DDW News

10 Ways to Make Your Abstract Stand Out

At a large meeting like Digestive Disease Week® (DDW), there are thousands of abstracts for reviewers to sort through. Make sure your abstract stands out for all the right reasons with these 10 golden rules. Don’t forget that abstracts must be submitted by Thursday, Dec. 3 at 21:00 Eastern time (UTC –5).

Mindy Engevik, MD, PhD

1. Make a strong title.

It is the first impression of your work and will help readers identify that your subject is of interest to them. In general, abstract titles should be no more than 15 words and should convey your subject as concisely and clearly as possible. Focus on what you investigated and how.

2. Review the Guidelines.

Check the DDW abstract submission guidelines to review the word limit, abstract categories, formatting instructions and more.. Make sure you adhere to these guidelines, as abstracts that don’t follow the rules could be excluded.

3. Find Examples.

Review past DDW abstracts to get an idea of how other researchers approached similar subjects. You can access abstracts accepted for presentation at DDW 2020 in the DDW ePosters archive or in the May online supplements to Gastroenterology and GIE: Gastrointestinal Endoscopy.

4. Create an Outline.

Identify the major points you want your reader to take away from your abstract. Generating an outline will help create a logical flow. Include introduction, methods, results, and conclusions/implications in your abstract.

5. Hook the Reader.

Readers tend to skim abstracts, so make sure your first sentences contain the most important information. Highlight the problem you are addressing and identify the gaps in knowledge. Hook the reader so they want to read the whole abstract.

6. Clearly State Your Goals.

Create a clear hypothesis or objective. Frame your subsequent methods and results section to show how you accomplished your aim or how you addressed your hypothesis.

7. Generate a Layout.

A general guideline for your abstract is to allot 25% to the introduction, 25% to methods, 35% to results and 15% to conclusions/implications.

8. Watch Your Writing

Use the past tense when reporting your findings. Use active verbs like “mediated,” “demonstrated,” “enhanced,” “revealed,” etc. Try to have a variety of verbs in your writing. Avoid using the same verb for all sentences; instead use a thesaurus or style guide to obtain more ideas on strong verb choices.

9. Carefully Edit.

Edit your abstract carefully to make it cohesive. Avoid undefined abbreviations, scientific jargon and unnecessary details in the methods.

10. Find a Reviewer.

Ask a colleague to review your abstract. Having other people review your work will help ensure your purpose/aim, methods and conclusions are clearly stated.

Mindy Engevik, PhD, is an assistant professor at the Medical University of South Carolina in the department of regenerative medicine and cell biology. She has a Ph.D. in Systems Biology & Physiology and an interest in microbe-epithelial interactions in the gastrointestinal tract, with a focus on infection and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Mindy currently serves as an AGA Young Delegate and AGA Social Media Editor. Tweet her at @micromindy.

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