Today we are going to talk about the content you need to include when writing an abstract. Most abstracts contain four sections: problem and purpose, methods, results and conclusions and implications.

An abstract is a summary of a paper. A paper tells a story as will the abstract. There was a problem, you set out to learn something or do something about it, this is what I did, this is what I found, this is what that means.

Let’s break each of these sections down a bit more.

Problem and Purpose:
The opening sentences of your abstract need to catch your reader’s attention. You will need to clearly state the problem and your purpose. Do not be afraid to start the purpose sentence with “The purpose of this study is to…”

Methods:
Remember, abstracts area summary of a larger body of work so there is no need to go into great detail about your methodology. Choose the most significant details of your methodology, what do readers need to know to understand your results and conclusion?

Results:
What are the most significant results discussed in your paper? Focus on the results that relate most strongly to your problem, purpose, conclusions, and implications.

Conclusions and Implications:
This section of your abstract should refer directly back to your problem and purpose. What do your results mean in relation to the problem?

The details of the content will change but the layout will stay relatively the same.

You’re going to learn how to create an awesome slide deck. So the next time you’re up on stage or doing any sort of presentation, anything that requires a slide deck, this is going to help you make it look better.

There are a lot of things you shouldn’t be doing, a lot of things that I see out there and hopefully, this will help guide you so that you can create an awesome slide deck and impress people who you are presenting to. You’ll have a more memorable presentation, and you’re going to be able to stand out from all the other presenters out there who are going to be creating slide decks the normal, boring way.

Have you ever sat in on a presentation, whether at work or at a conference, where you literally just want to fall asleep or maybe you have fallen asleep, or maybe you get bored or lose interest and you check your phone for emails or Twitter or Instagram? It’s the worst, right?

Well, if you’re a presenter, if you’re up on stage presenting, you want to hold their interest. You want to captivate them. You want to engage them. You want them sitting on the edge of their seats, listening and hanging on to every next word that you have to say. That’s what we want, and a lot of times we don’t do that.

One of the big reasons is because of the slides that we have. Slides are an amazing tool. Unfortunately, we abuse the tool that allow us to create these slides, PowerPoint or KeyNote. We use them in a way that bores people to death. That’s why there is this thing called death by PowerPoint.

I mean, there is this typical slide you’ll see at presentations, at board meetings, at conferences. I mean, the bullet point situation. They’re called bullet points for a reason. Why? Because bullets kill people, right? And because, when people start reading from the top, they see all these bullet points, they start reading ahead, and when they do that, they don’t listen to what you’re talking about.

Oftentimes, you’re just reading off this bullet point list. It sounds totally boring and unprepared. And then you might think, having all the information there helps me cover all the points I need to hit. Well, yeah, if you don’t practice, and most people don’t practice, they simply rely on the bullet points, they rely on the PowerPoint, to help guide them through and it just sounds boring. It also shows that you
Haven’t put in the practice. This is what happens if you don’t know the content and if you don’t believe in yourself.

What if you know what you’re talking about and you do believe in yourself. You can make your presentation much more engaging, and here is the guiding principle. Slides are your trail guide. That’s it. They’re there to help trigger certain stories and case studies and things that you’re going to say. But, you’re not reading off of them. They’re there to trigger something, to be a visual to the story that you’re telling, to the point that you’re making. If you consider slides to be your trail guide, it’s going to help you in so many ways. You have to trust yourself to know the content that you are talking about, but you can use the slides as a trail guide, like that arrow that’s going to point you in the right direction.

Now, you’ve probably sat in presentations that are amazing, that have amazing-looking slides and then you try to do it yourself, you try to make it look great, but then you get frustrated because it is too much work. Here is a hint: It doesn’t have to be.

These following nine tips are tips that you can follow to help you work your way through the slides, to give you some guiding principles so that you can totally crush it the next time you are on stage and so you don’t have to rely on your bullet points.

1. Get the correct slide size. Every event requires different slide sizes. You want to make sure you know what the size is or what the ratio is beforehand. You don’t want to wait until the last minute, build your deck and realize that your slides are the wrong size. Oftentimes slides some in two different sizes, widescreen (16×9) or standard (4×3). Sometimes the conference will even give you a template to use which will be the correct slide size. Unless you are required to use the template, sometimes you might be, use it for size reference only so that you can customize your slides the way you would like them.

2. Do not use any bullet points. What? Don’t use bullet points? Try not to use any bullet points. There may be a part of your presentation where you would like to list a few things. There are different ways to do list things. Images are a great way to avoid bullet points. You may, however, need to use them occasionally but try your hardest not to, this is where the audience gets lost.

3. I am sure you have seen the slide with just a few words on the slide to support the topic and then one image to support that topic. These are a great way to use a visual trigger so that the presenter can tell the story and know what to be focused on. It is also good for the audience to quickly see what the presenter is talking about and they can watch the presenter for a moment and hear every word the presenter is saying. You get to control the experience the audience has. Here is the topic, here is the supporting image. So simple.

4. Try to find and use a style of slides that work for you. Now, I do not mean take someone else’s work, but decide what you are drawn to about their slide set. Watch other people’s presentations, decide what aspect you like from their presentation an adopt part of it into your presentation style.

5. You’ll want to be aware that in larger rooms, not everyone will be able to see your entire slide. Keeping that in mind, keep your text as high up in the slide as you can so that everyone in the room can see all of the content on the slide. Presenters will often put important information at the bottom, a url for example. Some people may miss this if it is at the bottom. Sometimes people will stand up and take pictures of the slides because they can not see them which is disrupting.

6. Something I love to do is let people know where we are in the presentation. I like to show them how far along we are and what we have left to cover. For the presenter as well it is helpful to see where you are so you can add another tip or another story. It helps keep you organized.

7. Graphs and Tables.
While graphs and tables can be helpful and a great way to introduce data, what does your audience see? They see lots of colors, numbers and information they know nothing about. Even if you tell them what they are looking at they will inevitably be looking all over the place. There are of course people who present well-organized graphs and tables but they still often have an overwhelming effect. You only need to show what is necessary to prove your point. Year-end sales, increase in followers, etc.

8. Lightbox Trick
This trick is really neat because you can highlight a section of your slide and add a url to it which will redirect you to that site. You can easily click out of it and go back to your slide. It is just another way to make your slide deck more interactive for the audience. You can do this in both PowerPoint and KeyNote.

9. There are parts of a presentation where you may want to tell a story and you would really like the audience to focus on you. For this, you can make the screen go dark, people will not be focused on the big glaring screen but on you while you are telling your story. To do this you can simply put a blank dark screen in your presentation. This is such a powerful trick. Try it, see how your audience reacts.

I hope these tips are helpful in creating your next slide presentations.

In blog we will define abstracts and discuss their purpose Identify strategies for writing effective abstracts. Let’s start by answering the question, what is an abstract? According to the Writing Center at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, “an abstract is a self-contained, short, and powerful statement that describes a larger work. Components vary according to discipline. An abstract of a social science or scientific
work may contain the scope, purpose, results, and contents of the work. An abstract may contain
the thesis, background, and conclusion of the larger work.”

Abstracts serve several purposes. Abstracts help authors summarize their work. They help reviewers assess the components of the presentation, article, or other larger work the abstract describes. And they help other researchers discover the research in databases and search engines.

Students often ask questions about what exactly should be included in an abstract. Thankfully, calls for proposals, or CFPs will often state the requirements. Make sure to look for those requirements when
writing an abstract.

Next, we’ll cover five tips for writing more effective abstracts.
Abstract tip #1: Structure

As just mentioned, the structure of an abstract can vary depending on the field you’re studying. However, there are common elements that most abstracts contain, even if the wording is a little different. Let’s take a look at the components often included:

  • Background – What is my research about?
  • Aim/Purpose – Why am I studying this?
  • Method/Approach – What techniques or methods were used?
  • Results – What did I find?
  • Conclusion – What are the implications/impact of the research?

Abstract Tip #2 – Length
Most abstracts are between 100 and 300 words long (give or take). Normally, abstract length will be defined
in the call for proposals or in the author’s instructions online. Make sure to stay within these requirements.

Abstract Tip #3 – Synonyms
Include synonyms for words and concepts that appear in the title. For example: if the title of an article uses
the term dairy cows, then the abstract should include synonyms, such as cow, dairy cattle,
bovine.

Abstract Tip #4 – Consistency
Mention only the points actually covered in the research. Organize your abstract with the most important
information first, and try to avoid referencing other works.

Abstract Tip #5 – Clarity
As with titles, minimize the use of abbreviations and use common word order/combinations. Some of those examples include:

  • Writing out the word cancer rather than the abbreviation CA.
    Using full scientific names like Escherichia coli rather than E. coli.
  • And using the scientific phrase like “juvenile delinquency” instead of “delinquency among juveniles.”

After reviewing these 5 tips and the basics of abstracts, you’re probably ready to start drafting your own. As you begin looking for Calls for Proposals and thinking about the research you might like to conduct, don’t let the proposal process hold you back. Keep in mind that when you’re writing abstracts, you may not have your results yet since researchers often write proposals before they’ve finished conducting their research. Depending on the type of proposal you’re writing, you may only include what you hope or expect to see rather than actual results.

What is Medical Writing?

A lot of people ask what is medical writing so I looked it up on Wikipedia to see whether they knew. And they said it is the activity of producing scientific and medical documentation by a specialized writer. I’m Helen Baldwin, and I’m a medical writer and also I am the past president of an association, which is called the European Medical Writers Association. 

My medical writing is generally broken down into two categories. The first category is called regulatory writing and the second one is called medical communications. Regulatory writing is the sort of writing that is generally done in the pharmaceutical companies and it is the writing of documents that are related to the pharmaceutical development process. So, drug development and the people that we are writing regulatory documents for are the people who are performing clinical trials such as doctors and nurses. Also, the pharmaceutical companies themselves are the regulatory authorities which are the government bodies in each country that are in charge of deciding whether or not drugs are allowed to be marketed. So, what are the regulatory documents that we need to write about these clinical trials? Well, the first one is called a clinical study protocol and that is like a recipe book that explains to the doctors and the nurses how to actually perform the clinical trial so it is their instruction guideline. 

There is another sort of medical writing which is called medical communications and that is writing documents that are destined for healthcare professionals such as doctors and nurses who are actually prescribing the drugs and need to be able to make decisions about whether or not to prescribe a particular drug. 

We also write conference abstracts, conference posters, and slide presentations. Sometimes we are even lucky enough to be sent to a conference and to take notes during the conference and write a report about it.  

We also write educational tools for patients to understand more about the medications they are being prescribed. We also help write websites for pharmaceutical companies for research institutes etc. 

Some medical writers also participate in other activities. These include medical translations: translations from English into their native language or from their native language into English. 

So maybe you are asking yourself, am I the right sort of person to be a medical writer? I think that you need to understand complex science in any field. I think you need to be able to explain ideas in a clear and logical manner. You need to be someone who is good at presenting data in the most appropriate way. So, knowing how to decide where the data are best presented in tables or graphs or text. You need to be someone who can distinguish good science from bad science and recognize when data are biased. You need to be able to write short clear sentences and to build a logical argument. You need to be able to organize information in a clear way using headings and subheadings.

So what would be the required experience and qualifications that you would need if you were thinking about becoming a medical writer?
Well, I would say that firstly it would be very helpful to have a scientific or medical qualification. If you have a science background and you’ve done laboratory research in a University, for example, you would find that useful. Especially if you had also written during your research career some scientific publications because that is one of the things that you will probably do as a medical writer.

So where do medical writers work?
If you were thinking of looking for a job as a medical writer you could contact pharmaceutical companies, you could contact the sort of company that is called a contract research organization or a CRO which is a company that organizes clinical research on behalf of the pharmaceutical industry. There are also medical communications agencies and specialized writing companies such as my own company. You could also work for a University. Last but not least there are many freelance medical writers who actually work from their own homes.

The European Medical Writers Association has been around for 20 years now. In fact, this is our 20th birthday. We are an association of more than 1000 members. We have two conferences each year and up to around 300 people attend each of these conferences. They are a fantastic opportunity for networking, for meeting other medical writers and also for training. These workshops are provided by experienced medical writers who very generously and on a volunteer basis share their knowledge and expertise with us, and with their colleagues. I really love these conferences and I have been to nearly every conference for the last 13 years since I’ve been a member. There are a lot of advantages of being a member. One of those advantages is that you will receive our journal every quarter. We also have a fantastic website, and this website has an incredible resource for medical writers and for people who are thinking about being medical writers. I highly recommend people to join. 

I have to say, I really love medical writing. I find it very rewarding and very satisfying I get to use my scientific education and skills every day. I am constantly learning and having to keep up with the latest science, which changes very fast. And, of course, I love EMWA, the European Medical Writers Association because medical writers really are very friendly people.