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In recent past, documentation of information (i.e. gathering of data) was done manually, by the use of spreadsheet. This method is quite cumbersome when dealing with large amount of data. We could imagine keeping information on different delegates attending a particular conference manually; this would take a lot of time and energy to organize especially if the conference would be for several days and at different locations. This presentation deals with web based conference registration using a case study of IT conference (ITC 2007). The presentations address the: databases, importance of having a web based systems, implications, shortcomings e.t.c.
What is a Conference Management System?
A conference can be described as a forum for presentation and discussion of problems/ideas. This presentation could be in the form of an ongoing research or for future research work on specific areas. A conference provides an environment to learn new things or increase knowledge on old ones. Although a conference is a very good means of acquiring knowledge, the organization involves quite a lot of time and work. For example, in the IT conference (ITC 2007), planning the conference would involve; sending leaflets to academics and practitioners, advertising, reviewing the papers submitted, classification of the papers into topics, notifying the authors about the submitted paper (if it was rejected or not).
This process will require a lot of time and man power if carried out manually, hence the need for an efficient way of organizing meetings and conferences. There are several applications that have been developed to enhance the smooth organization of conferences and manage the workload.
A Conference Management system can be described as a web based software used for the organization of conferences online. This means that submission of papers, participant registration, paper review, and notification process will be done online. There are several organizations offering online conference management system. Examples of such organizations offering this service are, Elsevier Conference Department, CyberChair, Confious and ConfMann.
Functions of conference management systems
The following are the major functions of a conference management system
- Creating a website for the conference: this might not be available for conference. It is a means of advertising the conference.
- Accepts paper submissions
- Progress review
- Classification of the papers into topics
- Assigning referees/reviewers to the papers
- Collecting reviews
- Ranking the papers
- Feedback of the reviewed paper to the authors
- Collation of accepted papers
- Registering of delegates
- Publishig of conference proceedings/outcome
Some systems might offer additional functions, such as
- Payment options (if the delegates would have to pay an entry fee)
- Location options
- Session types (if there is more than one conference session
The above would be needed if ITC 2007 (case study) where to be registration process was online
It saves time and energy
It is much faster when compared to the manual method
Customized conference website
Easy to upgrade
Increase in productivity
Conference management system has various technical support tools and components integrated into them to cope with the shortcomings of manual registration. This can be classified into three different layers:
Conference Management Dashboard
This is use to monitor the status of registered conferences. It helps to bring together in one place all information needed for the conference, like the venues, and delegates. The dashboard is overseen by an administrator.
Conference management Platform
The platform or operation layers involves the registration, paper collation, paper review and feedback processes.
This holds the whole information about the conference. All the data entered during the point of registration, papers collected, feedbacks, delegates information, venues e.t.c would be stored in here.
In charge of these three layers are the system and conference administrators, the delegates, the authors and the referees or reviewer as the case may be.
Operations on CMS Layers
The following operations are carried out on the layers:
The submission process
This helps authors to upload their papers for submission electronically. Submitted papers are filed in directories to prevent paper loss.
This helps to notify authors about the success of their papers, if the paper was accepted or not. It also updates both the authors and the referees about any change (s) made to the conference.
This is used to share the papers among the referees.
Papers submitted are classified into different topics by the referees.
It assists the organizers in the management and modification of the conference website.
A web based Conference Management System is very efficient, registration, paper submission and assignment could be done in few minutes, compared to the manual process that could take days even weeks to sort out papers. Most importantly it helps to human errors and paperwork involved in a conference. This system would reduce cost, effort and time in planning a conference.
The invention of a Conference Management System is a very good initiative, and the benefits of using it over the manual method are quite high when compared to the disadvantages. Hence the general believe is that as more organizations are coming up, a much secured CMS would be developed to overcome the problems of the recent ones.
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