Five members in five minutes

Abstract submissions: Tips from the trenches

What’s the key to developing a successful abstract submission? Members with high-scoring ARVO Annual Meeting abstracts offer their best tips

T. Michael Redmond, PhD, FARVO
Senior Investigator, Laboratory of Retinal Cell & Molecular Biology
National Eye Institute

Like anything worth doing, practice makes perfect! Good abstracts all embody the three Cs: clear, coherent and concise. An abstract is the storefront display of your work and writing a good one is a key skill to be learned. First, offer a clear and concise ‘Background’ to your research question. In your ‘Methods’ section, provide the main approaches used. It goes without saying that the core of the best abstracts is the ‘Results’ section, and of the different sections, it should be longest. Only describe results of experiments/studies already completed (and never include, ‘results will be presented’). Do your data answer a question that a few or many have thought about? Does it fill an unmet need? If the answer is, ‘Yes,” that is so much the better! In your ‘Conclusions’ place your findings in context of the field, state your key take-home message, and don’t overstep your data.

Dragana Trifunovic, PhD
Institute for Ophthalmic Research
University-Eye-Clinic Tuebingen

When I need to write an abstract or present my research I always ask myself, ‘What was the crucial question that was the driving force behind the research that kept me going even when experiments were not running smoothly?’ This question needs to be understandable yet exciting enough to make a high school or undergraduate student think that they would like to be in ‘my shoes’ and have their hands in “my gloves” doing the same research. The best tip I can share is to present your research in a way that parents, grandparents or friends can understand how your science can truly make an impact. Finally, for me personally, the most important element is to relate my research to patients.

Ivy Samuels
Research Health Scientist
Louis Stokes VA Medical Center

Developing abstracts for the ARVO Annual Meeting can be tricky. It's a balance between what data you have and what data you anticipate collecting in the six months between submission and the Meeting. My goal in writing a good ARVO abstract is to provide a clear description of what our research is investigating, present our goal and hypothesis and then succinctly articulate the concrete data that we collected to date. Abstracts that stand out to me are not descriptive but are straightforward and precise. My biggest suggestion is to start thinking about it early and not wait until the week they are due. Then, give specific results, clearly state why it's important and stay away from acronyms other researchers may not understand.

Dibyendu Pusti
PhD student
Laboratorio de Óptica, Universidad de Murcia

I am whole heartedly dedicated to my research work, which made me realize the key strengths and novelty of the project. In my experience, the main mantra while writing a successful abstract is to reflect the novelty of the work in the simplest possible way. Moreover, one should have a solid, relevant introduction with clear objectives that must have a perfect, meaningful correlation with the conclusion.

Yi Qin
Atteding Physician of Oculoplastics 
Beijing Tongren Eye Center 

In clinical work, I have large and increasing numbers of patients with severe dry eye that might lead to blindness. Some simple surgical methods emphasized in the literature were not that popular — despite how effective they were reported to be on patients. I had some doubts about how those simple methods directly applied to clinical practice without having completed animal experiments. So, I started my lab work on monkeys, hoping to find more practical and safe methods to benefit the patients. After reading a considerable amount of literature on this topic and carefully designing the research project, I did a preliminary experiment to discover problems and summarize experiences. Throughout the process, I kept asking for advice and listening to other people's opinions and suggestions. My suggestion is to record the results objectively and consult relevant professionals and analyze it together.

Visit the Annual Meeting Abstract page

Are you planning to submit an abstract for ARVO 2019?

Please note the new abstract deadline and mark your calendar with these important dates:

 Oct. 15 Abstract submission site opens
 Nov. 30 Abstract submission deadline
 Dec. 4 Abstract complete notification will be sent to First Authors
 Jan. 9, 2019 Abstract review notification will be sent to First Author
 Feb. 13, 2019 Abstract scheduling notification sent to First Authors