Charles S. Abrams, MD
Associate Chief, Division of Hematology-Oncology, University of Pennsylvania
For many of us, the approach of the month of August reminds us of the end of long vacations during childhood. Now that we are hematologists, the approach of this month also reminds us of the deadline for abstract submissions to the ASH annual meeting. As the Secretary of our Society, I thought that I would remind everyone about the top 10 most important things you should know about your ASH abstract submissions.
10. Jury of your peers – This year, there are 420 reviewers, including 70 coordinating reviewers, who were carefully selected because of their expertise in one of the 56 distinct scientific categories. They are divided into teams made up of six members who evaluate the abstracts in their assigned category. Every effort is made to ensure that each individual team is composed of reviewers from geographically diverse institutions. To encourage fairness, the reviewers do not see the names of the authors or their affiliations. Once the reviewers have given a priority score to all of their assigned abstracts and the scores are averaged, the reviewers have a teleconference to select the proposed oral and poster sessions, which they submit for review by the ASH Program Committee. The Program Committee also reviews the top-scoring abstracts and selects six that will be presented at the Plenary Scientific Session.
9. How many abstracts are accepted for presentation? – Although the exact numbers vary from year to year, the data from the 2009 annual meeting are representative of our recent meetings. In 2009, a total of 5,498 abstracts were submitted to ASH. Of those abstracts, 18 percent (978 abstracts) were chosen for presentation at an oral session, and another 57 percent (3,119 abstracts) were presented as a poster.
8. New science only – Information that has already been published or presented at another meeting will not be accepted. (Occasionally, there may be exceptions. Carefully read the "Eligibility" section under 2010 Call for Abstracts on the ASH website.) ASH now uses software that compares each abstract with previously published or presented abstracts.
7. Grammar and data count – Keep in mind that an abstract that is clearly written is the best way to effectively communicate what you have accomplished. An abstract that is not clear and concise may not receive a good score. If appropriate, abstracts that include actual data with statistical analysis are easier for reviewers to assess than those containing general statements such as "increased," "decreased," or "improved."
6. Figures – If you plan to include a figure, pay close attention to the file types that are acceptable. Otherwise, your figure(s) may not be viewable to the reviewers.
5. What is not acceptable? – The same study cannot be submitted as multiple abstracts. Abstracts that have been presented elsewhere are also not acceptable. Abstracts that have been deemed unethical by the review committee are also excluded from further consideration.
4. ASH member or sponsor – One of the authors must be a current member of ASH. Otherwise, you will need a sponsor who is a member. Remember to have this information ready at the time of your submission.
3. Choose your category wisely – You are responsible for choosing the scientific category that best fits your abstract. Occasionally, an abstract scores poorly because it was submitted to an inappropriate category. Abstracts will not be re-assigned to a category different from the one chosen by the corresponding author.
2. Special consideration – If you feel you have an unusual case that deserves consideration, please state it clearly. For example, if a small portion of the abstract was already published or was presented previously, explain the situation to the reviewers. It is far better to state the rationale for requesting a special consideration, rather than leaving it unaddressed.
1. Remember the deadline approaches quickly – ASH will accept abstracts from June 14 – August 12. Just like the end of those childhood summer vacations, the due date approaches quickly. If your work is ready, it will be far less stressful to submit your abstract early, rather than to wait until the last minute.
Good luck with your abstracts. I hope to see you at the annual meeting in Orlando this December.
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