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Abstract Writing for Scientific Meetings. Maria Britto, MD, MPH Fellows Rounds November 11, 2008. With thanks to Alan Jobe. Definition. Abstrahere (Latin) = abs - from + trahere - to draw The essence of a larger content of material. Overview. Why Submit an Abstract?

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abstract writing for scientific meetings

Abstract Writing for Scientific Meetings

Maria Britto, MD, MPH

Fellows Rounds

November 11, 2008

With thanks to Alan Jobe

definition
Definition

Abstrahere (Latin) = abs - from

+ trahere - to draw

The essence of a larger content of material

overview
Overview
  • Why Submit an Abstract?
  • Scoping the Abstract
  • Audience/Society for Abstract
  • The Title
  • The Abstract
  • The Review Process
why submit an abstract
Why submit an abstract?
  • Finished project - advertise to field
  • Finished project - discuss with colleagues prior to publication
  • Unfinished project - present as work in progress
  • Unfinished project - anticipate more data before presentation
  • Opportunity for “in training” presentation
scoping the abstract
Scoping the Abstract
  • Can only make one or two major points
  • What data do you have?
  • What analyses are complete or can be completed at least 2 weeks before the deadline?
audience for abstract
Audience for Abstract
  • Why are you submitting?
  • What will you learn?
  • What content/context is best for audience?
  • What “section of society’ will be receptive?
writing the structured abstract
Writing the Structured Abstract
  • Title: Short/Informative

Animals/human; in vivo/in vitro

Type of trial

  • Why: Background/rationale
  • What: Question/hypothesis
  • How: Methods/study design
  • What Happened: Results
  • Punch Line: Answer question/hypothesis
flow of ideas in an abstract
Flow of Ideas in an Abstract

Background

Hypothesis/Question

Methods/ Study Design

Title

Results

Answer

what makes an abstract easy to read and useful
What Makes an Abstract Easy to Read and Useful?
  • Organization
  • Simple language/sentences
  • Structured format
  • Critical data/magnitude of effects
the title important
The Title: Important!
  • What should be in the title?
    • Type of study (RCT, cohort, etc.)
    • Approach (e.g. in vitro, imaging)
    • Species (human, rat), if important for your audience
  • What should be the tone of the title?
    • Active and declarative
    • Avoid -
      • Studies concerning . . .
      • Effects of . . .
  • What should be the length of the title?
    • Read instructions to authors
improving a title
Improving a Title

On the Antibacterial Action of Cultures of a Penicillin, With Special Reference to Their Use in the Isolation of B. Influenzae (Alexander Fleming, Br. J. Exp. Path., 1929)

Filtrates of Penicillin are Bacteriocidal at High Dilution and Not Toxic

An Antibacterial Activity from Filtrates of Penicillin Mold

A Potent Antibacterial Activity from Filtrates of Penicillin Mold

background
Background
  • 1 – 2 sentences
  • Why is the work important?
  • What is the gap in the literature?
methods
Methods
  • Subcomponents dependent on research methodology
  • For clinical or health services project
    • Population
    • Design
    • Main outcomes
    • Data collection
    • Analytic approach
results
Results
  • Be as quantitative as possible
  • Be sure to report on main outcomes described in methods
  • Abbreviations ok
  • Tables and figures ok for some meetings (check directions)
conclusion
Conclusion
  • 1 -2 sentences
  • Do not restate results
  • Should follow from your results
  • May include speculation or next step (read abstracts from previous meetings of the same group)
the review process
The Review Process
  • Who reviews?
  • How do abstracts get on programs?
  • Review of PAS abstracts as an example
the review process1
The Review Process
  • Reviewers get abstracts and grading sheets on line
  • Grading scale -
    • Best abstracts in category/topic area
    • Excellent - outstanding
    • Very good - excellent
    • Good - solid
    • Acceptable
    • Borderline acceptability
    • Do not accept

X. Deferred - paper is from reviews lab, department, program, or institution

Ratings 1-4: Imply that he abstract is worth of presentation.

Ratings 5-6: Might still merit presentation if the literature on the topic is inconsistent or

skimpy, or if the observation is potentially provocative.

Rating 7: Implies strongly that an abstract must not be presented.

the review process2
The Review Process
  • Criteria to be considered for scoring
    • Importance of topic
    • Originality
    • Scientific merit
    • Quality of research design/data analysis
    • Quality of presentation
the review process3
The Review Process
  • How much time will a reviewer spend grading your abstract?
    • 1 min C. 5 min
    • 3 min D. 10 min
the review process4
The Review Process

A bit of reality testing

  • 100 abst x 1 min = 1 hr 40 min
  • 100 abst x 3 min = 5 hr
  • 100 abst x 5 min = 8 hr 20 min
  • 100 abst x 10 min = 16 hr 40 min
the review process5
The Review Process
  • To get an abstract accepted
    • Have good study
    • Write simply and clearly
    • Have clear question
    • “Telegraph” critical elements
    • Have clear conclusion