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JAMA. 1998 Jul 15;280(3):257-9.

Unpublished research from a medical specialty meeting: why investigators fail to publish.

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  • 1Division of Emergency Medicine, University of California, San Francisco, 94143-0208, USA.



It is not known whether peer review of research abstracts submitted to scientific meetings influences subsequent attempts at publication.


To determine why research submitted to a scientific meeting is not subsequently published. We hypothesized that authors of abstracts rejected by a meeting are less likely to pursue publication than those whose abstracts are accepted, regardless of research quality.


Blinded review of abstracts submitted to a medical specialty meeting in 1991 and not published as full manuscripts within 5 years. In 1996, authors of 266 unpublished studies were asked to complete questionnaires.


Submission of a full manuscript to a journal between 1991 and 1996; failure to submit a manuscript to a journal because the investigator believed it would not be accepted for publication.


A total of 223 (84%) of the unpublished investigators returned the questionnaire. Only 44 (20%) had submitted manuscripts to a journal. Manuscript submission was not associated with abstract quality (odds ratio [OR], 1.16; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.80-1.64), positive results (OR, 0.75; 95% CI, 0.31-1.57), or other study characteristics. Having an abstract accepted for presentation at the meeting weakly predicted submission of a manuscript to a journal (OR, 1.88; 95% CI, 0.84-4.10). Authors of accepted abstracts were significantly less likely to believe a journal would not publish their manuscript than were authors of rejected abstracts (OR, 0.23; 95% CI, 0.0001-0.61).


Study characteristics do not predict attempts to publish research submitted to a scientific meeting. Investigators whose research is rejected by a meeting are pessimistic about chances for publication and may make less effort to publish.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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