Locked Questions for Returned Proposals

Starting today, call admins can restrict which parts of a proposal are editable when returning it for edits!

For example, let’s say you want to return a submission, but you only want the author to edit the abstract and nothing else. Previously, they could edit any part of the proposal. Now, you can prohibit them from editing anything but the abstract.

ScreenshotThe screenshot on the right is a detailed view of the dialog window that pops up when you return a submission for edits. The window now contains an “Editable Items” section with checkboxes next to each question on the main submission form and all role forms. It also includes checkboxes for the “Add…” button for each role. By default, all of the checkboxes are checked, meaning the entire proposal is editable. To change that, just uncheck the boxes next to the items you don’t want to be edited.

When the author pulls up the proposal, questions that have been locked will be disabled and have “not editable” displayed next to them.

If you happen to change your mind after you’ve returned a submission, you can pull it up in the Tracker and select “Change editable items” from the options menu. From there you can easily add or remove restrictions.

Roles Explained

RolesRoles are an essential component of ProposalSpace. Not only do they allow for greater flexibility when collecting proposal information, they also make certain functionality possible, like the Advanced Scheduling Module’s conflict checker.

Unfortunately, they’re also one of the most misunderstood and misused features.

So what are roles?

Put simply, they are how individuals are associated with a proposal. Some examples include:

  • Presenter
  • Co-Presenter
  • Primary Contact
  • Speaker
  • Contributor
  • Nominee

For each role you create, you get to define the following:

  • Name: What you want to call the role (e.g. “Primary Contact”)
  • Description: An explanation of the role (e.g. “The Primary Contact is responsible for all communications regarding the proposal.”)
  • Minimum: The minimum number of individuals required for the role (“0” makes the role optional)
  • Maximum: The maximum number of individuals allowed for the role (“0” allows an unlimited number)
  • Role Form: Each role has its own form for collecting information about individuals added to that role (e.g. name, organization, and bio). Note that this form is different than the main submission form, which is intended for core information about the proposal, like the abstract and learner objectives.

For example, let’s say you are collecting speaker proposals for a conference and want each proposal to have a primary contact, a lead presenter, and up to five additional presenters. Traditionally, that meant the submission form had eight sections: one for the main proposal information (title, abstract, etc.), another for information related to the primary contact (name, organization, etc.), another for the lead presenter, and five more for additional presenters. All those sections took up a lot of space, especially if a proposal did not include any additional presenters.

With ProposalSpace, you just create three roles as follows:

  • Primary Contact, with a minimum of 1, a maximum of 1, and a form with questions for name, organization, and email address
  • Lead Presenter, with a minimum of 1, a maximum of 1, and a form with questions for name, organization, email address, bio, and speaking experience
  • Additional Presenter, with a minimum of 0, a maximum of 5, and a form with questions for name, organization, email address, and bio

With this setup, questions related to a role are not displayed unless the author chooses to add someone to that role.

RolesOne way to think of roles is as sheets of paper that get attached to the main proposal to compose a complete submission. The image on the right shows hows the various components from the example above are related, with the Main Proposal Form (which displays the core proposal questions, like title and abstract) and the Primary Contact, Lead Presenter, and Additional Presenter forms (which display role-specific questions, like name and organization). The key is that the role forms are only added to the main submission if needed, keeping the overall submission uncluttered.

Role ScreenshotThe screenshot to the right shows how the roles mentioned above would appear in a proposal. (Click the image for a larger view.) Only when an author clicks one of the “Add…” buttons does the system display the questions for that role… again, keeping the overall submission uncluttered.

A couple of other important things to keep in mind about roles:

  1. Every call must have at least one role. You may call it anything you like and even make it optional, but there must be at least one role. (Typically we see organizers use “Primary Contact” when there is only one role for a call.)
  2. The system does not assign anyone to a role automatically, so even if you create a role for something like “Submitter”, that person would still need to be added by someone working on the proposal. (The system does track who creates each proposal, but only displays that person’s name and organization from their profile.)

I hope this helps to explain what roles are and how to use them effectively. If you have any questions—about roles or anything else—feel free to contact us. Also, we offer free evaluations for every call as part of our unlimited support, so if you ever want feedback about how your roles are set up, just ask. We’re here to help!

Publishing Module Change

ScreenshotIf you’re using our Publishing Module, there’s a slight change you should know about:

In the search box, the names that are displayed in the name-search field (right) are now pulled from the sessions instead of from user profiles.

One of the key benefits of this change is that admins (and review chairs, if they have permission to edit proposals) can change the way names appear in the list. Previously, any change had to be made in the user’s profile, which only the user could access. Now, admins can simply edit a proposal and the change will be reflected immediately in the drop-down list of names in the search fields.

Conditional Review Questions

We’ve made an exciting update to the Review Module that now allows conditional questions as part of a custom review form!

What’s a “conditional question”, you might ask? It’s a review question that’s only displayed when a certain condition is met in the proposal being reviewed. For example, if your submission form includes a question for “session type”, with options for “roundtable” and “poster”, you might want reviewers to see one question for roundtables and another question for posters.

Before, the review form had to include both questions with instructions like “If a roundtable…” and “If a poster…”. Now, the Review Module is smart enough to know which question to display based on the answer to the session-type question. In other words, if the proposal is for a roundtable, the reviewer sees the roundtable question; If it’s a poster, the reviewer sees the poster question.

The new feature works with just about any type of question in the submission form. Of course, it works best with questions that have pre-defined answers (radio buttons, checkboxes, and drop-down lists) and not so well with open-ended questions (text, date/time, and file-upload fields).

Give it a try the next time you’re working on your custom review form!

Autocomplete & Form Fields

Most current web browsers have a helpful feature called “autocomplete” that fills in form fields for you based on information you’ve entered into similar fields in the past. You’ve probably seen this if you’ve started to fill out a form asking for something like your mailing address… You start to type something in the first field (usually your first name) and the browser displays a drop-down list with suggestions for autofilling the form. If you select one of the suggestions, the browser magically fills in all the other fields in the form (address, city, state, etc.) without you having to type anything in.

The autocomplete feature can save a lot of time and effort when you’re filling out forms… but not in all cases. Take ProposalSpace for example. If you have a proposal and add yourself to it, autocomplete can be a huge timesaver. If you add someone else, however, autocomplete will try to use your information to fill in the fields meant for them. If you catch what happened, you can go back and correct the entries. If you don’t catch what happened, you could end up submitting a proposal with the wrong information for that user.

One option for getting around this issue was to disable the autocomplete feature altogether. That seemed a little extreme, however, so we decided instead to enable autocomplete only for your own information.

Hopefully this makes the autocomplete feature less of an annoyance and more of a useful feature. If you come across any problems with our solution, or have any suggestions for improvement, please let us know, either in the comments below or by contacting us directly.

Dashboard Updates

Dashboard ScreenshotJust a quick note to announce some improvements to the Dashboard:

  • Smart Archiving: If you don’t manually archive a call, proposal, or administrative session, the system will automatically archive it for you. (You can still access archived items, they’re just on a separate archive page.) Calls are automatically archived one year after being activated, while proposals and administrative sessions are automatically archived when the call is archived.
  • Additional Details: The call, proposal, and review listings now display the organization(s) responsible for the call, while call and proposal listings now display when they were last edited and by whom.
  • Direct Actions: Select actions for calls and proposals are now available directly from the Dashboard. Key actions, like viewing reviewer comments and managing session materials, are always visible. Secondary actions, like delete and archive, are hidden by default but can be made visible by clicking on a toggle.
  • Call Logos: We’re expanding our branding efforts for calls once again, this time by displaying call logos along with each listing.

We hope everyone likes the changes. If you have any feedback, be sure to let us know!

New Feature: Customizable Submission Receipt

Submission received!As soon as our system receives a submission, it immediately emails a receipt to the person who submitted the proposal and, if different, the person who created the proposal. Previously, the contents of that email weren’t editable.

Now, with our new Custom Receipt Module, you can customize the receipt by editing the Subject line and adding text to the body of the message. The message will continue to contain boilerplate text that can’t be edited, like the call name, proposal title, and link to the ProposalSpace Dashboard, but you can add as much text as you like to supplement it.

The new module also allows you to edit both the formatted (HTML) and plain-text versions of the receipt. (Most email clients display HTML-formatted email, but we also include a plain-text version for those that don’t.)

And to help with branding, we’ve added the call logo to the design of the formatted version!

You can find the new module under Settings -> Submission -> Submission Receipt. If you have any questions or feedback, be sure to let us know!

Layout Improvements for Reviewers

We’re improving the layout of the review page to make it easier than ever to review proposals in ProposalSpace!

Starting Wednesday, July 11, reviewers will no longer see each proposal’s contents displayed in tandem with the review form. Instead, the two will be side-by-side. In case you’re wondering what that looks like, here’s a comparison of the old and new layouts. (Click on a layout for a larger view.)

Old Layout: New Layout:
Old Review Form New Review Form

And here’s a larger view of the new layout with details about specific improvements:

New Review Form1234567

  1. The panels are independently scrollable, so you can navigate to specific areas of the proposal or the review form without one affecting the other.
  2. The panels are resizable. Just slide the divider between them to the left or right.
  3. We’ve removed the “No answer” option for scoring questions. Now, clicking a score once selects it and clicking it again de-selects it.
  4. If the review form has more than one scoring question, each question’s score is displayed to the right and the total score is displayed at the end of the scoring section. (Not shown in this screenshot.)
  5. The Save Review button becomes active only after you’ve made a change to the review form. (If you try to leave the page without saving your review, the system will prompt you to save your work.)
  6. Navigation buttons at the bottom of the page allow you to move to the previous or next proposal in your list of assignments, or to return to your list of assignments.
  7. An indicator across the top of the control bar helps you keep track of your overall progress.

We hope the new layout and functionality will make it even easier for reviewers to complete their work. If you have any suggestions for improvement, please don’t hesitate to contact us or leave a comment below!

Proposal-Form Improvements

We are really excited to announce a major redesign of the proposal form!

  • All proposal components (instructions, contents, persons, and terms) are now on a single page, with a navigation bar for jumping between sections.
  • Answers are now saved individually. (No more scrolling to the bottom of the page and clicking the Save Changes button.) For text fields, changes are saved as soon as the user exits the field or clicks the field’s save button. For all other field types (radio buttons, checkboxes, etc.), changes are saved immediately.
  • The proposal header is now “sticky” and displays the last date and time changes were made to the proposal. It also displays how complete the proposal is.
  • Incomplete / missing answers can now be easily identified with a handy new tool that highlights exactly which answers need attention.
  • Authors can now rearrange persons in the proposal (e.g. speakers, authors) and save them in the desired order.

We know change can be disorienting, so to make the transition to the new features as painless as possible, we’ve created a tour that walks users through the new design. A link to the tour will be at the top of every proposal for the next three months. There is also a permanent link to the tour in the Menu drop-down in the top, right-hand corner of the page.

Customer Connect: Ginger Phillips

Ginger Phillips

This time of year we are especially thankful for our users. In an effort to get to know them better, we recently caught up with one of our most loyal call admins, Dr. Ginger Phillips (right).  Ginger is President of association-management company Arden Solutions in Belleair Bluffs, Florida.

PS: Tell us a little about yourself and how you first discovered ProposalSpace.

GP: The short answer is I help professional associations get organized. One of the many services I offer is helping an association manage its annual conference, including selecting session speakers. After searching for a quality, secure, and affordable abstract management system, I found ProposalSpace when I used it to submit my own proposal to an association to which I belonged, and have been using the site ever since with my clients. As a matter of fact, I like it so much I spent some time in the ProposalSpace booth at an ASAE conference a few years ago telling people what a great product it is. I’m a big fan.

PS: How long have you been using ProposalSpace?

GP: I’ve used ProposalSpace for over six years. In that time I’ve managed about 25 calls for six different associations. I keep coming back because Dan keeps making the site better, which in turn makes my job easier. I love being able to pull forward calls from previous years, easily make changes, and quickly publish without getting a headache.

PS: Is there any specific feature you like?

GP: There are so many! I like the copy feature because, while every conference is slightly different from year to year, a majority of the details remain the same. It’s convenient to just click a button and have all of the settings copied over so I don’t have to enter them again. I also like how easy it is to use the Advanced Scheduling Module. I just drag and drop sessions and it automatically checks for conflicts to keep me from scheduling someone in two places at the same time. The Publishing Module is great because it allows the entire program to be displayed on a client’s website without having to download and upload files every time there’s a change. It also lets speakers upload session materials, which are then immediately available for download. No more collecting and distributing handouts! More generally, I like that I can manage multiple calls from one place and have complete control over everything. If I need to make a change, I just pull up the call and it’s done. There’s no need to go back and forth with someone and then wait for the change to work its way through their system.

PS: You mentioned that you work with several associations. Tell us a little more about your business.

GP: Arden Solutions provides a number of organizations with integrated expertise in association management, professional development, and the business of meetings. Some of our clients include the Academy of Financial Services, the American Council on Consumer Interests, and the University of South Florida Office of Research. Our team has formal education combined with over 60 years of experience in association management, continuing professional education and professional meeting planning. We help with the numerous needs an association might have, from hiring paid staff for the first time to selecting proven vendors, like ProposalSpace.

PS: Anything else you’d like to share?

GP: ProposalSpace is a great find for anyone who manages a call for abstracts or proposals. In my opinion, it’s the best option out there. Trust me, I’ve looked!


Special thanks to Dr. Ginger Phillips for taking time out of her busy schedule to chat with us. For more about Ginger and Arden Solutions, check out the Arden Solutions website at www.ardensolutions.com.