The PAS 2018 App was an improvement over the disaster that was 2017. At least searches often worked, and you could create a schedule. But if I wanted to search for the presentations, even my own, of which I was not the presenting author, I was out of luck on the mobile App. I like the work of my friend Bill Meadow, for example, but a search of his name on the mobile App returned nothing. Even though he was author on 3 abstracts. On the website https://www.xcdsystem.com/pas/program/2018/ if you click on “presenters” you can actually search for any of the authors.
At least the mobile App allowed you to see the tables, and included a link to the figures, which you then had to download, and look at separately to the abstract if you were lucky and the download worked.
As I mentioned on the website you can at least search for the names of any of the authors, but then, if you see an abstract that is interesting you can’t see most of the tables (try it out: type ‘Onland’ for the name of the presenting author for STOP-BPD, you will find the abstract but not the tables, but if you do the same thing on the mobile app you can see the tables). There are a few tables that do appear in random abstracts; and you can see at least some of the figures. But if you want to try and save the abstract by printing it to pdf, again you’re out of luck, the print button just doesn’t work (unless you want a pdf file in which the content of the abstract is ‘loading’).
On the website also some symbols such as ≥ show up as ? (both in firefox and microsoft edge). Reading an abstract and seeing, for example that an intervention increased death, but only in the subgroup ?26 weeks is a little concerning, is that more than, or less than..?
Finally, there is no longer any archive of the abstracts from previous PAS meetings, I often used to search old meetings for those abstracts, to remind myself of trials that I was waiting to see, or to find authors that I could email to see what was happening to the publication of their study, but that is no longer possible. It was a useful source for systematic reviews, and to find things that I had seen, which were of interest to me, but that I could not find the full paper.
Also for trainees, to have a permanent archive of their abstracts was very useful. I guess that now you could list hundreds of PAS abstracts on your CV if you are applying for a job, and no-one can check to see if they really existed!
The PAS leadership should find out what people want from their meeting. When I submit an abstract I would like there to be a permanent record of it, preferably one which is searchable in terms of topics and all the author names. We used to have that, but it no longer exists; I can’t even find abstracts from 2017.
I know I am not alone in my frustration with some recent changes, but I do not know if I am in a majority! There must be some way to recreate an archive of the abstracts from the last several years, and to ensure that there is a searchable database of all the abstracts for the future. I am a member of both SPR and APS, if all of us raise our voices, maybe we can make changes for the future and recover all the old abstracts.
The people organizing this enormous meeting are people of good will, and maybe they don’t realize that the disappearance of older abstracts, and the difficulty with using the new Apps and website, are big problems for many of us.
I am going to write a letter to the PAS program chair Thomas Shanley, from the University of Michigan. Once I find out who we should be addressing, if it is not him, I will let you know.