Topic: File Upload for Reviewers  (Read 9543 times)

We would like to offer our reviewers the option to insert their comments directly into the papers submitted by the authors (PDF file).

Is it possible to receive the evaluation files with the reviewers' comments via ConfTool Pro and make them available to the authors?
How do the authors get access to these files?

(A German version of this article is available.)

In ConfTool Pro you can allow reviewers to upload a file for each submission they evaluate.

You can use this upload function for two purposes:
1. You want reviewers to provide an annotated PDF file with the reviewer’s comments on the submission so that authors can see the annotations directly in their papers.
2. You want reviewers to submit an additional file, for instance a special review form as Excel, Word or PDF file with comments and feedback for the authors.

In order to activate the upload function for reviewers please go to:
Overview => Settings => Main Settings for the Review Process
…and in the section “Review Options” enable the option “File Upload for Reviewers” (see image 1).
When enabled, reviewers can upload a file with their evaluation.

In the following section “Supported File Types” you can select the allowed file types from a list or enter the filename extensions of the respective file types (see image 2). Please separate the file types by comma, like "docx, odt, pdf" and enter only valid file extensions (do not enter "ms-word", "word" or "document", as these are not file extensions).

Please note that the anonymity of the reviewers might be at risk by such a procedure because file types like DOCX usually contain hidden information about the author and the last editor. This is why we recommend allowing only PDF format for the file upload, as PDF files usually contain less meta-information about the last editor of the document.

If you enable the next option “Remove Metadata from PDF Files Uploaded for Authors”, the ConfTool system will automatically remove the meta-information from all PDF files uploaded by reviewers for authors (see image 2). However, this will not only remove the name of the creator of the file, the file name of the source document and potentially malicious code, but also:
-   comments from reviewers embedded in the PDF files,
-   information that make PDF files accessible and compatible with screen readers and
-   interactive elements like links, animations or form elements.
If you want to allow reviewers to provide PDF files with comments to the authors, please keep this option disabled (default).

Authors will have access to the files uploaded by the reviewers if they also have access to the results of the reviewing procedure. Please make sure that the phase that makes review results visible to authors is activated (see image 3). You can also take a look here for more information: Making review results entirely visible to authors.

Reviewers will still have to submit a review via the ConfTool system if they upload a file, the upload is only a supplement to their review. However, the organizers might provide a very simple review form like the “Minimal” or the “CommentsOnly” form classes if preferred (see image 4). Here you can find more information about the configuration of the review forms in ConfTool Pro.

If you want to get information on editing and removing files uploaded by reviewers, please consult this page.