Standardized Guidelines

We recently came across an article by Dr. Stuart J. Salasche in the June, 1997 issue of Dermatologic Surgery in which he suggested eight steps reviewers should take when reviewing journal manuscripts. We’ve modified them slightly to come up with what we think are valuable guidelines that should be at the core of any review process:

  1. Read the material once through to gain a general familiarity with it.
  2. Identify the author’s main objective or hypothesis.
  3. Reread the material as many times as necessary to gain a full understanding of it.
  4. Determine if the main objective was satisfied or the hypothesis proven.
  5. Determine if new or valid information was provided or if older material was successfully assimilated and clarified.
  6. Decide whether the material should be accepted or rejected.
  7. Suggest ways the material could be improved.

Are these guidelines sufficient? Are they too specific? Are they just right? Let us know your thoughts.

The Reviewer’s Golden Rule

Here at ProposalSpace we not only want to make peer review easier, we also want to provide a venue where best practices for peer review can be developed and promoted. As a first step, we want to pass along Dr. Stanley S. Siegelman’s “Golden Rule” for reviewers from the February 1988 issue of Radiology:

“Most reviewers are also active authors. Referee the manuscript as you would like to have your own papers treated. Be thoughtful and helpful. Offer fair, thorough, and constructive criticism. The reviewer’s tone should be friendly and supportive, never harsh or adversarial. Avoid derogatory, potentially offensive, or demeaning comments. We don’t want to dampen the enthusiasm of budding young academicians. Test your critique for fairness and objectivity by asking yourself if you would be willing to sign it and send it to the author.”

Reviewers in ProposalSpace are not only able to score proposals, they can also attach comments to them. The call administrator determines whether those comments are restricted (made available only to review chairs and administrators) or revealed to the proposal’s authors. Regardless of how comments are handled, Dr. Siegelman’s advice provides valuable guidance for making the most of every reviewer’s effort.

New Pricing Announced

ProposalSpace has always been the more affordable way to manage abstracts. We’ve worked hard to create a site that gives conferences all the tools they need to collect, review and select proposals for a fraction of the cost of traditional abstract management systems. But some of our users thought our pricing was a little too complicated and the base price for smaller conferences a bit too high. So we decided to do something about it. Starting today, you can manage a call in ProposalSpace for just $49.95 plus $4.50 per submission. That’s it. No customization fees, account maintenance fees, upgrades or hidden charges to worry about. Just $49.95 plus $4.50 per submission. Compare that to the $10,000+ other abstract management systems charge. Our new pricing means the total cost for a conference with 20 submissions is under $140! Fifty submissions cost less than $275. Even a conference with 500 submissions can manage their entire collection, review and selection process for under $2,300. Pricing that’s easy and fits any budget. That’s the ProposalSpace difference.

New Software Release

We’ve reorganized the My Calls, My Proposals and Call Settings pages to remove some of the clutter and to make things easier to find. All of the functions that were on the My Calls and My Proposals pages are still available, we just moved them to the Call Settings and Proposal Details pages. Call administrators will also notice a big change in the navigation for the Call Settings page, which now has the basic settings, tools and settings for all the major functions (submission, review, selection, notification) accessible via tabs across the top of the page. We also created a way for call administrators to archive completed calls so that they’re not in the way but can still be accessed if need be.

Tip: Avoiding Junk Submissions  

Sometimes too much of a good thing can be a bad thing. If you’re having a problem with individual users submitting too many proposals (usually so they can have better odds of being selected, but for whatever reason), you might want to try setting a submission limit. That way, users will have to pick their best papers to submit and won’t be able to flood the selection committee with “junk”. To take advantage of this feature, all you have to do is set the Individual Limit (under “Submission Settings”) to the maximum number of submissions you want to allow from an individual user. For example, if you want to restrict users to three submissions, enter “3”. (If you do not want to place a limit on the number of proposals a user may submit, enter “0” or leave the setting blank.) Once a user has met the submission limit, he will still be able to create proposals and collaborate with other users, but he won’t be allowed to submit any more proposals for your call.

Tip: Link Directly to Your Call

We designed ProposalSpace so that authors can find calls easily, using our Find a Call feature. Once a user is logged in, he/she just has to click a button to see all the calls in the system that are active and accepting proposals. There may be times, however, when you want users to be able to bypass this step and go directly to your call. To do this, just use the special link provided on the Call Settings page. Anyone who uses this link will be taken directly to your call’s main page. (If a user isn’t logged in, he/she will be asked to log in first, then be automatically redirected to your call’s main page.)

Virtual Conference Tug-of-War  

For years now we’ve been told that virtual conferences are destined to replace traditional, face-to-face meetings. “Experts” (who usually work for companies that produce virtual conferences) keep insisting that people are clamoring for the chance to “attend” conferences without all the hassles of travel, pandemics, bedbugs, whatever. But despite the inconveniences, people have continued to flock to conferences, giving organizers little reason to make the switch. Until now. Thanks to the global economic downturn, conferences are seeing sizable drops in attendance. Could this be the tipping point? Has the audience for virtual conferences finally reached critical mass? Not yet, if you ask the attendees. The Winter 2009 Impact Study (PDF) from the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE) surveyed over 8,500 members from 97 associations and found that:

“…reports of a vast migration from face-to-face gatherings to online alternatives appear to overstate the case. Of people who only attended in-person events last year, only three percent say there’s a high probability they’ll only attended [sic] virtual events this year. In fact, if there’s a migration at all, it’s going the other way: Nine percent of people who only attended virtual programs last year say they’re likely to attend only a face-to-face meeting this year.”

So with virtual meetings becoming more attractive to organizers and attendees not yet willing to give up face-to-face meetings, who wins the tug-of-war?

New Feature: Public Calls

At ProposalSpace, we don’t just want to be the one place conference organizers can rely on to find great presenters, we also want to be the one place presenters can rely on to find great calls. So we’ve added a new feature on the public side of the site that lists every call for papers we can find for just about every type of academic conference—regardless of whether the organizers use us to manage their abstracts or not.