Objective. The validity of research presented at scientific meetings continues to be a concern. Presentations are chosen on the basis of submitted abstracts, which may not contain sufficient information to assess the validity of the research. The objective of this study was to determine 1) the proportion of abstracts presented at the annual Pediatric Academic Society (PAS) meeting that were ultimately published in peer reviewed journals; 2) whether the presentation format of abstracts at the meeting predicts subsequent full publication; and whether the presentation format was related to 3) the time to full publication or 4) the impact factor of the journal in which research is subsequently published.

Methods. We assembled a list of all abstracts submitted to the PAS meetings in general pediatrics categories in 1998 and 1999, using both CD-ROM and journal publications. In each year, we chose up to 80 abstracts from each presentation format (“publish only,” “poster,” “poster symposium,” “platform presentation”). We chose either 1) all abstracts in each format or 2) when there were >80 abstracts, a random selection of 80 of them. We assessed each selected abstract for subsequent full publication by searching Medline in March 2003; if published, then we recorded the journal, month, and year of publication. We used logistic and linear regression to determine whether publication, time to publication, and the journal’s impact factor were associated with the abstract’s presentation format.

Results. Overall, 44.6% of abstracts presented at the PAS meeting achieved subsequent full publication within 4 to 5 years. There were significant differences between the rates of subsequent full publication of abstracts submitted but not chosen for presentation at the meeting (22.2%) and those that were chosen for presentation in poster sessions (40.0%), poster symposia (44.1%), and platform presentations (53.8%). There were no meaningful differences between the presentation formats in their mean time to publication and their mean journal impact factor.

Conclusions. PAS meeting attendees and the press should be cautious when interpreting the presentation format of an abstract as a predictor of either its subsequent publication in a peer-reviewed journal or the impact factor of the journal in which it will appear.

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