Abstracts of scientific papers and posters that are presented at annual scientific meetings of professional societies are part of the broader category of conference literature. They are an important avenue for the dissemination of current data. While timely and succinct, these abstracts present problems such as an abbreviated peer review and incomplete bibliographic access. METHODS: Seventy societies of health sciences professionals were surveyed about the publication of abstracts from their annual meetings. Nineteen frequently cited journals also were contacted about their policies on the citation of meeting abstracts. Ten databases were searched for the presence of meetings abstracts. RESULTS: Ninety percent of the seventy societies publish their abstracts, with nearly half appearing in the society's journal. Seventy-seven percent of the societies supply meeting attendees with a copy of each abstract, and 43% make their abstracts available in an electronic format. Most of the journals surveyed allow meeting abstracts to be cited. Bibliographic access to these abstracts does not appear to be widespread. CONCLUSIONS: Meeting abstracts play an important role in the dissemination of scientific knowledge. Bibliographic access to meeting abstracts is very limited. The trend toward making meeting abstracts available via the Internet has the potential to give a broader audience access to the information they contain.
OBJECTIVE: To characterize the structured abstracts in biomedical journals indexed in MEDLINE over a three-year period as an initial step in exploring their utility in enhancing bibliographic retrieval. DESIGN: The study examined the occurrence of structured abstracts in MEDLINE from March 1989 to December 1991, characteristics of MEDLINE records for articles with structured abstracts, editorial policies of six selected MEDLINE journals on structured abstracts, and a sample of twenty-five structured abstracts from the six journals. RESULTS: The study revealed that the number of structured abstracts in MEDLINE and the number of MEDLINE journals publishing structured abstracts increased substantially between 1989 and 1991. On average, articles with structured abstracts had more access points (Medical Subject Heading [MeSH] terms and text words) than MEDLINE articles as a whole. The average length of the structured abstract was greater than the average length of all abstracts in MEDLINE. CONCLUSIONS: The presence of structured abstracts may be associated with other article characteristics that lead to the assignment of a higher average number of MeSH headings or may itself contribute to the assignment of more headings. The variations in the structured-abstract formats prescribed by different journals may complicate the exploitation of these abstracts in bibliographic retrieval systems. More research is needed on a number of questions related to the quality and utility of structured abstracts.
In artificial intelligence, abstraction is commonly used to account for the use of various levels of details in a given representation language or the ability to change from one level to another while preserving useful properties. Abstraction has been mainly studied in problem solving, theorem proving, knowledge representation (in particular for spatial and temporal reasoning) and machine learning. In such contexts, abstraction is defined as a mapping between formalisms that reduces the computational complexity of the task at stake. By analysing the notion of abstraction from an information quantity point of view, we pinpoint the differences and the complementary role of reformulation and abstraction in any representation change. We contribute to extending the existing semantic theories of abstraction to be grounded on perception, where the notion of information quantity is easier to characterize formally. In the author's view, abstraction is best represented using abstraction operators, as they provide semantics for classifying different abstractions and support the automation of representation changes. The usefulness of a grounded theory of abstraction in the cartography domain is illustrated. Finally, the importance of explicitly representing abstraction for designing more autonomous and adaptive systems is discussed.
Retrieval tests have assumed that the abstract is a true surrogate of the entire text. However, the frequency of terms in abstracts has never been compared to that of the articles they represent. Even though many sources are now available in full-text, many still rely on the abstract for retrieval. 1,138 articles with their abstracts were downloaded from Journal of the American Medical Association, New England Journal of Medicine, the British Medical Journal, and the Lancet. Based on two stop word lists, one long and one short, content bearing words were extracted from the articles and their abstracts and the frequency of each word was counted in both sources. Each article and its abstract were tested using a chi-squared test to determine if the words in the abstract occurred as frequently as would be expected. 96% to 98% of the abstracts tested were not significantly different than random samples of the articles they represented. In these four journals, the abstracts are lexical, as well as intellectual, surrogates for the articles they represent.
Clear, transparent and sufficiently detailed abstracts of randomized trials (RCTs), published in journal articles are important because readers will often base their initial assessment of a trial on such information. However, little is known about the quality of reporting in abstracts of RCTs published in medical journals in China.
We identified RCTs abstracts from 5 five leading Chinese medical journals published between 1998 and 2007 and indexed in MEDLINE. We assessed the quality of reporting of these abstracts based on the Consolidated Standards of Reporting Trials (CONSORT) abstract checklist. We also sought to identify whether any differences exist in reporting between the Chinese and English language version of the same abstract.
We identified 332 RCT abstracts eligible for examination. Overall, the abstracts we examined reported 0–8 items as designated in the CONSORT checklist. On average, three items were reported per abstract. Details of the interventions (288/332; 87%), the number of participants randomized (216/332; 65%) and study objectives (109/332; 33%) were the top three items reported. Only two RCT abstracts reported details of trial registration, no abstracts reported the method of allocation concealment and only one mentioned specifically who was blinded. In terms of the proportion of RCT abstracts fulfilling a criterion, the absolute difference (percentage points) between the Chinese and English abstracts was 10% (ranging from 0 to 25%) on average, per item.
The quality of reporting in abstracts of RCTs published in Chinese medical journals needs to be improved. We hope that the introduction and endorsement of the CONSORT for Abstracts guidelines by journals reporting RCTs will lead to improvements in the quality of reporting.
The increasing cost of cancer drugs underscores the importance of economic analyses. Although guidelines for abstract reporting of randomized controlled studies and phase i trials are available, similar recommendations for conference abstracts of economic analyses are lacking. Our objectives were
to identify items considered to be essential in abstracts of economic analyses;to evaluate the quality of abstracts submitted to the American Society of Clinical Oncology (asco), the American Society of Hematology (ash), and the International Society for Pharmacoeconomics and Outcomes Research (ispor) meetings; andto propose guidelines for future abstract reporting at conferences.
Health economic experts were surveyed and asked to rate each of 24 possible abstract elements on a 5-point Likert scale. A scoring system for abstract quality was devised based on elements with an average expert rating of 3.5 or greater. Abstracts for economic analyses from asco, ash, and ispor meetings were reviewed and assigned a quality score.
Of 99 experts, 50 (51%) responded to the survey (average age: 53 years; 78% men; 54% from the United States, 28% from Europe, 18% from Canada). In total, 216 abstracts were reviewed: asco, 53%; ash, 14%; and ispor, 33%. The median quality score was 75, but notable deficiencies were observed. Cost perspective was reported in only 61% of abstracts, and time horizon was described in only 47%. Abstracts from recent years demonstrated better quality scores. We also observed disparities in quality scores for various cancer sites (p = 0.005).
The quality of conference abstracts for economic analyses in oncology has room for improvement. Abstracts may be enhanced using the guidelines derived from our survey of experts.
Economic analyses; abstracts; quality; oncology
The cognitive and neural representation of abstract words is still an open question for theories of embodied cognition. Generally, it is proposed that abstract words are grounded in the activation of sensorimotor or at least experiential properties, exactly as concrete words. Further behavioral theories propose multiple representations evoked by abstract and concrete words. We conducted a functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) study to investigate the neural correlates of concrete and abstract multi-word expressions in an action context. Participants were required to read simple sentences which combined each concrete noun with an adequate concrete verb and an adequate abstract verb, as well as an adequate abstract noun with either kind of verbs previously used. Thus, our experimental design included a continuum from pure concreteness to mere abstractness. As expected, comprehension of both concrete and abstract language content activated the core areas of the sensorimotor neural network namely the left lateral (precentral gyrus) and medial (supplementary motor area) premotor cortex. While the purely concrete multi-word expressions elicited activations within the left inferior frontal gyrus (pars triangularis) and two foci within the left inferior parietal cortex, the purely abstract multi-word expressions were represented in the anterior part of left middle temporal gyrus that is part of the language processing system. Although the sensorimotor neural network is engaged in both concrete and abstract language contents, the present findings show that concrete multi-word processing relies more on the sensorimotor system, and abstract multi-word processing relies more on the linguistic system.
language comprehension; abstract; concrete; fMRI; sensorimotor cortex
Abstractness and modality of interpersonal communication have a considerable impact on comprehension. They are relevant for determining thoughts and constituting internal models of the environment. Whereas concrete object-related information can be represented in mind irrespective of language, abstract concepts require a representation in speech. Consequently, modality-independent processing of abstract information can be expected. Here we investigated the neural correlates of abstractness (abstract vs. concrete) and modality (speech vs. gestures), to identify an abstractness-specific supramodal neural network. During fMRI data acquisition 20 participants were presented with videos of an actor either speaking sentences with an abstract-social [AS] or concrete-object-related content [CS], or performing meaningful abstract-social emblematic [AG] or concrete-object-related tool-use gestures [CG]. Gestures were accompanied by a foreign language to increase the comparability between conditions and to frame the communication context of the gesture videos. Participants performed a content judgment task referring to the person vs. object-relatedness of the utterances. The behavioral data suggest a comparable comprehension of contents communicated by speech or gesture. Furthermore, we found common neural processing for abstract information independent of modality (AS > CS ∩ AG > CG) in a left hemispheric network including the left inferior frontal gyrus (IFG), temporal pole, and medial frontal cortex. Modality specific activations were found in bilateral occipital, parietal, and temporal as well as right inferior frontal brain regions for gesture (G > S) and in left anterior temporal regions and the left angular gyrus for the processing of speech semantics (S > G). These data support the idea that abstract concepts are represented in a supramodal manner. Consequently, gestures referring to abstract concepts are processed in a predominantly left hemispheric language related neural network.
gesture; speech; fMRI; abstract semantics; emblematic gestures; tool-use gestures
Background: There is a small body of research on improving the clarity of abstracts in general that is relevant to improving the clarity of abstracts of systematic reviews.
Objectives: To summarize this earlier research and indicate its implications for writing the abstracts of systematic reviews.
Method: Literature review with commentary on three main features affecting the clarity of abstracts: their language, structure, and typographical presentation.
Conclusions: The abstracts of systematic reviews should be easier to read than the abstracts of medical research articles, as they are targeted at a wider audience. The aims, methods, results, and conclusions of systematic reviews need to be presented in a consistent way to help search and retrieval. The typographic detailing of the abstracts (type-sizes, spacing, and weights) should be planned to help, rather than confuse, the reader.
The collection of data by abstraction from patient records is a widely used method of research, evaluation, and registry. Since valid conclusions depend on the accuracy of the abstracted data, it is essential to examine the abstracting procedures. In this paper, we report on a study of patient data abstracted from emergency department records by nurses trained by project personnel. Twenty-five charts were selected at each of five hospitals. To test interobserver reliability, the nurses were asked to abstract all of the charts at each hospital; to test intraobserver reliability, four of the nurses each reabstracted a set of charts. The results show that even with highly trained, well motivated abstractors, there are considerable differences in the accuracy with which the variables are abstracted. Disposition from the hospital, quantitative vital signs, and blood gas values tend to be abstracted with higher reliability; whereas variables requiring judgment, such as character of vital signs or history of disease, tend to have low reliability. To improve the quality of abstracted data, we propose improved retrieval methods for hospital records, monitoring of data collection procedures, cooperation of all medical personnel providing the raw data, and careful selection of variables.
Some current interpretations of abstraction in mathematical settings are examined from different perspectives, including history and learning. It is argued that abstraction is a complex concept and that it cannot be reduced to generalization or decontextualization only. In particular, the links between abstraction processes and the emergence of new objects are shown. The role that representations have in abstraction is discussed, taking into account both the historical and the educational perspectives. As languages play a major role in mathematics, some ideas from functional linguistics are applied to explain to what extent mathematical notations are to be considered abstract. Finally, abstraction is examined from the perspective of mathematics education, to show that the teaching ideas resulting from one-dimensional interpretations of abstraction have proved utterly unsuccessful.
To determine the publication rate of abstracts presented by UK emergency physicians at major emergency medicine meetings, and to identify the site of publication of papers.
All abstracts presented to the annual scientific meetings of both the British Association of Emergency Medicine and the Faculty of Accident and Emergency Medicine between 2001 and 2002 were identified retrospectively from conference programmes. To identify whether the work relating to the abstract had been published in a peer‐reviewed journal, the Medline database (Ovid interface) was searched using the first and last authors as well as key words from the abstract.
Of the 404 abstracts identified, 124 (30%) had been published as full articles. For abstracts presented in the oral sessions, 83 (57%) resulted in publication. A range of journals accepted papers for publication.
The abstract‐to‐publication ratio for UK emergency medicine is lower than for other specialties, but broadly similar to emergency medicine in the US and Australia.
One of the main challenges of embodied theories is accounting for meanings of abstract words. The most common explanation is that abstract words, like concrete ones, are grounded in perception and action systems. According to other explanations, abstract words, differently from concrete ones, would activate situations and introspection; alternatively, they would be represented through metaphoric mapping. However, evidence provided so far pertains to specific domains. To be able to account for abstract words in their variety we argue it is necessary to take into account not only the fact that language is grounded in the sensorimotor system, but also that language represents a linguistic–social experience. To study abstractness as a continuum we combined a concrete (C) verb with both a concrete and an abstract (A) noun; and an abstract verb with the same nouns previously used (grasp vs. describe a flower vs. a concept). To disambiguate between the semantic meaning and the grammatical class of the words, we focused on two syntactically different languages: German and Italian. Compatible combinations (CC, AA) were processed faster than mixed ones (CA, AC). This is in line with the idea that abstract and concrete words are processed preferentially in parallel systems – abstract in the language system and concrete more in the motor system, thus costs of processing within one system are the lowest. This parallel processing takes place most probably within different anatomically predefined routes. With mixed combinations, when the concrete word preceded the abstract one (CA), participants were faster, regardless of the grammatical class and the spoken language. This is probably due to the peculiar mode of acquisition of abstract words, as they are acquired more linguistically than perceptually. Results confirm embodied theories which assign a crucial role to both perception–action and linguistic experience for abstract words.
abstract concepts; embodiment; social–linguistic experience; cross-language comparison; parallel processing
The acceptance rate for journal publication of the abstracts presented at the annual Korean Urological Association (KUA) meeting, the time to publication, and the effect of abstract characteristics on the publication pattern were analyzed and compared with data for abstracts from other major urological meetings.
Materials and Methods
A total of 1,005 abstracts listed in the abstract books of the 2006 (58th) and 2007 (59th) annual KUA meetings were analyzed, and their subsequent publication as listed in PubMed or KoreaMed between August 2006 and August 2011 was evaluated.
A total of 41.59% of abstracts were published as full-length reports. Abstracts on sexual dysfunction, neurourology, prostate cancer, basic research, and benign prostatic hyperplasia showed the highest publication rates (54%, 52.27%, 48%, 47.56%, and 45%, respectively). It took 19.01±12.83 months on average for abstracts to be published in a journal, whereas it took 25.24±14.64 months and 17.51±11.89 months for publication in foreign and Korean journals, respectively (p<0.001).
Approximately 40% of studies presented as abstracts at the KUA meeting are subsequently published as full-length articles. The KJU is the most targeted journal. The mean time to publication is 1.5 years, and publication seems to be influenced by the study subject.
Abstracts; Journal article; Peer review, research
The timely and formal publication of material presented as abstracts at national meetings is critical to the dissemination of new information to the medical community. We designed a retrospective study to evaluate the publication rates of abstracts presented at a recent national toxicology conference. In addition, we attempted to determine whether readily identifiable characteristics could predict a greater likelihood of publication.
In June of 2004, we reviewed 237 abstracts from the 2001 North American Congress of Clinical Toxicology (NACCT). Abstracts were classified according to methodology and content. We then searched Medline, using PubMed, to determine the publication of each abstract.
Fifty-seven of 237 abstracts (24.1%) were subsequently published in peer reviewed journals. There was no statistically significant difference in the rate of publication when abstracts were categorized with respect to methodology. When categorized with respect to content, abstracts related to natural toxins had a higher publication rate (41.2%; p < 0.05).
Three years after presenting abstracts at the 2001 NACCT meeting, the majority of abstracts remain unpublished. This is a lower rate than noted by other specialty medical societies.
abstract; publication; rate; national; meetings
This study establishes a baseline IAA for QOPI abstraction performed at a single academic institution over 2 consecutive years, and demonstrates the feasibility of conducting an IAA study of medical data abstraction without knowledge of the abstractors.
The Quality Oncology Practice Initiative (QOPI) relies on the accuracy of manual abstraction of clinical data from paper-based and electronic medical records (EMRs). Although there is no “gold standard” to measure manual abstraction accuracy, measurement of inter-annotator agreement (IAA) is a commonly agreed-on surrogate. We quantified the IAA of QOPI abstractions on a cohort of cancer patients treated at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.
The EMR charts of 49 patients (20 colorectal cancer; 18 breast cancer; 11 non-Hodgkin lymphoma) were abstracted by separate physician abstractors in the fall 2010 and fall 2011 QOPI abstraction rounds. Cohen's kappa (κ) was calculated for encoded data; raw levels of agreement and magnitude of discrepancies were calculated for numeric and dated data.
One hundred two data elements with 2,035 paired entries were analyzed. Overall IAA for the 1,496 coded entries was κ = 0.75; median IAA for n = 85 individual coded elements was κ = 0.84 (interquartile range, 0.30 to 1.00). Overall IAA for the 421 dated entries was 73%; median IAA for n = 17 individual dated elements was 67% (interquartile range, 61% to 86%).
This study establishes a baseline level of IAA for a complex medical abstraction task with clear relevance for the oncology community. Given that the observed κ is considered only fair IAA, and that the rate of date discrepancy is high, caution is necessary in interpreting the results of QOPI and other manual abstractions of clinical oncology data. The accuracy of automated data extraction efforts, possibly including a future evolution of QOPI, will also need to be carefully evaluated.
The Digestive Diseases Week (DDW) is the major meeting for presentation of research in gastroenterology. The acceptance of an abstract for presentation at this meeting is the most important determinant of subsequent full publication. We wished to examine the determinants of abstract acceptance for this meeting.
A cross-sectional study was performed, based on abstracts submitted to the DDW. All 17,205 abstracts submitted from 1992 to 1995 were reviewed for acceptance, country of origin and research type (controlled clinical trials (CCT), other clinical research (OCR), basic science (BSS)). A random sub-sample (n = 1,000) was further evaluated for formal abstract quality, statistical significance of study results and sample size.
326 CCT, 455 OCR and 219 BSS abstracts were evaluated in detail. Abstracts from N/W Europe (OR 0.4, 95% CI 0.3–0.6), S/E Europe (OR 0.4, 95% CI 0.2–0.6) and non-Western countries (OR 0.3, 95% CI 0.2–0.5) were less likely to be accepted than North-American contributions when controlling for research type. In addition, the OR for the acceptance for studies with negative results as compared to those with positive results was 0.4 (95% CI 0.3–0.7). A high abstract quality score was also weakly associated with acceptance rates (OR 1.4, 95% CI 1.0–2.0).
North-American contributions and reports with statistically positive results have higher acceptance rates at the AGA. Formal abstract quality was also predictive for acceptance.
PURPOSE: To evaluate the quality of abstracts of original research articles. DESIGN: Blind, criterion-based survey. SAMPLE: Systematic sample of 33 abstracts of original research articles published in CMAJ in 1989. MEASUREMENT: The quality of abstracts was measured against a checklist of evaluation criteria, which were divided into eight categories. A score for each abstract was obtained by dividing the number of criteria present by the number applicable. The overall mean score was also determined. RESULTS: The overall mean score of abstract quality was 0.63 (standard deviation 0.13) out of 1. Of the abstracts reporting study design 56% did not include specific technical descriptors. About 52% did not explicitly describe the study variables. In describing subject selection 79% failed to use specific technical terms. Of the abstracts reporting results 66% did not provide appropriate supporting data. Of those that gave conclusions 86% did not address study limitations and 93% made no recommendations for future study. CONCLUSION: Most of the abstracts provided some information pertaining to each evaluation criterion but did not provide detail sufficient to enhance the reader's understanding of the article. On the basis of the study sample the abstracts need improvement in description of research design, reporting of subject selection and results, and statements of limitations and recommendations. The small sample from one journal and the absence of comparison between the contents of the abstracts and the contents of the articles were limitations. Future studies should address these issues and compare the quality of traditional and structured abstracts.
OBJECTIVE: To assess and compare the quality of nonstructured and structured abstracts of original research articles in three medical journals. DESIGN: Blind, criterion-based observational study. SAMPLE: Random sample of 300 abstracts (25 abstracts per journal each year) of articles published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ), the Canadian Medical Association Journal and the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) in 1988 and 1989 (nonstructured abstracts) and in 1991 and 1992 (structured abstracts). MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: The quality of abstracts was measured against 33 objective criteria, which were divided into eight categories (purpose, research design, setting, subjects, intervention, measurement of variables, results and conclusions). The quality score was determined by dividing the number of criteria present by the number applicable; the score varied from 0 to 1. RESULTS: The overall mean quality scores for nonstructured and structured abstracts were 0.57 and 0.74 respectively (p < 0.001). The frequency in meeting the specific criteria was generally higher for the structured abstracts than for the nonstructured ones. The mean quality score was higher for nonstructured abstracts in JAMA than for those in BMJ (0.60 v. 0.54, p < 0.05). The scores for structured abstracts did not differ significantly between the three journals. CONCLUSIONS: The findings support recommendations that promote the use of structured abstracts. Further studies should be performed to assess the effect of time on the quality of abstracts and the extent to which abstracts reflect the content of the articles.
Background: The use of a structured abstract has been recommended in reporting medical literature to quickly convey necessary information to editors and readers. The use of structured abstracts increased during the mid-1990s; however, recent practice has yet to be analyzed.
Objectives: This article explored actual reporting patterns of abstracts recently published in selected medical journals and examined what these journals required of abstracts (structured or otherwise and, if structured, which format).
Methods: The top thirty journals according to impact factors noted in the “Medicine, General and Internal” category of the ISI Journal Citation Reports (2000) were sampled. Articles of original contributions published by each journal in January 2001 were examined. Cluster analysis was performed to classify the patterns of structured abstracts objectively. Journals' instructions to authors for writing an article abstract were also examined.
Results: Among 304 original articles that included abstracts, 188 (61.8%) had structured and 116 (38.2%) had unstructured abstracts. One hundred twenty-five (66.5%) of the abstracts used the introduction, methods, results, and discussion (IMRAD) format, and 63 (33.5%) used the 8-heading format proposed by Haynes et al. Twenty-one journals requested structured abstracts in their instructions to authors; 8 journals requested the 8-heading format; and 1 journal requested it only for intervention studies.
Conclusions: Even in recent years, not all abstracts of original articles are structured. The eight-heading format was neither commonly used in actual reporting patterns nor noted in journal instructions to authors.
Abstracts presented at national and international scientific meetings are an important educational resource. However, the work is not peer reviewed and little is known about the quality or validity of the presented results and the fate of such abstracts.
MATERIALS AND METHODS
This is a retrospective cohort study of abstracts presented to the 1997 annual meeting of the Association of Surgeons of Great Britain and Ireland. We examined the rates of full-text publication, time to publication, factors influencing publication, inconsistencies between presented and subsequently published manuscripts, and reasons for non-publication of abstracts.
Of the 241 abstracts presented, 136 (56.4%) were published at a median duration of 18 months. Multicentre studies had a greater tendency to subsequent publication and studies involving academic centres predicted publication in a high impact factor journal. Inconsistencies between presented and published abstracts were common and were significantly associated with delayed publication. Oral and poster presentations were equally likely to be published. Reasons for non-submission of presented abstracts included lack of time, low priority to publish, perceived methodological limitations, lack of novelty of findings and co-investigators leaving the organisation.
More than half of the work presented at a national surgical meeting in the UK has been subsequently published. Various factors that influence the process of publication and remediable causes for non-publication have been identified.
Abstracts; Peer-reviewed publication
This paper contributes in two ways to the aims of this special issue on abstraction. The first is to show that there are compelling reasons motivating the use of abstraction in the purely computational realm of artificial intelligence. The second is to contribute to the overall discussion of the nature of abstraction by providing examples of the abstraction processes currently used in artificial intelligence. Although each type of abstraction is specific to a somewhat narrow context, it is hoped that collectively they illustrate the richness and variety of abstraction in its fullest sense.
What is abstraction? In our view, abstraction is generalization. Specifically, we propose that abstract concepts emerge as the natural product of associative learning and generalization by similarity. We support this proposal by presenting evidence for two ideas: first, that children's knowledge about how categories are organized and how words refer to them can be explained as learned generalizations over specific experiences of words referring to categories; and second, that the path of concepts from concrete to more abstract can be observed throughout development and that even in their more abstract form, concepts retain some of their original sensory basis. We illustrate these two facts by examining, in two kinds of learners--networks and young children--the development of three abstract ideas: (i) the idea of word; (ii) the idea of object; and (iii) the idea of substance.
Disease and patient care processes often create characteristic states, trends, and temporal patterns in clinical events and observations, called temporal abstractions. Identifying patient populations who share similar abstractions may be useful for clinical research, outcomes studies, and quality assurance. In these settings, abstractions may be specific to a query, and thus allowing the specification of abstractions directly in the query would be desirable. We propose a query language for specifying and retrieving clinical data sets that allows specifying abstractions directly, and automatically selects data for retrieval based on the presence of abstractions inferred from the data. We describe the language and a prototype implementation, demonstrate its features with two queries constructed in response to clinical researcher-initiated data requests submitted to our institution’s Clinical Data Repository, and report preliminary results from an evaluation of the implementation’s performance.
Due to language limitations, the abstract of journal article may be the only way for people of non-Chinese speaking countries to know about trials in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). However, little is known about the reporting quality of these trial abstracts. Our study is to assess the reporting quality of abstracts of randomized controlled trials (RCT) published in four leading Chinese medical journals of TCM, and to identify any differences in reporting between the Chinese and English version of the same abstract publication.
Two reviewers hand-searched the Chinese Journal of Integrated Traditional and Western Medicine, the Chinese Journal of Integrative Medicine, the China Journal of Chinese Materia Medica and the Chinese Acupuncture & Moxibustion for all abstracts of RCTs published between 2006 and 2007. Two reviewers independently assessed the reporting quality of the Chinese and English version of all eligible abstracts based on a modified version of the CONSORT for reporting randomised trials in journal and conference abstracts (CONSORT for abstracts).
We identified a total of 345 RCTs of TCM with both a Chinese and English abstract. More than half of Chinese abstracts reported details of the trial participants (68%; 234/345), control group intervention (52%; 179/345), the number of participants randomized (73%; 253/345) and benefits when interpreting the trial results (55%; 190/345). Reporting of methodological quality or key features of trial design and trial results were poor; only 2% (7/345) included details of the trial design, 3% (11/345) defined the primary outcome, 5% (17/345) described the methods of random sequence generation, and only 4% (13/345) reported the number of participants analyzed. No abstracts provided details on allocation concealment and trial registration. The percentage agreement in reporting (between the Chinese and English version of the same abstract) ranged from 84% to 100% across individual checklist item.
The reporting quality of abstracts of RCTs published in these four TCM journals needs to be improved. Since none of the four journals adopted CONSORT for Abstracts, we hope that the introduction and adoption of CONSORT for Abstracts by TCM journals will lead to an improvement in reporting quality.