When Do People Submit Their Abstracts?

One of the challenges that comes with organizing ISSST is anticipating how large the conference will be — or even deciding how large it should be.  Commitments to the hotel site must be made well in advance.  For example, we’ve signed a contract with the Marriott Kingsgate that promises the conference will spend a minimum of $22,000 on food & beverages, and that ISSST participants will purchase a total of 170 room-nights. In return, the Marriott provides free meetings space and a discounted room rate.

If the actual numbers don’t reach these levels, then we have to pay the hotel extra to compensate them for the opportunity cost of lost revenue.  But if the actual numbers come in higher, we’ll run out of rooms at the host site and ISSST participants will be forced to seek more expensive and less convenient lodging elsewhere.

So, we make a guess about how big we think the conference will be, based partly on how big with think it should be, and we then we have to manage both the publicity and the review/acceptance process to meet those goals.

The only information we have to guide us in planning for 2013 is our experience in 2012.  Because the conference changes venues every year, and the economy goes up and down (and Federal travel restrictions go on and off), judging the size of the 2013 conference involves a lot of guesswork — until we actually get a look at the abstracts.

Real abstract submissions are our best indication of how many people will attend and what topics they would like to discuss.  The figure below shows exactly how we get that sort of information (mostly all at once).

Abstracts

As of this posting, there are 126 abstracts under review.  There are still several special sessions or workshops that we’re anticipating will come in.  And we’re still working on getting workshops organized.  But mostly, this 126 number puts us on track for the right size conference, assuming that not all of the people who submitted abstracts will be accepted or actually attend.

If you missed the 15 Dec milepost, it’s not too late to upload an abstract at https://www.softconf.com/d/issst2013/.  Here are some hints that will help your abstract be reviwed successfully:

  • If you’ve been invited to submit an abstract by a conference session Chair, it’s because they think you have something unique to add and they want you to participate.
  • If you haven’t been specifically invited, one way to improve the chances that your abstract will receive positive reviews is to submit it to one of the special sessions, and discuss it directly with the Chair of that session beforehand.
  • Reviewers are most concerned with papers, which take the most time to review.  If you’re late, but you still want to present, you can expedite the review process by submitting a poster abstract, or a presentation-only abstract.
  • People who have participated in previous symposiums develop a reputation — either for good or bad.  If you’ve been a regular participant who consistently delivers interesting and engaging work, your abstract will likely be granted the benefit of the doubt by the reviewers.
  • International participants bring a valuable perspective to the conference that goes beyond just the 500 words they can submit.  Typically, the conference Chairs will try to encourage international participation, particularly from developing or underdeveloped countries.
  • Lastly, one of the goals of ISSST is to strengthen ties with industry.  If you’re currently working in industry and you’d like to participate, it’s likely that review of your abstract can be fast-tracked.  This doesn’t change the quality expectations, but it does (hopefully) respond to the need for he review process to respect the fact that business schedules do not necessarily work with the same lead time as the University.
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