The submission date for individual abstracts for our 5th Global Symposium has just passed and we hit another record: 2,874 submissions were received (after eliminating all incomplete and duplicate submissions). This is a 12% increase over HSR2016, revealing growing interest in the work of Health Systems Global.
Submissions* came from 118 countries, including from 26 countries that were not represented in Vancouver. 50% of all abstract submissions were from low-income and lower-middle income countries, compared to 44% last time. This is likely to be due, at least in part, to HSG efforts. Growth from middle income countries is also apparent, with an 8% increase.
We’ve also succeeded in increasing submissions from other regions. Thanks to the support of HSG members from Africa and Latin America who organized webinars and a number of pre-conferences, we see a 40% and 30% increase respectively in submissions from these regions. Abstracts from the Middle East and Eastern Europe also grew compared to HSR2016. While there were relatively few organized session submissions from East Asia & the Pacific, 323 individual abstracts were submitted, providing an indication of the interest existing in this region.
This year we introduced a tri-lingual submission platform to reduce language barriers for French and Spanish speaking colleagues: this appears to have been effective, with 106 French and 134 Spanish submissions received.
The level of competition for places in the program is stiff: around 10% of abstracts will be selected for oral presentation and an additional 20% for posters. Review of individual abstracts has already started with decisions expected towards the end of April. Each abstract will be reviewed by at least three expert reviewers, drawn from our scientific committee of 270 members. They have been asked to assess abstracts using the following criteria:
- Technical merit;
- Relevance to the Symposium theme;
- Significance to the sub-theme area and field-building dimension.
For research and field-building abstracts, Technical Merit includes the combination of:
- Quality of ideas;
- Appropriateness of methodology or process to question and conceptual approach;
- Rigour of methodology or process
Increased interest in the symposium has also led to increased demand for scholarship support. From 2,874 presenters, 55% requested full scholarship and 12% partial scholarships, and we expect that the proportion of those needing financial support will remain high for the sub-set of abstracts accepted for oral and poster presentation. The symposium Fundraising Committee has been working hard and has already secured some funding for scholarship support. However, it is unlikely that Symposium resources will be able to fully meet such a high demand. Therefore, we strongly encourage all of those interested in attending HSR2018 to start exploring alternative funding opportunities, while the Program Working Group is reviewing and selecting your abstracts.
Over the next few months, we will be taking the material submitted and structuring it into what we hope will be an exciting and stimulating conference program. As in previous years, half of the sessions will be drawn from the organized session proposals, and the other half will be assembled from individual abstracts. This year multimedia presentations will be integrated into the abstract-driven sessions, and, encouraged by recent online debates about how academic conferences can be structured to encourage debate and dialogue, we will be looking to session chairs to think creatively about how to stimulate interaction.
* Based on the Corresponding author location, otherwise country participation is significantly greater when accounting for co-authors and also countries that were researched.