Supporting young researchers in their efforts to publish successfully

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Guest blog post by Dr Valéry Ridde, an Associate Editor of BMC Health Services Research.  Dr Ridde is an Associate Professor at the University of Montreal with research interests in the evaluation of health services organization. In collaboration with Melanie De Souza, Dr Ridde recently hosted a workshop on skills-building in scientific presentation and scientific writing at the Second Global Symposium on Health Systems Research held in Beijing this year.

It is never easy for the youngest to be heard. While in some recent movements, youngsters have gone so far as to bang on pots in the street to express themselves [1], in science, it is often only through publishing that they can be acknowledged academically. However, like many other fields, science is not always conducive to youngsters’ theories which may challenge mainstream ideas [2]. To become a competent, respected scientist, one needs to attend scientific conferences and be published in peer reviewed journals. PhD students and those starting their scientific career [3], are given the opportunity to present their work at conferences. This is certainly worthwhile and young scientists should seize every opportunity they can to gain exposure, promote/defend their research and develop good presentation skills. Naturally, the results one presents are important- but how one communicates their data is equally important.

The Institute of Tropical Medicine (ITM) in Antwerp organized the first Emerging Voices workshop in 2010. Based on its success, the ITM organized the second workshop in Beijing in 2012 to support the active participation of emerging researchers in the Second Global Symposium on Health Systems Research. For the two weeks before the conference, fifty young researchers from 26 countries attended workshops to strengthen their skills, particularly in scientific communication. It was on this occasion that myself and Melanie, had the opportunity to host a two-hour workshop. We were able to share our scientific experiences—both as researchers and journal editors—offering tips and useful insights into the world of scientific publishing. The presentation was dynamic, with “Ask the Expert” question sessions and technical explanations. We outlined the steps involved in the submission process and offered tactics on how to speed up the process and adopt a winning strategy. We showed how the different Biomed Central journals worked and how to use the Edanz website for selecting a suitable journal. We obtained positive feedback from the 50 young scientists attending the workshop and, in the opening plenary session of the conference, the Emerging Voices participants were able to voice their opinions.

Our tips are certainly useful for the new generation of health systems researchers. The ability to effectively communicate findings in our globalised world is becoming increasingly important and if these skills are learnt early by emerging innovative researchers, new ideas and models can be implemented, leading to improved healthcare reforms.

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1.  O’Neill M: The Ottawa Charter: a manifesto for ‘the protestor’? Global Health Promotion 2012, 19:3-5.

2.   Ridde V, Mohindra K, LaBossière F: Driving the global public health research agenda forward by promoting the participation of students and new researchers: Perspectives from Quebec. Canadian Journal of Public Health 2008:460-465.

3.   Ridde V, Mohindra K: The value of presenting at scientific conferences: reflections by a couple of early career researchers. J Epidemiol Community Health 2008, 63(3):doi:10.1136/jech.2008.077008.