DDW News

How to Make Your Abstract Stand Out to Reviewers

Danny Issa, MD, is an interventional endoscopist and an assistant professor at the David Geffen School of Medicine, University of California, Los Angeles. He has clinical interest in bariatric endoscopy, obesity medicine and gastrointestinal oncology, with a focus on minimally invasive approach. Dr. Issa is an active member of the AGA Congressional Advocate Program and AGA Young Delegates. He can be reached on Twitter @DannyIssaMD.
Danny Issa, MD

Thousands of abstracts will be submitted to Digestive Disease Week® (DDW) 2022. Make sure yours stands out to reviewers by following the tips below. Once you’ve put together a well-crafted abstract, head over to the submission site. Reminder that abstracts are due by 21:00 Eastern time (UTC -5) on Dec. 2.

  • Start Off With a Strong Title
    Abstract titles are like the preface of a novel: informative, clear and every word matters. Titles are the first thing a reviewer sees, so make a good first impression and hook the reader with a strong title.
  • Put together a solid layout.
    Think of your abstract as a whole body summary of your research. Start with introductory information that highlights gaps in current knowledge, followed by a brief method, then a focused results section. The conclusion needs to be the most straightforward part, providing a take home message while avoiding overstatements and leaving room for future studies to confirm your findings.
  • Get to the point.
    Abstracts are meant to be concise, but still need to emphasize the most important findings of your study. Make sure to avoid redundancy, especially in the results section. Eliminate any unnecessary words, and combine similar findings together. Make sure the primary outcomes and your statistically significant findings, including P values, are well-presented.
  • Be meticulous while editing.
    It is paramount to avoid grammatical errors. I usually first write the initial draft, then I take a break and go back and edit it as many times as I can before sharing it with my collaborators and mentors. Consider using writing assistant platforms such as Grammarly, which offers a free version or an annual subscription (approximately $10 a month, which most people find worth it).
  • Make use of figures and tables.
    DDW allows for up to two figures, which don’t toward the 2,900 character limit. Tables are submitted as figures. A picture can be worth a thousand words; in gastroenterology, maybe more than a thousand. Ensure your figures are clear and easy to read.
  • Make your abstract look newsworthy.
    Newsworthy studies are attractive to the lay audience. Reviewers (and meeting directors) like them too. Consider pointing out that your work is novel, a paradigm shifter, quirky or exciting if you think it is.
  • Practice makes perfect.
    Finally, remember that writing abstracts has a learning curve, and it only gets better with practicing. There is no alternative to editing your abstract over and over again. Use feedback from your senior authors, mentors and colleagues, and make sure to give them enough time to review before the Dec. 2 deadline.

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