Message from ESA for Abstract Petition

Message from ESA for Abstract Petition

Dear Colleague,

ESA is committed to the quality of our Annual Meetings and to our pledge for a more inclusive environment. We thank and appreciate the work of our volunteer members and staff to develop a robust program. The Program Chair, Program Committee, and ESA member volunteers did not make reject decisions or recommendations lightly, and they certainly weren’t meant to offend the authors.

Recent feedback regarding abstract reviews has suggested that our review method described below was not satisfactory in meeting the dual goals for ESA. So, in response to feedback, will be revisiting the process of abstract review for the 2023 Annual Meeting to resolve some of the issues raised by a number of our members. Immediately, for the 2022 meeting in Montreal,  those whose abstracts were rejected may submit a petition until Tuesday, May 17, for another abstract review by emailing meetings@esa.org

Thank you,

Dennis Ojima and Catherine O’Riordan


Description of the peer review process

ESA adopted peer review of contributed abstracts 3 years ago to improve the quality of the presentations. Two years ago we increased the size of the program committee to help support this process.  Contributed abstracts are blind reviewed by volunteer reviewers from the ESA sections and chapters. Each abstract is assigned to three reviewers. Once the peer review is complete, the Program Committee then has a secondary peer review for an abstract that was scored below 4. When aggregating peer review scores, any abstract above 4 is automatically accepted. At the conclusion of this secondary review, a final decision is made about acceptance, rejection or if a revision should be offered.

In the previous 3 years, 4.1% of submitted abstracts, on average, have been rejected with 2.5%, on average, allowed to resubmit. In 2022 5.2% of abstracts were rejected and 2.6% allowed to resubmit.

Criteria, which were posted as part of the call for abstracts and on the submission login page, include:

  • The body of the abstract is up to 400 words, split between the two sections (up to 200 words each): Background/Question/Methods, in which the objective of the study is clearly identified and the methods are described; and Results/Conclusions, in which specific results of the study are explicitly reported and their implications for ecology are briefly discussed.
  • The abstract must primarily report on new work within the field of ecology.
  • Reviews of previous work are not permissible for contributed talks and posters.
  • The abstract must report specific results. The results may be preliminary, but they may not be vague. Abstracts without explicitly stated results will be rejected.
  • It is understandable that abstracts describing non-traditional work may lack quantitative data; however, it is still expected that the abstract will address some question and have a “take-home message” describing specific findings.
  • Abstracts must be clear. Poorly written abstracts will be rejected.
  • Abstracts must be written in English or French (in honor of our joint meeting this year) and must follow standard grammar and punctuation rules.