Society for Social Medicine (SSM) & Early Career ResearcherS (ECR) Network Platform
In the current technological age where information is only a simple press of a button away, people connect to each other on a myriad of platforms, such as LinkedIn, Twitter, Research Gate or Facebook. These networks are powerful not only in bringing connections into an online domain but also in introducing people with similar interests to each other via interest groups and mediated introductions. Although specific interest groups can be created on platforms such as Facebook, work-oriented platforms such as LinkedIn have become important means of job-related external and internal professional relations.
SSM, as an academic Society, could harness the power of the social networks to create depth and enhance community experience. In the long run, a network platform that is based on research interests of the SSM members can become a foundation for further development and integration of interactive technology in the future.
Currently, the SSM members find information about the Society via:
- SSM Website
- SSM & ECR Newsletter, Emails, Twitter, Facebook
- SSM Conference and other one-day events
- SSM & ECR Mentoring scheme
- ECR Gig trail
As a current member of the SSM, you will be able to access the Network Platform through a private and secure area of the website named Members Area, under the following link: http://www.hg3.co.uk/ssm/members.aspx.
Now, SSM members could find out information and research interests of other SSM members via the Network Platform, by selecting the Search heading. If you would like to connect with other SSM members on specialised professional interests within the SSM community, please select Forum discussion heading and introduce a key topic of interest (e.g. diet, mental health, policy). Please log in as normal with your email address and password, then you will find the two new tabs in the menu bar.
For more information on how to use the Network Platform, please click the following links for further details: Network Platform FAQs, Step by Step User Guide, and the Network Platform Code of Conduct. These documents can also be downloaded from the Documents section of the SSM Members Area.
Scope and Objectives
The proposed network platform aims to extend and consolidate the current Society portfolio of information transfer and intra-Society connectivity.These important areas of information transfer are vital to SSM members. The network platform also takes into consideration the needs of ECRs in integrating them into the research community based on their specific research areas of interest.
- The network platform’s main focus is to link people with specialised professional interests within the SSM community and encourage the generation and sharing of resources and ideas for the advancements of Social Medicine in research, education, practice and policies.
- The network platform aims to achieve an increased online visibility of all SSM members who work in similar areas of interest, as defined by the key areas of interest recorded and updated in the SSM database. Given the breadth of knowledge and research experience within the Society, the Network Platform would allow members to link to each other on specialised areas of interest, allowing its members to identify other fellow SSM members working on common topics at various stages of their careers (ECR, senior) and different locations within the UK or abroad.
Network platform: preparation, execution, consolidation
The network platform will operate in many ways as a LinkedIn or Research Gate interest group, but is enhanced and coordinated by the Society and the information its members has provided. The social element of the network platform facilitates membership-binding in that the activity within the platform becomes the added value of the membership.
The success of a network platform depends on the active involvement of a critical number of SSM members. To take Facebook as an example, with around 50% of possible users actively using the group interest facilities, the group will have reached a critical threshold above which it is self-sustaining.
Preparation of the Network Platform
We are currently working on the following components:
- An up-to-date database of current SSM members and their status of seniority (ECR, non-ECR) together with the keywords for their research interests. It is highly desirable to have such a database accessible and searchable at any time to allow network analyses that are of interest to all SSM members and the SSM executive committee, such as identification of geographical pockets of research interests, upcoming trends in integrative research, and the reciprocal influence of the SSM community on related disciplines.
- Access to member’s only section on the SSM website that allows a member to see and search for up-to-date profile research interests of other SSM members. This creates the visibility needed and provides the members with the possibility to “follow” another member, for senior members if they are available for mentoring junior members, and for junior members to indicate if they are looking for a mentor.
Execution of the Network Platform
We are planning to create several research interest groups based on the keywords provided by SSM members. Examples of groups are:
- Social Determinants of Health
- Primary Care
- Cardiovascular disease
- Cognitive disorders
- Methodology (qualitative, quantitative, systematic reviews)
- Health policy
It is envisioned that the development of these interest groups will be followed by the introduction of specialist facilities which could include:
- An on-line ask-and-answer forum/ topic discussion (interactive)
- Special SSM sessions of Interest Groups at ASM (e.g. lunch time or Thursday afternoon 5-6 pm)
- Research highlights relevant to that group (online + ASM information)
- Notifications of jobs or events related to the group (uploaded by the panel members + ASM)
- Information about specialised research tools and resources (online+ ASM)
- Incentives to promote collaborative work (across different levels of seniority)
- The existing features within SSM to connect people could be integrated within each of the platform components. This will allow current active members to find their way easily in the system and be the first to populate it.
Consolidation of the Network Platform
To make the network platform self-sustaining, SSM members will need to understand the utility of the platform and its operationalisation. This is the added value of the network and in turn the added value of being an SSM member.
Please note that the Network Platform will only be available to current members of the Society. If you have not renewed your membership, you will not be able to access it until you have paid the subscription fee.
Should you wish to opt out, and choose not to share your details with other SSM members, please log into the Members Area, select ‘Update your details’, and then scroll down to the bottom and tick the box at the bottom of the page.
Once you have opted out, other members will not be able to search for you in the Network Platform, but you will still be able to use the search facility and online forum yourself.
SSM Network Platform Working Group
Dr Dorina Cadar (UCL), Sara Ronzi (University of Liverpool), Dr Evangelia Demou (University of Glasgow), Dr Mark Kelson (Cardiff University), Steph Bryant (Hg3 Conferences Ltd), Linda Ng Fat (UCL), Dr Melanie Rimmer (University of Sheffield), Dr Sarah Gibney (Department of Health, Dublin).