Somewhere at the back of your mind—behind the first twinges of a headache—you know the conference two months from now can’t happen without a conference abstracts review process, as much as you’d love to bypass the meticulous process this year.
For much of the history of modern conferences, reviewing conference abstracts has been a complicated, manual process. Piles of papers, a crossfire of email chains between staff, reviewers, and presenters, and a heavy administrative workload were all par for the course.
Thanks to technology, that’s no longer the case. Organizations today often rely on either locally installed or web-based tools that automate many parts of the abstract review process. You can piecemeal your needs together and find plenty of free, open-source tools with a simple web search (such as these ones created by Brown University).
However, the best solutions will fold all of these functions into a single, end-to-end abstract management platform. Our OpenWater software, for example, includes all three of the features below.
Here are a few of the tools modern technology can offer to streamline abstract review (and cure your pre-emptive headache):
1. Autoscoring Software
Autoscoring is the name of the game when it comes to optimizing your conference abstract review process. You’ll never be able to replace the human mind—only your reviewers can determine the real value of the incoming submissions. But you can take some of the load off their shoulders.
Sophisticated autoscoring software for conference abstracts can set up scoring rules with point values for basic features. It works especially well to promote abstracts with favorable responses in fields with restricted or selectable values, such as:
- Drop-down lists
- Checkbox lists
- Options in a radio list
- Number fields
- Date fields
- File uploads
The scores you dole out for each response—according to how much the answer was desired—can add up into a total score that supplements your reviewer’s efforts with open text responses (and saves them time).
2. A Grading Tool With a Custom Rubric
Review moves along much quicker when reviewers don’t have to grade and comment by hand. A software tool that can import the conference abstracts and assign scores based upon a customizable rubric saves paper, ink, and reduces the scoring process to a few clicks.
Every conference (and industry) is different, so it makes sense that you should have the freedom to select a unique scoring method for your conference. These methods can take the form of the number range, ranking system, numeric score, or descriptive phrase—the key is that you get to decide the best approach for you and your reviewers’ needs.
3. Abstract Review Program Templates
Perhaps the best example of “automation” is when you can take the carefully designed format, rubrics, rules, and structure of the virtual abstract review program you built out this year and see them automatically loaded into the program for next year’s review process.
OpenWater is set up to do just this. With the OpenWater program, you can customize and save your templates and processes so you only have to set up the program once. This gives you the freedom to set up multiple rounds of review (each with unique scoring criteria), and automatically move abstracts forward when they meet a scoring threshold in the previous round.
All-in-One Software Can Handle Everything
A one-stop platform for managing conference abstracts doesn’t need to be limited to the review stage, either. OpenWater automates everything—your call for abstracts, abstract submission (through a custom form builder), unlimited rounds of review, automated session creation with the final abstracts, and an online schedule-builder that can feed your session agenda directly to a conference app.
Advantages like these have made the modern conference abstract management process much easier than older, traditional methods. It’s worth using the extra time to compare software solutions and find the best fit for you.