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Papers, Posters, and Lightning Talks FAQs

Research abstracts and program description abstracts will be accepted and reviewed using separate rubrics. Research abstracts report on designing, conducting, and analyzing a research project. Program description abstracts describe the creation and improvement of products, programs, technologies, administrative practices, or services that librarians and information professionals conduct. Authors will select one type of abstract for each submission during the submission process.

Abstracts and presentations shall be scholarly works free from commercialism or private interests. The MLA meeting provides a limited number of contributed session slots which are reserved for members and non-members to submit their ideas, via the peer review process, in order to share the very "best" research and demonstration projects. When a session is biased toward one vendor and excludes or devalues others, the session crosses the line from being a scholarly session with a balanced message to a targeted commercial presentation.

Commercial presentations are not eligible as a contributed submission. MLA reserves the right at any stage of the review process to remove from consideration a submission that has a clear commercial or marketing bias. Exhibitors have many promotional opportunities that are designed to accommodate their training and marketing needs such as Sunrise Seminars and Technology Showcases.

Sources of funding should always be disclosed. Where a clinical trial registration number is available, this should be included.

Conflicts of Interest

Presenters shall provide a statement and slide at the beginning of the presentation that discloses any conflicts of interest (or lack thereof). Sample wording:

  • [Name of individual] has received fees for serving as a speaker, a consultant and an advisory board member for [names of organizations], and has received research funding from [names of organization].
  • [Name of individual] is an employee of [name of organization].
  • [Name of individual] owns stocks and shares in [name of organization].
  • [Name of individual] owns other interest in the organization and brief description.


MLA assumes no responsibility for statements or opinions expressed in the presentations. The MLA President and/or MLA Executive Director have the authority to exclude a presentation from the program.

Please review the criteria that will be used to review submitted abstracts.

  • You will select either research abstract or program description abstract when submitting your abstract. Research abstracts report on designing, conducting, and analyzing a research project. Program description abstracts describe the creation, improvement, and assessment of products, programs, technologies, administrative practices, or services conducted by librarians and information professionals. As a general principle abstracts should be prepared in an academic style and be free of commercialism.
  • The two types of abstracts will be scored using set criteria and rubrics. Review the rubrics carefully to help you determine which type best fits your project. Abstracts will not be transferred between types, and selecting an inappropriate type for your project may result in a poor score and lack of acceptance. You will have the best chance of acceptance if you select the appropriate type—research or program description—when submitting your abstract.
  • Given space constraints, there is a maximum number of papers, posters, and lightning talks that can be presented. To make acceptance decisions, all scored abstracts submitted as papers will be pooled, and the highest-scoring abstracts will be accepted. Similar processes will occur with posters and lightning talks.
  • Three types of presentation formats are being solicited: papers, posters, and lightning talks. You will rank your preferred presentation formats when submitting your abstract. Abstracts will be first reviewed and considered for your first choice presentation format. If not accepted for your first choice, your abstract will be considered for your second choice presentation format and, if needed, your third choice. You may choose to submit to only one presentation format if you do not wish to present your abstract in any other format.
  • One session of lightning talks is being held for late-breaking topics. There will be a separate call for abstracts for this single session in early Spring. However, all content in the FAQ about type of abstracts and methods of review will also be used for these late-breaking lightning talks.
  • You will rank your preferred presentation format. Abstracts not accepted in your first choice presentation format will be considered for your second and, if needed, your third choice. You may choose to submit to only one presentation format if you do not wish to present your abstract in any other format.
  • To rank your choices, consider your presentation style and the nature of the material you wish to present. Posters are a highly visual presentation; lightning talks are brief, focus on one main point, and are more verbally oriented; and papers are lengthier and verbally oriented. You may also wish to consider the rules or guidelines of your institution for obtaining travel funding and consider your career goals. In past MLA meetings, paper acceptance is more competitive than poster or lightning talk acceptances.

Typically, paper presentations will be limited to fifteen minutes and lightning talk presentations will be limited to five minutes. Poster authors will be asked to staff their poster for one hour during the meeting.

  • Abstracts for papers, posters, and lightning talks are to be submitted using MLA’s online abstract submission site. You may continue to make changes to your abstract until the submission deadline, which is October 10, 2016, at 6:00 p.m., central time. There will be no extensions of this deadline. You are encouraged to submit your abstract before the deadline to avoid the last minute rush and allow time for technical assistance, if needed.
  • To use the system, you need to have an account with a login name and access key. The steps in the process of creating an account should be clear once you are in the system. If you have participated as an author at prior MLA meetings, the abstract submission should recognize you and connect you to your existing author profile once you enter your email and password. If your information has not changed, you do not need to change anything in your author profile. You need to have author profiles for all of your coauthors, but if they were also authors at past MLA annual meetings, their author profiles are ready to go, too. You can then proceed to submitting your abstract.
  • You MUST write a blinded, structured abstract. Please refer to the MLA Research Section page for guidance on writing a structured abstract. Please consult the MLA Style Manual for guidance on style, spelling, and grammar.
  • Only the objectives and methods sections will be used during the reviewing process. You may enter results and conclusions when submitting your abstract, but they will not be made available to reviewers. See the question below for more information on adding results and conclusions.

To allow blinded review, author names, institutional affiliations, and address information must be listed ONLY in the author section of the electronic submission system, NOT in the body of the abstract. The Planning Committee reserves the right to edit abstracts containing any author, institutional, location, or company names for the purpose of eliminating this identifying information before sending the abstract to reviewers. You are urged to blind your abstract yourself, because the JPC cannot guarantee the resulting quality if changes must be made after submission.

  • Your submission MUST include the author block, objective, and methods sections of the structured abstract.
  • Titles and abstracts will not be formatted or edited. It is your responsibility to check for correct spelling, grammar, and punctuation. You will be judged in the review process on the professionalism of your submitted abstract. The abstract as submitted will be put into online meeting scheduler and abstract supplement.
  • The objective section (for which you may substitute the research question) may not exceed 60 words, and the methods section (which should include brief descriptions of the population, methods of measurement or assessment, and expected results) may not exceed 140 words.
  • For the author block, please be complete and accurate with author information. If you need to update author information, you may return to the abstract submission site to make the necessary changes. The site will be closed to further updates after 6:00 p.m., central time, on February 20, 2017.
  • Yes, you may enter your results and conclusions now. All parts of the abstract (objectives, methods, results, and conclusion sections combined) may not exceed 400 words.
  • Only the objectives and methods sections of the abstracts will be sent to reviewers.
  • Authors MAY postpone entering results and conclusions until after the peer-review process is completed. Authors selected for inclusion in the program will need to add the results and conclusions sections by February 1, 2016, at 6:00 p.m., central time, if they did not already do so in the initial abstract submission.

Structured abstracts should NOT contain tables, figures, or bibliographic references.

The MLA Research Section gives out several awards recognizing those paper and poster presenters whose work demonstrates high-quality research, and they will continue this for the 2016 meeting. All accepted research papers and posters will be indicated with a symbol in the Official Program and will be considered for the Research Awards. Criteria used to assess research projects and the process used to judge projects are created by the MLA Research Section.

Around November 20, 2015, all authors will receive by email an automated acceptance or rejection notification letter. If you are an author and have not received the notification email by November 30, please contact Mary Oberman. By mid-December, accepted authors will be notified of the date and time of their presentations. In February 2016, session moderators will contact paper and lightning talk presenters to discuss the speaking order

  • All withdrawals or cancellations must be in writing and emailed to Mary Oberman, project manager. Be sure to include the full title of your abstract, abstract control number, and author name.
  • All withdrawals or cancellations must be in writing and emailed to Mary Oberman, project manager. Be sure to include the full title of your abstract, abstract control number, and author name.
  • You should make travel arrangements as soon as possible after acceptance. This is especially critical for international presenters who may need additional time. At least one author MUST be registered for the meeting and available to present the paper, lightning talk, or poster at the annual meeting on the date and time assigned. See the MLA meeting site for meeting registration, hotel information, and travel information. If presenters need a letter of invitation to make travel arrangements, they should contact Mary Langman, MLA director, Information Issues and Policy, to request a letter of invitation.
  • By February 20, 2017, 6:00 p.m., central time, update your abstract information in the Conference Harvester. This update must include unblinding any sections of the abstract that require clarification and adding results and conclusions if they were not included in the original submission. All parts of the abstract (objectives, methods, results, and conclusion sections combined) may not exceed 400 words.

Programs such as WebWhacker, HTTrack, and SiteSucker allow you to download an entire website to your hard drive. You can then display and browse your website locally, without the need of an online connection. You can also use screen-recording or screen-capture software, such as Jing, to create a stand-alone video of your site in action or capture a screenshot. This can act as a backup for times when you want to demonstrate a specific feature and you are having connectivity problems. More information is available at (WebWhacker for Windows); (free, for Windows and Linux); (free or donation, for Mac OS); and (free, for Windows and Mac OS).

  • Before the meeting, you will be notified to log in to the Conference Harvester and upload your presentation slides (typically, portable document format [PDF] or PowerPoint files) by May 12, 2017. You will have an opportunity to update your slides onsite in the speaker ready room if the information on them has changed.
  • Electronic copies of posters will be gathered through the Conference Harvester and be available to e-attendees.
  • Please follow the instructions in the Conference Harvester regarding how to upload your slides and poster file.
  • Before the meeting, upload handouts to the abstract processing system so that attendees can view them online. In an effort to keep the meeting as green as possible and limit paper waste, only bring handouts if they are absolutely necessary. If you do opt to bring handouts, bring a limited number because you will need to transport them.
  • All program sessions with speaker approval will be audio recorded. The audio recordings will be available via the e-Conference to paid registrants. Please plan to upload PowerPoint presentations for inclusion in the e-Conference by logging into your Conference Harvester account by May 12, 2017. (Note: The login site for the Conference Harvester is different than the Abstract Submission site. You will receive login credentials for the Conference Harvester in your acceptance notification email.)

All contributed paper authors, including non-MLA members, are asked to give first option for publishing their presentations to the Journal of the Medical Library Association. Consult MLA’s guidelines for converting an oral presentation to a manuscript for publication. You might also consider turning your presentation into an outline for a book proposal. MLA Publishing seeks projects in print or digital formats that have an impact on a significant segment of the medical librarianship community. Go to MLA Publishing to find proposal guidelines and learn more about the kinds of topics that MLA seeks.

Each paper and lightning talk session will have a moderator. Moderators keep the session running on schedule. A call for Moderators will be issued in January, 2017. Moderators receive guidelines to assist them in running the session and staying on schedule.

Inquiries about lightning talks should be directed to Ryan Harris, AHIP.

  • For help with other aspects of your contributed paper or presentation experience, please contact staff: Mary Oberman, project manager, 630.929.7927; Ray Naegele, director of financial and administrative services, 312.419.9094 x17; or Tina Vickery, MLA meeting manager. Support is available 8:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m., central time, Monday through Friday, excluding holidays.

  • Abstracts will be posted in online meeting content library hosted by MLA about three weeks before the meeting for everyone who has a paid registration for the meeting.

To access presentations and other online meeting content, log in to the online itinerary planner.

  • Within three days after the event, program sessions may be viewed online with synchronized PowerPoint files, provided that the presenters give recording permission.
  • Plenary sessions will be video recorded and posted within twenty-four hours of the event.
  • All paid registrants (e-Conference and onsite) will have exclusive access to the online meeting content for twelve months after the meeting.

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