Time Trap #4 – Collecting Conference Material

3 minute read

In our previous posts we’ve looked at how organisers can save admin time in Abstract SubmissionPeer Review and Accepting and Notifying Authors. We are nearly there! However, significant time savings can still be found in the final time trap – Collecting Conference Material. At this stage, authors submit the final corrected versions of their abstract/paper, plus other material such as copyright disclaimers, biographies and presentation files.

Manual Collection

If you’re using a manual system, you (the chair/organiser) need to email authors to submit their final abstract versions. A verification on word count and format may have to be carried out again. If the final version is a paper, the attachment will be needed and it should be linked with your Excel file. You will also need some other material from your authors at this stage. For example:

  • Author biography – summary details on the presenting author.
  • Copyright disclaimer – In some cases, the conference proceedings will be published by an external publisher. The publisher may want a copyright disclaimer from the author and perhaps the source files. You’ll need to send the copyright disclaimer notice to your authors. Authors will have to download, sign, scan and email the disclaimer  back to you to be stored locally.
  • Presentation file – There is nothing worse than watching a presenter take 10 minutes of the allotted time fumbling with a USB key to get a presentation working in a conference computer. Collecting the presentation file before the conference means that you can check they work on the conference computers in advance.

Responses will have to be monitored and recorded in your Excel file as they arrive. You will also have to send reminders to late authors on a regular basis. In a way, this time trap incorporates the first three step (recent posts) on a smaller scale.

Our sample conference for these posts has 300 abstract submissions. If this step takes 2 minutes to process each abstract, this stage alone can eat 10 hours of your time, and mean a lot of time in front of your PC.

Online Collection

One way to minimise the wasted time is to use an online abstract submission system.

  • With an online abstract submission system, authors can provide copyright information in 2 ways (if needed). With the simple check-box, the author can “sign over” the copyright of the abstract. You can also have authors download a paper form, print it off, sign it and upload it directly to the online system.
  • Authors can upload their biography and presentation files directly and it’s easy to monitor progress and send automatic reminders.
  • Presentations can be downloaded in a zip file and can be transferred to the conference computers just before the conference. This way you can make sure your presentations work in advance, helping your sessions move smoothly.

In an online abstract submission system, there is an initial setup of approximately 15 minutes. After that, everything else is automated- saving you approximately 10 hours.

So there you have it!

Over the past 4 posts on time traps, we have shown you where you can save days or even weeks of admin work in your conference.

In fact, in a 300 submission conference we showed how you can make up to 70-75 hours (93%) in admin time savings alone!

The majority of the savings come from eliminating mundane, repetitive work that adds very little value to your conference.  In most cases, a chair organises a conference on top of their day job, so the time is limited from the outset. Identifying and avoiding these time traps will allow you spend time on things that will make your conference great – getting the best research, speakers and sponsors to your event!

If you have any queries about this post, don’t hesitate to comment below!

Happy Conferencing!

 If you want to calculate how much admin time you could save using online abstract software for your conference, try this  interactive time-saving calculator.