Letter to the Editor

Iranian Medical Sciences Students Participate in Science Production: Publication Rate of Abstracts Presented at Annual Research Meetings of Iranian Medical Sciences Students

Authors: Ashkan Mowla, MD, Mahboobeh N. Bajestan, DMD, Mohammad H. Imanieh, MD


One of the primary purposes of presenting research at scientific meetings is to disseminate important research findings as soon as possible. However, the validity of research presented at scientific meetings has been a concern.1–2 Those who have studied the fate of abstracts from scientific meetings have used the study's subsequent publication in a peer-reviewed journal as a measure of quality.3–7Since 2000, Annual Research Meetings of Iranian Medical Sciences students have been held in different medical universities in Iran with the support of the Ministry of Health and Medical Education of Iran. The objective of this study was to determine 1) the proportion of abstracts presented at the Annual Research Meetings of Iranian Medical Sciences students that were ultimately published in peer-reviewed journals; 2) the time to full publication; and 3) the impact factor of the journal in which the research was subsequently published. We assembled a list of all abstracts accepted as an oral or poster presentation in our 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th annual meetings (2000–2003), from which we collected the abstracts' titles, authors and bodies. We then assessed each abstract for subsequent full publication. We searched MEDLINE for articles published between January 1, 2000, and January 1, 2006, with the abstract authors' names only, without titles or institutions. A published manuscript was considered to be a full publication of an abstract when it satisfied the following criteria: 1) the first author of the abstract was the author of the full publication; 2) at least one outcome from the abstract was an outcome of the manuscript. (An outcome was defined as a finding stated in the Results section of the abstract that was also stated in the Results section of the manuscript's abstract). When a full publication was confirmed, we recorded the journal, month, and year of publication. When a journal was published every 2 months, we defined the time of publication as occurring halfway between the 2 months. When a journal claimed publication in the spring or fall, we defined the month of publication as March or October, respectively. For each presentation format (oral or poster), we calculated the proportion subsequently published in full, as well as the number of months between the meeting and publication. We used logistic regression to test for significant differences in the publication rates between the presentation formats. We also performed linear regression to determine whether the time to publication or the journal's impact factor was related to an abstract's presentation format. The year of the meeting was included as a covariate in all regressions to control for potential differences in the selection process between years. Differences between presentation formats were tested using the test for the equality of coefficients.8 Impact factors were obtained from the Institute for Scientific Information Web of Knowledge Journal Citation Reports (isi8.isiknowledge.com/portal.cgi). For the four meetings, 890 abstracts were presented. Overall, 195 abstracts were chosen as an “oral presentation” and 695 as a “poster presentation.” Of the abstracts, 98 (11%) were subsequently published in full. Intergroup comparisons showed that there was a significant difference between the publication rates of those in the “oral” and “poster” presentation categories (P = 0.01). Of the abstracts later published in full, the mean times to publication between abstracts presented as “poster presentations” were significantly longer (mean: 29.5 months) than the “oral presentations” (mean: 22.3; P < 0.001). No significant differences existed between the mean impact factors of the journals in which abstracts were subsequently published, regardless of presentation format.

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