How to Write an Abstract for the USCAP Annual Meeting


By Rhonda K. Yantiss, MD
Chair, USCAP Education Committee

 It can be difficult to distill all of the information from a research project into an abstract. While different authors have different styles, some guidelines can be helpful when writing abstracts.

  1. Novelty. If you have a good idea for a research project, it is possible that someone else has had a similar or even same idea. Be familiar with the existing literature when drafting an abstract. Understanding what has already been done will help you frame your abstract to emphasize its unique value in the context of what is reported in the literature. Assume that the reviewer of your abstract is knowledgeable about the subject; emphasize what your work adds to the current understanding of the topic.
  2. Title. Strive to make the title simple, concise and a good reflection of the project. An effort to pique interest can backfire.
  3. Content. Authors should construct the content to deliver a clear, concise message. Excessive use of non-standard abbreviations can be distracting and make the abstract difficult to read. It is also recommended to double check for spelling errors and poor grammar. These can also make reading the abstract distracting and difficult to review.
  4. Organization. Abstract length limitations require one to be economical when presenting ideas and data. Note that the headers for each section are included in the abstract template, so authors do not need to include these.
    • Background: Generally, 1-2 sentences that introduce the problem are sufficient, possibly with a third statement describing how the abstract is intended to address the problem.
    • Design: This section aims to describe how the study was conducted. It should account for 25-33% of the abstract length and address all methods used to obtain data of the Results section.
    • Results: This section describes the findings of the study. There are many ways to present data. Sometimes it is helpful to describe the major findings (and significant features) in the text while including more detail about other findings in a table. This section should account for at least 33% of the abstract length.
    • Figures and Tables. In recent years, USCAP has created mechanisms for authors to include tables and figures into an abstract. While these tools can be helpful in illustrating findings, they can also create distractions. Be cautious in using multi-image panels and diagrams or tables that contain too much extraneous information.
    • Conclusions: This section is generally brief and includes 1-2 sentences summarizing the findings as well a closing statement describing how those findings fit into the understanding of the topic.