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Researcher Development

Researcher Development

Review abstracts and judge presentations

It is important to shortlist abstracts based on unbiased criteria. Decide on the number of poster spaces (or maybe all get accepted) and oral presentation slots before you select the abstracts. It can get competitive when there is a high number of submissions for a limited number of spots available for a talk/poster. However, the guidelines provided here can make the reviewing process of the abstracts easier. This chapter outlines different review criteria, followed by how these can be used to select abstracts for presentations. Next, a template to inform the selected presenters is provided.

Additionally, if you have recruited judges to review the poster/oral presentations to award prizes, you will need some criteria to hand out to the judges to make the process fair and consistent. Examples of criteria for judging are provided at the end of this chapter.

Below you can find criteria which can help you to shortlist the abstracts. Keep in mind the purpose and audience of your conference. Postgraduate students, especially those in their first year, might be less familiar with writing an abstract for a conference.

Title & Purpose

Is the title clear and concise, and does it define the purpose, scope, and relevance of the project/work carried out by the presenting author?

Introduction, Objectives & Hypothesis

Does it include a brief introduction with a clear rationale/background of the project; a concise and coherent aim of the study; and a well-explained, logical hypothesis for the advancement in the field?

Methods, Results & Conclusion

Does it include a brief and logical description of the methods/tools used? If a project is at the early stage, should consist of a well-organized future/work plan. Are stated results clear, precise, and significant? In case, the presenter does not have research findings yet, they could indicate the preliminary data or hypothetical/theoretical results.

If the abstract has a conclusion, it should indicate a coherent and concise interpretation, and the importance and implications of the findings could be mentioned.

Novelty and impact

Does the abstract include novel ideas or tools? Is it of great interest to the audience and relevant to the conference theme?  Additionally, does it have the potential to be of clinical importance or impact on policy making, e.g., related to environment and sustainability?

Also, check if the abstract is within the maximum word count as mentioned in the abstract submission guidelines.

You can assign the whole or part of the Committee to look at the abstracts and review them based on the above criteria. For the selection of the abstract, you could create an Excel sheet in which everyone scores the abstract on the different criteria. This will provide an average score, on which you can select unbiased best abstracts. An example template can be found below.

Check if everyone is represented in the selection of speakers. For instance, if it is a faculty-wide conference, make sure that the presentation timeslots are divided equally over the departments.

If the topic/project is excellent, unique and contributes to the field or society, but is not clear or well-written eg, it includes specific terms not accessible to audience or exceeds the maximum word count, you can ask/inform the candidates to change or modify the abstract based on the guidelines.

Email template:

“Dear Insert name

We are writing to thank you for applying for a talk/poster at Insert name of the conference we are delighted to confirm that the abstract for your talk has been accepted! We would love for you to present a talk/poster on the day.

Your research sounds very interesting, and we are looking forward to hearing more about it. However, we strongly suggest adapting your abstract to make it more accessible for a lay audience. We would encourage you to use more layman terms or defining terms if they can’t be replaced.

If you want to adapt your abstract, it would be great if we can receive it no later than Insert date.

Best wishes,

Organising Committee

Interested to learn more about the reviewing of abstracts? Please refer to Scherer, R.W., Saldanha, I.J. How should systematic reviewers handle conference abstracts? A view from the trenches. Syst Rev 8, 264 (2019).

After you have shortlisted the abstracts, it’s time to inform the selected speakers so that they can start to prepare their presentations (± 2 weeks). You can ask if they are still available on the day of the event and if they prefer a certain session (in case they have other obligations). Additionally, provide guidelines for the presentation and information on live streaming, if applicable.

Template email for oral presentations:

“Dear Insert presenters name,

‘ ‘We’re writing to thank you for applying for a talk at Insert name – ‘ ‘we’re delighted to confirm that the abstract for your talk has been accepted! We would love for you to present a talk on the day.

Can you please respond to this email within the next 48 hours to answer the following questions:

Can you confirm that you are still available to present at Insert name on Insert date?

The timings of the four talk sessions are listed below. Are there any sessions which you cannot make for any reason?

SESSION 1: Insert time

SESSION 2: Insert time

SESSION 3: Insert time

SESSION 4: Insert time

As Insert name has a hybrid approach, by accepting the talk you agree that your presentation will be live streamed to all virtual registrants and colleagues within Insert faculty/department, and in the conference room.

Guidelines for talk:

The talk should last approximately Insert time minutes (but no longer) and will be followed by Insert name for questions.

The presentation should be in Microsoft PowerPoint format (we are unable to accept Prezi presentations for technical reasons).

Please ensure that your talk is designed to be accessible for members of Insert audience. The advice we give for this is to try and present basic concepts and ideas (with lots of visual aids if possible), rather than lots of technical detail. This is a great opportunity to practice communicating your research to non-specialist audience.

We will request that your slides are sent to us before Insert date, so that we can ensure they are ready to go on the day.

We look forward to hearing from you!

Organising Committee”

Template email for poster presentations:

“Hi Poster Presenters,

You are receiving this because you registered to present a poster at Insert name next Insert day. Please find attached the list of poster numbers.

If you present in-person, the poster presentation sessions will take place between Insert time. We encourage you to be at your poster at:

Odd poster numbers: Insert time

Even poster numbers: Insert time

Please aim to set up your poster sometime between Insert time.

Your poster will also be displayed online from Insert dates. There will be a chat box to interact with virtual attendees.

If you present virtual-only, your poster will be displayed online from Insert dates and you can interact with virtual attendees at any time. However, we encourage you to check the chat box for any questions/comments by virtual judges/attendees before the end of the Insert time and date.

We are looking forward to knowing more about your research in-person and virtually (the submitted posters look amazing)!

If you have any questions, please let us know.

You will receive later the full programme including abstracts.”

Allocate at least two judges per poster/talk. If the conference is within the faculty, try to have at least one judge from a different department than the presenter, as the presentation should be understandable for all attendees.

Make use of marking criteria for the judges, so that poster/talk presentations can be compared fairly. Encourage the judges to interact with the poster presenters to better experience their poster. Below you can find example marking sheets for judging a poster or a talk. It will also be highly appreciated by the presenters to receive the marking/feedback forms at the end of the event.

You can download a talks judging template and posters judging template.

Inform the judges a week before the conference about what they can expect and to check that you did not allocate them to judge a presentation from someone they know well. Send another email with the final details/changes the day before the event.

Email template (adjust for talk judges):

“Dear Poster Judges,

We hope you’re looking forward to tomorrow! Please find attached the conference programme. This contains a schedule of events and abstracts for all of the posters. Hard copies will be provided at the registration desk on the day.

All posters can be viewed at Insert website from Insert dates and you can interact with the presenters via the chat box. Password: Insert password.

In-person judging:

The marking sheets – labelled with your name and poster numbers – will be available for pick up from the registration table (see directions below). Please return your completed sheets by no later than Insert time to a member of the Committee.

Poster presenters will be at their poster:

odd numbers: Insert time

even numbers: Insert time

Virtual judging:

We have asked the poster presenters to check the chat box for questions/comments before Insert time. Please return your completed sheets by no later than Insert time to Insert email address.

If you see any poster that stands out to you that you have not marked but believe would be a contender for the prize, please do let us know.


Organising Committee”

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