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Making Your Abstract the Best it Can Be

Sophia Dar, MD, is currently doing her fellowship in women’s health at Northwell Long Island Jewish Medical Center, New York. She recently completed her Internal Medicine residency at Hackensack University Medical Center. She is passionate about the intersection between women’s health and GI. She is an avid researcher in clinical outcomes research and meta-analysis. She is a GI enthusiast applying for the gastroenterology fellowship match in 2023. Dr. Dar is also passionate about mentorship/sponsorship, leadership and advocacy for women in medicine. Connect with her on Instagram and Twitter at @drsophiadar.

 

As we approach the Dec. 1 abstract submission deadline, I wanted to share some tips for writing an excellent abstract for Digestive Disease Week® (DDW) 2023.

Don’t miss the submission deadline.

As we near the submission date, make sure you don’t miss the submission date! A lot of other submitters will be on the the abstract submission site on the final day, and you don’t want to miss the deadline. Plan and submit BEFORE time is up.

You need a catchy title.

With hundreds of abstracts submitted, reviewers tend to sway more toward abstracts with catchy titles. Wanting to read catchy titles is true even for attendees. This is not to say people won’t read abstracts with average not-so-catchy titles, but it is more pleasing to the mind and eye when someone finds a way to make you smile or laugh amongst the daily stress.

Pay attention to structure, but don’t ignore the content.

Abstracts tend to have generalized structures available widely on the internet, but make sure to have genuine content. Many writers forget to write points related to what is available in current literature, what gaps your research will fill, and what the aim of your study is.

Say what you find, not what you did.

Don’t spend too much of your limited characters on an elaborate methods section. The abstract is a short piece of literature that shows readers insights into new studies and findings. A long methods section will limit your ability to showcase your hard work.

Eliminate writing errors.

In short pieces of literature, people generally skim the text, and that too very quickly. Make sure your key findings are easy to find. Make sure you do not have hard-to-read long windy sentences with multiple grammatical errors since they can turn the reader off from reading further. This last sentence is an example of that. Making readers utilize much of their mental energy to get through your writing will discourage them from finishing the abstract and limit their retention of the idea.

Use pictures more than words.

You can include two figures or tables per abstract so make use of them. Top journals always include papers with beautiful visual layouts. DDW is no different! Use the tables and figures to complement your writing. Don’t write everything word-for-word from the tables and figures. People can read those details themselves. Use your words to describe how amazing your work is! Describe how excited you are to share the new findings with the world.

Be kind to yourself.

The research process can be empowering and exhausting at the same time. Take time to be kind to yourself. It takes practice to make it look easy. Use every opportunity to grow. Give yourself enough time to get feedback and revise as needed. Use the feedback from your senior authors, mentors and colleagues to improve your practice. One day you will also have the skill set to pass it on. Keep going and submit before the Dec. 1 deadline!

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