Abstract Review Process


Abstract Review Process

IAFOR operates a system of double-blind peer review. A submitted abstract is assessed by at least two reviewers.

When abstracts are submitted, they are immediately reviewed in-house to see if they conform to accepted academic norms, and to screen out incomplete or time-wasting submissions.

All abstracts which have passed this initial screening are then assigned to two reviewers through the online system. Each reviewer is asked to read the abstract and grade it on a scale of 1 to 5 via the system below. The five assessment categories as follows:

5 – Excellent
4 – Good
3 – Average
2 – Poor or Borderline Acceptable
1 – Very Poor


Assessment Category Definitions

5 – Excellent
The abstract is clear, concise and excellently written. The content is deemed to be relevant, thought-provoking and timely. The abstract is considered worthy of presentation.

4 – Good
The abstract is clear, concise and well written. The content is deemed to be relevant, thought-provoking and timely. The abstract is considered worthy of presentation.

3 – Average
The abstract is well written but there may be problems in clarity and presentation. The content is deemed to be relevant and timely, although may be less thought-provoking than in proposals considered “Excellent” or “Good”. The abstract is considered worthy of presentation.

2 – Poor or Borderline Acceptable
The abstract may be reasonably well written but there may be problems with clarity and presentation and/or questions as to the pertinence and originality of the abstract. There may also be problems of comprehension. The abstract may be considered worthy of presentation if certain revisions are made. The reviewer may suggest revisions are made before it is considered worthy of presentation.

1 – Very Poor
The abstract may be considered to contain unoriginal work, or may not be relevant to the conference in question. Language and comprehension difficulties may render the text difficult to follow. The reviewer does not consider the abstract worthy of presentation, and does not believe that a simple reworking would resolve the issues.


Acceptance/Rejection Process

The points assigned by the two reviewers are combined. In order for abstracts to be accepted, they must gain a score of 6 or above in the assessment system following the results of two reviews (out of a maximum of 10 points), or a score of 7 and above if sent to a third reviewer (from a maximum of 10 points), as follows:

Automatic Acceptance
If both reviewers consider the abstract “Average”, “Good”, or “Excellent” in any combination (combined total of 6-10 points out of a possible 10), then the abstract is accepted for presentation.

Automatic Rejection
If both reviewers consider the abstract “Very Poor” or “Reject” (combined points total of 2 or less of a possible 10), then the abstract is rejected.

Third Reviewer’s Opinion Requested
If the abstract is considered “Poor/Borderline Acceptable” by both reviewers, then the abstract is forwarded to a third reviewer for evaluation. If the third reviewer considers the abstract “Average” or above, then it is accepted. If the third reviewer finds the abstract “Poor/Borderline Acceptable” or below, then the abstract is rejected.

If there is a marked discrepancy resulting in one reviewer giving a passing grade and another a failing grade, then the opinion of a third reviewer is sought. For example, one reviewer considers the abstract “Excellent/Good/Average”, and the other considers it “Poor/Borderline Acceptable” or below. In this case, if the third reviewer considers it “Excellent/Good/Average”, then it is accepted. If the third reviewer considers it “Poor/Borderline Acceptable” or below then it is rejected.


Notification of Acceptance or Rejection

Authors are usually informed of acceptance or rejection within four weeks of abstract submission. Accepted authors will receive an email notifying them of the results, as well as an official letter of acceptance as a PDF.


Assessment Criteria

The following assessment criteria may act as a guide when reviewing abstracts, and these should be taken into account as the reviewer decides. In some cases, any issues with presentation of the argument or clarity of the English may be outweighed by the importance of the topic. In other cases, issues with research design and analysis may lead to the rejection of an abstract that is otherwise acceptable. Alternatively, the argument or hypothesis is of significant interest, so as to outweigh the weaknesses.

Quality of Presentation
Is the abstract clearly written? Can the study aims, methods and findings be easily understood?

Quality of Research Design and Data Analysis
Is the study design clearly described? Are sampling procedures adequately described, including inclusion and exclusion criteria? Is there potential selection bias? Are the measures reliable and valid? Are possible confounding factors addressed? Are the statistical analyses appropriate for the study design?

Conclusions
Are the conclusions clearly stated? How well are the conclusions supported by the data? Are conclusions overstated in relation to the results?

Originality
Though sometimes difficult to gauge in just 250 words, it is possible to appraise whether novel concepts or approaches were used, whether the study challenges existing paradigms, or involves development of new methodologies. If the abstract presents an extension or a replication of previous work, does the new study build on the previous ones? Does it therefore add genuinely new information to current knowledge, or strengthen previous findings that were limited by their small sample sizes or other study design issues?

Impact
Does the abstract address an important issue? How does the study advance scientific knowledge? What effect do the results have on the concepts or methods that drive progress in the field? Are the results and conclusions strong enough to influence the behaviour of researchers, educators and policymakers?