Abstracts, posters, meeting presentations: great for organizing your thoughts, great for meeting new people, lousy for getting you motivated. A typical scenario: you’ve just finished a poster at the last minute, had it printed minutes before you were due to leave for your conference, gone to the conference, saw lots of talks, got lots of new ideas, and then had to deal with all the stress of coming back to “real life” and all the work that piled up while you were away. Seems like a perfect time to rest on your laurels and let that poster ride a little longer (after all, you really did put a lot of effort into it, and it came out generally okay, right?).
There are those who are extrmely driven, seem to have enough time to do everything they set out to do, and even complete the Paleo Project Challenge every year. Then, there are the rest of us. Just a reminder during this holiday of seasons that for every ounce of inspiration you are lacking to finish things up on that particular project that’s been sitting around, data-heavy, for a few years and needs to be shaped up into manuscript form, there are probably dozens of people in your field who feel the same way. Why not give them a bit of extra encouragement for the coming year?
So, my own challenge to keep the science flowing: if you come across an abstract in your research that seems promising but has no later published version, especially if you aren’t acquainted with the author, drop them a friendly line. Tell them how much you appreciated the effort and that you’re waiting for the paper. Let them know you’d love to see the data in print. If you take five minutes of your time doing this, maybe we’ll all get the benefit–plus, who doesn’t like being praised for work they had abandoned for the assumption of lack of interest?
Clever abstract artists may find a way to monetize this, if the data are interesting enough. With a little PayPal encouragement, who knows what can be accomplished?