If you are a health systems researcher, you’re probably already contemplating your strategy to submit abstracts for the Fifth Global Symposium on Health Systems Research in Liverpool. Competition will be tough, as you can imagine. For researchers still at the beginning of their career, the challenge is particularly big.
For a young researcher, there is a steep cliff to climb. (1) Either you are well-connected – in which case you may be invited to join an organized session (organized for instance by your PhD supervisor or the coordinator of the consortium your institute or team is involved in). Your chances are then quite high, as you can rely on the experience, prestige and convening power of the session organizer. (2) If you are not particularly well connected, however, you will most likely have to submit your research as an individual abstract. As competition is even tougher at that level, the outcome may be that your study is accepted for a poster. I’m sure this rings a bell for many among you.
This situation is problematic for several reasons. First, it doesn’t look very fair. Second, it also seems a source of inefficiency (we can think of several researchers who could organized a great session together – they just miss the “connector” linking them). Third, from a dynamic perspective, this typical “way of how things work” provides even more power to senior researchers with dense networks. If these ‘crossroads people’ were equally distributed at the global level, perhaps these would just be ‘things to know’ when you start your career (pick a well-connected PhD supervisor, develop your network,…). Unfortunately, they are not equally distributed. In fact, many of them are just like me: white, Western, based in the North and above 45 years old. In health systems research, many of these ‘connectors’ are also anglophone, were awarded their PhD in the US or the UK and are affiliated today to a leading actor in global health (a university or an international agency).
The Health Systems Global (HSG) board of directors and the organizing committee of the symposium are aware of this state of affairs and committed to address it (1). I am sure of that, because a few months ago, I was contacted by one member of the secretariat, who invited me to think on how Collectivity could be a tool to enable experts from the South to set up their own organized sessions. This was a direction we had not considered so far. Thank you George!
Co-develop an organized session
Against this backdrop, we are happy to share with you the two first proposals developed along this new strategy.
Kévine Laure Nkaghere (MD, MPH) from Cameroon is looking for experts keen on co-organizing a session on the place of women in global health (check here). Lara Gautier (PhD student) from France is looking for researchers willing to organize a session on research methodologies to measure the contribution of communities of practice and peer-to-peer processes in global health (check here). We hope that those of you working in these fields will pay close attention to their proposals.
If you face the same barrier (i.e. lack of a well-established network to organize a session), just contact us. We will be happy to facilitate your consultation process on Collectivity and help you to reach the crowd of experts also passionate about your research topic.
This is clearly an experiment. Let’s see whether Collectivity can help us to generate new types of organized sessions.
Note: (1) see also the new rule restricting the number of presentations per person.