Searching for Conference Abstracts and Posters Online

7 07 2012

Companies’ first disclosure of hot clinical trial data often occurs at various conferences in the form of posters or presentations, and also simultaneously as press release summarising top-line data.

Sometimes this is the only data on a particular investigational product that will ever be published. Why? Because, in the current biotech environment, many small companies disappear before the product reaches Phase III. Others lack resources and time to focus on publishing when raising money to stay (financially) afloat is more important, and bringing value to shareholders is near the top of agenda.

Although, not ideal, there are some tools to search for clinical trial data disclosed at conferences and meetings.

1. PubMed search has following filters: “Clinical Conference” and  “Congresses.” Read instructions here.

Unfortunately, MEDLINE does not index meeting abstracts, therefore, the search results are often few and are conference summary or editorial articles. For example, my search for “prostate cancer” on PubMed pulled 102 253 articles (search date 7JUL2012).  Of these,  316 articles were filtered under  “Clinical Conference” and  “Congresses,” and 60 articles were from last 5 years, and only 17 articles were published since January 1, 2011.  This is a drop in the bucket considering 100s of posters actually presented in myriad meetings and colossal size conferences these days.

The top four articles (hits) from PubMed search are listed below.  Note that these are meeting summary articles, except #3 which appears to be a false positive.

  1. What’s new–what’s changing in prostate cancer? Abstracts of an interactive one-day educational meeting of the Royal Society of Medicine Sections of Oncology. February 17, 2012. London, United Kingdom. Int J Clin Pract Suppl. 2012 Apr;176:1-4
  2. A report from the 27th Annual Congress Of The European Association Of Urology (February 24-28, 2012 – Paris, France). Drugs Today (Barc). 2012 Mar;48(3):233-43.
  3. Case records of the Massachusetts General Hospital. Case 9-2012. A 67-year-old man with a persistently elevated PSA level. N Engl J Med. 2012 Mar 22;366(12):1143-50.
  4. Fifth Joint Meeting of J-CaP and CaPSURE: advancing the global understanding of prostate cancer and its management. Jpn J Clin Oncol. 2012 Mar;42(3):226-36.

2. Embase is a very good resource, but requires subscription!  Embase database not only includes all of MEDLINE, but also indexes meeting abstracts and proceedings.  There are indirect ways to search Embase, such as, through ProQuest Dialog Database (which also requires subscription).

3. PapersFirst database indexes papers presented at conferences, congresses, symposiums, workshops, expositions and meetings worldwide, and received by  The British Library Document Supply Centre.  This database goes back to 1993, requires subscription, which many university libraries may have, eg, here, here or here. Therefore, find a buddy who works for university.

4. Association websites are good repositories of meeting abstracts.  American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) meeting abstracts can be searched hereAACR abstracts here., and American Society for Radiation Oncology (ASTRO) abstracts here.

5. Medscape’s Conference Coverage is a good place to look for articles summarizing key presentations or posters from a meeting. Click here for ASCO 2012 coverage.

6. Oskicat is University of Berkeley library library catalog.  Under “advanced search” limit search to “conferences.” Access oskicat here.

7. F1000 Posters is a repository of meeting posters and presentation slides.  Unfortunately, pharma companies do not utilize this resource and most submissions (which are free) are by academia.

F1000 Posters is a unique open access repository for posters and slide presentations across biology and medicine. By keeping the work visible long after a meeting has ended it maximizes the return on the time, effort and money invested in creating each presentation. We also accept depositions from local meetings (e.g. PhD student days).
F1000 Posters has received positive responses from presenters and societies alike, and we have support from leading journals and publishers including Nature, PNAS, Elsevier, BMJ, BioMed Central, PLoS, SAGE etc (see here for a full list of responses).

8. Nature Precedings is another repository of preprints (pre-peer-reviewed publications), meeting posters and presentation slides.  Launched in 2007 by Nature  Journals, it was discontinued in April 2012–since it did not fit the “commercial” goals of Nature Journals–but, remains accessible and searchable, for now.

9. arXiv database of preprints, unlike Nature Precedings, is run as a non-profit by Cornell University.  It remains highly popular with physical sciences community, but has limited (=none) coverage of biological and clinical sciences.  However, it is worth searching for medical devices related preprints.



” Well, I’m here to remind you / Of the mess you left when you went away…” — You Oughta Know, Alanis Morissette.




2 responses

4 01 2013

great summary of resources, thanks!

6 01 2013
ajay malik

Thank you Lynne for your comment. If you find other resources, please do add to the list here.
– Ajay

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