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MLA '19 FAQ: Papers, Posters, Lightning Talks, and Immersion Sessions

For Prospective Submission Authors

 Two abstract submission rounds for MLA '19.
Read changes to the abstract submission process before submitting!

Submit Abstracts for Papers, Posters, & Lightning Talks

Research abstracts and program description abstracts will be reviewed and accepted 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.

Disclaimer

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.

  • Determine the type of project you will be submitting. 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. Paper submissions will be accepted Wednesday, August 15, 2018 through Wednesday, October 24, 2018, 6:00 p.m., central time. Poster and lightning talk abstract submissions will be accepted beginning mid-December 2018.
  • Consider your presentation style and the nature of the material you wish to present. Posters are highly visual presentations; 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 has been more competitive than poster or lightning talk acceptances.
  • Typically, paper presentations are limited to fifteen minutes and lightning talk presentations are limited to five minutes—but this depends on the total number of presentations scheduled during a session. Some presentations may have a little more time, some a little less.
  • Poster authors should prepare to staff their poster for one hour during the meeting.
  • Submit abstracts for papers, posters, and lightning talks using MLA’s online abstract submission site. You may continue to make changes to your abstract until the specific submission deadlines, noted below. There will be no extensions of these 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.
    • Paper deadline: October 24, 2018, 6:00 p.m central time.
    • Poster and lightning talk deadline:  January 25, 2019, 6:00 p.m. central time.
  • To use the system, you need to have an account on MLANET. You do not need to be an MLA member to have an account.
    • Check if you have an account. If the system recognizes your email address and you do not remember your password, the system will allow you to reset it in this step.
    • If you do not have an account, you can "Request login" and create a guest account. You can then proceed to submit your abstract.
  • Your full abstract submission includes multiple areas where you will need to provide information. New for 2019: Categories and Key Concepts (replaces key words) and Learning Outcomes. Please see additional FAQ entries on these specific topics.
  • You MUST write a blinded, structured abstract. Please refer to the MLA Research Section page for guidance on writing a structured research abstract. Please consult the MLA Style Manual for guidance on style, spelling, and grammar.
  • NEW FOR 2019: structured abstracts for program description submissions will include Background, Description, and Conclusions rather than Objective, Methods, Results, and Conclusions
  • When completing your submissions, please include results or conclusions (if complete). These will be included in the peer review process. See the question below for more information on adding results and conclusions after the submission process.

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 NPC 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 prior to being reviewed. 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 your abstract is approved and you need to update author information, you will access your abstract in the Conference Harvester site to make the necessary changes.
  • Your submission MUST include the author block, background, and description 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 background section should include program objectives or purpose and may not exceed 100 words
  • The description section should include the process of developing, implementing, and evaluating your new service, program, or initiative and may not exceed 140 words.
  • For the author block, please be complete and accurate with author information. If your abstract is approved and you need to update author information, you will access your abstract in the Conference Harvester site to make the necessary changes.

Categories/Key Concepts

New for 2019: Categorize your submission based on MLA competency areas and specialty librarianship topics, with more specific key concepts located below each category. These key concepts provide the National Program Committee and meeting planners a common taxonomy for organizing and scheduling meeting content. If your submission is accepted, your selection(s) will also help attendees to identify content of most interest to them.

  • Authors should choose at least one key concept per abstract, but may choose as many concept combinations as are relevant.
  • If a competency or category area does not apply at all to the abstract, choose "Not Applicable".
  • If specific key concepts listed in a relevant category do not fit your abstract, choose "other," then fill in your preferred key concept(s) in the text box.

Learning Outcomes

New for 2019: Authors should provide learning outcomes statements describing the skills and knowledge participants will gain from your session. Well-written learning outcomes are clear, straightforward, and use verbs that refer to observable or measurable phenomena.

  • Example of a well-written outcome: "By the end of the session, participants will be able to describe the steps of the research process."
  • Example of an ambiguous outcome: "By the end of the session, participants will have greater confidence in their ability to understand complex research designs." (This is considered poor because it refers to "confidence" and "understanding"—which cannot be observed or measured.)

Other Areas

  • Additional authors, if any.
  • Speaker release (applies to the use of your presentation, if accepted)
  • Research Award consideration (if you submit a research abstract)
  • Disclosure policy agreement
  • New Voices: let us know if you are a first-time MLA meeting presenter, or if you have previously presented at an annual meeting
  • Yes, you may enter either results or conclusions (or both) with your initial abstract submission. The results section may not exceed 100 words; the conclusion section may not exceed 100 words.
  • New for 2019: Reviewers will be sent all sections of your submission, including the abstract, your chosen categories/key concepts, and learning outcomes.
  • Authors MAY postpone entering results (for research abstracts only) or conclusions until after the peer-review process is completed. Authors with selected abstracts will need to add the results and conclusions sections if they did not already do so in the initial abstract submission; please add by January 24, 2019. (Note: abstract titles cannot be changed after January 24, 2019.)

No. 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 2019 meeting. We will indicate all accepted research papers and posters with a symbol in the Official Program. The submission site asks if you want to 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.

  • Authors of paper abstracts will receive by email an automated acceptance or rejection notification letter mid-December 2018. If you are a paper author and have not received the notification email by December 15, please contact Mary Oberman.
  • If you submit a poster or lightning talk abstract, you will receive notification in early 2019.
  • In March 2019, session moderators will contact paper and lightning talk presenters to discuss speaking order at the meeting.

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.

Submit an Abstract for an Immersion Session

Immersion Sessions are the new Special Content Sessions and are meant to provide an in-depth perspective on areas of interest to MLA members. They are your chance to design and offer the programming that you want to see. Immersion Sessions should strive for excellent engagement and can vary in format, ranging from a panel of invited speakers to a single invited speaker, a facilitated book discussion, as well as less-conventional sessions like an "unconference" or flipped session. The only type of programming excluded from Immersion Sessions are paper presentations.

Immersion Sessions are also not an opportunity for vendors to showcase new products or services. For information on advertising and sponsorship opportunities at the 2019 meeting, vendors should contact Barbara Redmond.

Immersion Session proposals will be competitively reviewed and scored using a standard rubric. The rubric will guide the selection process with the end result being that a limited number of submissions (up to 12) will be selected for presentation. If your submission is not selected for an Immersion Session, you may be encouraged to submit it as a different type of session later in the year.

The 2019 National Program Committee welcomes a broad range of topics and will be especially interested to see proposals in the following topic areas:

  • Trends in Data Science
  • Diversity and Inclusion
  • Clinical Care
  • Areas covered by the Insight Initiative (Engaging users in a disruptive era, Meeting the evolving Needs of library stakeholders)
  • Advocacy of the health information librarian profession

Submit your proposal through the online abstract submission site through October 24, 2018, 6:00 p.m. central time.

We plan to accommodate up to 12 sessions. NOTE that there were many more applications than could be accommodated at MLA '18, so applicants should expect the process to be competitive.

Any group can submit an application (e.g., an MLA section, a special interest group [SIG], or chapter). Informal groups—for example, "nine librarians interested in team based learning" or "a group of librarians from a library that think they have an innovative way of doing something"—are also encouraged to apply. The 2019 National Planning Committee (NPC) encourages groups to work together and cosponsor sessions.

MLA will provide a meeting room with a theater-style seating configuration, computer, computer projector, screens, table or podium, and microphones in each immersion session room. The sponsoring group is responsible for paying for other meeting facilities such as special room sets, dedicated Internet, or added AV. To determine costs for these, contact Tina Vickery, MLA’s meeting planner.

Speaker fees and/or speaker travel expenses, if applicable, are the responsibility of the sponsoring group(s).

If your group(s) are sponsoring a single invited speaker:

  • Invited speakers who are not current members of MLA, or who have not held membership in MLA in the past five years, will be given one day of complimentary meeting registration. To request courtesy registration for an invited speaker, contact Ray Naegele.
  • If the invited speaker is a current member of MLA, they are required to register at least for the day of their presentation. The speaker or sponsoring section must pay for this. If your group is sponsoring a panel of speakers: No complimentary registration will be provided for panelists. Each panelist must register for the conference.

One-day and multi-day registrations are available on the MLANET meeting site beginning in January.

Potential sources of funds to cover expenses include partnering with an MLA section or obtaining a grant. MLA sections may engage in fundraising after October 1 (about 7 months before the meeting). Sections that plan to engage in fundraising should contact Ray Naegele. MLA staff can assist and arrange recognition for the sponsor.

Submit your proposals for immersion sessions by October 24, 2018, 6:00 p.m. central time using MLA’s online submission site. Since the application requires some writing, it is suggested that the application be prepared in word processing software and then the content be copied and pasted into the online submission site.

Immersion Session submission fields include:
  • Title: (200 character limit)
  • Format:  1 sentence description of format (e.g., presentation, debate, fishbowl, panel discussion).
  • Objective: 3 to 4 sentences describing what you will cover in your session in a way that will inform and appeal to your audience.
  • Sponsors: Include name of section; SIG; chapter; or other groups. Submissions can be cosponsored by several groups.
  • Audience: Who is the session designed for? What prior knowledge and skills should participants have, if any?
  • Learning Outcomes: 3 to 4 statements describing in clear, measurable terms the skills and knowledge participants will gain from your session.
  • Instructional Methods: 3 to 4 sentences describing what you will do to help participants achieve the learning outcomes.
  • Participant engagement: 1 to 2 sentences describing what you will do to actively involve participants in the session.
  • Presenter(s): List affiliation of all presenters and their skills and knowledge in the topic.
  • Technical Requirements: list specific requirements for your proposed session, such as ideal room set-up, audio-visual, audience response systems.
  • Budget Requirements: provide a budget for any proposed out-of-pocket expenses and potential sources of funding (e.g. Section, sponsor).
  • Logistics Contact: Provide the name, contact information, and experience of the person from your group that will work with MLA to coordinate logistics for your session.

No. Immersion Session primary contacts and participant names are not blinded. Information such as the name and qualifications of the session speakers/participants can be helpful to reviewers who are assessing the potential quality, impact, and audience appeal of the proposal.

Volunteer reviewers will score the applications using stated criteria. Final selections will be made by the 2019 NPC Program Planning Group.

The primary contact for immersion sessions will be notified of acceptance or rejection by December 15, 2018. You will be notified of the precise date and time of your session no later than the end of December 2018.

Inquiries about immersion session applications and review criteria should be directed to: 2019ccwg@gmail.com

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

Abstract Accepted? Prepare for the Meeting!

Once accepted, your sessions will be added to the Conference Harvester system, which is an online database of approved abstracts. The primary contact identified on the application will be invited to access the online Conference Harvester to confirm their session title is accurate and to add presenter information.

Additional audiovisual or other special setup needs can be requested through the Conference Harvester and are due February 2019.

Other Things You Should Do

  • 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 January 24, 2019, review and update your abstract information in the Conference Harvester. This update must include unblinding any sections of the abstract, if needed. Abstract titles cannot be changed after this deadline.
  • By April 17, 2019, 6:00 p.m. central time, primary authors should complete the following tasks:
  • Make any final updates to your abstract, adding results and conclusions if you did not include them in your original submission. All parts of any abstract may not exceed 400 words.
  • Upload your poster for online viewing by attendees.
  • Download your poster QR code. The 2019 posters will be shared on the ePoster gallery and in the MLA ’19 app. Please include this QR code on your printed poster: Attendees will be able to scan the code at the meeting to view the poster in the app.

Individuals presenting at or moderating a session must be registered for the meeting. Registration opens in January 2019.

Accepted sessions will be uploaded in the Conference Harvester. By January 24, 2019, the primary contact must log in to the Conference Harvester and ensure the program title and descriptions are accurate and add presenter and facilitator names and bios. Include photos, if available. Presentation/abstract titles cannot be changed after January 24.

The title will appear in the printed program. The title, description, presenter names bios, and sponsoring groups will appear in the online meeting planner and conference app. The online meeting planner/app is used by attendees to help them choose which sessions they want to attend. The planner offers keyword search which examines all presentation information, including session title, description, presenter names, and bios. Be sure to carefully proofread your entry, especially names and titles, to ensure all is accurate.

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.

Disclaimer

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.

  • Before the meeting, the primary contact for the session will be notified to log in to the Conference Harvester and upload your presentation slides (typically, portable document format [PDF] or PowerPoint files). The primary contact should upload the slides in the Conference Harvester by April 25, 2019. 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 Conference Harvester 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 April 25, 2019. (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.)

While MLA does not endorse or recommend any specific product listed here, programs such as WebWhacker, HTTrack, and SiteSucker do 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, SnagIt, or FireShot to create stand-alone videos or to capture a screenshot. These options can act as a backup for times when you want to demonstrate a specific feature and you cannot connect to the Internet or do not have a speedy wifi connection.


  • Larger institutions or institutions that support the educational activities of their staff members may have in-house publishing or large-format printing assistance for paper posters.
  • PosterSmith offers printing on fabric material:  https://postersmith.com/

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 2019. Moderators will receive guidelines to assist them in running the session and staying on schedule; watch this space for links.

  • Moderator Guidelines: Immersion Sessions
  • Moderator Guidelines: Papers and Lightning Talks
  • National Program Committee Contributed Content Working Group: contact the Working Group 2019ccwg@gmail.com
  • Papers: Jamie Conklin, Kathy Kwan, and Hannah Schilperoort
  • Posters: Carol Seiler, Ahlam Saleh
  • Lightning talks: Meaghan Muir, Brenda Green
  • Immersion Sessions:  Lisa A. Marks, AHIP,  and Dan Burgard
  • 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.

At and After the Meeting

Onsite at the meeting, speakers and panelists should check-in at the Speaker Ready Room to view and confirm that your slides are ready or to make final changes, if needed. Speakers and panelists can also ask the AV staff to explain how to use the AV equipment that will be in place for the session.

Please do! 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. Visit MLA Publishing to find proposal guidelines and learn more about the kinds of topics that MLA seeks.

Abstracts will be posted to the online program and itinerary planner ahead of the meeting to allow attendees to schedule their meeting experience.

To access presentations and other online meeting content, log in to MLANET and visit the online program and itinerary planner or the meeting app.

  • Within three days after the event, program sessions may be viewed online with synchronized PowerPoint files, provided that the presenters have given us recording permission.
  • Plenary sessions will be video recorded and posted within twenty-four hours of the event.
  • Paid meeting registrants (e-Conference and onsite) will have exclusive access to the online meeting content for twelve months after the meeting.
  • After one year, all current MLA members may view meeting content.

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New at MLA '19! Option to share personal pronouns on badges!


MLA ’19 Continuing Education