Time Trap #3 – Accept and Notify Authors

4 November 2013, 03:09 pm

In the first 2 posts in this series, we’ve looked at the admin time savings a chair can make in Abstract Submission and Peer Review. This 3rd stage is the “Accept and Notify Authors” Stage. The conference has now reached the point where all the submissions have been reviewed, and the chair has to decide which abstracts to accept/reject and to inform the authors. The first step is to aggregate the individual reviewer scoring and feedback for each submission and add any chair comments. Next, you’ll decide whether to accept or reject each submission. Finally, you’ll then need to inform the authors individually and provide personalised feedback on their submission.

We’re using a sample conference of 300 papers to illustrate how much admin time is involved in each step. (If you have more or fewer abstract submissions you can calculate the admin time savings for your conference here).

Manually

With a manual process, you’ll need to take the individual reviewer scores for each abstract to calculate the aggregate score. You’ll add any additional comments you believe are necessary. A summary document needs to be built that contains all of the abstracts, plus the individual and combined reviewer scores and comments. This is then sent to your committee. You and your committee will use this as the basis to decide which submissions to accept and which to reject. Once you have decided on each abstract, you’ll record the final decision in your Excel file. A personalised email will then be prepared for each author with the good or bad news and the combined reviewer feedback.

In a manual system this can require a lot of cutting or pasting, mail merging, and emailing. If we estimate that the admin time for this is 3 minutes per abstract, then our sample conference of 300 abstract submissions will take 15 hours of admin time just for this stage alone. Again, this is mundane, tiresome admin work that doesn’t add a lot of value to the conference and could be better spent elsewhere. So, is there a better way?

Online Abstract Management System

An online abstract management system can eliminate 90% of the admin time in this stage alone. It automatically combines the individual scores for an abstract to give the aggregate score. The committee can view each abstract and see the combined score online so you don’t need to create a separate document. They can work through the reviews to see individual comments and scores. The chair can accept or reject each abstract using a drop-down menu. An online abstract management system can send a personalised email to each author in seconds, notifying them of the decision without any cutting and pasting or mail merging from Excel and email. It should take about 30 minutes to configure the online abstract management system (for example, prepare the text for your notification emails), saving you 14 plus hours of admin work compared to the manual process.

So far, we’ve identified approx 62.5 hours of admin time that can be saved using abstract submission software instead of manually. (33 hours in abstract submission, 15 hours in peer review and 14.5 hours here).

In our next post, we will discuss the final admin time trap for the chair – Collecting the Conference Material.

Happy Conferencing!