Road to the Symposium Blog – May 10th, 2018

By: Laura Hester

Hi Fellow OHDSI Community Member –

I heard that you have completed brilliant research, a beautiful visualization, or ground-breaking software that you would like to show to the OHDSI community. That’s great! Now what? A fantastic way to share this research/project is at the Collaborator Showcase during the upcoming 2018 US OHDSI Symposium. With the Symposium’s “Call for Abstracts” opening soon, NOW is the time to start thinking about preparing the abstract for sharing your projects or research.

So, what exactly should you include in your abstract for the OHDSI Symposium, and how should this abstract be structured?

That is a great question! I encountered this dilemma last year as I prepared an abstract for my first OHDSI Symposium. Initially, I wrote my abstract based on the usual structure recommended by other scientific/academic conferences – a terse, 2000-character-limited summary of my research. After spending hours painstakingly shaving 10 characters from my abstract text (no one will notice that the plural word is missing a final “s,” right?), a colleague with ample OHDSI Symposium experience came to my rescue with a few hints on what makes a successful abstract for the Symposium. My role is to pass that wisdom on to you…

1) OHDSI abstracts have a maximum length of TWO PAGES and the text can be single-spaced. For those who have spent more time cutting out words or characters from an abstract than conducting research, this long page limit is a breath of fresh air. Why would the abstract review committee want such long abstracts? Simply put, they want a deeper understanding of your work.

2) It is recommended that you structure your abstract using the following sections: abstract, introduction, methods, results, conclusions. If you choose this structure, most of your abstract should focus on the methods and results. Your introduction should be concise, with a handful of meaningful sentences and an objective statement. If you are citing other work, include your references at the end.

3) OHDSI abstracts can include TABLES AND FIGURES. A picture (or table) is worth a thousand words, especially if it neatly summarizes results or if the project design cannot be easily explained in words.

4) Before you submit an abstract, decide whether you want to present your research project as a: 1) poster, 2) software demonstration, 3) video, or 4) lightning talk. You will have the option to select one or more of these presentation formats when you submit the abstract. Make sure your research/project description aligns with this format.

5) You should be able to classify your research/project into one of the four focus areas of OHDSI: observational data standards and management, open source development, methodology research, or clinical applications. In addition, your research/project should have an impact in at least one of the following areas: observational data management, clinical characterization, population-level effect estimation, or patient-level prediction. Think through where your research/project is best classified before starting on your abstract.

This TEMPLATE can be used for preparing your abstract. Best of luck with the abstract – I’m looking forward to seeing you all at the Symposium.

Check out Melanie Philofsky’s blog entry here: