Practice question

My research study improves patient care – how can I share it?

The best way to share your research is to write an abstract for presentation at a conference or professional meeting, but for this to succeed there are some rules you should follow

The best way to share your research is to write an abstract for presentation at a conference or professional meeting, but for this to succeed there are some rules you should follow

Completing a research study, quality improvement project, clinical case study or literature review with the potential to shape or improve patient care is a fantastic achievement. However, writing up your hard work is often not the end of the road. The next challenge is how you share this work with your colleagues and peers.

Presenting at a conference or professional meeting is one way of sharing your work with a wider audience. This can be achieved by producing an abstract and sending it to the organiser of the event, usually several months before it is due to

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The best way to share your research is to write an abstract for presentation at a conference or professional meeting, but for this to succeed there are some rules you should follow

Picture: iStock

Completing a research study, quality improvement project, clinical case study or literature review with the potential to shape or improve patient care is a fantastic achievement. However, writing up your hard work is often not the end of the road. The next challenge is how you share this work with your colleagues and peers.

Presenting at a conference or professional meeting is one way of sharing your work with a wider audience. This can be achieved by producing an abstract and sending it to the organiser of the event, usually several months before it is due to take place.

The abstract is a summary of the highlights of your work and its conclusions. It is a stand-alone text that can be read independently of the main body of work.

First check with the organisers what they want

This can sound daunting but it does not need to be. Fortunately there is a glut of information available free on the internet that provides guidance on how to write an abstract, for example from the RCNi and the RCN. A quick search can show you what type of abstract you should be writing. This article provides some guidance that might increase the chances of your abstract being accepted.

You will probably have some idea of who you want to share your work with and may have a particular conference or meeting in mind. If you do, first check that the abstract is something the conference organisers would be equally as pleased to have you present.

Conferences have a template of how they would like abstracts to be presented

Despite covering a specific specialty, conferences will often focus on different themes or subspecialties. It may be that your project or piece of work does not fit that conference’s particular scope at that time. Finding this out early on will help you avoid wasting time and allow you to reconsider where and how you can disseminate your work or even tailor the abstract to fit with the conference’s theme.

Each conference will also have a template of how it likes abstracts to be presented. This will give you the basic framework and word count for the abstract. It also allows the conference organisers to ensure that the abstract follows a specific set of rules, making it easier to read and understand. Following these templates will help ensure you adhere to the requirements.

Potential readers will want the abstract to be clear and concise

Most abstracts are between 150 and 300 words including references, so you will need to be clear and concise in your wording. It is easy to get carried away, especially if you have dedicated a significant amount of time to your piece of work.

Remember that the reader wants concise information. Too many words and they may stop reading, no matter how innovative or groundbreaking your work.

Creating a poster may help get you into the conference programme

An abstract is often used to support a poster presentation. Many conferences provide poster presentation sections in their programmes to showcase innovations in research and care. By submitting the same abstract as a poster presentation, not only could you have your abstract published in the conference programme, but you might also be invited to stand next to a visual representation of your work.

This would mean you could answer questions from conference delegates and bask in the glory of your achievements. If you are submitting an abstract, consider producing a poster as well.

Six tips for an effective abstract

  1. It may sound daunting but need not be if you follow the guidance
  2. Look at other abstracts from similar conferences for guidance on the correct style and format
  3. Check with the conference or meeting organisers for their abstract templates
  4. Follow the template
  5. Be brief, and provide concise and relevant information, not fluff
  6. An abstract that is supported by a poster presentation will further increase the visibility of your work

Practice Question is written by members of the Nurses and AHPs Council of the British Geriatrics Society


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