At a recent meeting of the program committee of a surgical society, members of the committee faced the dilemma of interpreting the results described in a number of abstracts where authors provided limited information. For example, an author describing a new operative procedure stated that he "had a limited experience which would be described." Did this mean that he had a series of 20 such operations, five years' experience, or a single patient he had operated on last week? Any physician wishing to communicate his work either in the literature or by presentations at meetings can learn the craft of writing an abstract, whether for summation of work to be considered by a program committee or a synopsis-abstract of a manuscript to be published in the Archives.
The origins of the "abstract" and guidelines for preparation of abstracts for completed manuscripts were presented by Richard Warren in 1976 when he