What is the BJSM Global SEM Mentoring Program and why is it important?
The BJSM Editorial Board is committed to advancing Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) across sport and exercise medicine (SEM), and we have developed several initiatives in recent months to support this priority. The key barriers to achieving EDI in SEM are inequity in research infrastructure, training, funding, and support worldwide and at all levels of the scientific process. This has meant that motivated SEM researchers, especially from low-income and middle-income countries, often face additional obstacles to conducting research and disseminating their findings. Through our new Global Mentoring Program, we aim to help break down these barriers by improving global collaboration. We will match experienced SEM researchers, with SEM researchers from low-income and middle-income countries who would benefit from mentorship and support to conduct impactful research in SEM.
What motivated us to establish the Program?
Challenges exist for SEM researchers from low-income and middle-income countries to publish their important work in high quality journals such as BJSM. Early in our tenure as Editors, we were fortunate to learn of SEM research being conducted in Zimbabwe/South Africa and Cameroon by two colleagues, Dr Nonhlanhla Mkumbuzi and Dr Maurice Douryang, respectively. We invited each to write an editorial about the challenges they have faced which provide insights into aspects of research and education where mentors could assist. We encourage you to read these compelling stories:
- Out of sight, out of mind: the invisibility of female African athletes in sports and exercise medicine research. https://bjsm.bmj.com/content/early/2021/05/10/bjsports-2021-104202
- Expanding sports and exercise medicine research in Cameroon: current challenges and defining what is needed. https://bjsm.bmj.com/content/early/2021/05/25/bjsports-2021-104481
What is the ultimate vision for the Program?
We aim to assist at all stages of SEM research, from designing and conducting research, analysing data, writing, and publishing quality manuscripts, and securing research funding. Each community may have unique research questions that can only be answered by investigations directed at local populations and policies. We hope that the Global Mentoring Program will support researchers from low-income and middle-income countries complete quality, impactful research and publish in respected international journals. This has the potential to improve the health and wellbeing of individuals and communities around the globe and meets a key objective of BJSM – to foster a ‘healthier world’ by embracing the values of EDI, cultivating new pathways for research and science, and bridging the gap between SEM and public health.
What is the commitment required and benefits of the Program for participants?
The BJSM Global Mentoring Program does not provide research funding, but rather connects (through shared interests) experienced researchers with less experienced, or less well-supported investigators. The commitment will vary depending on the relationship and the study, but we imagine at a minimum it would involve regular (e.g., monthly) virtual meetings for the duration of the project. The mentee and mentor can discuss the degree of involvement; possibilities include sharing research concepts, electronic library and journal access, methodology and statistical support, and training/acquisition of skills such as manuscript writing, grant writing and statistical analysis. Authorship is not expected but can be discussed and agreed upon between the parties if warranted. We also anticipate several less tangible benefits such as expanding professional networks, learning new perspectives from both parties, opportunities for research visits, and exposure to SEM in diverse settings. We believe there are many important SEM research questions that could be answered through effective collaboration in more diverse regions of the globe, ultimately benefiting both patients and clinicians.
How can you get involved?
If you are interested in being involved in the program, you can contact us via email at email@example.com. If you are looking for a mentor, we need to know where you are located, what your professional background and qualifications are, the name of and a short description of your project (if you have one, put it on one page) and whether there is a specific area you would like assistance with (e.g., study design, data analysis, manuscript writing).
If you would like to be a mentor, please contact us at the same email address and let us know where you are located and what your professional background and qualifications are and areas of interest. The BJSM Editors will personally connect potential mentees to voluntary mentors.
The BJSM Editors will not supervise the relationship in any way, but we would love to hear how the mentoring process progresses. We cannot guarantee publication in BJSM, but our goal is to improve the likelihood of manuscripts arising from the program being published in respected quality journals.
To contribute to the universality of science, BJSM calls for changing the current paradigm of scientific process through the implementation and dissemination of our Global Mentoring Program. Thus, we are very excited to launch this initiative and hope that many members of the BJSM Community and those from other fields become involved in enabling greater global equity in science and SEM!
Authors: Joanne Kemp, Jon Patricios, Nonhlanhla Mkumbuzi, Maurice Douryang, Jane Thornton, Jonathan Drezner.