Top 10 Reasons Abstracts Are Not Accepted
The WIN Program Committee has identified the Top 10 Reasons why research or project abstracts are not accepted. The Committee hopes this document will assist authors as they develop their abstracts.
1. Title does not summarize content
Sometimes clever titles or direct quotes from research participants are used in place of informative titles. It’s best if the title conveys the overall point of the abstract. The reviewer should know from the title what to expect from the rest of the abstract, without surprises or unfulfilled expectations. A surprised or confused reviewer will result in a poor score.
2. Research question or purpose is not clear or is not congruent with methods
Is the question you pose clear? If so, can it be answered with the methods you propose? If not, the lack of congruence will be a problem. State clearly the research question, what was done, who was in the sample and how the data were analyzed.
3. Methods are not aligned with results
Be sure the methods produce the answers you report in the results section. If you submit a poster abstract you do not need to report results, but you do need to explain your methods.
4. Results section fails to report results
Podium presentations require results to be available at the time of abstract submission. Poster presentations do not require results. The expectation is that the results should be explained so that the reviewer can interpret and understand what you found. A statement like “Results will be presented” is not acceptable, and should be replaced with numeric results (and significance values) or qualitative findings appropriate to the methodology. The methods and results should comprise the greatest part of the abstract; if you have left over space expand the methods and results sections.
5. Importance or significance of the topic to nursing is underdeveloped
On the homepage, we learn that “The Western Institute of Nursing exists to bring together a diverse community of nurses in a shared commitment to advance nursing science, education, and practice to improve health outcomes.” If a community of nurses reading your abstract or attending the conference cannot appreciate the significance of your topic to their professional work, your abstract needs help. Ask yourself, “What about my abstract is important for nursing?” Be sure you connect your topic with your WIN audience.
6. Conclusions are not supported by the data
The abstract reviewer will compare the conclusions you identify to the data presented in the results. Over- or under-interpretation of the results is best avoided. Conclusions should be aligned with the original purpose of the abstract. Compare your conclusions to your purpose, title, and methods to be certain the links between these abstract sections are logical and explicit.
7. Implications for nursing research, practice or education are not supported by results
The nursing audience will want to know how to use your research. Guidance about the usefulness of your work is necessary in the abstract. It is assumed by abstract reviewers that future research is needed in most areas and that replication of results is wise before any single set of findings are widely adopted. There is no need to state those kinds of implications unless you have an explicit recommendation. Instead, focus on what you learned and what you would like other nurses to know in order to enhance research methods, provide better nursing care or improve the education of future nurses.
8. Template headings are missing
WIN has three categories of abstract submissions. Each has a set of pre-defined headings and expected content. If you leave out a section heading and the corresponding content, it is difficult for peer reviewers to evaluate your abstract using the defined score sheet and likely to result in a poor score. Provide reviewers with the categories and information they expect. Read the directions, believe the directions and follow the directions.
9. Grammatical errors and writing problems
Simply having a colleague proof-read your abstract will identify writing problems. Grammar issues, such as changes in tense, incomplete sentences, or poor word choice can be remedied with some pre-submission peer or mentor feedback.
10. Jargon is confusing or undefined
An abstract (Abs.) rarely needs to use abbreviations. AB is confusing, sometimes unfamiliar to reviewers, and often unnecessary. For example, in a 250-word Abs., AB may be used only a few times. Usually a space-saving ploy, AB can be eliminated from your Abs. if you write a better, tighter Abs. Similarly, some words are meaning-laden words-of-the-moment that have cropped up in science, yet are seldom uniformly understood by abstract reviewers from a variety of nursing specialties. Technical, theoretical, and contemporary jargon will require a brief conceptual and/or operation definition in your abstract.