Bringing Us to AAA 2018, Nashville!
We are finally at that anticipatory phase of only two months prior to our 30th Anniversary of the Academy’s Annual Conference, AAA 2018 in Nashville. Much like any major upcoming holiday, we look forward to the assemblage of our large audiology family. Of course, we may find ourselves excited to reunite and catch up with some of our family members, and…well…we may tip toe in fear of prolonged and emotional debates with other family members.
Another aspect of this two-month phase in our pre-AAA Annual Conference is the disappointment by colleagues and friends who, as submitting authors, articulated after learning that their proposed presentation/s were not accepted for the 2018 conference. There are historical perspectives and many moving pieces occurring in the peer-review process that are important to bring forward not only for submitting authors but also attendees of the AAA Annual Conference.
At least five to six years ago, an overwhelming number of attendees of the AAA Annual Conference expressed discontent with too many presentation choices that frequently had content overlapping often at a very basic introductory level. Out of respect to the repeated negative reviews, a decision was made about three years ago by the AAA Board to proactively reduce the number of available presentation spots, redundancy, and content level of session offerings.
Having experienced, on a few occasions, this same disappointment of rejected presentation submission to our past conferences, I can understand how there may be an unfortunate perception of a personal affront to the author/s capability and quality of offerings. Some may even angrily declare, “I’ll just take my presentations to a different conference that appreciates me.” Before losing heart, it’s important to look closely at how much the blinded peer-review process for submissions has evolved and improved while still remaining rigorous and offer a range of elementary through advanced content.
During the review process, each submission is first stripped of all identifying information about the submitter (i.e., name and affiliation) before going to the three to four reviewers assigned to each submission. All of the 100+ reviewers, who were enlisted through the Academy Volunteer Portal, resulting from the call for volunteers, are tasked to appoint numeric scores of one (lowest/lacking) to five (highest/high caliber) for each submission according to: abstract creativity and interest; content innovation and importance; clinical and non-clinical relevance; substance and concrete/practical takeaways; engagement as well as innovative and interesting delivery methods.
Once each blind review scoring is complete for each submission, all numeric values are averaged and tallied by volunteer subcommittee chairs with cut-off score values to identify as accept or decline. If the score falls within the accept range, it is assigned to an appropriate and available beginner, intermediate and advanced level of content. In the rare instance of wide disparities in scores, the program chair would complete an investigation and ultimately make a determination about the submission.
When pairing the significantly reduced number of presentation spots made available with the significant (30 percent) increase in submissions from last year, unequivocally AAA 2018 in Nashville will mark its place with high attendance. Though, I do not consider a declined submission a failure, we are reminded them that “failing is a stepping stone to greatness.” On those occasions that we do experience disappointments, we can work to overcome the sting of review results by keeping in mind the many variables and moving pieces that take place to bring “US” to AAA 2018 in Nashville.