Easily compare which academic conference software is best for your conference.
When it comes to academic conference software, there are many to choose from, with each having different setups, features and packages to suit all.
Over the years, these have expanded and been improved upon, fine-tuning to suit customer's needs and wants better.
Therefore, it has become increasingly difficult to differentiate between these software offerings and determine which suits you best.
So we've worked to source this information and give to you the pros and cons, helping you make that decision more efficiently and giving back the time you would have spent perusing the internet.
For this comparison, we've identified the key players in the academic conference software industry, specified features and looked at customer feedback to create a holistic yet comprehensive list to help you compare and decide.
We've also included an approximate ballpark cost for the software, where possible.
(Prices correct as of January 2024).
Oxford Abstracts is a conference management software tailored to academic events. They combine all the complex elements of setting up and running a research conference into one powerful and easy-to-use tool.
Many reviews on Trustpilot quote how the software is:
”easy to use, user friendly, has excellent technical support, adaptable to specific needs, is an amazing, capable platform and very reasonably priced”.
Over the last 12 months, the team has been working hard to significantly upgrade existing software features alongside creating and introducing brand new features for their users.
- A whole new delegate registration system
- The opportunity to create and distribute certificates
- Event analytics report
- A revamped event program schedule view
- A new conference homepage
- An on-demand help hub
- Plus, much more
Offering an easy-to-use, integrated platform that caters to everyone involved with an academic conference (event organisers, reviewers, committee members, participants, speakers, and sponsors).
It streamlines the organisation of events, workshops, and conferences. With tools ranging from registration and abstract submissions to schedule management and feedback collection, Oxford Abstracts is a comprehensive solution for academic event management.
Do bear in mind that Oxford Abstracts doesn’t offer the ability to build your event website; however, it does enable you to easily embed it in your existing conference website.
- Design and deliver a dynamic, interactive program that includes plenty of features, including:
- Live and on-demand content
- Program and schedule builder
- Conference Homepage
- Include pre-recorded content
- Delegate Registration
- Abstracts & posters included
- Set conference timezones
- Search & filter content
- Event, private & group chat
- Poster Gallery
- Customise event portal
- Name badges
- Complete access controls
- Exhibitor space
- Zoom integration
- Free analytical report on the success of your event
- Helpdesk support
- Online help articles and videos
Oxford Abstracts provides two types of conference platform options.
- Standard Conference - £1380 (with add-ons available to purchase).
- Professional Conference - £2070
As well as a FREE PLAN for small events and meetings and an Abstract Management plan costing £575 that includes:
- Unlimited Submissions
- Customisable forms
- Custom emails
- Detailed reports
- The option to show reviews to submitters
Oxford Abstracts has a helpdesk that operates 24 hours a day.
The support team covers the globe, with team members based in the UK, Europe, India, Australia and America.
Oxford Abstracts is one of the elite-tier providers of academic conference software. They will forever put the customer first by actively listening to and implementing client feedback to help continue to improve the software. Thanks to the twenty-plus years of experience and knowledge they have gained in this industry, they understand academic conference organiser's needs,
They pride themselves on their transparency, from pricing right through to communication and ease of use of the software.
EasyChair provides users with a conference management platform that includes most of what you would expect it to - processing of academic conference paper submission, review, and publication of proceedings.
Established in 2006, it is one of the older conference management software providers available.
Their services include:
- Virtual Conference Solution
Dedicated to scientific conferences only, there are three plans to choose from.
Aimed at smaller conferences, the features included with this package are conference role support (session chairs, presenters, participants, etc.), the ability to host live talks with slides, pre-conference training rooms, questions from participants, and program editing.
- VCS Pro
This package provides all the features from the above plan as standard but includes further important and necessary features required for an academic conference, aiming at those organising a small to medium conference.
These extra features are poster sessions, statistics and analytical logs, the ability to host three parallel sessions, a live session overview room and social sessions.
With the custom package, you’re provided with all of the Basic and VCS Pro features but will have access to unlimited parallel sessions.
EasyChair provides the prep work for you. There are sponsor logos, virtual sponsor rooms, live polling, and publishing of conference presentations.
Other Specifications of the system include:
- Attendee registration & online payment
- Publication services
Basic - All this is available for $19 per person per day.
VCS Pro - $24 per person per day.
Custom - Contact for a quote
A few drawbacks to the software include looking outdated, with the potential for costs to run high quickly, with the per person, per day pricing model.
They have also recently introduced charges per submission at $4.50, which, if not initially accounted for, will increase costs and affect your budget.
Conftool, based in Germany, is another well-known conference and event management software company that helps event organisers for both virtual and on-site conferences.
Many reviews on Capterra suggest it has good facilities to organise an event, apart from first-time users finding it difficult to navigate and a lot of time is required “reading the online manual, with not everything being 100% intuitive.”, to get up to speed with using the system.
ConfTool offers a versatile range of features that accommodate both small meetings and large international conferences.
There are two versions of the software to choose from:
Designed for smaller events (up to 150 attendees), is ConfTool’s standard version aimed at those organisers of non-commercial, small events.
It only has basic functions with no support.
Referred to as their Profession version, it includes more features, suitable for larger events and has flexibility. Portrayed as a hosted service that includes support, the fee for this service depends upon the event's needs and size.
- Customisable banners/logos/colours
- The submission & review process is customisable to your needs
- Includes online & paper upload
- Open and blind reviewing
- Define topics & submission types and tracks
- Bespoke programming if you need something that isn’t off the shelf
- Easy scheduling process for your event
- The software can inform of any scheduling conflicts
- Attendees can create their own “agenda” by selecting their favourite sessions
- Group and personal discussion functions for participants and authors.
- Import and export user data to and from ConfTool
- Registration process of attendees, including payments
- Several different payment options are available - PayPal, bank transfer, and Stripe.
No pricing is available.
The Pro package price is dependent upon the event's size and needs, so will vary.
VSIS ConfTool - NO
ConfToolPro - YES
ConfTool is also able to operate in fifteen languages on the professional package, provide bespoke programming, and have reviews on Capterra saying their support team is “very good.”
However, there are a few limitations that include:
- Licensing regulations, depending on which version is chosen, could be prohibiting.
- Their professional package has no set pricing, so costs could rise considerably.
- Not clear how to get in touch
- No transparent pricing on the website
- The interface isn’t intuitive for new users
The Canadian-based company offers conference management software to event admins.
Reviews from Capterra state how the platform is “practical and easy to use” and “user-friendly”.
Covering both in-person and virtual conferences, this software is capable of supporting event organisers needed for an academic conference.
Overall, the software offers the following features, which vary between the four packages on offer:
- End-to-end scientific conference platform
- Event website, registrations and payments
- Abstract management (collect & review)
- Attendee Registration & payments
- Host live conferences
- Peer review
- Virtual poster sessions
- Covers in-person, hybrid and virtual events
The four packages to choose from are:
Discovery - Free
- Unlimited registrations
- 25 abstract submission
- 24/7 helpdesk
Essentials - $799
- Unlimited registrations
- 100 abstract submissions
- Email communications
- Name tags and booklet
Advanced - $1,699
- Unlimited registrations
- 200 abstract submissions
- Full event website
- Priority support
Pro - $4,999
- Unlimited data
- White label website
- API Access
The price varies from free to $4,999, depending on the package you choose.
YES - for all packages.
Fourwaves do well to provide software that covers both English and French languages with a mobile-friendly event website.
However, there are some sticking points that could hinder a user experience, such as:
- The restrictions for the number of abstract submissions allowed on each package
- Being one of the newer academic conference software options, they haven’t as much experience and knowledge to deal with academic conferences as some other companies listed in this blog
- Position themselves towards more scientific conferences rather than encompassing all academia
Ex Ordo has recently gone through a rebrand and now stands to offer a conference management platform specifically designed to serve the needs of scholarly events (scientific, medical and technical events).
Their platform helps conference organisers to manage abstract management, provide a registration system and a virtual conference platform to host events.
- Collect and review abstracts, track reviewers' progress
- Programme builder for your sessions/conference
- Customisable registration for those attending your virtual conference
- Support team on hand
- Online payments set up
- Easily message those you need to (e.g. submitters/reviewers)
- Software is PCI compliant and encrypted to keep data safe and secure
- Add Ons - Mobile App & Book of proceedings template
Not available on their website.
You have to get in contact with them directly to find out how much your conference will cost.
Overall, Ex Ordo provides a clear, modern and easy-to-use system for the users they’re aiming for.
The lack of clear pricing can prove unhelpful when doing research to find the right conference software for your needs.
One of the big players, Cvent holds a global presence within the academic conference world yet caters to all sectors, not just the academic realm.
They’re probably best known for their conference platform, which allows for three types of conferences - in-person, virtual and hybrid.
They also have a bountiful of other applications that can help event organisers manage and present their events, including hotel bookings for events.
- Mobile apps and onsite solutions
- Event marketing
- Attendee Registration
- Exhibitor and sponsor management
- Speaker and content management
- Integration with CRM systems
There is no pricing available on their website; you will need to get in touch with them to find out how much your conference would be.
Overall, Cvent is perceived as providing everything an event organiser would need. However, although they cater for events of all sizes, customer reviews suggest they are perhaps more suited for larger scale events and, more specifically, those looking for on-site solutions such as venue and hotel hire, which could be useful for those looking for a provider to configure their entire event and not just software.
Reviews also state how customer service can be improved and that they aren’t keen on being tied into long-term contracts.
Being a comprehensive suite of features and services, users are often left feeling bewildered when navigating and creating their event.
Plus, being one of the bigger companies, the price for their service will no doubt be pricier than others mentioned, and due to their size, perhaps a lack of personalised care for your events needs.