How does ASH ensure that the best new research in hematology is presented at the annual meeting? There are multiple layers to the abstract review process that begin as soon as the abstract is submitted. To avoid duplication of information that has been published elsewhere, ASH has implemented a software-driven search to compare the abstract text to information available in the literature. In 2009 and 2010, the computer program reviewed the content of submitted abstracts against the content of the last four years of abstracts from ASH, the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), and the European Hematology Society (EHA) meetings. This year, the program found 53 submitted abstracts that were entirely identical to an abstract presented at another meeting within the last four years; other abstracts were found that included only minor changes in wording and no new data. These concerning abstracts were then reviewed by the Program Committee, and authors were notified of the findings.
This first line of screening is only one aspect of the rigorous review. Each abstract is carefully peer-reviewed. There are six reviewers per scientific category, who are chosen to represent a range of expertise. ASH also ensures that each review committee includes members from diverse geographic areas both within and outside North America.
Since 2008, ASH has employed a blinded review process in which reviewers receive the abstracts with the authors’ names and affiliations concealed in an effort to decrease bias. A score from 1 to 10 is given to each abstract by the reviewer, and the results are tabulated and averaged for the coordinating reviewer in each group. The reviewers then meet by conference call; 70 calls take place during a seven-day window, and each call is monitored by an ASH staff member to ensure that proper procedures are followed. During the call, reviewers place the abstracts into oral and poster sessions based on the scores; they are also asked to choose which abstracts meet criteria for clinical relevance and newsworthy appeal. Of the 5,493 abstracts submitted by the August 12 deadline, 4,326 (79 percent) were selected for presentation at this year’s meeting in oral or poster form. In addition, the late-breaking abstract deadline allows for up to six additional oral presentations to be selected.
In previous years, ASH received feedback from a number of attendees who were interested in having clinically relevant abstracts clearly labeled in the meeting materials. In previous years, authors were asked to identify if their abstracts were clinically relevant during the submission process. Unfortunately, this resulted in a very high proportion of abstracts noted as potentially clinically relevant. The current approach is that the abstract review groups identify the most clinically relevant abstracts in their category based on guidelines developed by the Committee on Practice; this information is then passed on to the Program Committee for review and final approval. More than 500 were selected this year. To delineate these presentations, a stethoscope icon appears beside the chosen “clinically relevant” abstracts in the abstract book and in the online program.
Of the 5,493 abstracts submitted by the August 12 deadline, 4,326 (79 percent) were selected for presentation at this year’s meeting in oral or poster form.
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