Do We Publish What We Present? A Critical Analysis of Abstracts Presented at Three Plastic Surgery Meetings

Presentation of research at scientific conferences provides an opportunity for researchers to disseminate their work and gain peer feedback. However, much of the presented work is never published in peer-reviewed journals. The authors analyzed the conversion rate of abstracts presented at three national plastic surgery meetings.
Abstracts presented at the American Association of Plastic Surgeons (AAPS), the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS), and the Plastic Surgery Research Council (PSRC) annual meetings in 2014 and 2015 were identified to analyze the rates of successful conversion into full-text publications. Meeting administrators were contacted to obtain the respective acceptance rates of submitted abstracts.
A total of 1174 abstracts were analyzed. The overall conversion rate was 65 percent. The AAPS meeting had the highest conversion rate (73 percent), followed by the PSRC (66 percent) and the ASPS (61 percent). Conversely, the AAPS meeting had a lower acceptance rate (28 percent) compared with the ASPS (42 percent) and PSRC (49 percent) meetings. The conversion rate was significantly higher for abstracts from native English-speaking countries, whereas no significant differences were noted between oral and poster presentations. Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery had the highest percentage of published manuscripts (34 percent). Abstracts presented at the PSRC meeting had the highest mean impact factor for the journal of publication. First authors changed in 31 percent and last authors changed in 18 percent of publications. The overall median time to publication from the date of presentation was 13 months.
Almost two-thirds of abstracts presented at AAPS, ASPS, and PSRC meetings successfully converted into full-text publications. Plastic surgery departments/divisions should follow unpublished work in their institutions to benefit both patients and the scientific community.

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