Predictive factors for publication of abstracts at the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons Annual Scientific Congress.

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A key metric of the research quality of medical conferences is the publication rate of abstracts. The study objective was to determine the publication rate of abstracts presented at the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons Annual Scientific Congress (RACS ASC) and to examine for any predictive factors associated with publication.


Abstracts presented at the RACS ASC from 2011 to 2013 were analysed. Abstract characteristics such as presentation format, study type, study design, study site, cohort size and author origin were recorded. Abstracts published were identified by a PubMed search using a strict algorithm. Univariate and multivariable logistic regressions were used to analyse for predictive factors of publication.


Overall, 1438 abstracts were presented and 423 abstracts (29%) were published. The median time to publication was 15.2 months (interquartile range: 8-26) with 110 in Australasian journals (26%). The median number of citations for published abstracts was 6 (interquartile range: 2-16). After multivariable analysis, publication was significantly associated with prospective study design (odds ratio (OR) = 1.34, P = 0.02), multicentre study site (OR = 1.43, P = 0.02), cohort size ≥100 (OR = 2.00, P < 0.001) and New Zealand author origin (OR = 1.50, P = 0.01).


Our study demonstrates that less than one-third of abstracts presented at the RACS ASC are subsequently published in a peer-reviewed journal. Factors significantly associated with journal publication include prospective studies, multicentre study, a larger cohort size and New Zealand author origin. Advances in surgery may progress from the preliminary findings of conference abstracts. However only after the rigorous peer review offered by journal publication should changes in decision-making of patient care occur.

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