Mira Smart Conferencing doesn’t often wade into controversies concerning abstract management, but a recent event prodded the 23-year-old company to make a public statement.
“The open and hostile rejection by the peer reviewers of 11-year-old Michael Nograski’s research on otters was shocking,” John Berglund, CEO of Mira Smart Conferencing said. “Researchers like Nograski commit their lives, or least their library class visits, to research. Even if the research is not up to conference presentation or journal publication standards, he deserves a minimum level of professional respect.”
In the case of Nograski’s research on otters, given the completely hardcopy and manual peer review process still in place in teacher Stella Murchinson’s classroom, a breakdown in the process was predictable, John continued. “Firstly, comments shouldn’t have gone directly to the author without chair or administrator approval. Even if the peer reviewer fell asleep for a thousand years due to the boring nature of the research, that should not be shared with the author.”
Over its history, Mira has developed multiple tools to maintain professional standards:
- Submissions can be blind to reviewers so that the author is unknown.
- Comments by reviewers can be turn off. If reviewers can leave comments, the comments are never seen by the submitters.
- An unlimited number of reviewers can be assigned to any given abstract, thus minimizing any one reviewers influence.
Nearly any other tools can be programmed into the software, too.
“We have statistical data on reviewers,” John said, “such as average scores and standard deviation from the entire group of reviewers. These two numbers alone allow chairs and conference administrators to monitor and adjust the review process.”
Mira Smart Conferencing’s project managers also try to guide customers to the most efficient and productive abstract management process.
“Many of our new customers come from a completely manual process of email and Excel or a legacy system that requires a great deal of manual effort,” John said. “The first step of us is to clean the process up, and often that means taking the subjective nature out of the process.”
“Ultimately, abstract management software is about the people, not the software,” John said. “We make sure that our Mira Smart Conferencing’s customers always remember that.”
“Fifth-Grade Science Paper Doesn’t Stand Up to Peer Review”. The Onion. Vol 41 Issue 16: April 20, 2005. Retrieved September 24, 2015. <http://www.theonion.com/article/fifth-grade-science-paper-doesnt-stand-up-to-peer–1320>