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At conferences, there is often a delay of a few days between decisions and notifications. In a particular case, the decisions were made on a Sunday (according to a reviewer who tweeted details about the decision process) while the publicly announced notification day was a Thursday.

Notifications at this conference do not include any additional information on top of the reviews that would justify additional processing time.

As an impatient person, I wonder if there is a reason for having this delay, rather than sending out the notifications immediately.

  • Because before sending the notifications, the technical committee might need to review them, discuss critical cases, prepare the notification, pass the work to the secretariat (which might not work on Sundays) etc. etc. – Massimo Ortolano Dec 20 '16 at 9:37
  • @Massimo Ortolano: I think reviewing and discussion of critical cases are done before the decisions, which took place on Sunday in this case. Secretaries are not involved in this case since the notifications are sent by a conference system. So this leaves four days for "preparing the notification" - I wonder what this entails other than writing (or copy-pasting) two mail-templates for accepted and rejected papers. – lighthouse keeper Dec 20 '16 at 9:48
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EDIT: @a3nm's comment prompted me to review the post-mortem of the last conference we helped organise.

The scientific panel met to consider about 1,500 submissions. It took them 2.5 months to reach a decision. The decisions were entered into a database by the secretariat. This took two days because the members of the panel wanted hard copies. The spreadsheet was double checked by the chair of the panel. It took eleven days for him to get back to us. During this time, we were busy with timetabling, which we actually completed in four days. The letters were sent out two days after we received the chair's confirmation. Contrary to my response below (which I wanted to preserve to demonstrate my own error and bias), the main delay we experienced wasn't to do with timetabling.

Imagine this:

  • 1,474 submissions for presentations

  • 355 accepted: 120 oral, 235 posters

  • 1,119 submission rejected

These were the results for the last conference I helped organise. Now imagine having to send the correct letter to all 1,500 people. For the 355 people accepted, the letter needs to contain details such as the date, time and place of their presentations or poster displays.

We needed a team of 9 professional staff to assist us, including three wholly focused on timetabling and venue management.

I'm impressed that they managed to inform you in four days.

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    For most conferences I have submitted to, the notification letter only indicated accept/reject, plus the reviews (and sometimes not even the reviews, they were sent out a bit later; certainly not a presentation or poster schedule). And as the original poster said, "Notifications at this conference do not include any additional information on top of the reviews that would justify additional processing time". Further, the process is probably automated, so it makes little difference whether you have 1500 or 15000 emails to send out. – a3nm Dec 20 '16 at 9:47
  • Our conferences differ, then. Perhaps this is a field thing or a country thing. It might even be an issue with the type of organiser or their level of experience. In our case, while we wanted to make the selection of the submissions electronic, some members of the scientific committee wanted hard copies. This meant that the secretariat needed to prepare submission booklets, collect them and hard enter them into a spreadsheet. – user65587 Dec 20 '16 at 9:54
  • @Blue-FootedBooby'sBlueFeet I think the main effort in this case lies in the scheduling, which is indeed a complicated issue for such a large conference. Actually, for me this begged the question why you didn't send seperate mails for notifications and schedules. But from your comment, I see that's indeed a cultural thing. Dealing with hard copies at any stage during the reviewing process seems upsettingly inefficient to me. – lighthouse keeper Dec 20 '16 at 9:59
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    @lighthousekeeper Oh we were frustrated by the request for hard copies, too. However, one of the members of the panel was an old-school emeritus professor that requested the submissions be printed in 16-point font. He was the most diligent of the panelists. He made copious notes on each of the 1,500 submissions. Each message was insightful and very encouraging. We received feedback from some people whose submissions were rejected thanking the panel for the comments. I've never seen anything like it before. I doubt I ever will again. Very old-school. – user65587 Dec 20 '16 at 10:13

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