About COMS
COMS is a web-based software application designed to support the organisation of scientific, medical and academic meetings.
About COMS
COMS is a web-based software application designed to support the organisation of scientific, medical and academic meetings.

COMS documentation (all)

  • This documentation can be used to help configure and manage a COMS site.
  • Administrator privileges are required in order to access all the relevant functions.
  • The documentation can be viewed in one single file, suitable for printing, as   [HTML]   or   [PDF]

1. Getting started

With the exception of emails, which are configured on the Emails page, all of the configuration tasks are accomplished on the Configuration page, which can be accessed by administrators after logging onto their account.

The following provides an overview of the tasks needed to set up a site and can be used as a check list for the configuration. Implementation details are provided in the sub menus.

General functions

Input the conference descriptors
Title, venue, dates, conference website.
Styling
Create a banner and set the colour scheme.
Languages and texts
Select the language/s of the site. Add your own. Edit texts seen by the users

Module activation and configuration

Participants
Set up forms and upload buttons to collect personal data from the users. Flag users for participation, based on various criteria (as a result of a selection process; as a result of a registration process; after confirmation is received from the users).
Submissions
Set up the submission form and activate upload buttons to collect documents associated with the submission.
Reviews
Set up the review form and select options to guide the review assignment function.
Payments
Activate up to five registration forms and connect your account to the COMS system.

Administrators

Create admin accounts
Upload admin accounts or assign the admin function to existing users.

Emails

Set general parameters
Define the sender email. Set a signature to be inserted in all emails.
Activate and edit email templates
Automatic emails, bulk emails, email alerts.

Access control

Set access permissions
Set timers on functions accessed by the users, to enforce deadlines.
Control disclosures
Select the data, if any, that should be shown to the users (reviews, feedback, presentation details).

Test the configuration

Test data
Create test data (users, submissions, reviews) to test your setup and delete them before going live.
Checking users' accounts
Access users' accounts to verify that the set up is correct.

1.1. First steps

The conference descriptors, basic email parameters and languages should be set at the start of the configuration, as they are important, yet easy to overlook.

Input the conference descriptors

  • Go to Configuration / General functions / Conference descriptors.
  • Input the conference title, venue, dates and website.
  • There are placeholders for these data which can be inserted in texts and emails, for instance {conference-dates}.
  • In the case of recurrent or multiple events that use the same configuration, placeholders allow organisers to reuse texts and emails from a previous or existing site without edits, by simply updating the conference descriptors.

Display useful information on users' accounts

  • The column on the right hand side of a COMS website features cards displaying useful data for the users. This column is seen both before and after login.

  • Fig 1. shows an example of the right hand column, with the following cards:
    Language
    This card only appears if you activate more than one language on the site. It allows users to choose their preferred language. The system remembers the selected language for each user. You can activate or deactivate languages at Configuration / General functions / Language settings.
    Contact
    This card displays a link to the conference email address. It is only shown if an email address is provided at Configuration / General functions / Conference descriptors.
    Website
    This card displays a link to the conference website. It is only shown if the URL of the website is provided at Configuration / General functions / Conference descriptors.
    Privacy policy
    This card displays a link to your GDPR privacy declaration. It is only shown if you decide to publish it. The next section describes the function that allows editing and publishing of the declaration.
  • If you need to modify the texts and headings that accompany the data shown on the cards, you can use the text-IDS shown in Fig 2. The page at Texts & translations / Identify and edit any text explains how to retrieve and edit these texts.
Right column on a user's account
Right column with text-IDs

Publish a GDPR privacy statement

  • Go to Configuration / General functions / GDPR Statement.
  • You will find a ready-made statement that can be used as is, or can be edited to fit your needs, in the section labelled 3. Sample Privacy Statement .
  • If you decide to use it as is, you will need to provide the name of your institution, which will be inserted in the text. This can be done in the section labelled 2. Display the Privacy Statement on the login page .
  • Once the text is ready, you can activate its display on the site.
  • It will appear as a link that leads to the prepared text, in the right column of all the pages seen by the users. It will also be seen in the right column, before login.

Insert a banner

  • Basic knowledge of HTML/CSS is required.
  • Go to Configuration / General functions / Banner.
  • The top part of the site can be personalised with texts and pictures which can be uploaded to the site before being used.
  • Templates for typical types of banners are provided (e.g. pure picture banner, logos on the sides and text in the middle).

Change the colour scheme

  • Basic knowledge of HTML/CSS is required.
  • Go to Configuration / General functions / Styling.
  • You can modify the colour scheme of the site to match the banner or the conference website.

Select the languages of the site

  • Go to Configuration / General functions / Languages.
  • You can activate up to three languages.
  • COMS maintains texts in English, German and French.
  • It is possible to replace the default languages with others, or add another language.
  • A translation module is provided to manage texts in all languages.
  • The texts can be edited in all languages.
  • Users can select their preferred language which will be remembered by the system. This is only relevant for sites that use more than one language.

Settings in the email module

  • Go to Emails / Overview and settings.
  • Set the sender of the emails ( important) - When users receive an email and reply, their email will be sent to this address.
  • Set a global signature (optional) - You can set a signature to use in all emails. If you add the placeholder {signature} to the text of the emails, this placeholder will be replaced by the recorded signature.
  • Receive copies emails (optional) - You can input a list of email addresses that will receive copies of all the automatic emails generated by the system, to monitor activity.

1.2. Texts & translations

Overview

Accessing the text editing functions
The text module, accessible at Configuration / Texts, can be used to edit texts displayed anywhere on the site.
Use of an editor
The texts can be edited and formatted with a rich editor or directly as HTML in a text box.
Inserting images
Images can be inserted in the texts. They need to be uploaded first to the COMS server. An upload button is provided.
Providing reference documents for download
You can upload documents to the COMS server. Once they are uploaded, a link to their location can be copied and pasted in texts and emails, allowing participants to download them.
Editing more than one language
If more than one language is activated, edits can be performed for all active languages.
Translations
If you use a language that is not one of the languages actively maintained by COMS, you can use the text module to retrieve English texts and translate them. The translations are input and saved on your account and do not require any download or upload of data.

Identify and edit any text

  • Go to Configuration / Texts / Edit any text / 3. Switch on text identification and activate text identification. When this option is on, text identifiers are appended to the texts, between square brackets, as illustrated below:

    Texts

    Edit any text

    Normal display

    Texts[804]

    Edit any text[805]

    Display with text identifiers
  • The numbers displayed between the brackets identify the texts and can be used to retrieve them for editing.
  • Go to Configuration / Texts / Edit any text / 1. Edit a text and input the identifier of the text you want to edit in the edit box labelled "Text identifier", then click on the "Display" button to call the text into the edit box under it.
  • Edit the text, click on "Update" and check the result.
  • This function can be useful if you want to change several texts. After activating the display of all text-IDs, you can make a list of the text-IDs you need to edit.

Find a text and its ID through a search

  • Go to Configuration / Texts / Edit any text / 2. Find the ID of a text and input a text, or part of a text, then click on the "Search" button.
  • A list of IDs corresponding to all the texts that contain the text will be displayed. These IDs can be used to edit the texts, as described above.
  • This function can be useful if you want to change all instances of a text that is repeated throughout the site.

In-place editing

  • Many of the simple display texts (instructions, headers), can be edited directly, in-place.
  • To enable in-place editing, go to Configuration / Texts / In-place editing and activate the feature.
  • Navigate to the text you want to edit. Texts that can be edited in-place are marked by a dashed frame (Fig.1). When you click inside the frame, an editor is activated, allowing you to modify the text. As soon as your edits are saved, the new text will replace the old one on all accounts.
  • Note: the editor is only available to the user who activates the feature.
  • As soon as edits are completed, go back to Configuration / Texts / In-place editing and deactivate the feature.
Screenshot showing the in-place editing function.

Edit a text on a form

  • If the text is part of a form, for example a label or instructions ("Email", "Please only input a single email address"), it should be edited directly on the page dedicated to the setup of the form.

1.3. Reference documents

You can upload reference documents to the COMS server and let users download them.

Upload a document to the COMS server

Go to Configuration / Texts / Insert links & pictures / 1. Upload a document to the COMS server and use the upload button to upload any file to the COMS server.

Get the URL of the uploaded document

Once the document is uploaded, its URL will be printed at Configuration / Texts / Insert links & pictures / 2. List of uploaded documents. For example, if you uploaded a document titled PrivacyStatement.docx to https://conference-service.com/myconf2019/, the URL of the uploaded file will be https://conference-service.com/myconf2019/documents/PrivacyStatement.docx. Copy this URL.

Create a download link for the document

Locate and edit the text that will include the link. This can be done at Configuration / Texts / Edit any text. If you are using the HTML editor, locate the link button in the toolbar of the editor and use it to create a link to the URL you just copied. In addition to the URL, you will need to provide a text for the link, for instance, Privacy statement. If you are using a simple text editor, you will need to use HTML tags to create the link.

Add a download link to an email

Go to Emails and locate the email template you want to use. Simply paste the URL you copied into the the body of the email. There is no need to add HTML tags.

1.4. Linking to your COMS site

This section shows you how to link your website to the access page of the COMS site.

Use of the site in one language

If the URL of your site is:
https://conference-service.com/coms_demo
and you would like to create a link with the text:
Abstract submission
you can use the following HTML snippet to create a link that will open in a new window:
<a href="https://conference-service.com/coms_demo" target="_blank">Abstract submission</a>
This will create the following link:

Use of the site in more than one language

If you use more than one language, you can add a parameter to the URL to open the site in the desired language.

For the English version, use:
https://conference-service.com/coms_demo?lang=en
For the German version, use:
https://conference-service.com/coms_demo?lang=de
For the French version, use:
https://conference-service.com/coms_demo?lang=fr

2. Accounts & user data

In setting up the site to manage participants' data, the first task is to configure the account creation form and related functions. There are, however, additional functions that can be used to gather personal data from the participants.

Used together, these functions can be useful for sites that focus on selecting participants for a summer or winter school, or for events with a strong social programme.

Account creation form

  • This form is used to create a profile of the participants and provide them with a password to the site.
  • It is possible to add any number of questions to the form.

Selecting participants

  • Administrators can activate a function to flag users' participation in the conference.
  • A participation status can be assigned to each user, based on various criteria: registration and payment status; confirmation by the users; acceptance or rejection by the organisers.

Activating additional forms

  • Up to two forms can be activated and used to collect personal data from the participants.
  • These forms are freely configurable.
  • They can be used, for example, to register users to non-paying events (for instance workshops) or to collect travel details, résumés etc.
  • Each form is accessed on a user's account through a dedicated tab.

Activating upload buttons

  • Up to three upload buttons can be activated to collect personal documents from the participants.
  • Typically, these are used to collect scans of student cards, curriculum vitae or proposals.
  • Each upload button is accessed on a user's account through a dedicated tab.
  • Functions are provided to manage the collected documents.

2.1. Account creation form

Find the required functions for the setup

Go to Configuration / Participants / Account registration form to configure the form.

Overview of existing fields

You can view and modify a list of fields included, or available for inclusion, on the form, at 1. Configure the form. It consists of a number of predefined fields that are commonly found on account creation forms, and optionally, of any number of user-defined fields (custom fields that are created by administrators). For each field, the following data are displayed:

Field ID
It uniquely identifies the field in the database. It is not used on the form, but can be used in your correspondence with COMS, to identify the field. Example: "105".
Label
It identifies the field on the form. Example: "Last name".
Type
This refers to the type of component: [Edit box / Radio buttons / Check boxes / Drop down list / Date / Date & time / Separator / Text].
Usage
The usage attribute consists of a value chosen in a drop down list, among the following options : [Not to be used / Optional / Required].
Display order
This refers to the position of the field on the form. It consists of an edit box that contains the order value of the field. The position of the field can be modified by modifying its order value.
An edit button
The edit button allows you to edit additional properties of the fields that are not displayed in the overview list described above. For example after clicking on the button, you can edit instructions for the field (e.g., "Please provide a single email address") or edit the options of a drop down.
A delete button
A delete button is provided to remove user-defined fields. Predefined fields cannot be deleted.
Note: When you delete a field, all the data collected for this field are deleted too. To suppress a field from a form, without erasing the corresponding data, it is enough to switch the usage of the field to Not to be used.
A clone button
It allows you to duplicate an existing field. This can be handy if the field to be created is similar to an existing one. You can then edit the attributes of the new field and modify them as needed. The clone button is only available for user-defined fields.

Modify existing fields

Modify the order of the fields
  • Use the edit boxes in the column labelled Display order. The edit boxes contain positive integers. Taken together, they form a sequence that defines the order of the fields on the form.
  • You can modify the order of the fields by modifying that sequence and saving it by using the button labelled Update order, at the bottom of the Display order column. The digits forming the sequence should all be different. They do not need to be contiguous. In fact, it is recommended to define the sequence as 10, 20, 30 .... It is then easy to insert a field between two others, by using an intermediary number (e.g. use 15 to place a field between the fields with display orders 10 and 20).
Modify the usage of a field
  • Select a suitable option in the drop down list located in the Usage column and click on Update usage, at the bottom of the overview, to save the change.
  • There are three options to choose from: [Not to be used / Optional / Required]. The Required option will add a star next to the field, to indicate its mandatory status; Not to be used will remove the field from he form. If this is done at a stage where data have already been collected for that field, the data will not be erased. If the usage is later set to one of the other options, the data will be accessible again.
Modify the label or instructions of a field
Click the Edit button to access the edit boxes for the label and instructions of the field.
Modify other attributes of the field
You can access and modify other attributes of the fields, for instance the options of a drop down list, by clicking on the Edit button.

Add a custom field to the form

  • Go to 2. Add a component to the form, select a component in the list and click on Add this item to create a new field on the form.
  • You will first have to input the attributes of the field (label, instructions etc.).
  • After saving the form, the new field will be added at the bottom of the form.
  • You can then adjust its position and usage in the overview list.

Add instructions above the form

Go to 3. Edit the instructions displayed above the form. An editor is available to help with the formatting of the text.

Set permissions to access the form

  • Participants can access the form externally (when registering an account with the site) and on their account, once logged in, if they wish to modify their profile and other data contained on the form. Access rights can be set for both.
  • Go to Configuration / Access rights / Set user access permissions to set the permissions.
  • Go to 2. Access to the forms on the login page / Activate the account creation form to control access to the account creation form (the external form). In order for the form to be accessible, you need to activate access and define a suitable period of availability. Typically, this period should coincide with the account registration deadlines.
  • Go to 3. Accounts / Allow users to edit their own profile and set suitable permissions, including dates of availability, to control access to the form after login.

Set up a welcome email

  • You can set up the site to automatically send a welcome email to users who have just created an account.
  • For this, go to Emails / Automatic emails / Activate and edit the emails / 2. Registration with the system.
  • Set the Activate dropdown to Yes.
  • Default texts for the subject line and content of the email are provided. They can be edited and adapted to your needs.

2.2. Selecting participants

You can activate functions to flag the users' participation status.

  • These functions can be useful for selecting applicants who wish to take part in a course or a summer school.
  • They can also be useful if participation requires confirmation by the delegates. In this case, their participation status can be set by administrators following their decision.
Users can be contacted by email based on their participation status. You can also export the list of accepted or confirmed participants.

If the registration & payments module is used, this function might not be needed. The registration or payment status might be used instead.

Activate and configure the participation function

  • Go to Configuration / Participants / Participation status.
  • Activate the selection function at 1. Activate functions to flag participation status.
  • If payments are in use, you might want to automatically set the participation status to Will participate as soon as the registration payment is completed. This can be done at 2. Set rules for automatic participant selection.
  • Edit the list of participation options at 3. Edit the drop down list of participant status . By default, the options are set to [Undecided / Will participate / Will not participate / Waiting list]. You can, however extend or shorten the list. You can also modify the options, for instance replace Will participate with Accepted.

Keeping track of participation

  • Once the function is activated, you can set and track the participation status at Participants / Participation status.
  • The page at Set participation status individually page contains a list of users and a dropdown of participation statuses that can be used to flag the users individually. A filter is also provided.
  • The page at Set participation in bulk contains functions to set assign a status to multiple users. For example, you can synchronize participant selection with the paper selection status.

Sending emails to users based on their participation status

  • You can send an email to the users flagged as Accepted or Will participate at Emails / Bulk emails / Conference participants / 2. Free-style email to accepted applicants.
  • You can send an email to the users flagged as Rejected or Will not participate at Emails / Bulk emails / Conference participants / 3. Free-style email to rejected applicants.
  • An additional template can be found at Emails / Bulk emails / Hand-picked users. This template allows you to select the recipients base on their participation status in combination with other filters.

Exporting the data

  • The export at Exports / Participants / Export to CSV or Excel / All system users contains the profiles of all the users, as well as their participation status.
  • To export a filtered list of the users, go to Participants / Accounts / View, edit user data / 2. Work on the selected records. This section lists the users. At the top of the list, you will find three export links: For selected records: Export to: [HTML] [xls] [xlsx]. Before the export, you can select the records by using the filter at the top of the page.

2.3. Configurable forms

Up to two forms can be configured from scratch and made available to participants. These forms are accessible after login, from a tab located on the horizontal navigation bar at the top of the page.

Custom forms are typically used to create a questionnaire or register participants to free events, for instance workshops.

Find the required functions and activate the form

Find the setup page
Go to Configuration / Additional forms and access one of the two forms listed in the menu.
Activate the form
Begin by activating the form at 1. Activate the form and related functions. This is necessary to ensure that all related functions are available. Access to the form is not necessarily activated when this function is on, as this is done independently.

Name the form and add instructions

Name the tab
Go to 2. Texts / Name of the tab and input a suitable label to the tab that gives access to the form.
Add a heading to the page
Go to 2. Texts / Heading of the page and enter the heading displayed above the form.
Add instructions
Go to 2. Texts / Instructions and edit the instructions that will be displayed under the the heading. An editor is supplied to help formatting the text.

Configure the form

Add fields

Go to 5. Add a component to the form and add fields to the form. To add a field, first select a suitable component in the drop down list.

Possible options are: [Edit box / Drop down list / Radio buttons / Check boxes / Date / Date & time / Separator / Text].

The separator is used to separate different sections on the form.

The text component can be used to insert a text in the middle of the form. The text can contain pictures and links.

Configure the fields

After selecting a suitable component, you are presented with a form and can enter the main attributes of the field (label, instructions, height of an edit box, options of a check list etc.).

Other attributes, like the position of the field on the form can be set in the overview of the fields, at 4. Edit form components .

View the form
The form can be previewed at 6. View the form in its current state.

Add quotas

You can set quotas on any of the selection fields (radio buttons, check boxes and drop down lists).

In order to set a quota, go to Configuration / Quotas / Set limits on bookings.

When a quota is set on an option, this option will be greyed on the form as soon as the quota is reached. The text [Booked out] will be appended to the option.

Administrators can track quotas at Participants / Quotas.

Control access to the form

Go to Configuration / Access rights / Set user access permissions / 7. Additional forms to enable access to the form. The following permissions can be set:

Allow access to the page that contains the form
This setting activates the tab leading to the form. If it is inactive, the tab is removed from the navigation bar. If it is active, you can also set a period of availability, to enforce deadlines.
Allow delegates to edit the form
This setting controls edits. If it is deactivated, users can see the form in read mode only. If it is active, they can edit it. Here too, you can set a period of availability.

Invite participants to fill in the form

If you want to contact the participants and invite them to fill in the form, you can send them an email.

For this, go to Emails / Bulk emails and look for an email that targets the appropriate group of participants (e.g. all users, submitters, reviewers).

If you do not find the appropriate email, you can use the template labelled Handpicked users which provides a filter to select the recipients.

Export the data

Export to Excel or CSV
Go to Exports / [Name of the form]: Export to CSV or Excel.
Export to HTML
Go to Exports / [Name of the form]: Export to HTML.

2.4. Upload buttons

Up to three upload buttons can be activated, allowing participants to upload various documents.

Find and activate the relevant functions

Locate the setup page
Go to Configuration / Upload buttons and access one of the three menus in that section. Each leads to the setup of an upload button.
Activate the button
Activate the button, at 1. Activate the form and related functions, at the top of the page. This is necessary in order to switch on related functions, which would not appear otherwise. Activating an upload button does not necessarily enable its usage by participants.
Control access to the upload tab
Go to 2. Form access and make sure access is not enabled while you are configuring the upload function.

Name the tab, add a heading, add instructions

Go to 3. Texts.

Name the button
Input a name for the upload button, for instance Student card. This name will be used to label the tab used to access the button. It will also be used in other functions, for instance on the exports page.
Page heading
Input a heading for the page.
Instructions
Input instructions. These will appear below the heading and above the button

Control the type and size of the uploads

Go to 4. File upload options.

Set the allowed file extensions
  • Specify a comma separated list of allowed file extensions (e.g. doc, docx or pdf).
  • Leave the box empty to allow all types.
Set a size limit on the files
  • The given limit applies to a single file, not to the total.
  • If no limit is given, the limit set by the system will apply (about 50 MB). Please bear in mind that slow connections are likely to time out on large files.

Allow users to access the upload button

Go to Configuration / Access rights / Set user access permissions and find the section relating to the upload button.

Allow access
Activate access at Allow access to the page that contains the upload button.
Set dates of availability
Set a suitable start and end dates for the period of availability.

Manage and download the files

Once the files start coming in, you might want to inspect or retrieve them.

View, annotate and flag the files
  • Go to Participants / Uploaded documents / [Name of the upload button] to work on the uploads.
  • You will be able to select files to work on, with the help of a filter, found at 1. Select the records to work on.
  • You can view, annotate and set an acceptance status on each file in the section labelled 2. Work on the selected records.
Download all or selected files
  • On that same page, in the section labelled 2. Work on the selected records, at the top of the list of uploaded files, you will find a download link labelled Download: [Selected documents].
  • Clicking on this link will retrieve a zip file containing all the documents selected by the filter at the top of the page.
  • To retrieve all files, be sure to clear the filter. You can save the zip on your computer and unzip it to get the individual files.
Note
  • When a user uploads a file, it is renamed by the software.
  • The names of the downloaded files will all follow a determined scheme that contains the user-ID, the document-ID and the name of the user. Example: doc1_u0010_d0005_Sorel_Guillaume.jpg.

2.5. Emails

Before setting up emails, be sure to set up general functions relating to the email module (sender, signature, language etc.). These functions are found at Emails / Overview and settings.

Automatic emails

Automatic emails are sent automatically by the system, in response to actions taken by the users. Their aim is to provide feedback and information. They are provided with pre-defined texts that can be edited and adapted to your needs.

Locate the function
Go to Emails / Automatic emails / Activate and edit the emails. All automatic emails are listed on that page, where they can be both activated (or deactivated) and edited.
Activate useful emails
Review the list of automatic emails and activate or deactivate those appropriate to the submission process:
  • Automatic password recovery
  • Registration with the system
  • Creation of a new COMS user by a conference administrator
  • Send an email to users who complete the upload of a document (up to three)
  • Send an email to users who save a custom form (up to two)
Edit the email templates
Review the contents of the activated emails (body and subject line) and edit, if necessary.

Bulk emails

Bulk emails are one-off emails sent to a group of users at a time of your choosing. They can be found at Emails / Bulk emails and can be used to target any number of participants:

Predefined groups of users
  • All system users
  • Conference participants:
    • Email to a specific type of participants
    • Email to accepted applicants
    • Email to rejected applicants
    • Inform/remind participants of the need to fill in a custom form
  • Conference administrators
  • Inactive accounts
Hand-picked users
You will be able to send an email to any user or group of users.

2.6. Access permissions

Locate the functions

Go to Configuration / Access rights / Set user access permissions

Select the appropriate time zone

At the top of the page, at 1. Time zone.

Set permissions on functions accessed after login

Go to 3. Accounts and check the various options. Each option describes a function and lets you activate or deactivate access to it. If the function is activated, you can restrict access to a period of availability, which can be made to correspond with your deadlines.

Allow delegates and submitters to log in
When this function is deactivated, only administrators are able to log in. The following message is given to unprivileged users who attempt to log in: Logins are currently reserved for administrators of the system.
Allow users to edit their own profile
If this function is deactivated, users can view their profile, but cannot modify it.
Additional forms / Upload buttons
You can also set permissions to access and use the custom forms, as well as the upload buttons.

Activate / deactivate the account creation form

  • This form is located on the login page and can be accessed by all. Deactivate it to prevent the creation of new accounts.
  • To activate or deactivate the form, go to 2. Access to the forms on the login page / Activate the account creation form

2.7. Upload user accounts

Locate the upload function

  • Go to Participants  >  Accounts / Create multiple accounts.
  • This page contains all functions necessary for the upload, as well as detailed instructions.

Download the Excel template

  • It contains headings for all the fields relating to user profiles.

Input the profiles in the spreadsheet

  • Each profile should occupy a row.
  • Save the data. The resulting file should have an xls or xlsx extension.

Upload the file

  • Use the upload button to upload the Excel file to the database.
  • On upload, the programme will check the data.
  • If errors are detected, the file will not be processed.
  • An error message and a detailed list of errors will be displayed.

Review the data and commit to the database

  • If the data are parsed correctly, you will be able to review them before committing them to the database.
  • You will also be able to decide whether or not to send a password to the newly created users.
  • Once the upload is completed, its status is displayed, showing the range of user IDs created, the date of creation and whether emails were sent out.

2.8. Delete accounts

Prepare a list of the user IDs you want to delete
For example 233, 4-10 or 3, 5, 11.
Find the delete function
Go to Participants / Delete, enter the list in the edit box and click Delete.
Review the list of users and confirm
You will get a list with the details of the users you want to delete and will be able to either commit or cancel the deletion.
Note
All the data linked to these accounts will be deleted (profile, submissions, uploads, payment records).

2.9. Set up a survey form

After the conference, you might want to collect feedback from participants. The following is a step by step guide to configuring a questionnaire and collecting the data.

Please note: As an option, it is possible to anonymize the questionnaires. This means that the data that are exported will not contain the names and other details identifying the users. Please contact COMS, prior to the setup, to activate this feature.

Activate the survey form

Go to Configuration / Additional forms and access one of the first two forms. Activate the form at Activate the form and related functions.

Configure the form

On that same page, visit the five sections under the activation function:
Texts

Name the tab used to access the questionnaire on users' accounts.

Name the form.

Write instructions that will be displayed above the form.

Form access

Activate the access tab on users' accounts.

Allow edits.

Edit the form

This section lists the fields / questions included on the form.

At first, the form is empty, but as soon as fields are added to it, they can be edited in this section.

Add an item to the form

Create the fields (edit boxes, check boxes, radio buttons etc.).

View the form in its current state

The form you have just configured can be viewed at the bottom of the page.

Configure a feedback email

When users save their input on the questionnaire form, it is possible to send them a thank you email.

To activate and edit the thank you email, go to Emails / Automatic mail / Send an email to users who save the questionnaire form.

Import the users

This step is only relevant if you need to import the users who will be invited to fill in the survey form.

Please go to Participants / Accounts / Create multiple accounts to upload the users.

Invite participants to fill in the questionnaire

Select an email template
Go to Emails / Bulk mail and select a template that targets the appropriate users. Examples:

All system users will select all the users registered in the system,

Conference participants / Free-style email to accepted applicants will select users who have been flagged as accepted for conference participation,

Conference participants / Inform/remind participants of the need to fill in the Questionnaire form to select all non-rejected users,

Hand-picked users can be used if a specific group of recipients needs to be filtered.

Edit the template

When editing the template, you can use the <quest-direct-access-url> placehoder to allow users to access the questionnaire tab directly, without having to log in.

When the emails are sent out, the placeholder will be replaced by a URL that contains the user's log in details.

Clicking on this link in the email will take them directly to the form.

Save, preview test and send the emails

After saving the text of the template, please check the preview before sending the emails, to ensure that the placeholder is replaced correctly.

The access URL should look like this:

https://www.conference-service.com/myconf/quest.html?coms_direct_login=U2FsdGVkX18qmSmkVamBhdg5w8GCAcPNE6959nMaGLqBft1WakhzE11B6mZEFhy2

The URL bit, on the right, contains login details and will be different for each user.

When the recipients click on this link, they will access the questionnaire directly, without having to log in. It is recommended that the email be tested first by sending it to your own account. You will be able to check that clicking the link leads you to the questionnaire.

Export the data

Go to Export data / Questionnaire to export the data to Excel or HTML.

If you have labelled the tab to something else than Questionnaire, look for the given label: Export data / Tab label.

3. Submissions

In planning the submission process, administrators have several different tasks at hand:

  • Collect all the data required for the production of the proceedings and conference programme.
  • Collect meta data that will help with the review and selection process.
  • Collect data necessary for the management of the submissions, for instance, permission to print the abstracts. This can be achieved by adding custom fields to the submission form.
  • Ensure that the submission process runs smoothly for the authors of submissions: to this end, emails have to be prepared and suitable access permissions must be set.

Steps required for the setup of the submission process

  • Activate the submission module and set options for the submission process.
  • Configure the submission form.
  • Set up automatic emails that will be triggered when users submit an abstract and perform actions related to the submission.
  • Set permissions on the functions related to the submission process. You will be able to control users' ability to create, edit and withdraw submissions, as well as their ability to upload files.

Collecting meta data

Meta data can be used to assist the distribution of submissions into sessions. They can also be exported to Excel (or other formats) for further processing.

Presentation types
  • You can create a list of presentation types, for instance, poster and oral, and allow authors of submissions to indicate their preferred type.
  • The list of presentation types can be used to assist the distribution of submissions into the conference sessions. For example, if a session is defined as a poster session, you will only see submissions categorised as be posters when choosing submissions for inclusion into that session.
  • When selecting submissions for acceptance or rejection, you can view the presentation types selected by the submitters and reassign them.
Topics
authors
  • You can create a list of topics and allow of submissions to select suitable values for their abstracts.
  • The topics can be classified into themes or tracks.
  • You can assign some of these topics (or themes) to reviewers, as speciality topics, and distribute submissions by matching the topics selected on the submissions with the speciality topics assigned to the reviewers.
  • The list of topics (or themes) can also be used to assist the distribution of submissions into the conference sessions. For example, you can assign a list of topics to a session. Only submissions assigned to these topics will be shown as candidates for inclusion into that session.
  • When selecting submissions for acceptance or rejection, you can view the topics selected by the submitters and reassign them.
Predefined keywords
  • You can define a list of keywords and let submitters select any numbers of those keywords on the submission form.
  • The chosen keywords will be shown to administrators when they select and classify the submissions.
Free keywords
  • You can let submitters input a comma-separated list of keywords on the submission form.
  • The chosen keywords will be shown to administrators when they select and classify the submissions.

3.1. Options for the submission process

Before configuring the submission form, you should review and set options found at Configuration / Submissions / Options for the submission process.

Activate abstract submission

This is necessary in order to activate all the functions needed to manage submissions. If you do not use the submission module, make sure it is switched off, to avoid the display of unnecessary functions.

Allow the insertion of pictures in the abstract

  • Submitters will be able to insert pictures in the text of the abstract, provided the text editor is activated.
  • You can control the types of pictures allowed and set a limit on their number and size.

Limit the number of abstracts per account

Leave empty if no limit is applied.

Activate the upload of extended abstracts

  • Once activated, you can specify an availability period, the type of files allowed and a size limit.
  • The upload button will be displayed on the submission form and can be further configured at Configuration / Submissions / Submission form. There you can position the button on the form, edit its label and decide whether it should be optional or mandatory.

Activate the upload of full-papers

  • Once activated, you can specify an availability period, the type of files allowed and a size limit.
  • The upload button will be displayed next to the submission form.

Activate the upload of presentations

  • Once activated, you can specify an availability period, the type of files allowed and a size limit.
  • The upload button will be displayed next to the submission form.

Classify topics into themes

  • Activate this option if you need a two-level classification of the topics. Switch it off for a simple list.
  • The (themes and) topics can be input in the configuration of the submission form, at Configuration / Submissions / Submission form.

Require that presenting authors have an account with the system

  • With this option, listed authors flagged as presenters will be required to have an account on the site.
  • In most cases, the submitter is also the presenter, which automatically guarantees that the presenter has an account.
  • In cases where this is not the case, the submitter will be required to supply an email address for the presenter and the software will use it to check that an account exists for this email.
  • Setting this option allows you to check that presenting authors have paid their registration feed when creating the agenda.

3.2. Submission form

  • The submission form contains a number of pre-defined fields that are standard parts of an abstract. These can be switched off, if not needed.
  • In addition, administrators can add any number of custom fields to the form.
  • Technically, it is possible to replace some of the standard fields with custom ones. For example, it is possible to replace the standard abstract title component with a custom edit box. However, since the standard fields all have special functions in the workflow (for instance in the review and selection process), as well as special attributes, it is usually preferable to use the standard fields whenever possible.

Locate the relevant functions

Go to Configuration / Submissions / Submission form to set up the form. Other pages in the Configuration / Submissions also provide needed functions for the setup.

List of pre-defined fields

The following describes the pre-defined fields, their attributes and special functions.

Abstract title
  • The title of the abstract can be input either as simple text in a simple edit box or by means of an editor that allows simple formattings (bold, italics, subscripts and superscripts). On request, other formattings can be added.
  • A size limit can be imposed on the title, either on the number of words or the number of characters.
  • The title of the abstract is automatically displayed in various places, for example on users' accounts, in the overview list of their submissions. Search functions can also use the title, or part of a title, to locate a submission and its author.
List of authors and affiliations
  • The listing of authors consists of two parts: a list of affiliations and a list of authors' personal details.
  • Submitters start by listing and numbering all the affiliations (organisations) and go on to list the authors.
  • When listing the authors, submitters can list the affiliations associated with each author.
  • Both the affiliations and authors' details consist of individual pre-defined fields that can be used or not in the setup. For example, it is possible to use a field to collect the email address of an author; the country and city of the affiliations can be collected. Administrators can also decide whether these fields are optional or mandatory.
  • Administrators can set a limit on the number of authors that can be listed. They can also allow the use of an "et al." check box.
  • Submitters can also indicate who, among the listed authors, will be the presenter at the conference.
  • As an option, it is possible to request that all presenters have an account on the site. This is useful if you need to check that presenters are duly registered for participation when creating the agenda. The software uses the email collected for the authors to enforce this requirement.
  • There are several formats available to display the authors and their affiliations.
Abstract text
  • The text of the abstract can be input either as simple text in a simple edit box or by means of an editor fitted with a number formattings (bold, italics, subscripts, superscripts, bullet lists, links and others). On request, the list of allowed formattings can be adjusted.
  • A size limit can be imposed on the title, either on the number of words or the number of characters.
  • The text of the abstract can be viewed by reviewers and administrators who select abstracts.
Pre-defined keywords
  • Administrators can define a list of keywords to display as check boxes on the form and let users select any number of them.
  • The selected keywords can be displayed in the overview list of submissions used for the selection and classification of the abstracts.
Freely defined keywords
  • Instead of (or in addition to) letting submitters choose keywords in a list of pre-defined items, you can let them input their own list.
  • The freely selected keywords are also shown to administrators in the selection process.
Themes & topics
  • To help classify the submissions, you can activate a list of topics on the form, to let submitters indicate the topic/s that can be best associated with their submissions.
  • The topics can be classified in different themes (or tracks).
  • It is possible to let submitters indicate a second and third topic.
  • The topics selected by the submitters are shown to administrators who can confirm their choice or reassign them to other topics.
Presentation types
  • You can activate a drop down list on the submission form, to let submitters indicate their preferred presentation type.
  • If you have several presentation types, you can let submitters indicate a second and third choice.
  • The preferences indicated by the submitters are shown to administrators, who can confirm their choice or reassign them to other presentation types.
  • Once assigned, or reassigned, the presentation types can also be used to set constraints in the creation of the agenda: if you decide that a session will be a poster session and set the poster option as a constraint on that session, you will not be able to insert submissions that are not flagged as posters in that session. This type of constraint is mostly useful for large conferences, when administrators need to sift through a large number of submissions.
Upload button for an extended abstract
  • You can add an upload button to the submission form, to collect together with the abstract.
  • If you make the button mandatory, users will only be able to submit the form if a file has been successfully uploaded.
  • If the button is optional, users can submit their abstract without an upload. Once the abstract is submitted, they will find an upload button next to their submission and will be able to add the file.
  • In the case of an optional upload, you can activate an automatic email that will be sent out to submitters who have created their abstract without an upload. This email will server as a reminder that an upload is still needed to complete the submission.

Select pre-defined fields

  • Go to 1. Configure the form to include or exclude suitable pre-defined fields form the submission form. This can be done by means of the usage drop down. Save your selection.
  • Use the Display order to rearrange the fields on the form.
  • Access the attributes of the fields by means of the Edit button, on the right hand side.

Add custom fields to the form

  • Go to 2. Add a component to the form to add a custom field.
  • Choose a field type in the drop down list and click on Add this item.
  • Fill in he form by inputting the attributes of the field (label, instructions etc.) and save.
  • As soon as you submit the form, the new field is added at the bottom of the form.
  • Adjust the position and usage of the item in the overview of fields.

Add instructions

  • You can add instructions that will be displayed above the form.
  • Go to 3. Edit the instructions displayed above the form .
  • Input the instructions in the edit box. Alternatively, activate the editor to input formatted text.

3.3. Extended abstracts

Extended abstracts are files that are collected at the time of the submission of the abstract. An upload button is added to the submission form, allowing submitters to create their abstract and upload the file in one step.

You can activate, configure and manage the upload of extended abstracts as follows:

Activate the feature

  • To activate and configure the upload of extended abstracts, go to Configuration / Submissions / Options for the submission process / Allow the upload of extended abstracts.

Configure the uploads

  • Once you activate the function, you can set size limits and file extensions constraints on the files.

Display the upload button on the submission form

  • You can control access to the upload button by setting dates of availability.
  • Within the availability period, an upload button will be displayed on the submission form.
  • The appearance of the upload button on the submission form can be configured at Configuration / Submissions / Submission form / 1. Configure the form / 212 Extended abstract / Edit. You can position the button on the form, modify its label, add explanations and decide whether the upload should be optional or mandatory.

Download all or some of the extended abstracts

  • To download all the extended abstracts as a zipped file, go to Exports / Submissions / Download uploaded files / Download [extended abstracts].
  • You can download all or a subset of the extended abstracts as a zip at Submissions & reviews> Accept or reject submissions / 2. Individual assignments... / For selected records: Download: [extended abstracts].
  • Prior to the download, you can use the filter, at the top of the page to select the extended abstracts to include in the zip file. Clearing the filter will select all the extended abstracts.

3.4. Full papers

Full papers are files that are collected after the submission of the abstract, in a two-stage process. The upload button is not displayed on the submission form. It is displayed next to the button used to edit the submission.
You can activate, configure and manage the upload of full papers as follows:

Activate the feature

  • To activate and configure the upload of full papers, go to Configuration / Submissions / Options for the submission process / Allow the upload of full papers.

Configure the uploads

  • Once you activate the function, you can set size limits and file extensions constraints on the files.

Display the upload button on users' accounts

  • You can control access to the upload button by setting dates of availability.
  • Within the availability period, users get an upload button for their presentation on their submissions page.
  • Note that it is only shown for accepted submissions. Others do not see a button.
  • In order to check this, you can edit the submissions of a user with an accepted abstract and a rejected one at Participants / View edit user data.

Download all or some of the full papers

  • To download all the full papers as a zipped file, go to Exports / Submissions / Download uploaded files / Download [full papers].
  • You can download all or a subset of the full papers as a zip at Submissions & reviews> Accept or reject submissions / 2. Individual assignments... / For selected records: Download: [full papers].
  • Prior to the download, you can use the filter, at the top of the page to select the full papers to include in the zip file. Clearing the filter will select all the full papers.

3.5. Presentations

You can activate, configure and manage the upload of speakers' presentations as follows:

Activate the feature

  • To activate and configure the presentation upload function, go to Configuration / Submissions / Options for the submission process / Allow the upload of presentations.

Configure the uploads

  • Once you activate the function, you can set size limits and file extensions constraints on the files.

Display the upload button on users' accounts

  • You can control access to the upload button by setting dates of availability.
  • Within the availability period, users get an upload button for their presentation on their submissions page.
  • Note that it is only shown for accepted submissions. Others do not see a button.
  • In order to check this, you can edit the submissions of a user with an accepted abstract and a rejected one at Participants / View edit user data.

Invite the users to upload

  • To send an invitation email to authors of accepted submissions, you can use the template at Emails / Bulk emails / Authors of submissions / 2. Email to all authors of accepted papers. This email contains a default text that can be edited. After saving your modifications, preview the emails and send them out.
  • If you need to send an invitation email to any other group of users or to a single user, use the email at Emails / Bulk emails / Hand-picked users. A filter is provided to select the recipients of the email. The text of the email can be edited and previewed.

Download all or some of the presentations

  • To download all the presentations as a zipped file, go to Exports / Submissions / Download uploaded files / Download [Presentations].
  • You can download all or a subset of the presentations as a zip at Submissions & reviews / Accept or reject submissions / 2. Individual assignments... / For selected records: Download: [Presentations].
  • Prior to the download, you can use the filter, at the top of the page to select the presentations to include in the zip file. Clearing the filter will select all the presentations.

3.6. Emails

Before setting up emails, be sure to set up general functions relating to the email module (sender, signature, language etc.). These functions are found at Emails / Overview and settings.

Automatic emails

Automatic emails are sent automatically by the system, in response to actions taken by the users. Their aim is to provide feedback and information. They are provided with pre-defined texts that can be edited and adapted to your needs.

Locate the function
Go to Emails / Automatic emails / Activate and edit the emails. All automatic emails are listed on that page, where they can be both activated (or deactivated) and edited.
Activate useful emails
Review the list of automatic emails and activate or deactivate those appropriate to the submission process:
  • Registration combined with the submission of an abstract
  • Acknowledge the submission of an abstract by an existing system user
  • Alert user of failed abstract-file upload (this email will be triggered if the upload of an extended abstract is set to optional, and submitters create an abstract without uploading a file. It is meant to serve as a reminder that an upload is still due).
  • Acknowledge the replacement of an extended abstract
  • Full paper upload
  • Presentation upload
  • Acknowledge that a previously submitted full-paper has been replaced by a later version
  • Send email on submission withdrawal
Edit the email templates
Review the contents of the activated emails (body and subject line) and edit, if necessary.

Bulk emails

Bulk emails are one-off emails sent to a group of users at a time of your choosing. Go to Emails / Bulk emails. There, you will find templates suitable for targeting authors and speakers. The configuration of these emails can be left out of the initial set up, as they are generally not needed until the review process has completed.

Authors of submissions
You will find several templates to target various groups of recipients:
  • Free-style email to all authors
  • Email to all authors of accepted papers
  • Email to all authors of declined papers
  • Free-style email to authors based on the presentation type
  • Free-style email to participants without a submission
Speakers
You will be able to send an email to speakers based on their type of presentation, or to all speakers.
Hand-picked users
You will be able to send an email to any user or group of users.

3.7. Access permissions

Locate the functions

Go to Configuration / Access rights / Set user access permissions

Select the appropriate time zone

At the top of the page, at 1. Time zone.

Set permissions on the submission functions

Go to 4. Submissions and check the various options. Each option describes a function and lets you activate or deactivate access to it. If the function is activated, you can restrict access to a period of availability, which can be made to correspond with your deadlines.

Allow access to the submissions tab
If access to the tab is denied, users will be unable to access any of the functions described below.
Allow users to submit abstracts
This option controls the availability of the submit button on the page.
Users can edit their submissions after the deadline
This option controls the edit button. If disabled, the button is removed and a submission can be viewed, but not modified.
Users can withdraw their submissions after the deadline
This option controls the withdraw button, which is removed when disabled. Users can still view and export the submission.
Extended abstract upload
With this option enabled, an upload button is displayed next to an existing submission, allowing users to upload, reupload and download an extended abstract. If disabled, they can only download an existing upload.
Paper upload
With this option enabled, an upload button is displayed next to an existing submission, allowing users to upload, reupload and download a full paper. If disabled, they can only download an existing upload.
Presentations
With this option enabled, an upload button is displayed next to an existing submission, allowing users to upload, reupload and download a Presentation. If disabled, they can only download an existing upload.

Activate or deactivate the public submission form

This refers to the submission form accessible without login.

Go to 2. Access to the forms on the login page / Activate the account creation & abstract submission form

3.8. Export & download

Exporting the abstracts

Excel and CSV
  • First option: export all abstracts
    Go to Exports / Submissions / Export to CSV or Excel / All submitted abstracts and click on one of the links to export all the abstracts found on the site, either to Excel or CSV.
  • Second option: export a subset of the abstracts
    Go to Submissions & reviews / Abstract selection / Accept or reject submission / 2. Accept, reject submissions one by one. This page displays a list of submissions which is used to select and classify abstracts and papers. At the top of the list, you will find several export links, including links to export the abstracts to Excel. The records selected for exports are defined by the filter at the top of the page. If the filter is cleared, all abstracts are exported. After setting the filter, you should be able to export any subset of the records, for instance, all accepted abstracts, or all accepted posters, etc.
HTML and MS-Word
  • First option: export the abstracts in various sorting orders
    With the option, you can export either all abstracts, or all accepted abstracts, to either HTML or MS-Word. You will be able to choose the order of the abstracts. Go to Agenda & proceedings / Book of abstracts (independent of the agenda) / Export the book of abstracts / 3. Export the abstracts in the desired order. You will be presented with a series of download links corresponding to the available formats (HTML or MS-Word), the selection of abstracts (all or accepted) and the desired order (e.g. presenters' name, submission ID, preferred type of presentation and by presenter name etc).
  • Second option: export a subset of the abstracts
    Go to Submissions & reviews / Abstract selection / Accept or reject submission / 2. Accept, reject submissions one by one and find the export link to HTML: For selected records: Export submissions: [xlsx] [HTML] [MS-Word] . Clicking on the link will export filtered abstracts to a single HTML document. Before the export, you can set the filter to select the needed abstracts at 1. Select the submissions .

3.9. Create a user's submission

  • Go to Participants / Accounts / View, edit user data.
  • Use the filter at 1. Select the records to work on to locate the user/s.
  • For example, you can input the name of the user in the box labelled "Part of surname or first name" and click on "Apply filter".
  • The filtered record/s are now displayed at 2. Work on the selected records.
  • Once you have located the participant in the list, click on the link labelled "Submissions". This leads to a page listing the participant's submissions.
  • On that page, you can submit an abstract, edit or withdraw an existing submission and upload a paper.
  • The submissions and related functions remain accessible to administrators even if they are not accessible on participants' accounts.

3.10. Sanitize the submissions before printing

If you need to edit abstracts before sending them to the printer, you can use the editor function to distribute the editing tasks. The first step is to assign the editor function to the users who will perform the edits; the second is to assign submissions to the editors. You can then send an email to the editors, to invite them to start their tasks.

Assign the editor function

  • Go to Participants / Assign functions to users and assign the editor function to all the users who will be editing the abstracts.
  • A new tab, labelled Editing tasks will be displayed on the editors' accounts. This tab will give access to the list of submissions assigned to these users for editing.

Assign submissions to the editors

  • Go to Submissions & reviews / Editing of the abstracts / Assign edit tasks.
  • On that page, you will be able to assign submissions to the editors, either automatically, or manually. Only one editor can be assigned to a given submission.
  • The automatic function will distribute the tasks at random, but evenly among the editors.
  • The manual assignment lists both the submissions and the editors as a matrix of radio buttons.
  • An overview table of assignments is displayed at the bottom of the page.

Send emails to the editors

  • Go to Emails / Bulk emails / Editors.
  • This page contains several templates that target the editors. You can send an email inviting them to start their editing tasks, as well as a reminder of the deadline.

Monitor progress

  • Go to submissions & reviews / Progress tracking / Edit tasks.
  • This page displays the status of the tasks for all the editors.

4. Reviews

This section provides a quick description of the review process. Implementation details can be found in the sections that follow.

Create accounts for the reviewers and give them the reviewer function

Three options:
  • Create an Excel spreadsheet with the reviewers' profiles, which can be done on the Participants page, and upload it to the site.
  • Create individual accounts on behalf of the reviewers, on the Participants page.
  • Let reviewers create their own accounts.

Configure the review form

  • This can be done at Configuration / Reviews / Review form.
  • Starting from a preconfigured form, you can adapt it and extended it, to fit your workflow.

Choose a way of distributing the reviews

  • Option 1: start assigning reviews once the submission process is over
    • Manually, or
    • Automatically
    Once all reviews have been allocated, you can send an email to the reviewers, to invite them to start their reviews.
  • Option 2: start assigning reviews as soon as the submission process starts
    • Manually, or
    • Automatically
    If you choose this option, you can allocate submissions as soon as they are created. An automatic email is sent out to the reviewers, as soon as you allocate them a review. If you remove an assignment, an automatic email is also sent out.
Both options can be combined with constraints that are put on the review assignment procedure, for instance:
  • bidding by the reviewers,
  • the allocation of speciality topics to the reviewers,
  • a set number of reviewers per submission.

Set options for the review process

  • Options can be set at Configuration / Reviews / Options for the review process.
  • Available options include: decide whether to use blind reviews; allow file downloads and uploads by the reviewers; activate bidding; detect conflicts, and more.

Control reviewers' access to their tasks

  • You can set reviewers' permission to access their assigned reviews at Configuration / Access rights / Set user access permissions / Reviews.
  • If the reviews are preformed after all submissions have been collected, you might want to ensure that the reviews are not accessible before the review assignment process has been finalised.
  • If the reviews can be performed during the submission period, you will need to ensure that the reviews are accessible during this period.

Invite reviewers to perform their reviews

  • The configuration and sending of emails can be done on the Emails page.
  • If the reviews start after the abstract submission period, you can send a bulk email to all reviewers, to invite them to start the review process, at Emails / Bulk emails / Reviewers / 2. Inform all reviewers about their task assignments.
  • If reviews are already assigned during the abstract submission period, you can set up automatic emails to notify reviewers of their new assignments at Emails / Automatic emails / Send an automatic email to a reviewer as soon as a review is assigned to that reviewer .

Track progress and send reminders

  • Once the reviews are started, you can follow their progress at Submissions & reviews / Progress Tracking.
  • You can send reminders about the approaching deadline for the completion of reviews at Emails / Bulk emails / Reviewers / 4. Reminder email to all reviewers: deadline is approaching.

4.1. Set options for the review process

These can be set at Configuration / Reviews / Options for the review process.

Activate peer reviewing

This will activate a number of functions related to the review process. If you do not use reviews, it is recommended to disable the module, so that unwanted functions are not displayed throughout the site.

Allow reviewers to view and search all the submissions

This option is typically activated if reviewers are allowed to decide which reviews they might want to review (bidding).

Bidding process: activation and options

Activate the bidding function
Reviewers will get access to the list of submissions and will be able to indicate their preferences for each, by selecting an option in a drop down list: [Yes / No / Maybe / Conflict].
See bidding by others
If this option is activated, reviewers biddings will be shown to all other reviewers.
Default bid
Set a default bidding option that will apply if the reviewers do not select an option. The default option can be any of the following: [Yes / No / Maybe / Conflict]. Typically, the value Maybe is chosen.

Options for review assignment

Automatic conflict detection
If a reviewer's email address is found in the list of authors of a submission, the reviewer will be flagged as having a conflict for that submission.
Leave out accepted submissions
This typically applies to the submissions of invited speakers.
Leave out declined submissions
Useful if you decide to reject a submission before the review process.

Blind review process

Allow reviewers to see the list of authors
Both the submitter an authors are hidden from view.
Permit reviewers to see each others' reviews

Number of reviews per paper

This value, if given, is only used in the automatic assignment process.

Uploaded files (extended abstracts and full papers)

Exclude incomplete submissions from the bidding process and the review process
Allow reviewers to view extended abstracts
Allow reviewers to view full papers

Proposed corrections by reviewers

This option allows reviewers to upload a file, for instance an MS-Word document, containing suggestions and corrections. Administrators can decide when to display them on the submitters' accounts.

4.2. Create reviewers' accounts

Before you can assign reviews, you need to get the reviewers into the system and make sure they are assigned the reviewer function. For this you have three options, which can be combined:

Let the reviewers create their own account

Once they have done this, you can assign them the role of reviewer at Participants / Accounts/ Functions at the conference.

Create individual accounts on behalf of the reviewers

  • Go to Participants / Accounts / Create an account and fill in the account creation form.
  • An email can be sent out to the new user as soon as the account is created.
  • This email can be activated and edited at Emails / Automatic emails / Activate and edit the emails / 3. Creation of a new COMS user by a conference administrator.
  • You can assign the role of reviewer to the new user at Participants / Accounts / Functions at the conference.

Create multiple accounts through an Excel upload

  • This can be done at Participants / Accounts / Create multiple accounts.
  • This function is particularly suitable if you have many reviewers to input.
  • You can enter their reviewer role directly into the spreadsheet, so no need to assign it manually
  • The reviewer function should be input in the spreadsheet as Reviewer, in the column labelled Functions.

4.3. Assign speciality topics to reviewers

This function is optional.

Locate the function and assign topics to the reviewers

  • Go to Submissions & reviews / Reviews / Assign topics to reviewers. This page contains two components: a filter and a matrix. The matrix lists all the reviewers and topics. For each reviewer and each topic, you can check a box. Doing so will assign the topic to the reviewer. The filter, at the top of the page, can be used to filter the data, by restricting the reviewers and / or topics that are displayed in the matrix.
  • If you are using a two-level classification (tracks and topics or themes and topics), you will find a second menu, Submissions & reviews / Reviews / Assign themes (or tracks) to reviewers. On this page, you can assign a whole theme (track) with all its topics to a reviewer.

4.4. Configure the review form

  • The review form contains a number of pre-defined fields, with special functions. They can be switched off, if not needed.
  • Administrators can add any number of custom fields to the form.
  • All, or part, of the data collected on the review form can be disclosed to the authors of submissions. When designing the form, be sure to take the options for disclosure into account.

Locate the form configuration functions

Go to Configuration / Reviews / Review form to set up the form. This page contains an overview of existing components / fields included on the form, an edit box for instructions that are displayed above the form and a preview of the form.

List of pre-defined fields

The following describes the pre-defined fields, their attributes and special functions.

Numerical criteria
  • You can define up to 9 numerical criteria and let reviewers select a value in a drop down list, for each criterion.
  • Weightings can be applied to the criteria.
  • For each submission, individual scores, as well as average scores, will be displayed and exported to Excel (average of all reviewers per score; average of all scores and reviewers).
Comment for the committee
You can let reviewers input a textual appraisal in an edit box. Usually, this appraisal is not disclosed to the authors, but it can be.
Accept or decline?
You can define a drop down list of recommendations, for instance [Accept / Decline / Ask for corrections] and collect the reviewers' opinions to guide your own decision.
Oral or poster?
A second drop down list can be defined to collect recommendations on the type of presentation to assign.
Feedback for the submitter
  • Activate this field if you intend to provide comments from the reviewers to the authors of submissions.
  • It is possible to disclose this comment without disclosing the rest of the review.

Modify the components of the form

Overview of the form components
Go to 1. Configure the review form . This section displays a list of all the fields that are included, or can be included, on the review form.
Modifying the usage and display order of the fields
The relative order of the fields, as well as their usage [Required / Optional / Not to be used], can be edited directly in the overview list. After setting the desired values, click the save button, at the bottom of the list.
Editing other attributes of a field
Locate the component you want to edit and click on the Edit button next to it. This will lead to a new page that lists the name, instructions and other parameters linked to the component, e.g.the options of a drop down list.

Add a component to the form

At the bottom of the overview list of components, you will find a drop down list of standard components: [Text box / Drop down list / Radio buttons / Check boxes / Date / Simple text / Separator]. After choosing a component, click the button labelled Add this item to add the component to the form. A form containing the parameters of the component will be displayed. After filling in the form, save it to add it to the form. Go back to the overview. The new component will be found at the bottom, where its usage and order can be modified.

4.5. Set reviewers' access permissions

Before inviting the reviewers to start their reviews, make sure that the reviews are accessible.

Locate the function

Go to Configuration / Access rights / Set user access permissions

Select the appropriate time zone

At the top of the page, at 1. Time zone.

Set permissions on the review functions

Go to the Reviews section and check the various options. Each option describes a function and lets you activate or deactivate access to it. If the function is activated, you can restrict access to a period of availability, which can be made to correspond with your deadlines.

Check the setup

  • You can check that the reviews are accessible by accessing a reviewer's account at Participants / View, edit users data.
  • Use the Function component of the filter to select the reviewers, then pick a reviewer in the list and access their account by clicking on the link labelled Access this account. Go to their reviews page and check that the reviews are listed.

4.6. Set up the review assignment procedure

There are four options for allocating reviews:
In the submission process, it is possible to ask submitters to flag their submission as either ready to be reviewed, or as work in progress. This option can be enabled by activating field-ID 239, "Status of this submission" on the submission form. If this field is enabled, the allocation of reviews will only consider submissions flagged as completed.

Allocate reviews manually once all the submissions have been collected

This option is suitable if you wait until the end of the submission process to start assigning the reviews.
Step 1: Prepare the email templates
  • Invitations and reminders can be edited and later sent in bulk to the reviewers at Emails / Targeted emails / Reviewers.
  • Be sure to deactivate the sending of automatic emails at Emails / Automatic emails / Activate and edit the emails / Send an automatic email to a reviewer as soon as a review is assigned to that reviewer
Step 2: Set reviewers' permissions to access the reviews
  • You can control reviewers' ability to view and edit their assignments at Configuration / Access rights / Set user access permissions.
  • While reviews are being allocated, you might want to disable access, in case you decide to redistribute some of the assignments.
  • Once the allocation is completed, you can enable access and send an invitation to start the reviews. As an option, you can set an availability period that matches your deadlines.
Step 3: Check the constraints
  • You can check that the automatic detection of conflicts is set at Configuration / Reviews / Options for the review process.
  • If the reviewers are assigned speciality topics, you can check or assign them at Submissions & reviews / Review assignment / Assign topics to reviewers.
  • If relevant, you can check that accepted and/or rejected submissions are excluded from the list at Configuration / Reviews / Options for the review process.
Step 4: Assign the reviews
To assign the reviews manually, go to Submissions & reviews / Review assignment / Assign reviews manually.
  • In section 1, you can select the submissions and reviewers to work on (Fig. 1). If reviewers are given speciality topics, filtering by a topic will select the submissions and reviewers associated with that topic and leave out all others. This will help ensure that reviewers are only assigned reviews corresponding to their speciality.
  • In section 2, you can allocate reviews for the selected submissions and reviewers.
  • In section 3, you can get an overview of the number of assignments for each reviewer.
Select the submissions and reviewers to work on
Manual assignment of the reviews

Allocate reviews automatically once all the submissions have been collected

This option is suitable if you wait until the end of the submission process to start assigning the reviews and want to perform a quick assignment that takes your constraints into account.
Step 1: Prepare the email templates
  • Invitations and reminders can be edited and later sent in bulk to the reviewers at Emails / Targeted emails / Reviewers.
  • Be sure to deactivate the sending of automatic emails at Emails / Automatic emails / Activate and edit the emails / Send an automatic email to a reviewer as soon as a review is assigned to that reviewer
Step 2: Set reviewers' permissions to access the reviews
  • You can control reviewers' ability to view and edit their assignments at Configuration / Access rights / Set user access permissions.
  • While reviews are being allocated, you might want to disable access, in case you decide to redistribute some of the assignments.
  • Once the allocation is completed, you can enable access and send an invitation to start the reviews. As an option, you can set an availability period that matches your deadlines.
Step 3: Check the constraints
  • You can check that the number of reviewers per submission is correctly set at Configuration / Reviews / Options for the review process.
  • You can check that the automatic detection of conflicts is set at Configuration / Reviews / Options for the review process.
  • If the reviewers are assigned speciality topics, you can check or assign them at Submissions & reviews / Review assignment / Assign topics to reviewers.
  • If relevant, you can check that accepted and/or rejected submissions are excluded from the list at Configuration / Reviews / Options for the review process.
Step 4: Assign the reviews
To assign the reviews automatically, go to Submissions & reviews / Review assignment / Assign reviews automatically. This page contains two buttons: one used to assign the reviews; the other used to clear assigned reviews. The following rules apply:
  • When you click on the review assignment button, the software distributes the reviews at random. In doing so, it takes, as much as technically feasible, the constraints into account: the number of reviewers per submission; the speciality topics; detected conflicts; biddings, if relevant.
  • The automatic assignment can be used incrementally. If you do not wait until the end of the submission process to allocate reviews, you can visit this page at regular intervals, say once a week, and assign reviews. The software will take existing assignments into account and apply the rules described above.
  • Using the clearing button will result in existing assignments being removed, but only if these assignments have not been started. Reviews for which a status of Completed or Under evaluation is found cannot be removed.

Allocate reviews manually after a submission is created

This option is suitable if you do not wait until the end of the submission process to start assigning the reviews. With this option, automatic notifications can be emailed to the reviewers each time a submission is assigned to them.
Step 1: Prepare the email templates
  • Activate the sending of automatic emails at Emails / Automatic emails / Activate and edit the emails / Send an automatic email to a reviewer as soon as a review is assigned to that reviewer
  • The template for this email is pre-filled but can be edited. Please be sure to include the {list_of_assigned_submissions} placeholder. It will be replaced, independently for each affected reviewer, by the list of their newly assigned reviews.
Step 2: Set reviewers' permissions to access the reviews
  • Make sure that reviewers can access and edit their assignments at Configuration / Access rights / Set user access permissions.
Step 3: Check the constraints
  • You can check that the automatic detection of conflicts is set at Configuration / Reviews / Options for the review process.
  • If the reviewers are assigned speciality topics, you can check or assign them at Submissions & reviews / Review assignment / Assign topics to reviewers.
  • If relevant, you can check that accepted and/or rejected submissions are excluded from the list at Configuration / Reviews / Options for the review process.
Step 4: Assign the reviews
To assign the reviews manually, go to Submissions & reviews / Review assignment / Assign reviews manually.
  • In section 1, you can select the submissions and reviewers to work on (Fig. 1). If reviewers are given speciality topics, filtering by a topic will select the submissions and reviewers associated with that topic and leave out all others. This will help ensure that reviewers are only assigned reviews corresponding to their speciality.
  • In section 2, you can allocate reviews for the selected submissions and reviewers.
  • In section 3, you can get an overview of the number of assignments for each reviewer.

Allocate reviews automatically as soon as a submission is created

This option is suitable if you do not wait until the end of the submission process to start assigning the reviews and want to perform a quick assignment that takes your constraints into account. With this option, automatic notifications can be emailed to the reviewers each time a submission is assigned to them.
Step 1: Activate the option
  • Go to Configuration / Reviews / Options for the review process and activate automatic assignments at 6. Automatic assignments.
Step 2: Prepare the email templates
  • Activate the sending of automatic emails at Emails / Automatic emails / Activate and edit the emails / Send an automatic email to a reviewer as soon as a review is assigned to that reviewer
  • The template for this email is pre-filled but can be edited. Please be sure to include the {list_of_assigned_submissions} placeholder. It will be replaced, independently for each affected reviewer, by the list of their newly assigned reviews.
Step 3: Set reviewers' permissions to access the reviews
  • Make sure that reviewers can access and edit their assignments at Configuration / Access rights / Set user access permissions.
Step 4: Check the constraints
  • You can check that the automatic detection of conflicts is set at Configuration / Reviews / Options for the review process.
  • If the reviewers are assigned speciality topics, you can check or assign them at Submissions & reviews / Review assignment / Assign topics to reviewers.
  • If relevant, you can check that accepted and/or rejected submissions are excluded from the list at Configuration / Reviews / Options for the review process.
Step 5: Tracking the reviews
Assignments will be made automatically and displayed at Submissions & reviews / Review assignment / Assign reviews manually where they can be tracked and manually adjusted (e.g. you can set extra reviews).
  • In section 1, you can select the submissions and reviewers to view (Fig. 1).
  • In section 2, you can view or modify existing reviews for the selected submissions and reviewers.
  • In section 3, you can get an overview of the number of assignments for each reviewer.

4.7. Send invitations and reminders to the reviewers

There are two options for notifying reviewers of their newly assigned tasks. One is used when the review process starts after the end of the submission period. The other is used when the assignments are performed gradually, during or after the submission period.

Case 1: reviews are assigned after the submission period

  • Once all the reviews have been allocated, you can send an email to all the reviewers, to invite them to start their reviews.
  • Before sending the emails, make sure that the reviews are accessible to the reviewers. First, go to Configuration / Access rights / Set user access permissions / Reviews / Allow reviewers to access their reviews and make sure that the permissions are set correctly. You can set a period of availability, to coincide with your deadlines.
  • Go to Emails / Bulk emails / Reviewers / Inform all reviewers about their task assignments to find the email template used to inform the reviewers of their allocated tasks.
  • Edit the text of the email, if needed and save its content. Use the preview button to check the emails and the list of recipients. Finally, send the emails.

Case 2: reviews are assigned as soon as submissions are created

  • In this case, emails are sent automatically to the reviewers, each time review assignments are saved.
  • The emails sent out in response to the assignments can be edited at Emails / Automatic emails / Send an automatic email to a reviewer as soon as a review is assigned to that reviewer. This email template contains a text that informs the recipient of the new assignments. It contains a placeholder, {list_of_assigned_submissions}, that will be replaced by the titles of the assigned abstracts or papers. This placeholder should not be removed.
  • When you save a set of assignments, each affected reviewer receives an instance of this email listing all the submissions just assigned.
  • If you unassign a review, a notification email is also sent out, to inform the reviewer of the change. The template for this email can be found at Emails / Automatic emails / Send an automatic email to inform a reviewer that an existing assignment has been removed.

Send a reminder that the deadline for completing reviews is approaching

Go to Emails / Bulk emails / Reviewers / Reminder email to all reviewers: deadline is approaching, edit the template, preview it and send it out.

4.8. Track the progress of the reviews

  • Go to Submissions & reviews / Progress Tracking / Reviews per reviewer. This page lists the assignments for each reviewer [Total number, number of completed reviews / Number of reviews in progress / Number of reviews that are not started].
  • Go to Submissions & reviews / Progress Tracking / Reviews per submission. This page gives an alternative view of the assignments. It list, for each submission, the names of the reviewers that are assigned to its review. It also shows the status of the review for each of the reviewer [Completed / Under review / Not reviewed].

5. Abstract & paper selection

Once the reviews are completed, they can be used to select submissions for inclusion in the proceedings and the conference agenda. What follows is an overview of the tasks involved. Details can be found on the page that follows.

Setting up the selection process

Step 1: decide what actions will be taken during the selection process
Available options are:
  • Assigning a selection status (always used).
  • Assigning a presentation type (often used).
  • Assigning a presentation topic (often used).
  • Assigning the submission to a session (rarely used).
    This option requires that you create a list of sessions in advance. As an alternative, you can create the programme at a later, separate stage.
Step 2: define a list of selection statuses
  • By default, available options are "Accepted", "Declined","Ask corrections", but you can add or suppress options (e.g. "Waiting list").
  • You can define up to 10 statuses.
Step 3: prepare emails to notify authors of submissions of the outcome of the selection process
  • You can prepare an email for each status you define: an email for accepted submissions; an email for rejected submissions; an email to request corrections etc.
Step 4: decide whether to send the emails at the end of the selection process or immediately after each decision
  • Option 1: send notifications at the end of the selection process
    With this option, no email is sent out when you perform your selection and classification tasks. You will have to send a bulk email for each selection status once all the submissions have been treated.
  • Option 2: send notifications immediately after your decisions
    This option requires additional preparations.

Selecting the submissions

Two options are available for the selection process:
Option 1: selecting submissions individually
This is the standard procedure, performed by going through the list of submissions, viewing the reviews, assigning a status, classifying the submission into a presentation type and/or topic and optionally sending a notification email.
Option 2: selecting submissions in bulk
For this option, you need to first select the submissions to work on and apply a selection status to those submissions. You can also assign them a presentation type and topic.

Other tasks

  • The list of submissions can be filtered and sorted.
  • The data to display in the list can be adjusted. For example, you can display the abstracts, reviews and keywords, or you can choose a more compact view.
  • You can input comments for each submission and later disclosed these comments to the authors.
  • You can export the submissions and the reviews to Excel, PDF and MS-Word.
  • You can download the extended abstracts and full papers.

5.1. Selecting & classifying submissions

Prepare the functions for the selection process

Locate the selection functions
  • Go to Submissions & reviews / Abstract selection / Accept or reject submissions.
  • This page contains all the functions needed to select and classify submissions.
Use the filter to select submissions to work on
  • The top of the page, at 1. Select the submissions, contains a filter that can be used to select the records to work on.
  • If the filter is cleared, all records will be selected.
Adjust the display of data
At different stages of your workflow, you might need to use different types of data.
  • Go to 5. Display options to select the data you want to display alongside the submissions.
  • Available options are: [Show abstract and authors / Show reviews / Show keywords / Show files to download].
  • The selected options are remembered in the database and remain as set, until they are changed.
Export the data if you want to work offline
You can export the submissions and the reviews in various formats (see below for details).
Email notifications
  • You will need to prepare emails to inform submitters of your decision concerning their submissions.
  • No emails are sent when you assign acceptance and rejection statuses to the submissions.
  • Notification emails are sent independently, typically when the selection process is complete (see below for details).

Option 1: Select and classify submissions one at a time

  • Go to 2. Accept, reject submissions one by one to find the list of submissions and the selection functions.
  • The list should consist of all the records selected with the filter at the top of the page.
  • It should show the data you selected for display.
  • If you have chosen to display the reviews, these will be shown in detail for each reviewer, including comments and the marks given, if any, as well as their averages.
The following functions are provided to help the selection process:

Selection statuses
  • A drop down list of selection statuses is shown for every submission.
  • By default, the options in the drop down are: [Undecided / Accepted / Declined / Under evaluation / Ask corrections / Temporarily declined]. These options can be modified to suit your needs.
  • To assign statuses, simply select suitable options for one or several submissions and press the save button at the top of the list.
Themes / tracks, topics and presentation types
  • If themes / tracks, topics and presentation types are used, drop down lists with options you have created, are displayed for each submission and can be used for assignment.
  • If submitters and reviewers were asked to indicate their preferences for these data, their choices are also shown, to help guide your decisions.
Conference sessions
  • If sessions have been defined in the agenda module, a drop down list of sessions, identified by their titles or other attributes, is also shown, allowing you to classify the submissions into sessions at the time of the selection process.
  • The alternative is to insert them at a later stage, using the agenda module.

Option 2: Select and classify submissions in bulk

  • This function is useful if you perform the selection process offline, but want to input the results into the system.
  • Go to 1. Select the submissions and set the filter to select the submissions you need to work on. Typically, you would input a list of submissions identified by their submission-ids and having the same status as well as (optionally) other common attributes (e.g. same track). This could be a list of submissions accepted as posters. Save the filter.
  • Go to 3. Bulk assignments: assign a selection status, topic and presentation type to the filtered submissions. Set appropriate values in the drop down lists and save your selection. All the submissions selected by the filter will be assigned those values.

Option 3: Assign a selection status based on the average scores

  • This function can be useful if you use numerical criteria when reviewing the submissions. The mean scores can be used to select the submissions for acceptance or rejection, based on cut-off values.
  • Go to Submissions & reviews / Abstract Selection / Automatic selection. This page contains two histograms showing the number and percentage of submissions that are above (or below) a range of scores. These histograms can be used to set a threshold value to select a given number, or a given percentage of the submissions.
  • After selecting a cut-off value for paper acceptance, enter this value in the box labelled Select papers for acceptance and save. All the submissions with a score greater or equal to this value will be set to Accepted.
  • A similar function is provided to assign a Declined status to some submissions. The cut-off value is independent of the cut-off value used for acceptance. It can be the same, smaller or even larger (in which case some accepted submissions will change status).
  • A function is provided to clear all the assignments, allowing for a trial and error process, bearing in mind that no emails are fired as a result of the assignments.
  • After using the automatic assignment function, you can alter the results manually, at Submissions & reviews / Abstract selection / Accept or reject submissions / 2. Accept, reject submissions one by one.

Export the data

Export filtered records
At the top of the list, at Submissions & reviews / Abstract selection / Accept or reject submissions / 2. Accept, reject submissions one by one, you will find links to export and download data in bulk.

These will export the records that are selected by the filter, at the top of the page.

You can export the submissions to Excel, HTML and MS-Word and the reviews to Excel; you can download any documents uploaded by the submitters or the reviewers as a zip file.
Detailed export of the reviews
Go to Exports / Reviews / Export to CSV or Excel. You will be able to export the reviews with individual scores or with mean values.

Send email notifications

Available templates
Several email templates are available for communication with authors of submissions. They can be edited in advance or at the time they are needed. They can be found at:
  • Emails / Bulk emails / Authors of submissions. This page contains 5 templates:
    1. Free-style email to all authors
    2. Email to all authors of accepted papers
    3. Email to all authors of declined papers
    4. Free-style email to authors based on the presentation type
    5. Free-style email to participants without a submission
  • Emails / Bulk emails / Hand-picked users. This template has a filter to allow a precise targeting of the recipients. For example, you can email individual authors or target authors of accepted posters.
Edit and personalise a template
Most of the templates are pre-filled with text that is suitable for their purpose. However, they can be edited and adapted to your needs. A number of placeholders can be inserted in the templates to personalise the emails. The list of available placeholders can be found at Emails / Overview and settings / Placeholders.
Preview the emails
After editing and saving a template, you can preview the emails by clicking the List of recipients & preview button, to review the recipients and check that the placeholders are properly replaced.
Send the emails
Press the Send mail button to send the emails. You will be asked for confirmation.

Display the results of the review process on users' accounts

Display the selection status
Go to Configuration / Access rights Disclose key data to users / 2. Submission status and activate the display.
Display the reviews or parts of the reviews
Go to Configuration / Access rights Disclose key data to users / 3. Reviews and activate suitable data for display:
  • Display reviews to submitters will display the entire review, for each reviewer, including the feedback.
  • Display feedback to submitters will display the feedback, leaving out other parts of the review (scores, comments for the committee and other fields).
  • Display proposed corrections to submitters If reviewers were allowed to upload documents with suggested corrections, these will be made available for download on the authors' accounts.
  • The display of reviews, feedback and corrections are anonymised by default.

6. Registration & payments

About the COMS payment module

The COMS payment module allows you to collect and track registration and payments performed by the participants. Both credit card payments and payments made by bank transfer can be handled, either exclusively or simultaneously. This page gives an overview of the module. Implementation details are described in the pages that follow.

You will need to access an admin account on your COMS site, https://conference-service.com/{event_acronym}, in order to set up and manage the payments.

What you can do with the payment module

  • Create custom registration forms.
  • The forms can include multiple bookable items, variable fees, registration periods (early bird, standard, late), more than one currency, quotas and discounts.
  • Collect online payments from the delegates.
  • Collect offline payments from the delegates.
  • automatically generate invoices and receipts for the delegates.
  • Collect scans of student cards. These can be viewed and annotated by admin.
  • View, edit and export registration and payment records.

Setting up the module for online payments

  • If you are planning to use online payments, you will need to connect your bank account to the COMS system, in order to collect payments from the delegates.
  • For this, you will need to select a payment solution (payment gateway) that can be integrated with COMS. The payment solution will also connect to your account, thus allowing registrations performed on the COMS site to be paid directly into your bank account.
  • Available options are listed here.
  • Small to medium sized events
    For events with less than about 500 participants, we recommend the use of either Stripe or PayPal, which can be set up quickly and work with standard accounts (checking accounts). Other platforms, which require a merchant account, might offer better (lower) commissions. However, they require more time to set up and may incur fees for the maintenance of the account. These additional costs might not be offset by the lower commissions, if the number of delegates is low.
  • Detailed guidelines are given in this doc for the setup of a Stripe or PayPal account and the creation of an interface to your COMS site.
  • Once the interface between COMS and your bank account is ready, you can activate or deactivate it at will in the configuration of your COMS site. When online payments are activated, users are given access to the payment gateway through a "Pay now" button.
  • Online payments are reported in COMS in real time. The status of a payment immediately up to date and a receipt is automatically emailed to the user.

Setting up the module for offline payments

  • Offline payments (mostly bank transfers) can be used to collect payments, independently or in combination with online payments.
  • They can be activated by administrators in the configuration of the COMS site. When they are activated, users can specify their intention to pay offline and are presented with your bank details. These can also be printed on the generated invoice.
  • Note: offline payments are not reported to the COMS server and need to be manually input on the COMS site in order to update the status of a payment.

6.1. Integration with Stripe

December 2019

A Stripe account is free and easy to obtain. You need, however, to be a registered business or non-profit in order to be able to accept credit card payments with Stripe. Payments collected through Stripe are automatically transferred to your bank account. Stripe takes a commission on all payments. The fees are listed at https://stripe.com/at/pricing.

In order to integrate the COMS system with Stripe, you need to own a validated Stripe account. The steps necessary to obtain it are described below. If you already have an approved Stripe account, there is no need to register a new one.

Register an account with Stripe

  • The first step is to check whether it is possible to open a Stripe account in the country where the payments will be received. You can check this at .
  • If your country is supported, the next step is to open an account at . This step only requires that you provide a name and email address.

Validate your Stripe account

  • On your newly created Stripe account, you will have to provide details about the business / non-profit that collects the funds (Fig. 1).
  • Stripe will check the data and decide whether or not they approve it. It usually takes less than an hour.
  • Once the account has been approved, it is ready to be integrated with COMS.
Screenshot of a Stripe account showing the account activation form.

Integrate your Stripe account with COMS

  • Log in to your Stripe account and retrieve your API keys (Fig. 2). These exist in two modes: test or live. The test keys should be used in the configuration phase, as it allows testing payments with dummy cards. When the setup is ready, switch to the live keys.
  • Log in to your COMS account, go to Configuration / Bookings & Payments / Connect your bank account and input the keys (Fig. 3). The easiest is to copy and paste the values from your Stripe account. Both the test keys and live keys are input on this page.
Retrieve your API keys from your Stripe account
Input your API keys into the COMS system

Test the Stripe integration

  • In order to test the integration, you will first need to activate and configure a payment form on your COMS site, as detailed on the page labelled Setup of the payment form/s (Fig. 4, 5).
  • After readying payment form in the configuration, you can perform or simulate a payment with Stripe by filling in the registration form and calling the Stripe payment form (Fig. 6).
  • The Stripe integration can be activated in either test mode or live mode and you can go back and forth between the two.
  • The test mode is used to simulate payments and check that they are duly reported in COMS.
  • After this, you might want to switch to the live mode and simply check that the Stripe payments forms are correctly brought up.
A COMS registration form
A COMS registration form ready to access its payment gateway
The Stripe payment form

Test cards to simulate payments in test mode

  • Test card numbers can be found at (Fig. 7).
  • The listed card numbers can be copied and pasted into the Stripe payment form for testing. All other fields can be made up.
Sample of Stripe test cards

Finding payments and payouts on your Stripe account

  • After logging onto your Stripe account, you can find the received payments as shown on Fig. 8.
  • Payouts from your Stripe account to your bank account can also be viewed, as shown on Fig. 9.
List of received payments on your Stripe account
List of payouts from your Stripe account

6.2. Integration with PayPal

January 2018

This section describes the steps required to obtain and configure a Business PayPal account to interface with COMS.

  • A PayPal account is free and easy to obtain.
  • You need, however, to own or obtain a PayPal Business account in order to be able to accept credit card payments with PayPal. This is different from the two other types of accounts (Personal account and Premier account).
  • Payments collected through PayPal can be manually transferred at any time to your bank account.
  • PayPal takes a commission on all payments. The fees are listed on the PayPal website. They depend on the volume of transactions and the country where your business is based.
  • For example, US fees can be found at https://www.paypal.com/us/webapps/mpp/paypal-fees, while for Germany, the fees are listed at https://www.paypal.com/de/webapps/mpp/paypal-fees.

Create a PayPal business account

  • If your organisation already owns a Business account, there is no need to open a new one and you can skip this section.
  • On the PayPal website of your country, find the page dedicated to opening a business account. Fill in the form, making sure you select the Payments Standard plan, which is free of monthly fees.
  • For example, in the US, this page can be found at https://www.paypal.com/webapps/mpp/merchant.
  • In Germany, this page can be found at https://www.paypal.com/de/webapps/mpp/accept-payments-online.
  • PayPal will review your application and decide whether or not to grant you the account.

Check that your PayPal account is a business account

  • Log in to your PayPal account and go to Profile / Account settings / Additional settings (Fig. 1).
  • Find the setting labelled Account type. It should be set to Business.
PayPal account settings

Find the account settings page on your PayPal account

  • The instructions given in this section are valid for an account set to English. You can set the language of your account to English, at least temporarily, to follow these instructions. This can be done at Profile / Account settings / Additional settings / Preferred language (Fig. 1), or the equivalent path in another language (e.g., in German, Mein Profil / Kontoeinstellungen / Zusätzliche Einstellungen / Bevorzugte Sprache).
  • Log in to your PayPal account and go to Profile / Account settings / My selling tools (Fig. 1). This page contains a list of settings, under the heading My business setup.
  • All the settings need for the COMS integration can be found on this page.
  • The following sections detail the configuration of these settings.

First group of settings: Website preferences

  • Go to Profile / Account settings / My selling tools.
  • Find the setting labelled Website preferences and click on the Update link.
  • Set the following parameters:
    • Auto Return: On.
    • Payment Data Transfer: Off (important).
      If it is set to On, COMS will not be notified of the payments.
    • Return URL: https://conference-service.com/myconf/.
      myconf should be replaced by the value relevant to your site.
    • PayPal Account Optional: On (Important).
      This option ensures that credit card payments can be made without logging into a PayPal account.
    • Other parameters can be set on that page, but they are not relevant to the COMS integration per se.
  • Save your settings.

Second group of settings: Instant payment notifications

  • Go to Profile / Account settings / My selling tools.
  • Find the setting labelled Instant payment notifications and click on the Update link.
  • Set the following parameters:
    • Notification URL: https://www.conference-service.com/myconf/paypal_ipn.cgi (important).
      myconf should be replaced by the value relevant to your site. Notifications of all transactions will be sent to this address by PayPal. Please double check the URL. If it is mistyped, notifications will not be received.
    • Message delivery: Enabled (important).
  • Save your settings.

Third group of settings: Block payments

  • Go to Profile / Account settings / My selling tools.
  • Find the setting labelled Block payments and click on the Update link.
  • You will be led to a page headed Payment Receiving Preferences.
  • Set the following parameters:
    • Allow payments sent to me in a currency I do not hold: Yes (Important).
    • Block accidental payments: Yes,
    • Credit Card Statement Name: Enter a suitable text that will identify the event organization as the receiver of the fee to the person who has made the payment.
  • Save your settings.

Integrate your PayPal account with COMS

  • Log in to your COMS account and go to Configuration.
  • Find the pages dedicated to the setup of the payment module and input the email address associated with your PayPal account into the system.
The interface should be ready!

6.3. Setup of the payment form/s

  • You can activate and use up to five independent payment forms. You might use separate forms for different currencies or for separate types of participants (e.g. one form for the delegates and another for exhibitors).
  • Once the form/s are set up, you will need to configure related emails and access permissions.
  • This page describes the setup of a single form.

Locate the relevant functions

  • Go to Configuration / bookings & payments / Conference registration, which is the setup page for the first payment form.
  • This page contains most of the settings needed to configure the form.
  • It is divided in a number of sections corresponding to various tasks involved in the setup.
  • The configuration can be done by accessing these sections sequentially.
  • What follows gives an overview of the tasks involved.

Activate the form

  • The form needs to be activated in order to gain access to all the functions necessary to collect and manage the payments. These functions are removed when the form is inactive, to avoid clutter.
  • An active form is recognisable by the green check mark prepended to its menu entry, on the left hand side of the page.
Screenshot showing an active form ("Conference registration") and two inactive ones.

Set permissions to access the form

  • Decide which users can access the form.
  • Set a time period of accessibility for the selected users. A time zone can be selected at Configuration / Access rights / Set user access permissions

Payment options

  • Decide whether to allow payments online (needs a payment gateway to be set up to collect the payments).
  • Decide whether to allow payments by bank transfers (bank details will have to be provided).
  • Choose a currency and VAT options.

Input texts

  • Edit the header and instructions seen above the form; edit the label of the tab used to access the form.
  • Edit the cancellation policy. This will appear on the form.
  • Supply your bank details and instructions for payments made by bank transfer, if applicable. These will appear on the form.

Set up the invoice

  • First, decide whether you want to create an invoice.
  • If you use an invoice, you need to decide whether it should be generated automatically of manually, by an administrator. An automatic invoice is generated after a participant fills in the form and confirms the order. This happens before a payment is made, even if the payment is performed by credit card. A manual invoice is also generated once an order is confirmed, but needs the intervention of an administrator.
  • If the invoice is created automatically, you can supply a template for the automatic creation of an invoice number. If the invoice is created manually, you can either generate the invoice number automatically or manually.
  • Configure the header and footer of the invoice and receipt. An editor is provided to help format the texts that appear above and below the orders. These can include pictures (logos) and placeholders to personalise the content (e.g. the participant's name or a reference to a participant's order, as specified by their university. Typically, the bottom part of the invoice contains your organisation's details, as well as your bank's details, if payments by bank transfer are allowed. The items relating to the order are generated automatically by the software and inserted between the top and bottom parts.
  • Once a payment is completed, a receipt is emailed to the participant, provided this option is set up by administrators. The receipt looks similar to the invoice, but contains additional information about the status of the payment.
Setting up the top of the invoice

Configure the form

  • The section devoted to the configuration of the form contains an overview of the fields already included on the form. A few fields are included by default, for example, the billing address of the delegate. Any field added to the form is added to the overview. The overview list details about the field (its type, its label, its position on the form, whether it is mandatory and an optional time period during which it is shown on the form. These data can be edited.
  • Items that can be booked by users can be added to the form by inserting and configuring ready-made components. There are several types of components, described in the next section and shown in the picture below. These consist of: a single option among several (radio buttons); several options among a given list of options (check boxes); an input box to specify a number of tickets (e.g. tickets for the conference dinner). These components can be used with or without prices, allowing in some cases, to register for free events (e.g. free workshops, free social event). In addition, you can also add helper components to the form (separators, texts, images).
  • Once a component has been added to the form, it appears in the overview and is accessible for configuration. You can define dates of availability that coincide with your deadlines; you can edit the texts around the component (its label, instructions); you can reposition it on the form; you can specify options to choose from (e.g. registration for students, registration for academics); you can add prices, individual VAT rates, if applicable and add a discount code.
Choosing and inserting a component on the payment form

Choosing the right component to add to the payment form

The items that can be ordered on the form (conference registration fee, conference dinner, workshops) can be created by adding ready-made components to the form, and them editing their properties (label, price, options, instructions). These can be selected from a list shown in the figure shown above. What follows, describes the component and their suitability for various items.

Paying items - radio buttons
Example showing radio buttons with price tags
  • Radio buttons are suitable if users must choose a single option among several.
  • This is typically used for the conference fee.
  • The first option is selected by default.
  • It is possible to mix paying and free options, by setting the free options to 0.00.
  • A discount code can be defined for each option.
  • A quota can be defined for each option, or for a group of options.
Paying items - check boxes
Example showing check boxes with price tags
  • Check boxes are suitable if users are allowed to select several options in a list.
  • This is typically used for social events and workshops. Care must be taken to ensure that the various options do not overlap in time.
  • If the choice is set to optional, users can choose not to select any option.
  • If the field is set to mandatory, users are forced to choose at least one option.
  • It is possible to mix paying and free options, by setting the free options to 0.00.
  • A discount code can be defined for each option.
  • A quota can be defined for each option, or for a group of options.

Setting quotas

  • It is possible to set quotas on all the items found on a form (any form, in fact).
  • To set a quota, go to Configuration / Quotas.
  • The creation of a quota involves three steps:
    1. Name the quota (e.g. "Conference dinner"),
    2. Set the quota (e.g. "300"),
    3. Select all the items that contribute to the quota (e.g. "Dinner for the participant" + "Dinner for an accompanying person" + "Extra tickets for other accompanying persons".
  • Once quotas have been defined, a menu labelled "Quotas" is activated on the "Participants" page. It allows administrators to track the number of orders for each item.
  • When a quota is exceeded, it becomes inactive (gray) on the form. Further orders cannot be made.
Setting up quotas
Tracking quotas
Booked out item with a quota

6.4. View and edit users' orders

Locate the function
  • Go to Participants / Bookings & Payments and access the menu associated with the relevant registration form.
  • This page contains an overview list of the users and their registration details. A filter, at the top of the page, allows you to locate specific records in the list.
  • The most useful components of that filter are the Order status [Missing / Recorded] and the Payment status [Completed / Waived / Pending / Refunded / Partially refunded]. and the Invoice number.
Edit a user's registration record
  • Each record features an overview of the user's payment record, as well as an edit button
  • Clicking on the edit button leads to a page containing functions that can be used to modify a user's record and input an offline payment into the COMS database.
Input a payment record
  • If a user has paid offline, by bank transfer or by check, the transaction needs to be manually input into the COMS database.
  • To do this, edit a user's record, as described above, go to Order form and make sure an invoice exists.
  • If an invoice exists, a download link should be visible.
  • If there is no invoice, it means that the user has created an order, but has not confirmed (registered) it on the second tab of the payment form. In this case, you need to confirm the order on that second tab, before inputting the payment. Once an invoice has been created, you should see the download link for that invoice.<
  • Go to Input an offline payment or a refund, input the paid amount, select the payment method and save your input. The payment status will be automatically updated.
Create or modify an order on behalf of a user
  • Once users have confirmed an order and created an invoice, they cannot modify their order.
  • However, administrators can do it on their behalf, by editing their payment form at Participants / Bookings & Payments / [Payment form].
  • To do so, simply locate the user in the list, edit their record and access their payment form.

6.5. Export payment records & download invoices

Export payment records

  • Go to Participants / Bookings/Payments / [Registration form] / Select the records to work on and select the records you want to include in the export.
  • Typically, you would set the filter to Order status: Recorded, to select all orders, whether pending or completed. you can, however, limit the records to Payment status: completed, Payment status: missing or select a single user by name, email or by their user-ID. Other filtering criteria care available. Resetting the filter will select all the records.
  • Once suitable records have been selected, go to Participants / Bookings/Payments / [Registration form] /Work on the selected records.
  • This section contains a list of the selected records. At the top of the list, you will find an export link to Excel. All the data collected on the payment form will be included in this export, as well as the status of the payments.

Download invoices

  • Go to Participants / Bookings/Payments / [Registration form] / Select the records to work on and select the records you want to include in the export.
  • Typically, you would set the filter to Order status: Recorded, to select all orders, whether pending or completed. you can, however, limit the records to Payment status: completed, Payment status: missing or select a single user by name, email or by their user-ID. Other filtering criteria care available. Resetting the filter will select all the records.
  • Once suitable records have been selected, go to Participants / Bookings/Payments / [Registration form] /Work on the selected records.
  • This section contains a list of the selected records. At the top of the list, you will find a download link for the invoices. when you click on the download link, the selected invoices are contained in a zip file that can be saved to your computer and unzipped.

7. On-site registration

Starting with version 2.11.6, COMS provides a Plug & Play module to register delegates on arrival. It works by scanning QR codes issued to the participants. What follows describes the preparations needed to use the module, as well as its usage on-site.

 

In a nutshell, you will need to:

  • Construct a list of participants who are authorized to receive a QR code and use it to check in.
  • Activate the display of the QR codes to authorized participants and notify them by email.
  • Set up one or more laptops (or PCS) with webcams that can be used to scan the QR codes.
  • Use the scanning function provided by COMS to register the participants.

7.1. On-site check-in

This page describes the setup of a scanner that can be used by administrators of a COMS site to register the delegates for participation in the event. The delegates will present a QR code to the administrator/s who will scan it. If the QR code is recognised as valid, the registration status of the delegate will be automatically set to Registered.

Set up a scanner

What you need
  • A laptop or desktop computer with a USB port.
  • An external webcam for laptops or desktop computers, with a USB cable. The webcam will be hand-held.
  • An Internet connection and a browser to access the COMS site and its scanning function.
Choosing a webcam
  • Plug and Play devices that work without the need to install any software, are recommended. Make sure that they are compatible with your operating system.
  • Since the device will be used as a hand-scanner, choose one that is comfortable to hold.
  • A webcam with auto-focus is a little bit easier to use, though the scanning works well without.
  • Appendix 2, below, reports on the webcams we tested.
Set up the device
  • Plug the webcam in a USB port and follow the manufacturer's instructions, if any.
  • Log in, as an administrator, to the COMS site, on the computer you just set up, and go to to the scanning function at Participants / On site registration / Conference check-in.
  • Find the list of users, below the filter. On the left hand-side, you will find the scanning function, which consists of a display area and two buttons used to start and stop the scanning (Fig. 1).

We have tested various setups for the scanner. A summary of our results can be found in the appendices, at the bottom of this page.


Starting the scanner on a COMS account (Firefox)

Test the scanner

Activate the scanner
  • Click on Start scanning to activate the webcam.
Give permission to the camera
  • You will need to grant conference-service.com permission to use the camera. This works differently on every browser and might require that you edit your browser settings. If this is necessary, search for permission to enable the camera.
  • Fig. 1, above, shows the permissions settings for Firefox. As soon as you click on the start button, a popup appears, asking you to select a camera and grant permission to record.
  • If the setup is correct and the permission to record has been granted, the webcam will start recording your surroundings, which will be shown in the display area, below the start button (Fig. 2).
Find sample QR codes to scan
  • You can test the scanning on random QR codes, presented on screen or paper. These can be any codes, not just codes generated by COMS. The decoded information, which in most cases consists of a URL, will be printed as text above the display area.
  • When a code is decoded, the scanning function emits a beep. Switch your computer sound on if you want this feedback.
  • It takes a few minutes of practice to be comfortable with the scanning.
  • You can also test COMS QR codes by logging onto test accounts on a phone and scanning the codes found on the landing page.

Set up the check-in function in COMS

Step 1: Find the setup page for the configuration of the check-in module
  • Go to Configuration / On site registration / Conference check-in.
Step 2: Activate the check-in module
  • This will activate all the functions needed to manage the module.
  • The activation function is located at the top of the page, at 1. Activate the module.
Step 3: Construct a drop down list of registration statuses
  • This can be done at 3. Edit the drop down list of registration options. The resulting drop down will be displayed for each user on the page used to register the participants (Fig. 2). It will be used to record changes in the registration status of each person.
  • Before the registration, all users are assigned the default status Not registered.
  • When registered with the scanner, this status will automatically change to Registered.
  • At a minimum, the drop down list should consist of these two statuses.
  • It is possible, however, to add any number of options to the list, for instance Cancelled and Waiting list. These statuses will have to be set manually.

Define a list of participants who will receive a QR code on their COMS account

Purpose of the QR code
  • The QR code stores data that uniquely identify a user and the COMS site of your event. No other data are stored.
  • When the QR code is scanned at the event registration desk, it automatically registers the participant. It is therefore necessary to limit the attribution of QR codes to participants who are expected to attend the event (attendees).
Defining the list of attendees
  • Go to Configuration / On site registration / Conference check-in / Define the list of attendees.
  • This section contains a filter that can be used to select the users who will get a code.
  • The filter consists of two components that can be combined: one, an additive filter, is used to include users; the other, a subtractive filter, is used to exclude users. In most cases, the additive filter will be sufficient.
  • Several criteria can be used to include users. For example, you can include all users; instead, you can include participants who have completed their payment for participation in the event; you can also include participants who have been accepted based on other criteria than payments (e.g. following an application process); you can also include individual users. These criteria can be combined. For example, you might include participants who have have completed their payment and add a few organisers who have not, but need to be registered as participants.
  • To exclude users from the list, simply add their user-id/s to the subtractive part of the filter.
  • After saving the filter, a list of all the users, identified by their user-ids, will be displayed below the filter. You can copy and paste the list in the filters of the Participants page, for checking. You can also use it to filter the recipients of the handpicked template in the Emails module.
  • If you are testing the module, you can set the filter to include just a few administrators, identified by their user-ids.

Display the QR codes on the participants' accounts

Activate the display
  • Before the event, you can activate the display of the QR codes on the participants' accounts and notify them by email.
  • To activate the display, go to Configuration / On site registration / Conference check-in / 2. Display a QR code that identifies the participant.
  • The QR codes will be displayed on the users' landing page, shown after login.
  • You can verify that the display is working correctly by accessing a few accounts at Participants / Accounts / View, edit user data, making sure that you check users who are included and excluded from the list of attendees.
  • Participants who are included in the list will be able to show the code on their phone or print it on paper.
Email the attendees to inform them of the availability of the QR code
  • In order to target the right users, you will need to use a bulk email with an appropriate filter.
  • The handpicked template can be used. To set the filter, either use filter components corresponding to the filter set for the QR code (e.g. filter for users who have paid their conference registration, if appropriate). Alternatively, you can copy the list of user-ids displayed under the filter set at Configuration / On site registration / Conference check-in / 2. Display a QR code that identifies the participant and paste it in the filter component that applies to a list of user-ids.

Register the attendees at the event

Set up and test one or several scanners for the registration
This should follow the setup procedure described above. If you want to set up several scanners, you will need to provide an admin account for each scanner operator.
Navigate to the registration function at Participants / On site registration / Conference check-in.
Two options are available to set the registration status of a participant:
  • Automatic registration, by scanning a QR code This will retrieve the user's record in the list, display it at the top of the list and set the registration status to Registered.
  • Manual registration If a user does not present a QR code at the reception desk, you can retrieve his or her record by means of the quick filter displayed above the list. Either input the name or user-id of the participant. Once the record has been retrieved, you can manually set the status in the list to any of the available options shown in the drop down list. The manual option can also be useful if you need to change an existing registration, for instance set it to Cancelled.
Update of the users' accounts
As soon as the registration status changes on the check-in page, it is automatically updated on the user's account, as shown in Fig. 3.
Export the list of registered participants
  • You can export the list of users and their participation status to Excel by clicking on the link above the list.
  • The filter, above the list, can be used to select the users to include in the export.
A QR code being scanned
An up to date registration status on a delegate's account

Appendix 1: Testing the scanner setup: results of our tests

Operating systems
  • We have successfully tested the scanning on three operating systems: [Windows, Linux and Mac].
  • All performed equally well.
Browsers
  • We have successfully tested the scanning on the following browsers: [Firefox, Chrome, Safari, Edge].
  • Edge did not perform as well as the others, but it worked. Firefox, Chrome, Safari all performed very well.
  • Older browsers might not work. For example, if you use Safari, make sure you use at least version 11.
  • As of 2019, the latest versions of the browsers listed above, all worked.
Camera activation in the browser
  • Firefox had the best interface, presenting a popup window with all the required settings, as soon as the camera was activated. If more than one webcam were plugged in, it was easy to swap them.
  • Chrome and Safari were easy to use if a single webcam was connected. To select another device than the default webcam (for instance the one embedded in the monitor) required editing the browser settings.
  • Edge did not have an intuitive interface. It was difficult to change the webcam.
Computers
  • We tested the scanning on desktop computers and laptops of various sizes.
  • All worked, but smaller laptops (12 inches or less) were less comfortable to use.
Lighting
  • Poor lighting or light reflections from windows can hinder the decoding and might require adjustments
Webcams
  • We tested three webcams (see appendix 2): [Logitech, Microsoft, Canyon].
  • The Logitech and Canyon webcams both worked very well.
  • The Microsoft webcam performed badly and cannot be recommended.
The quality of the webcam seemed to be the most important factor in our tests.

Appendix 2: Webcams we have tested

A Logitech HD Laptop Webcam C615 with auto-focus
The Logitech webcam performed very well: the scanning was fast, the scanned image had a good resolution and its auto-focus function made the operation comfortable.
A Canyon CNR-WCAM43G webcam with manual focus adjustment
The Canyon webcam performed surprisingly well, considering its lack of auto-focus function. It did allow manual adjustment of the focus, which was helpful for the initial setup. There seemed to be a good depth of field. The scanned image had a good resolution.
A Microsoft LifeCam HD-3000 webcam with fixed focus
The Microsoft webcam had a flexible arm which could be stretched or bent at will. Holding it was comfortable. However, it performed badly. The resolution of the scanned image was visibly inadequate. The focus could not be adjusted. Codes printed on paper or on a computer screen were read without difficulty, but it was almost impossible to scan a code presented on a phone. The problem is probably caused by the fixed focus that is not adapted to the distance used for the scans.
Our recommendation for the choice of hardware and browser
  • Webcams: We would recommend a webcam with auto-focus. Attention should be given to the quality of the scanned image.
  • Computers: Both desktop computers and laptops can be used, bearing in mind that the scanning process is CPU intensive. Very lean, energy saving devices might be slow.
  • Browsers: All modern browsers can use a camera. Make sure you are familiar with the camera settings of the browser you choose.
  • Operating system: Windows, Mac OS and Linux worked equally well in our tests.

8. Emails

The configuration and management of emails sent to the users is performed on the Emails page, accessible through the Emails tab, on the horizontal navigation bar. The various functions of the emails module are as follows:

  • General settings that need to be configured in the initial setup.
  • Email alerts, used to notify administrators of specific events.
  • Automatic emails, sent in response to users' actions.
  • Bulk emails, sent to targeted groups of users by the administrators.
  • A mail log that records all emails sent out by the system.

8.1. Initial setup & general functions

Initial setup

These are settings that should be configured before you go live.

Set the sender of the emails
  • Go to Emails / Overview and settings / Set the sender (From:).
  • Input the conference email, for instance myconf@example.com and a display text, for instance "Myconf 2019".
  • The given email address will receive the recipients' replies.
Define a signature for all (or some) emails
  • Go to Emails / Overview and settings / Set the signature.
  • Your input will be used to substitute the placeholder <signature>, wherever it is found.
  • By default, this placeholder is used in all emails. It can, however be removed, if needed.
Set the default language of the emails
  • Go to Emails / Overview and settings / Default language and make sure that the selected language corresponds with the language selected for the site.
  • If two or more languages are used, the emails language should be the main / default language.

General functions

Placeholders
  • The emails can be personalised by means of placeholders. These are inserted in the texts of the emails and replaced by the values associated with each user (e.g. names, submission titles, presentation details etc.).
  • Go to Emails / Overview and settings / Placeholders to find a list of the placeholders.
  • Two types of placeholders can be used: predefined placeholders, corresponding to standard, predefined variables (e.g. surname, abstract title) and custom placeholders that correspond to custom variables, created by administrators (e.g. "Food preference" or "Selected workshop").
  • Both types are listed on the page. They can be copied and pasted into the texts of the emails.
Audit emails
  • You can get copies of automatic emails sent to the users, allowing you to monitor activity on the site.
  • Go to Emails / Overview and settings / Get copies of emails and enter a list of emails that will receive copies of all automatically generated emails.

8.2. Automatic emails

You can set up emails to be sent out automatically in response to specific actions taken by the users: when they register an account, they submit or withdraw an abstract, upload a document, fill in a form, complete a payment etc.

Locate the automatic emails
Go to Emails / Automatic emails / Activate and edit the emails. All the automatic emails are listed on that page.
Activate suitable emails
Go through the listed emails and activate those you would like to use; deactivate those you do not need. For example, if you do not wish to send an email to a user who withdraws an abstract, make sure that the template labelled Send email on submission withdrawal is switched off.

The list of emails available depends on the modules that are active. If payments are not in use, emails related to the payment functions will not be listed.
Edit the emails
Most of the email templates are prefilled, in English, German and French. You can modify these texts to suit your needs. Placeholders can be used to personalise the emails.
Monitor activity
Once the emails have been activated and edited, they will be triggered automatically in response to users' actions. If you have set up audit emails, you will receive copies at the designated email addresses. If not, you can still check the emails at Emails / Mail log / Automatic emails.
List of emails on users' accounts
Users can view all the emails sent to them on their account, on a page accessible through the Emails tab.

8.3. Emails sent in bulk

The COMS system allows you to send emails to any group of users, at a time of your choosing. Templates useful for specific tasks are provided, often prefilled with a standard text corresponding to the task at hand. For example, there is a template to target authors of accepted (or rejected) submissions; another to contact all users, etc. All the templates can be edited and personalised by means of placeholders.

Locate the bulk emails
Go to Emails / Bulk emails. All the templates are located in this section.
Select a suitable email template
The bulk emails section lists a number of templates that target predefined sets of users. For example, you can find templates that target all users, all submitters, all speakers, all submitters of accepted papers or posters, all reviewers, all presenters, all users whose registration payment is still due etc.
Edit the texts and subject lines of the templates
The email templates are provided with predefined texts and subject lines that suit the task at hand, for instance inform submitters of accepted papers of the status of their submission. These texts and the subject lines can be edited or replaced entirely with your own texts.
Preview the emails
After editing and saving the text of an email template, you can use the preview function to check the list of recipients, as well as the content of all the emails.
Send the emails and track the result
When you commit to sending the emails, these are stored in the email database where they queue to be sent out. The mail log, accessible at Emails / Mail log / Bulk emails, records the status of the task.
Send an email to hand-picked users
The last of the bulk email templates, found at Emails / Bulk emails / Hand-picked users is designed to allow flexible targetting of the recipients. While the other bulk emails target predefined sets of recipients, the hand-picked template comes with a filter that can be used to select any subset of the users. The selection of the recipients proceeds in two steps:
  1. First, use the filter to make a broad selection of the users, for instance all presenters whose registration fee is still due.
  2. Review the list of users generated by the filter and manually refine the selection.
One the desired list of recipients has been produced and saved, you can edit the text of the and its subject line, then proceed to preview and sent the emails.

9. Website content

  • A COMS site can be used to publish content, that is either public or private. Private content is only shown to users who log in to their account. Public content is visible to all.
  • Administrators can create the pages and their contents on their accounts, in the configuration module.
  • An editor is provided to format the content.
  • Placeholders can be used to insert content that is generated by the software, like the conference agenda.

9.1. Public pages

Locate the function used to create public pages

Go to Configuration / Text pages / Public pages. This page contains a list of pages that are displayed, or could be displayed, if activated, on the access page.
Overview of the public pages

Create a page

You can add a page by clicking on the Add a page button. This will add an item to the list and give you access to the newly created page. The menu item and the page will not be published on the net until you make them available with the dropdown on the right.

Edit the content of the page

Click the link "Edit the page" to edit its content. A rich text editor is provided. You do not need to give it a title, because the software will use the text of the menu item to create the heading of the page which will be placed above your content.
Edit the content of a page
View of the resulting page

Position the page in the side menu

After saving the page, return to the overview list. You can change the position of the page relative to other pages by modifying the value of its order parameter.

Group pages into sections

You can group related pages in sections identified by headings. Headings can be created in the overview list of pages by clicking on the button labelled Add a header to the menu. This will create a new entry at the bottom of the list. Input the text of the heading, set its order value and save.
Content grouped into sections

Publish / unpublish a page or a heading

Use the dropdown located on the right hand side of the page or heading you want to publish. Select a value and save. Possible values are: Publish on the net / Do not publish.

Images and links

You can insert images and links to documents in your text. To insert a picture, you need to upload it first at "Configuration / Texts / Insert links & pictures". Once this is done, you can insert the pic in the editor and publish it on the page.

Publishing content generated by the software

You can publish generated content by inserting the relevant placeholder in the content of the page. For example, the placeholder {detailed_agenda} will be replaced by a detailed view of the conference prrograme. Text can be added above and below the placeholder. A list of available placeholders is provided under the overview list of pages.
Use of a placeholder to insert content generated by the software
View of the resulting page showing the detailed agenda
View of the resulting page showing the detailed agenda on a phone