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FAQ: Abstract Review

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How did you judge abstracts?

We received 289 abstracts, which were each evaluated by 3 external reviewers with expertise in the area of the submission. Because the pool of abstracts was so strong, we accepted 56% of submissions (both regular paper and project launch) and made space for a third parallel session to accommodate a larger number of papers.

For regular paper submissions, we closely followed reviewer recommendations in making our decisions; we hope authors will find reviewer feedback useful. For project launch submissions, we took a broader range of factors into consideration:

  • In accordance with our submission guidelines, we gave preference to abstracts that lay out clear and well-motivated questions for research that is still in the early stages – preferably for which data collection and/or analysis have not begun or are still in progress. 
  • Several reviewers judged project launch abstracts as regular paper abstracts, giving them low scores for lack of data. We disregarded these reviews and suggest that you disregard any such comments. 
  • Reviewers often gave high scores for projects that were already complete or nearly complete. We felt that abstracts that lacked only interpretation of the results did not fit the intention of Project Launch.
  • Three Project Launch abstracts were for research that was clearly complete, and received high scores from reviewers. We accepted these as ten-minute papers.

A small number of abstracts (4%) were accepted as 20-minute presentations. These were papers that both received high scores and were singled out by reviewers as requiring more time for presentation.


Does NWAV50 value qualitative research?

Each NWAV host institution has the freedom to decide the scope of work that should be presented at their conference. NWAV50 defines variation broadly, including not only highly quantitative work on language variation and change, but also qualitative work that situates the practice of variation in its sociocultural context. This inclusive perspective on variation is reflected across the program, including plenaries, panels, papers, and project launches.

We took measures to ensure that qualitative variationist work would not be penalized in the review process. Reviewers were instructed not to penalize abstracts for not reporting on quantitative work, as long as it was empirically and theoretically grounded. In the relatively small number of cases where a reviewer’s comments indicated that these instructions were ignored, the organizing committee disregarded the review in making our decisions on acceptances. We encourage any authors that received comments like “NWAV is a quantitative conference” to also disregard such comments. We want to be clear that rejected submissions that report on qualitative work were rejected for reasons other than their qualitative approach.