Instructions for reviewers/editors

of extended abstracts presented at SPNHC-TDWG 2024, to be published in Biodiversity Information Science and Standards.

Image by Erol Ahmed

Last updated 6 June 2024

Role of reviewers

Thank you for volunteering to review and/or edit the extended abstracts submitted to the Proceedings of SPNHC-TDWG 2024. Even if you have participated in this reviewing process before, please read through these instructions carefully. To help you understand the ARPHA workflow from the author’s point of view, please also review the 2024 Instructions for BISS abstract submission.


Reviews will be conducted in Pensoft’s ARPHA writing platform for publication in the journal Biodiversity Information Science and Standards (BISS) as Proceedings of SPNHC-TDWG 2024. Only authors who submitted an accepted abstract in Oxford Abstracts (OA) conference platform qualify to submit an extended abstract. Qualification will be verified by volume editors.

Editing will consist of using Track Changes (to correct spelling, grammar, and style) to make suggested changes to author text and Comments to ask questions and make suggestions about content or wording. Session editors will use flags to indicate status and actions to be taken regarding the abstract but will not send feedback to (communicate directly with) authors in ARPHA. Only volume editors will send feedback to authors. There is no separate narrative review; all comments/questions/changes should appear on the abstract.


It is your responsibility as reviewers/editors to ensure the acceptance of only high quality, well-written abstracts that will enhance the session and the reputation of our organizations, the conference, and this journal.

It is intended that all accepted extended abstracts should be published before the start of the conference but this relies on the responsiveness of both editors and authors. Your efforts will be credited as an editor of any collection on which you work (see TDWG Proceedings 2023).

If you feel unable to do this task, would like additional guidance or help, please contact the volume editors at

Notification to review

If you have elected to participate in this process, you will be automatically notified of newly submitted abstracts via email from Be sure to whitelist this sender in your email client. Alternatively, abstracts to be reviewed will show up in your ARPHA dashboard as “in pre-submission review.”

Reviewer roles

The terms “reviewer” and “editor” may be used interchangeably in these instructions. We review for content (e.g., structure, logic, clarity, context) but edit for technical aspects (e.g., spelling, grammar, (journal-specific) style). The lines blur between the roles, hence the often interchangeable use here. Pensoft also has its own term “technical editor” for these roles.

Session editors

  • Suggest changes to wording using ARPHA’s Track Changes or Comment features.
    • Using these tools on the abstract itself is a way that we can track what has been suggested and its resolution by authors.
    • If you have a general question or comment, highlight a small piece of text and attach a comment to it
    • Use Track Changes to correct grammar, spelling, or style. The author can then accept or reject these changes as appropriate.
  • Use flags in ARPHA to mark editing/reviewing progress
  • DO NOT use the Send feedback button despite what the email from Pensoft may indicate.
  • Address editing tasks promptly to enable maximum time and flexibility for dealing with authors.
  • At least two people will review each abstract, addressing both language and content reviews. Session editors may be chosen from among session organizers or may be filled by members of the Program Committee.

Volume editors

  • Provide a link to the abstract tracking spreadsheet (ATS) to all session editors for tracking progress of the review.
  • Responsible for communicating with authors (via Send feedback button) about required revisions (after the abstract has been flagged with revise).
  • Have access to all abstracts in the volume, should questions arise.
  • Work with session editors to ensure that deadlines are met.
  • Provide feedback in ATS to session editors of registration status of presenters.
  • Responsible for final review and approval for submission of all abstracts.
  • May be reached at any time via

Understanding flags

ARPHA provides flags to editors to track the progress of an abstract during the review process. Editors have access to setting flags only when they have control over the abstract in the “in pre-submission review” stage. Be sure you understand the difference between using flags (a series of checkboxes) and clicking buttons with similarly sounding names (and greater consequences if used in error). Flags that have been set by reviewers appear with each listed abstract on your ARPHA dashboard (under Collection editor), but authors cannot see these flags.

Editorial review status flags

If both flags are set in ARPHA, this should be scored as both on ATS.

  • Language reviewed - Abstracts are written in English, but what flavor? British or American or Canadian or ? Whatever the flavor, the style, grammar, and spelling should be consistent (e.g., organisation OR organization NOT both) and above all, be comprehensible (no unexplained slang, unexpanded acronyms, or jargon) by general readers. If the language review is extensive and is a barrier to assessing content, notify the about sending feedback to authors before the content is reviewed.
  • Content reviewed - Authors should provide needed context and a coherent flow of information in their abstract. Please help authors focus their ideas where necessary to fit the work of SPNHC/TDWG, the session to which it is submitted, and the conference and make abstracts approachable by a general (non-specialized) audience.

Editorial review action flags

  • Revise - recommendation generally made once both review types are completed (exception is if language review is extensive and required to complete content review). This flag signals to the Volume editors that they should now Send feedback to authors; may be an iterative process.
  • Approve - when the last of the Track Changes and Comments are sorted and the Validation only shows the number of characters, a session editor should mark the flag for approval and record it in the abstract tracking spreadsheet. This will signal to the volume editors that the abstract is ready to be finalized for publication.
  • Move - If the abstract is submitted to the wrong session (collection) or session/conference organizers or it is not a good fit for this collection (session) or you think it might be appropriate for a different collection (session) or as a poster presentation, please contact the with your suggestion and we will work to get it reassigned. This can take place at any time before volume editors approve the abstract for submission (i.e., to be published).
  • Reject - abstract is unable to be brought to the standard of publication in the journal, despite having been accepted (in OA) for presentation at the conference.
  • Remove - reserved for abstracts that are duplicate or withdrawn for whatever reason.

Currently unused flags

  • Accept with revisions - used in a different workflow


Editorial review process

Please begin the editorial review process as soon as an abstract is submitted for review. You should receive an email from when an abstract has been assigned to you for review. Alternatively, the Collection editor tab in your ARPHA dashboard (when logged in) will show abstracts ready to be reviewed (they will be marked “in pre-submission review”).

Keep in mind that the same notification is sent to all technical editors, and ARPHA does not allow simultaneous editing of a document. Only one person can work on an abstract at a time. If you are not actively working on a manuscript, please close the window to give others a chance to contribute. Note: the dashboard may give misleading indications that someone is editing the manuscript. You can verify if this is true by clicking on the manuscript title.

Abstracts need to be reviewed and flagged both for Language and for Content before authors are notified by the volume editors about revisions and clarifications needed/requested by the reviewers. An exception may be made if the language review shows the need for extensive revisions and is a barrier to assessing content (contact the if you are in this situation).

Session editors should NEVER use the Send Feedback button. Communications with authors are limited to Volume editors.

The review

Conflicts of interest

Authors may not review their own abstracts. Simply knowing or working in the same institution with any of the authors would not be a conflict of interest unless you do not think you could provide a fair and impartial review. If you prefer to declare a conflict of interest, the reason for it does not have to be stated. Please notify the Volume editors immediately at so that another editor may be assigned.

Review for content

Session organizers volunteering to review extended abstracts in their session are uniquely qualified to provide reviews of content. Program Committee members may be assigned to help in this task. This consists of examining the structure, logic, clarity, and context of the written text and any additional materials (i.e., links, figures, tables, supplementary materials) provided by the author. In addition, please look for

  • Improperly embedded or missing URLs (used to add context for the reader)
  • Missing references to concepts or existing standards (e.g., TDWG standards)
  • Incorrect or incomplete citation of the references (e.g., reference cited in text does not match reference from list; data referenced without an access date)
  • Non-expansion of acronyms at first use

Upon completion of the content review,

  • Flag abstract as reviewed for Content.
  • Click the Validate check (button).
    • If it shows only the number of characters, check the Approve flag (only worry about the number of characters if it does not validate).
    • If it shows more than the number of characters, check Revise
  • Check any additional necessary editorial action flag(s).
  • DO NOT use the send feedback button for any reason.
  • Enter review status in the ATS

Review for language

The process of reviewing for language includes verifying spelling, grammar, consistency of style, and comprehensibility (is it written in a way to be understandable by a general audience?). Please also be aware of the following most frequent issues of non-compliance with the journal’s standards:

  • Missing or inconsistent authors’ affiliations
  • Non-expansion of acronyms at first use
  • Wording issues resulting from translation or AI-assisted content construction
  • Titles should be in title case (see Title Case Converter and choose MLA for style)
  • Missing Keywords
  • Keywords not separated by commas, words repeated from the title, or capitalization of non-proper nouns
  • Missing Presented at metadata (should be filled in with SPNHC-TDWG 2024 and only that)
  • Presenter’s name(s) should match the format of one of the authors (no title or other affiliation information, just the name; volume editors will cross-check presenters with OA)

Upon completion of the language review,

  • Flag abstract as reviewed for “Language.”
  • Click the Validate check (button).
    • If it shows only the number of characters, check the Approve flag (only worry about the number of characters if it does not validate).
    • If it shows more than the number of characters, check “Revise”
  • Check any additional necessary editorial action flag(s).
  • DO NOT use the send feedback button for any reason.
  • Enter review status in the ATS

Next steps

Once the above reviews are completed and the editorial action(s) are recommended, the Volume editors conduct their own reviews and will be the ones to communicate with authors either to recommend revisions (may be an iterative process) or to approve the abstract for publication.

The status of the abstract changes with each decision and Session editors will receive notifications about submission of revised abstracts (message is indistinguishable from “new”) as well as when abstracts are approved for publication and published. It is not required that you re-review any abstract but it is recommended if extensive changes were requested, particularly to content. Otherwise the Volume editors will deal with revised abstracts (if they require a second opinion, they will request it of you).

Additional information about ARPHA

Revision history

Confused about who has reviewed or touched an abstract? Access the Revision history from your dashboard for the abstract or use the counterclockwise icon in the top ribbon of the ARPHA writing tool. See also Compare Manuscript Versions.

Abstract status

You should be able to see all abstracts that have been submitted to your collection in ARPHA’s Collection editor view (you will need to be logged in). On the right hand side in the dashboard you can see the status of the abstract, the flags that have been set for it, the number of times it has been sent out for revisions, and the subcollection (i.e., “Part of” collection; these are equivalent to our sessions) to which it was submitted. Some of you may be editors of more than one collection (i.e., an organizer of more than one session). Here is a short explanation of the document statuses:


The abstract has not yet been submitted by the authors OR it has been returned to the authors for revision via the Send Feedback button. Editors will have read-only access at this time. What editors view from this angle may not be a true reflection of edits you made or that the author will see.

In pre-submission review

You will receive email notification from every time an author (re)submits an abstract for review. While this email states “Please review it and either approve it or submit your feedback to the authors”, only volume editors should send feedback to authors. It is now the responsibility of Session editors to review the abstract, and mark its progress through flags (see figures 1 and 2 above). While an abstract is in pre-submission review, authors may see your comments, but they will not have access to the manuscript until it is returned to them in the Send Feedback step.

Approved for submission

Only designated editors at will have access to the Approve button (this is not the flag). Once the button is pushed, it will be up to authors to finalize the abstract submission process. See the instructions for abstract submission for a description and various places where authors may run into trouble (including Validation unsuccessful and Incomplete submission).

Incomplete submission

This is abstract purgatory. The abstract was approved for submission and the author began to finalize it but did not finish. See instructions to authors.

In layout

Author has completed the final submission process, a BISS ID has been assigned, and the abstract is awaiting publication.


A DOI has been implemented and the abstract is available to the world. Abstracts cannot be withdrawn at this point. Any changes to presenter or placement are non-trivial.


Only submissions that are not relevant to TDWG or the conference goals will be rejected. Only selected volume editors have access to the button rejecting an abstract, although any editor may flag an abstract for rejection.

Modes of communicating with authors

Remember to always be constructive and civil in any communications with authors. If there are issues you cannot resolve, please contact

  • Session editors should use the Comments feature in ARPHA during the review process to ask questions or make observations related to the abstract. Author responses may be seen once an abstract is re-submitted for review. Access resolved comments using the checkbox in the upper right of the ARPHA window, above where the comments would be visible.
  • A volume editor uses the Send Feedback button - changes status of abstract to draft and returns control to authors. No editors will see a true reflection of the editorial changes they have made/suggested when the abstract status is draft, i.e., do not panic, your changes are there.
  • Email Co-authors button - does not change status of the abstract; may be used at any time while the abstract is in ARPHA. Recipients do not see who else may have received the same email and the person sending the email does not get a copy. Not recommended for use if you think authors are not receiving/seeing emails from
  • Your institutional email (please cc - always reference the ARPHA Writing Tool (AWT) manuscript identifier (5-digit ID number) in the subject line (found in URL of abstracts, communications from Pensoft, and in the list of abstracts under collection editor on your ARPHA dashboard). This is the preferred method to use as follow-up to ARPHA notifications or for seeking a quick resolution to questions without using Send feedback and returning the abstract to author control (particularly when under a short deadline).

Communications from Pensoft and ARPHA

Emails originating from “” are often interpreted by overzealous email systems as potential spam. Please whitelist or otherwise train your email system to recognize these vital communications. You will receive notifications (from for each abstract in ARPHA for which you are an editor, every time there is a change of status for that abstract. While these autogenerated emails indicate that you should send feedback to the author, resist the temptation. If you share/forward the email, please remove links first. You will not be able to tell who else may have received the same notification in auto-generated emails. Emails will reference the collection to which the abstract was submitted in both the subject line and in the body of the email, as well as the journal name (body only).

Update your profile

Please create or update your profile in Pensoft. Make sure that you have only one email address registered.

For additional help

  • Email with issues about content and procedure.
  • Check online help (marked as Tips in ARPHA).
  • Contact Pensoft’s technical staff by clicking “Helpdesk” on the top navigation bar if you need additional technical assistance.
  • If you have suggestions for how the workflow can be improved, please send them to
  • Remember to ALWAYS include an ARPHA or BISS identifiers in the subject line of all communications.