What Conference Planners Get Wrong 99% Of The Time

What Conference Planners Get Wrong 99% Of The Time

As a conference planner, it’s easy to get lost in the burden of preparation. You have hundreds, maybe thousands of abstracts to review in order to find the best of the best presenters. But in the midst of all the planning, make sure that the purpose of the conference itself remains clear – which is to review and select the best abstracts to present to the attending audience. This means that the review process must remain the most important part of the whole journey. Once more – Abstract review is about finding the best content — and finding the people who you feel have the best ability to excite others about their material.


A successful review process comes down to one thing – a good scoring rubric.


A Good Scoring Rubric Ensures Fairness

The review process itself should strive to use a scoring rubric, perhaps giving points on a 1 (worst) to 5 (best) scale or 1 to 10 depending on the question. Here are some suggested areas to give points for a well balanced rubric that equally emphasizes finding good content that is communicated clearly.


Things we think are worth 1 to 5 points

  • Catchiness of Subject Line / Topic Sentence
  • Trendiness of idea / how much are others talking about the same thing
  • How close did the abstract match the category / is the topic appropriate as described?


Things we think should be worth more potential points, say 1 to 10

  • Give lots of potential points for originality, perhaps someone has found something groundbreaking
  • Clarity (e.g. was the emphasis of the abstract clear or are you confused as the reviewer)
  • Grammar / word choice – e.g. was this proof read, if not it is a major read flag


Of course, there are several other important aspects of the abstract review process that we cannot ignore. For instance, a reviewer should have some general expertise in the area they are being asked to review, and if a reviewer has a conflict of interest it should be easy for them to recuse himself or herself. Groups of abstracts in the same categories should be reviewed by the same judges — some judges might generally score higher or lower, so as long as scoring is uniform the speakers won’t get slighted.


Got more questions about the Abstract Review Process? Head over to our Abstracts Management Software to learn more about what OpenWater can do to enhance your conference planning journey.