Tag Archives: science

Publication Rate of Conference Abstracts

Conferences presentations and in the conference abstract books there are often gems and lots of pearls of useful information. I often blog live from conferences (eg here and here) or peruse abstract books looking for gems (eg here and here). The problem with conference abstracts can be the lack of detail on the study to judge it and they are not subject to the same scrutiny of peer review that a full journal publication is; so how much weight in the grand scheme of things should a conference abstract be given? They have to be interpreted in that context of the lack of detail and the lack of peer review. There are examples I have seen where the preponderance of evidence on a topic may be altered to be in a different direction if the unpublished conference abstracts were included or not included in that body of evidence under consideration. That is a worry. A large number of conference abstracts never make it to full publications, despite they being ‘gems’ and would be a valuable addition to the body of peer reviewed literature on that topic.

Way back in 1999, I published this that looked at the publication rates of abstracts presented at the main diabetes conferences in Australia, Europe and the USA. The rates were 26%, 49% and 53%. At that time, those figures were pretty consistent with other disciplines. My attention was just brought back to this by this recent publication in Foot & Ankle International which looked at the publication rates from the American Orthopaedic Foot & Ankle Society meetings. They found it was 73.7% for podium presentations and 55.8% for posters. That is a bit better than the ~50% that I found and is often reported in the literature as a pretty typical publication rate reported.

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Who are these fan boys that one does speak about?

There is no doubt that I regularly poke fun at what I call the “fan boys”, or more correctly the “fan boi’s”, in blog posts and lectures. It is hard not to resist those who paint such targets on themselves. I have had some enquiries as to who are these “fan boys” (and not to mention, the “fan girls”). This what I wrote elsewhere about what a “fan boy” is:

A fan boy (or fan boi) is a slang term for someone who is considered very devoted to a single subject, often to the point where it might be considered an obsession. It is a term reserved for when the obsession or passion is beyond what just being a typical fan might be considered as being.

Traditionally they were a passionate fan of something in geek culture such as a sci-fi genre, comics or specific video games, but more recently it has been expanded to include non-geek niches. It is also considered to be a type of insult or put down and is somewhat derogatory.

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Sometimes academics do overthink things

I have to be careful what I say here as I am criticizing my professional colleagues, but …

A while back there was this a couple of studies on proximal changes in those with Achilles tendinopathy. I blogged about one of them here and the other one is here. Both studies found those with Achilles tendinopathy did have change in proximal function such as muscle activity and hip motion. Both studies did lead the author to discuss the role of the proximal structures in Achilles tendinopathy. This lead to responses in social media on how important the hip and core are and that we need to focus the treatment interventions there. This was despite that this is not what the studies showed as correlation is not causation.

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The models, paradigms or frameworks that underpin the clinical practice of biomechanics*

Clinical practice is always going to be underpinned by models, paradigms or frameworks. Life is underpinned by such approaches, so there is no reason to assume that clinical practice isn’t as well, despite what we might believe of the role of evidence based practice. For example, in politics there has always been and always will be the left/liberal approach compared to the right/conservative approach. Models, paradigms or frameworks are really coloured lenses that we view the world through. A scientific fact may be, for example, the unemployment rate (if we accept the shortcomings of how it is actually measured). That fact will be interpreted by a left wing liberal as something bad that needs something done about it, whereas a right wing conservative probably sees it as nothing more than the markets working efficiently. So it is with clinical practice, we all have lenses that which we view the same thing through. Members of different health professions will look at the same thing differently because of the models, paradigms or frameworks that they are viewing it from. This may be as wide as the traditional ‘medical’ model vs the ‘psychosocial’ model vs the attempt to integrate them as the ‘biopsychosocial’ model.

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