Presenting and Publishing Your Research

By Tony Su, Yale University Student, Unite For Sight Global Impact Fellow in Chennai

After returning home with collected research data, you will embark on another exciting phase of the academic research experience: data analysis. During this pivotal step, your study results take final shape, and you should start thinking about submitting results to research conferences and academic journals.

It is ideal if you have taken an introductory statistics class, in which case you are ready to start analyzing data immediately. Otherwise, it is not late to enroll in one in the next semester. Although you may not learn all you need for your research analysis from an introductory course, you will have all the basics necessary so that you can learn any other statistical techniques that may be necessary to analyze your data. Most introductory statistics classes will teach you how to use statistics programs, which you should master.

Most ophthalmology research studies employ some or all of these statistical measures: average, standard deviation (Central Limit Theorem), 95% confidence interval (Binomial distribution), type-one error, and odds ratio (logistic regression). Make sure you understand what these concepts are and when you should apply them. By referring to data summaries published in previous literature, you will develop a good idea of what statistics techniques to use.

After data analysis, instead of submitting your research results to an academic journal directly, you can gain a great experience by presenting your research at an international research conference. Many prestigious conferences require that the presented studies should have never been previously published elsewhere.

To apply for conference presentations, you will need to write up an abstract summarizing (a) the purpose, (b) the methods, (c) the results, and (d) discussions and conclusions. In fact, I would suggest that all Unite For Sight Global Impact Fellows who conduct research should develop detailed statements of research purpose and methods before setting off to international destinations. Poorly designed methods or lack of clear research purpose (and thus significance) can easily lead to rejection by abstract reviewers at this latter stage of the process.

Your abstract should follow the standard formats and styles used in most ophthalmology research literature, which you can learn by reading approximately ten relevant journal articles. You MUST have analyzed and summarized data and discussions in any conference abstract submission. Phrases like “results to be included” or “discussions to be included” will certainly lead to rejection. To convince reviewers to accept your work, you need clear statements of research significance. Specifically, how does your research answer questions that few have explored? How can the results of your study lead to practical consequences? How do your results contribute to scientific knowledge? How does your work address a problem in a new perspective? A clear (and certainly not exaggerated) statement of significance in your purpose or discussions will enhance your chances of acceptance. Since abstracts are short, make sure to include only the central elements of your study and leave out nonessential technical details.

Because most of the prestigious ophthalmology conferences require their presentations to be original and never presented previously, you should carefully choose which conference to apply for. Consult with your research mentor for advice. Abstract submission deadlines for different conferences range from late November to January, and in some cases until February.

Below is a list of suggested research conferences for you to consider.

Remember also that your research is likely relevant for global health conferences, and not just eye-care specific conferences. Consider submitting an abstract for presentation at Unite For Sight's Global Health & Innovation Conference that is held each year at Yale in April. The abstract deadline is usually in September. There are a variety of other global health conferences that you can submit to as well.