Reviewing abstracts


Program of European crystallographic meetings is organized into Microsymposia. Each Microsymposium is co-chaired jointly by two chairs which have equal roles. Their task is to review the incoming abstracts and decide which ones will be part of the oral presentations and which ones will be presented as posters. Besides reviewing, chairs also need to invite two invited speakers who they think might give an interesting oral contribution. In addition to all this chairs should monitor the abstracts outside their own Microsymposium and communicate with other chairs in order to make the distribution of abstracts optimal. All this tasks are streamlined by the AbstractsECM web application, thus effectively saving time and leading to the overall better final program for the conference.

Microsymposium structure

It is highly recommend that each Microsymposium (MS) opens with a short (up to 5 minute) introduction by one of the two session Chairs, followed firstly by two talks of 30 minutes each (including 5 minutes each for open discussion) and thereafter three talks of 20 minutes each (including 5 minutes each for open discussion). The two Chairs should consult together to select initially two invited speakers for the 30 minutes talks. The remaining three speakers will be chosen from the registered participants who have submitted an abstract pertinent to the topic of the MS. All the invited MS speakers must submit an online abstract, prepared in accordance with the official guidelines. Each invited speaker is not allowed to give a talk in more than one MS. However, an invited speaker is allowed to present one poster as the main author and other posters as a co-author.

As for the representation, it is highly recommended that both gender and nationality are taken into account in the selection of speakers in order to have the widest possible representation. There should be no more than one speaker from one affiliation in a given MS.

Chairs are not allowed to be speakers in their own MS but they may speak in another MS if invited or selected to do so. No honorarium or refund of expenses and no waiving of the registration fee can be offered by the ECA or ECM29 to MS Chairs or to MS invited speakers. The latter restriction is based on the necessity of supporting young researchers to the greatest possible extent in order to encourage the growth of crystallography.

Review process

Invitations to chairs

As all the other users, chairs need to sign-up to the AbstractsECM before they can approach the review process. The sign-up process for the chairs is a little different from the ordinary users’ sign-up because chairs will receive an invitation to become chairs. Invitations for chairs are sent automatically by the AbstractsECM system in form of e-mail messages that contain link to a web page where they can formally accept this invitation. This is necessary to connect the chairs with their corresponding Microsymposium. The chair invitation can be accepted or declined (rejected).


After accepting this invitation the chairs will be taken to the regular sign-up page where the e-mail field is going to be pre-filled with the e-mail address they got the original invitation on. It is important not to change this e-mail address. You need to you choose your user-name (it must be unique, but you will be warned if you accidentally choose an user-name that has already been taken). Also choose and confirm your password.


After confirmation you will be taken to the login page. Please use the user-name and password you have chosen during sign-up to login. If you check the “Remember me” check-box the next time you come to this page your user-name will be pre-filled but you will have to provide the password again.


After logging in to the AbstractsECM you will be taken to the dashboard. This is the main page of your interaction with the system. It is best if the chairs fill their own profile following the instructions given in the section Editing your profile. If the chair intends to submit hers/his own abstract than this can be done as described in the section on Abstract submission. Note that if the chair chooses to submit an abstract to the MS she/he is chairing than it can not be an oral presentation.

It is also recommanded that chairs review the description of the Microsymposium. This is the text that was initially given by the members of their corresponding SIG(s). This text should reflect the personal preference of the chairs as to what kinds of abstracts they would like to attract. In particular the text should not be less than 500 and no more than 800 characters long.

One important difference from the dashboard that the ordinary user will see, is that chairs have My reviews section. This is where you see the summary of the current state of your Microsymposium: the number of abstracts that have applied, how many of those have applied for the oral presentation and how many for the poster. Also in the later stages it will give quick overview of how many abstracts were accepted for orals and for posters as well as if there were some abstracts judged as non suitable that may better fit to some other Microsymposium. Additionally you will see the list of issues that need to be addressed in order for the Microsymposium to be successfully closed. More on that in the Issues section.


Microsymposium review page

The more detailed view into your Microsymposium is given on the Microsymposium review page. This is where you and your co-chair see all the abstracts that are sent to your Microsymposium. It may happen that your co-chair has not signed-up yet and in that case you will see “No co-chair yet!” message written in various places. This will go away as soon as your co-chair signs-up.


The submenu on the ms review page gives quick access to different parts of the review process. Other MS gives the list of all Microsymposia as well as all the descriptions. Invitations can be used to send new invitations and to see the status of already sent invitations. In Abstracts submenu you can view all abstracts in other Microsymposia (together with their current status). In the “Non suitable” part you can pull abstracts to your own MS.

The submenu on the top of the page is can be used to access all the different tasks that comprise the review. On the right are names and e-mail addresses of the two co-chairs that conduct the review. Right above their names is the issues link that shows how many important things need to be cleared before the MS is fully reviewed.

Right under the submenu on the MS review page is the section Microsymposium status that will initially be empty. The structure of the ECM Microsymposium is defined as follows: there are five oral presentations two of which are invited by the chairs (30 minutes duration) and three other that are chosen from the arrived abstracts (20 minutes duration). All the others abstracts are either accepted as posters in this MS or may be reviewed as “not suitable for this MS”. This may happen because the presenter who submitted the abstract made wrong judgment as to where her/his abstract should fit.

Below are the two tables that group the abstracts according to their preference: in the upper table are listed abstracts whose submitters have chosen “oral or poster” option while in the lower table are those that have chosen to have just “poster”. Each abstract title is a hyperlink that can be used to view the entire abstract. Also each presenter’s name is a link to the profile page of the presenting author. Next to this column are the two columns that show the review decisions of you and your co-chair. On the right is the button that leads you to the review page of a particular abstract.


By clicking on the Review button you go to the Review abstract page. On the left side you will see the complete abstract and on the right you will be presented with the review form where you can review the abstract. Each form has a notes field in case you want to add some notes but this is entirely optional and for your future reference. Below that is the status field where you make your decision: “accept as oral”, “accept as poster” or “not suitable for this MS”.


After you have clicked “Save” you will be taken to the MS review page and your vote will appear next to the abstract. On the right you will see your co-chairs’ vote if she/he has already reviewed that abstract. If for whatever reason you want to change your decision on a particular abstract you may do so by clicking on the “Review again” button. The number of times you can change your vote is not limited and only the latest state counts.


In the selection of speakers and oral presenters please do not forget following:
  • Chairpersons are not allowed to be speakers in their own MS
  • There should be no more than one speaker from one affiliation in a given MS
  • The gender and geographical balance of oral presenters should be considered
  • One poster abstract ought to be selected as ‘reserve oral’ in case a speaker does not show up to avoid holes in the microsymposium programme.

As both chairs review all the abstract the abstracts start to appear in the Microsymposium status table at the top (but only if both chairs have given the same vote). This means that chairs are of course free to give their votes independently but in order for these abstracts to be a part of the Microsymposium a consensus must be reached for each and every abstract. This is illustrated on the next figure:


When both co-chairs have reviewed all the abstracts and have reached consensus on all of them then the view of your Microsymposium may look something like this:


The corresponding MS status table will look something like this:


You will notice few other things here. The abstracts that are reviewed as not suitable got a link next to their titles saying “Send to different MS”. This introduces the next topic of re-directions.


One of the biggest obstacles in the preparation of the program for the conference that consists of Microsymposia like the ECMs is the non uniform distribution of abstracts across the various Microsymposia. Therefore some Microsymposia are likely to have more than enough abstracts to easily make a program, while others may receive non sufficient number.

AbstractsECM lets the chairs of all Microsymposia redirect the abstracts from one Microsymposium to some other with potentially similar topic. So the chairs of one MS can redirect one abstract to some other MS if they find that the other MS fits its content better. As each chair has a complete overview of how many abstracts are sent to other Microsymposia, she/he can redirect the abstract to the MS with fewer (or insufficient number of) abstracts thus giving the chairs of that MS the opportunity to successfully assemble the program.

To redirect the abstract to some other MS anyone of the two co-chairs may use the “Send to different MS” link that appears next to the abstracts that are reviewed as “Non suitable for this MS”. After clicking on this button a simple form is presented with the list of all Microsymposia is given. For convenience below the form a list of all Microsymposia with the number of abstracts is given, so that the Microsymposia with the “shortage” of abstracts can be easily spotted.


After redirecting the abstract to some other Microsymposium the chairs of the receiving MS will be notified of the redirection via the Messages application. They can choose to accept this redirection in which case the abstract is transferred to their Microsymposium and they can review it as all the others. In the case they estimate that the abstract does not fit well in their MS they have the ability to reject the redirection. In that case the abstract will stay in the original MS. Whatever the decision of the receiving chairs may be, the sending chairs will be notified via the Messages application.

Redirections also work the other way around. Namely, chair of some Microsymposium with a potentially low number of abstracts has the ability to pull some abstracts that are marked as “non suitable” in their original MS. The list of all “non suitable” abstracts across all Microsymposia can be found in the abstracts submenu on the MS review page.


In this view you will get the list of all abstracts that are currently available for “pulling” into your own MS. You will notice that some abstracts do not have the “pull with arrow” sign close to their title. This is because these abstracts are either sent or pulled to some Microsymposium but the redirection is neither accepted nor rejected. They are in some intermediate state.


At every moment the chairs have an overview of all the redirections to or from their Microsymposium. This can be reached from the Redirections link in the MS review sub-menu. What the redirections might look like for one particular MS is shown on the next figure (notice the abstract no. 204 that is redirected to MS no. 3 and was therefore not available for pulling on the previous figure).



Each Microsymposium at ECM must include two invited oral presentations. The two invited presenters are invited through the system of invitations. To access this form you click on Invitations link in the ms review sub-menu. By clicking on the “Send invitation” you will be presented with the following form:


By sending an invitation the invited person will receive an e-mail with your formal invitation. This e-mail will contain a link where the invited person can confirm the acceptance to present the invited talk. Again there is no way to reject this invitation. If the invited person is not available then she/he can simply ignore the message. On the other hand the chairs can monitor the status of their invitations on the invitation list page.


It will show the status of the invitations (“awaiting acceptance” or “accepted”). If the chairs estimate that enough time has passed and if the invitation is not accepted they can withdraw the invitation. At that point they will be able to send new invitation to some other person (or to the same and in this case this can be considered a reminder).


If you want to check what the invitation e-mail looked like you can click on the view invitation. This is an automated message that is standardized for all invitations except the names. This is a typical example:


At any given moment there can be no more than two “active” invitations (that is either “awaiting acceptance” or “accepted”). The chairs can split the job of sending invitations however they please, one chair can send both or each chair can invite one person.


After the invitations are accepted this will also be visible (they go green). This means that the persons you have invited have accepted your invitations. They will have to register like all the other users, but when they submit their abstracts it will automatically become a part of your MS (i.e. during abstract editing they will not be able to choose the Microsymposium). When they submit their abstracts an you and your co-chair review these two abstracts the invited part on your “Microsymposium status” table will be filled.


During the review various requirements must be met in order for the Microsymposium to be successfully reviewed and ready to go into the program of the conference. These requirements are conveniently grouped into issues. At any point, the number of issues in the Microsymposium are given in the top right corner of the MS review page. By clicking on that link you can have more detailed listing of the issues that remain to be closed.


The more detailed view of the issues.


If all the other issues are cleared also than the issues link will show “0 issues” and turn green.


Also in the complete list of all the Microsymposia there will be a sign “MS is ready for closing”. At this point the job of chairs is successfully finished. When all of the Microsymposia are “ready for closing” the automatic generation of the ECM programe and conference will take place. Also the AbstractsECM will send all the users automated acceptance notifications to all the uses.


In the list of all Microsymposia you are able to follow the progress in all of them. The Microsymposia with all issues cleared and all abstracts reviewed will appear as “MS is ready for closing”


In the figures used in this manual the abstract titles are randomly chosen from the previous conferences while the names are completely random English names. The titles of the Microsymposia correspond to the ones for the ECM29 in Rovinj.