KScope16 Abstract Submission: Procrastinators UNITE!

As we descend upon the (now less than 24) dwindling hours of the KScope16 abstract deadline – which is when the conference committee gets our biggest spike in submissions – I thought I’d try to help you last-minute folks get over the hump. Perhaps you just need a little nudge to make those final tweaks so you can call it complete. Maybe you’re aching to submit but lacking an idea. Regardless, I hope this article provides you what you need so you can get ‘er done!

For the past couple of years, random folks have come to me for assistance with their KScope abstracts. I’m always humbled by their faith in me and I do my best to help them. This year I thought I would share with a broader audience the advice I’ve given in the past.

Here is some (hopefully) useful information for this final countdown.

At a Glance

FAQ

  • Can I submit abstracts on behalf of someone else? Yes, but technically only if you know their ODTUG login and password. The system assumes that whoever is logged in is the primary presenter and you can’t change this without assistance from the ODTUG team. Sales & Marketing folks: please note the above 4 max abstract rule per presenter. If you’re submitting your team’s abstracts under your ID and you go over the limit, you should expect to see an email. You will need to react quickly to avoid losing any of those submitted abstracts. It’s better just to have your own folks submit their own abstracts or you submit under their individual ID’s.
  • Can I change my abstract details after I’ve submitted them? Yes, but only up until the submission deadline. Log back in with your ODTUG account and you’ll find a “My Presentations” link under “My Links”.
  • I can’t remember my login or password…what do I do? In the login screen for the ODTUG site, there’s a link under the username and password fields that says “Username and/or Password Help”. Click it and enter the email address that you last had on file for your ODTUG membership. If you can’t remember this, try a few emails first – most people only have a few that they would ever use for this purpose. If those don’t work, use the “Contact Us” link in the ODTUG website menu to reach someone.
  • Does my abstract have to be technically focused? Not necessarily. In fact, there’s one track on the EPM/BI side that is business-focused.
  • When will we find out if our abstract was accepted and how? Automated emails for both acceptances and non-acceptances are expected to go out mid-December 2015.
  • If I send you my abstract a couple of hours before the deadline will you have time to review it? No. 😦

Ideas for Abstracts (Content)

You should approach this section cautiously because what I may think is a great idea may not apply to all situations. So here is my specific (but vague) recommendation of abstract topics:

  • A listing of new features and/or how to use them…of a new version of software. Note that it seems to help if you have a demo as part of your presentation.
  • A listing of new features and/or how to use them…of new software being released between now and KScope16. Note that it seems to help if you have a demo as part of your presentation.
  • Compelling case studies (note the word compelling). This is a bit tricky. I would define compelling in this case as: engaging, unique, broad-reaching (i.e. not a niche area), appealing to all skill levels of attendees, solves a problem that many are interested in, and covers a relatively recent version of software.
  • Beginner concepts. Remember that we have all levels of skill sets represented at this conference. Don’t forget that beginners needs sessions too!
  • Cross-over sessions. Although this year the sides have merged a bit, historically the conference has been divided into 2 houses technology-wise: “EPM/BI” and the “traditional side”. Sessions that provide cross-over knowledge between the 2 houses are compelling by nature. Sessions that provide cross-over information between the individual tools of a single house are also well received.
  • A cool way to solve a problem. Again, this terminology is tricky. What people think of as being “cool” is debatable every year. My rule of thumb is: if you think it’s cool, submit it!

Tips for Writing Great Abstracts (How You Convey the Content)

Decent content rarely gets accepted on its own merit – you also have to have a well written abstract that conveys your intentions. Instead of re-inventing the wheel here, I’m going to point you to the great article that Janice D’Aloia authored this year (which is a summary of several other past blog posts + some extra food for thought). I’d highly recommend reading the section marked “A few other things to keep in mind”.

Article linkhttp://www.odtug.com/p/bl/et/blogid=1&blogaid=497

Some other tricks:

  • Take a look at the KScope15 abstracts within the same or a similar track. Pick 3 random abstracts. Now read all 3 of them, one right after each other, and also add yours to the mix. Which abstracts stand out? What makes them stand out? If yours doesn’t, EDIT.
  • Read your abstract to someone who isn’t in this industry. Are they compelled to attend your session based on the language of your abstract?
  • Have a friend who’s in this industry read your abstract. Do they want to attend your session? Wait an hour after they’ve read it and then have them describe it back to you from memory. Do they remember it? What are they remembering about it and is that the lasting impression you want to make?
  • After editing your final version of the abstract, put it down and shift gears to something unrelated. After a few hours, read it again. Are you proud of it? Does it sound interesting – would you want to attend your session? Remember that your abstract is a reflection of you.

A good number of the tracks have an acceptance ratio of 1 abstract for roughly every 6 submitted, and this gap widens every year. The competition is fierce. Imagine if you were an abstract reviewer with 100 abstracts within the same track as the one you’re submitting to…how can you make yours more attractive?

What Not to Do

I could probably write an entire book on this topic based on what I’ve learned over the past few years in my different conference committee roles. Below is a pattern of ills that I’ve accumulated over time based on feedback from the review teams. Regardless of how I feel about some of this stuff personally, these have bubbled up to the surface and stuck. I hope you use this information to maximize your abstract’s potential.

  • Having an abstract summary that’s 1-3 sentences long. For 99% of folks, this looks lazy and it wastes the reviewers’ time. If you’re going to submit an abstract, don’t do it half-heartedly. Put some effort into it. This is one of those offenses that reviewers will use to quickly weed out abstracts.
  • Related to the above but not necessarily the same thing – submitting abstracts just to submit them. (<— Not a majority opinion, so I will admit openly that this is one that I personally feel strongly about.) If you’re not going to put in the effort to think about your content and express yourself in a compelling manner, then please don’t submit your abstract. This is a waste of everyone’s time and it’s pretty obvious when it happens. This could put your reputation at risk for future abstracts.
  • Submitting abstracts with obvious grammar and spelling errors. This looks lazy and gives off the perception that you don’t care. This is the basis of another weeding technique.
  • We’ve harped on this before, but the message is still not out there. You need to follow instructions, folks. There are 2 large text fields that you are required to fill out when you submit your abstract. One is the “Session Summary for Attendees” field and one is the “Detailed Abstract for Review” field. DO NOT COPY AND PASTE ONE TO THE OTHER. It’s clearly written in the instructions: 1) not to do this and 2) what you actually need to put into each field. Some abstract reviewers will down vote your abstract just because you can’t follow instructions…again, another weeding mechanism.
  • Unless it’s a classic topic (like MDX or SQL 101, etc.) that gets refreshed every year…submitting the same abstract every year or submitting an abstract that you’ve presented at a prior KScope conference. Don’t do it. Last year the conference committee added in the investment to record all of the sessions at KScope15. Therefore, if you’re planning to submit an abstract that was already recorded and is not considered to be a “classic”…DON’T. The reviewers pay attention to past sessions and they will catch on.
  • Listing random primary and co-presenters on your abstract. Things happen throughout the year that cause a presenter to back out…that’s not the situation that I’m talking about. What I’m talking about is an intentional act. If you’re not the presenter, you need to commit your presenters up front. Presenters are taken into account during the abstract review process. If you make a change to your presenters, it’s quite possible that your abstract will need to be re-approved.
  • Flooding the system. This is a message for companies that have multiple abstract submitters. Remember that an individual can submit a maximum of 4 abstracts. We have seen companies adhere to that rule, but submit 4 abstracts for what seems like…every employee. If they are great abstracts then this is a moot point. If they are all 2-3 sentence abstracts or poorly written, then you’re clearly flooding the system. Not cool. This gives your company a bad reputation. Instead of going for quantity, go for quality. Consider this an official warning.
  • Submitting only one abstract. Again, this is a fierce competitive landscape when you look at the number of abstracts submitted and the number than can be accepted. Are you really going to give yourself one shot? I would recommend that people submit two abstracts, but certainly don’t force yourself if you can’t think of a second great idea.
  • Submitting multiple versions of the same abstract. I kind of get this strategy, but I personally feel that you’re wasting your time. The teams notice when this happens and it confuses them. Pick the best version and then submit some completely different abstracts.
  • Submitting the same abstract multiple times either under the same presenter or different presenters. Also related: submitting the same abstract to multiple tracks. Again, I kind of get this strategy but it’s a waste of an abstract when the max allotted is 4. If you have multiple technologies in your abstract and can’t decide which track it should go into, just ask, and the review teams will reroute it to the track that makes sense. For the folks who do this in hopes of tricking the system…just remember that you’re working with a group of volunteers who are expert data miners. We love what we do and we apply the same skill sets to our work at ODTUG.
  • Forgetting to review your profile details, which contain your contact information. The email address within your profile is the primary one used to contact you for all things related to abstracts (at a minimum). If you’re not sure if that information is correct then change it before the abstract submission deadline. You can do this by logging into your ODTUG account, navigating to “My Options” and then “My Profile”. The consequence of not doing this is missing your acceptance/non-acceptance email along with other important speaker notifications.
  • Avoiding abstract submission because you’re afraid of public speaking. This is a very real fear and I get it. However, this is within your control…practice makes perfect! As a long-time public speaker myself, I sympathize with those who are fearful of being the one under the spotlight. Don’t let it paralyze you from moving forward. This is a challenge that’s rewarding on multiple levels in life and worth overcoming.

Motivation

KScope16 is being held in Chicago next June. CHICAGO, people! And it’s being organized by one of the best conference committees ever (if I do say so myself…LOL). If you’ve never been to Chicago, this is your chance to gain a complimentary pass to one of the greatest downtown Oracle technical parties of the year. You’ll be able to rub shoulders with some of the leading, coolest, Oracle visionaries of the world. You won’t just be sharing your knowledge – you’ll also be learning from others. ODTUG is a community that lives and breathes by our connections with each other. Celebrate your knowledge with us – we’re waiting for you!

If you’re still not convinced, read this awesome blog post by Rodrigo Radtke de Souza and Ricardo Z. Giampaoli about how being able to speak at KScope launched a domino effect that changed their lives.

Still not motivated to submit an abstract? Watch this fantastic KScope15 recap video:

Good luck to all potential KScope16 speakers! Get that abstract submitted and then pat yourself on the back! Well done!

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