Aims and Objectives

STRATEGIC AIMS AND OBJECTIVES 2017

DESCRIPTION AND AIM

The Society for Social Medicine (SSM, http://www.socsocmed.org.uk) is a multidisciplinary academic society of leading experts in population health research from the UK, Ireland, and beyond with an aim of advancing knowledge for population health.

OBJECTIVES

Informed by our 2016 Members’ Survey and discussions at the 60th Annual General Meeting, the Society’s committee recently reviewed the Society’s strategy, and agreed on the following four objectives to help guide our priorities over the coming years

1) Promoting high-quality research and methodological rigour

Encouraging high-quality population health research has been at the core of the Society’s identity for many years. We believe this should continue to be our leading focus, and should underpin all our activities.

We demonstrate our commitment with:

  • Our Annual Scientific Meeting (ASM); which is the UK and Ireland’s leading annual scientific event in population health research
  • Our robust and transparent approach to reviewing abstracts for our ASM
  • The quantity and quality of methodology workshops at our ASM
  • Our funding of satellite one-day events in methods training and development, e.g. ‘Review methods for determining pubertal status in cohort and longitudinal studies’ (MRC Lifecourse Epidemiology Unit, University of Southampton, 2016).
  • Our funding of intensive methods training, e.g. the ‘SSM Summer School in Advanced Modelling Strategies for Analysing Observational Data‘ (Leeds Institute for Data Analytics, University of Leeds, 2017).

We are working towards:

  • Continuously monitoring and revising our ASM abstract marking criteria to ensure the highest levels of rigour
  • Ensuring representation of high quality quantitative, qualitative and mixed methodological research at our ASM, e.g. by amending our marking criteria to avoid excluding such work

For the future, we are considering:

  • Additional platforming of methodological content, e.g. through thematic calls, invited symposia, and special debates
  • Creation of a new eponymous lecture at our ASM, that focusses on an important methodological issue in population health research

2) Supporting our members across their career life course

We are committed to supporting our members to survive and flourish through their career in population health research.

We demonstrate our commitment with:

  • Our Early-Career Researcher (ECR) and Middle-Career Research (MCR) Sections, which facilitate networking between members at similar stages, and organise special events to help provide bespoke training in issues of direct concern to our members
  • Our mentoring scheme, in which senior members provide an impartial sounding board to MCRs, and MCRs similarly mentor ECRs.
  • The varied profile of our members and of members serving on our Main Committee
  • The open and supportive atmosphere of the ASM for which SSM is renowned

We are working towards:

  • Fostering increased communication between members through our Network Platform, a unique online networking space for Society members

For the future, we are considering:

  • Training in non-research skills of relevance to a career in 21st century academia, e.g. Leadership and emotional resilience
  • Promoting improved working conditions and opposing unhealthy employment practices

3) Fostering & facilitating multidisciplinary collaboration

We are a multidisciplinary and egalitarian society that aims to bring together a mixed and varied profile of experts with interests in advancing population health.

We demonstrate our commitment with:

  • Our ASM, which is characterised by its friendly atmosphere, egalitarian principles, and the encouragement of constructive discourse that respects the research and the researcher
  • Our belief that no one member is more important than another; we are all scholars of population research with different perspectives

We are working towards:

  • Continuously monitoring and revising our abstract marking criteria, to ensure that all relevant disciplines are fairly judged.
  • Developing an active Network Platform, so our members can interact across disciplines and academic rank, to the benefit of members and population health research.

For the future, we are considering:

  • Increasing our efforts to attract experts from underrepresented areas, e.g. medical sociologists, health psychologists, health economists, health service researchers, and qualitative researchers
  • New events to facilitate interactions between academic ranks, as well as within groups such as ECRs, MCRs, etc.

4) Providing an expert voice for population health

Our members are the UK and Ireland’s leading experts in population health. As such, we have an opportunity and a duty to support and promote evidence in the public space. This has not traditionally been the remit of our Society, but this is an area into which we would like to grow.

We have already demonstrated our commitment with:

  • Adopting positions and releasing statements on issues with substantial implications for population health (e.g. the UK referendum on whether or not to leave the European Union)

For the future, we are considering:

  • Using the network platform to create a list of ‘willing SSM experts’ who can provide critical contributions to important public debates on issues of population health
  • Promoting a measured approach to media engagement to prevent sensationalist reporting that damages the reputation of our field (e.g. by developing guidelines)