Must-have peer review system features

3 minute read
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If you’ve organised a research conference in the past, you will be aware of the mammoth amount of work involved in the abstract management process. Indeed, while of course the entire process is an enormous task, it’s the peer review phase that takes up the greatest effort.

So you’re seeking a peer review system, but what are the features you need? In this article I will run through the must-have features in any peer review system.

One-click allocation of Reviews

This is where the power is! The benefit of using an online abstract management tool is that it can eliminate 80% of the effort involved in, not alone gathering submissions, but manually allocating papers or abstracts to the matching reviewers. This is done through a system’s smart algorithm, as it matches submissions to reviewers using the author’s and reviewer’s selected topics or tracks. It should also incorporate the number of required reviews per submission, nepotism, single or double blind reviews. So with just one click all your papers or abstracts are allocated to their reviews – saving you time and your sanity!  You can then tweak the allocations, as required, before the reviewing begins.

Custom Review Widget

A custom review widget is an important feature as it allows for flexibility – adapting to your conference’s needs. Here is where you will setup the marking scheme for your reviewers to follow. Once setup and the reviewers are allocated to submissions they add the scores to the system. A reviewer widget should be easy for your reviewers to follow, enhancing their experience. For example Ex Ordo offers a one-click marking feature which is easy and quick to use (see below).


Some of your reviewers may prefer to download the submissions and mark them offline and on-the-go before uploading them online, so your tool should facilitate this. Finally, a custom review widget should provide an overview of each submission and also each reviewers progress so that throughout the reviewing phase it is easy to report.

Easy Communication

A built-in communication tool is a really handy feature to have in your abstract management system but in particular during the reviewing phase. As your submissions acceptance/rejection relies on the peer review phase it is important to be able to easily manage and communicate with your reviewers throughout this phase.

A system such as Ex Ordo has a built-in communication centre whereby you can communicate with members of your conference throughout the many stages of the abstract management process. This allows for easy management and progress during the review phase. For example, you can send reviewers who have not started or those who have not completed their reviews a personalised reminder emails within the tool with a few clicks.  Or you can easily identify if a reviewer has not accepted the invitation to review a paper, so that you can reassign the submission to another reviewer.

Multiple Stage Reviews

If your conference is collecting abstracts and may, at a later time – once the abstracts go through their first round of reviewing – seek second submissions for authors to be reviewed, you will need to look for a system that can support multiple stage reviewing. This is important to note, as not all systems can support this feature.

Re-allocating reviewers

People that offer their time for peer review are busy people that give their time up to the greater good of the research community. So, brace yourself… It can happen from time-to-time that a reviewer can no longer commit to reviewing a paper at your conference. In this case it’s important that the system can support the re-allocation of reviews.


Ex Ordo’s All-in-One Abstract Management System supports all of these features. If you’re planning a research conference, why not schedule a live demo with a member of our team and we can show you how Ex Ordo can adapt to your conferencing needs!