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Abstracts for Professional Meetings*
Small But Mighty

MaryAnn Foote, PhD

(CHEST 2008; 134:1103-1105)

Key words: medical writing; meeting abstracts; writing tips

The scientific method begins with an observation and ends with the dissemination of results. While a manuscript published in a peer-reviewed journal is the usual and most-preferred method of dissemination of study results, early data from a pivotal clinical trial may be presented in abstract form at a professional meeting (or congress). A meeting abstract may be used to increase awareness of ongoing clinical trials with new products, or it may be used to report important safety or efficacy findings.

A meeting abstract, like an abstract of a full research paper, has a definite structure.1 Some differences do exist between a meeting abstract and a journal article abstract as the former is not supported by a full paper as is the latter. Thus, a meeting abstract, which must be written in a standardized format, must provide enough information to attract an audience to the oral or poster presentation, must show that the author has interesting data that contribute to the success of the meeting, and must do so in very few words. A meeting abstract is a small but mighty stand-alone document.

Main Considerations

It is prudent for the author to read the instructions provided by the meeting organizers concerning the submission of abstracts, which should include formatting instructions and the deadline for submission. Meeting abstracts are usually prepared on a special form, often electronic, with a specific font size and type stipulated. The word count is generally not given, with the font size and required elements determining the amount of information that may be entered. Meeting abstracts are reproduced as submitted, errors and all. Authors should check for spelling, grammar, and data errors. Each sentence in the abstract should be clear, concise, and necessary. The overall organization of the abstract should be logical and clear. While many meeting abstracts are written as one paragraph and do not have subheaders or sections, some meeting organizers require structured abstracts with specific sections, similar to structured abstracts for journal articles.

Potential Problems

The abstract form generally limits the amount of data that can be included, so the use of a small font is tempting (when font size is not provided). Usually, four to six abstracts are printed on a standard 8.5  11-inch page, so reducing the font size to fit more data can produce a printed abstract that is both illegible and useless. The use of abbreviations to fit more information into the abstract form also is tempting. Syste`me International (or SI) units and their products are permissible, along with perhaps two or three other abbreviations, each of which is defined at first use. Sometimes, the first use may be in the title, a technique that is acceptable with a meeting abstract, but not in journal articles. An abstract that contains numerous abbreviations is difficult to read and does not show the data to their best advantage.

Another common error in meeting abstracts is the tendency to list nearly all data collected and nothing else. It is critically important to provide one or two introductory sentences to explain why the work was done and to provide the research question. “Materials and Methods,” as it were, are added giving the study population, techniques, and, if space allows, “Statistical Methods.” “Results” follow, and may beprovided either as a table or a figure. It is difficult to design a table or figure that provides enough information and that also is readable when reprinted at a smaller size in the meeting booklet. Results are given in text before the table or figure is entered. The abstract finishes with one or two sentences about the implications of the findings.


What does a good meeting abstract look like? I have provided a fictional example and added explanatory notes in italics. I am using the same information presented in an earlier article1 concerning the abstract of a full manuscript to illustrate how the entire abstract flows logically (Fig 1).


The current first-line treatment for patients with AdvNSCLC includes chemotherapy and P-RAD, but new biologic therapies are available that target the EGFR gene mutation and cause apoptosis or inhibit the action of tyrosine kinase or both. We were interested to know if drug N, a new therapy that targets the tyrosine kinase receptor, improves patient outcome compared with drug S that causes apoptosis.

[Inclusion of background information sets the scene and the research question is given, which allows the reader to put the data in context.]

Between January 2003 and December 2004, 315 pts with AdvNSCLC were randomly assigned to either drug N 150 mg/d or drug S 100 mg/d, administered as 60-min subcutaneous infusion on days 1 and 3 of each 14-day cycle for up to 5 cycles. The primary efficacy endpoint was TTP; secondary endpoints were OS and need for P-RAD therapy. The primary safety endpoint was the number and type of adverse events reported and the number of cycles received on time.

[The time frame of the study is given, which may be important with new and developing therapies. Other important information includes the number of patients, the experimental treatments, doses, primary and secondary endpoints, and when primary endpoint was measured.]

Total of 311 pts completed the study. Both drugs were generally well tolerated, and the adverse events reported were typical of this pt population and the known drug profiles. No difference was seen in the number of cycles of therapy.

[The number of patients who were treated is given and it differs from the number assigned to treatment; the reasons for “drop outs” can be discussed in the poster, during the oral presentation, or in answer to a direct question. Results for the primary and both secondary endpoints are given and a p value is provided. A statement about safety of the treatments is minimal, and more information could be provided in the poster or presentation. Most important, results are given in the text before the data are shown.]

Our results suggest that drug N provided a longer TTP and OS for pts with AdvNSCLC than drug S, reduced the need for P-RAD, and had an acceptable toxicity profile.

[One sentence provides the authors’ take on the usefulness of the therapies. The authors also acknowledged that the drugs had side effects but space limits the discussion in the abstract.]

Figure 1. A typical meeting abstract, with explanatory notes added.
  Pts, No. TTP, mo OS, mo P-RAD
Drug N 156 4 23 2%
Drug S 155 1 18 10%
p Value   <0.001 <0.01 <0.001

Take-Home Lesson

A meeting abstract should show that you have a valuable contribution for the professional meeting and that your presentation should attract attendees. Do not burden a potential audience with jargon, uncertain abbreviations, lack of background infor-mation, or lack of study objective. Omit excessive details. As powerful as your data may be, jumping right into the data in the abstract will leave the reader disoriented. Lists of data only show that you did much work, not that any of it is significant or relevant. It is acceptable to use a table or figure in a meeting abstract, but omit the title/legend from a table or figure. References usually are not used in a meeting abstract. Remember to carefully proof your abstract before submission, as abstracts are printed in meeting booklets as submitted. Each sentence must be necessary to the overall clarity of the abstract. The abstract overall must be clear. All these requirements add up to a document that is small but mighty.

ACKNOWLEDGMENT: James Yuen and Timothy Peoples reviewed my earlier draft and provided excellent suggestions for improvement.


  1. Foote MA. Some concrete ideas about manuscript abstracts.Chest 2006; 129:1375?1377

*From MA Foote Associates, Westlake Village, CA. The author has reported to the ACCP that no significant conflicts of interest exist with any companies/organizations whose products or services may be discussed in this article.

Manuscript received June 26, 2008; revision accepted July 2, 2008. Reproduction of this article is prohibited without written permission from the American College of Chest Physicians (www.chestjournal. org/misc/reprints.shtml).

Correspondence to: MaryAnn Foote, PhD; e-mail: fmawriter@ aol.com

DOI: 10.1378/chest.08-1589

Abstracts for Professional Meetings
Small But Mighty

MaryAnn Foote, PhD

(CHEST 2008; 134:1103-1105)






抄録の書式は、通常、掲載できるデータの量に制限があるため、フォントサイズの指定がない場合、小さいフォントを使用したくなるかもしれない。しかし、標準的なA4サイズの誌面に通常4~6編の抄録が掲載されるため、フォントサイズを小さくして、より多くのデータを入れようとすると、読みにくく役に立たない抄録集になってしまうおそれがある。また、より多くの情報を入れるために、略語も使いたくなるかもしれない。国際単位系(SI: Systeme International)で決められている単位や、それを組み合わせたもの(例えば、mmHgなど)や、その他2、3の略語を使用することはさしつかえないが、初出の時に定義しておくこと。ジャーナル用論文とは異なり、学会用抄録ではタイトルでいきなり略語を使用してもかまわない。ただ、多くの略語が含まれている抄録は読みにくく、データをわかりやすく有効に示すことができないので注意が必要である。

学会用抄録を作成する上で犯しやすいもう一つの過ちは、集めたデータのほぼすべてをリストアップするだけで終わってしまいがちだ、ということである。その研究を行った理由を説明するためにIntroductionとして1~2文を入れて、研究の論点を提起することがきわめて重要である。「Materials and Methods(材料と方法)」は、研究対象集団や研究手法を述べるために加えられ、もしスペースが許せば「Statistical Methods(統計的手法)」についても記す。「Results(結果)」がそれに続くが、表や図の形で入れる場合もある。十分な情報を伝えつつ、しかも学会抄録集用に縮小され、印刷された時にも判読できるよう表や図をデザインすることは難しい。結果は、表や図を挿入する前に、本文内に入れる。そして、研究結果を示す1~2の文で締めくくる。


優れた学会用抄録とはどのようなものだろうか。これから、架空の例を挙げ、必要な説明を[ ]に入れて示すことにする。使用しているデータは、私が以前、本シリーズで、研究論文の抄録について書いた記事1の中で、抄録全体の論理的な流れを示すために使ったのと同じものである。(図1参照)

「N薬の使用は、S薬に比べ、非小細胞進行性肺癌(AdvNSCLC)患者の無増悪期間(TTP)と生存期間(OS)を延長し、緩和放射線治療(P-RAD)の必要性を減少させる」John Smith, Jane Doe, Tom Brown, and Mary Ford; University Medical Center, Anytown, CA

現在行われている進行性非小細胞肺癌(AdvNSCLC)患者に対するファーストラインの治療には、化学療法とP-RADが含まれるが、新たに、EGFR遺伝子変異を標的として、アポトーシスを引き起こすか、チロシンキナーゼ活性を阻害するか、あるいはその両方が期待できる、生物学的治療が可能となっている。我々は、チロシンキナーゼ受容体を標的とする新しい治療薬であるN薬が、アポトーシス誘導剤であるS薬と比べ、患者の転帰を改善するかどうかを検討した。[背景となる情報を含めることにより経過を説明し、研究課題が示されている。それにより、読者はテキストの中のデータを、より深く理解することができる。] 2003年1月から2004年12月までの間に、315例の進行性非小細胞肺癌患者を、無作為にN群(150mg/日)S群(100mg/日)に分け、各14日のサイクル(最長5サイクルまで)の第1日目と第3日目に60分間の皮下点滴により投与した。有効性の主要エンドポイントはTTP、副次的エンドポイントはOSとP-RAD治療の必要性であった。安全性主要エンドポイントは、有害事象の報告数・種類とスケジュール通りに行われたサイクル数とした。






図1 典型的な学会用抄録(注釈付)
  Pts, No. TTP, mo OS, mo P-RAD
Drug N 156 4 23 2%
Drug S 155 1 18 10%
p Value   <0.001 <0.01 <0.001



謝辞:James YuenとTimothy Peoplesが、私の草稿を吟味し、改善のための素晴らしい提案をしてくださいました。ここに心から感謝の意を表します。


  1. Foote MA. Some concrete ideas about manuscript abstracts. Chest 2006; 129: 1375-1377

(訳:仲野小絵、J. パトリック・バロン)