Abstract submission: confusion over authors, co-authors, other authors, speakers


I am setting up the abstract submission and have selected the options “allow speaker” and “require a speaker”.

I did some testing with users. The feedback for the process is generally positive, but there were a few areas of confusion.

One of the key areas of confusion seems to be about what the difference between “authors”, “co-authors” and “others” are. Can the original concept behind these categories be clarified? It would be nice if there can be some control to hide the “others” or “co-authors” category. Right now my workaround is to hide the gear/petal-shaped icon as well as the co-authors section using CSS.

During the testing, one of the users also reported a behaviour that I did not understand, namely that any authors in “others” must automatically be selected as a speaker. Is this intended or a bug?

One person expressed confusion that even poster presenters are “speakers”. It would be great if it is possible to change the word “Speaker” into “Presenter” in the interface. Can you point me to which file should be customized?

Thanks for all your excellent and very speedy feedback so far!


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I can tell you about the “original” concept:

  • Author - actual author of the presentation/abstract
  • Co-author - non-main author
  • Speaker - person who actually presents

There may be an overlap between “speaker” and “(co)-author”, of course, which is why we present “Speaker” as a switch. A speaker may also not be the author of the contribution, which is why we have “others”.
I recall that we had very long discussions on how to present this and couldn’t find a better way. Suggestions are very welcome!

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Hi there – is there any way to disable the “coauthor” category? This distinction is strange for most people, and causes confusion. The distinction is also not particularly helpful or important in my personal view. A more common distinction is “corresponding author”, which can be different from the “speaker” in some cases. For a bit more general stuff on authors and roles, see https://www.elsevier.com/authors/journal-authors/policies-and-ethics/credit-author-statement.

We had the same issue for our event/field, and while it is almost certainly not the “correct” way to do it, I disabled it by using CSS to hide the coauthors section completely. See https://github.com/selkieupsilon/euroismar-custom/blob/master/event-css/euroismar2019.css#L478

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That sounds like some good hacking, but it certainly would be nice if this field could be suppressed somehow using the GUI.

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Hi Pedro
A specific suggestion here would be to:

  1. suppress the ‘co-author’ field in new installations of Indico, and to provide a way for current administrators to hide it as well.
  2. to continue to show the ‘co-author’ field for cases where it contains data.
  3. to encourage users to enter all of their authors in the ‘author’ field.
  4. from those authors one or more should be selected by the user to be the speaker.
  5. in rare occasions, the user may need to nominate one or more non-authors as the speaker(s). this would probably happen less than 10% of the time. the UI should prevent unneeded input in this field, eg the speaker field should not contain a person already named as an author.

The current form gives no clear differentiation or guidance between what it means to be ‘author’ versus ‘co-author’. As such, it just leads to confusion and inconsistent approaches to data entry.


Having gone through the conference process, I report that the ‘author’ and ‘co-author’ boxes certainly did confuse our users. Some of them used the ‘author’ box just for the first author, and the coauthor box for all other authors. However most just put every author into the ‘author’ box and didn’t use the co-author box.

Later, during the ‘manage abstracts’ stage, it was a little bit annoying that turning on the ability to list authors only worked (as I recall) for the main ‘author’ list, but couldn’t show the ‘co-authors’. It makes it harder to quickly search the list.