers shouldn’t review abstracts that will benefit them personally or professionally, or if they have strong biases towards the submitter. Often it’s uncomfortable for reviewers to disclose conflicts they have with submitters so making it as easy as possible for them to abstain from reviewing a particular submitter abstract is really important. Currinda makes this easy to do by offering an abstain/conflict of interest button on the review page.
Make guidelines transparent
Creating transparent review guidelines for submitters (and reviewers) will save time and potentially an unplanned second review stage. We encourage that guidelines be posted on your website. By communicating the guidelines clearly, you’re paving the way for high quality submissions. This makes the job of the reviewers a lot easier and more enjoyable. Boston University have done this really well on their website, view their abstract review guidelines here.
We understand the challenges that can present during the review process and that is why we created abstract software that streamlines the abstract reviewing process for not only reviewers and submitters but also convenors and event managers. To find out more about our integrated abstract software, click here.