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3 ways professional societies can boost impact through collaboration

25 de marzo de 2024

Por Sarah Pratta, Simanta Buck

Photo depicts a meeting of business leaders and medical professionals (Source: Sturti/E+ via Getty Images)

© Sturti/E+ via Getty Images

Here’s how some leading medical societies are collaborating for the advancement of science and clinical practice

Although their specific objectives may vary, societies typically share the same core objectives to advance science, drive innovation, connect their communities, build strategic partnerships, and be a trusted voice and source of knowledge in their domain. Often, they work independently on their missions, focusing on their own unique goals and member communities.

However, given the increasingly interdisciplinary nature of research, societies cannot fully serve their communities while working in silos; collaboration with other societies in the same or adjacent fields can help enormously in meeting common goals. Moreover, collaboration between societies can improve the knowledge transfer among research communities, provide alignment on goals and missions, and strengthen advocacy for research prioritization and funding.

Here’s how some societies have done this — and how you may be able to increase your society’s impact by working collaboratively with other like-minded organizations.

1. Joint publications, statements and guidelines

When societies work together to publish joint publications, statements or guidelines, often designed to endorse and publicize a recommended approach, it can lead to better outcomes through cross-pollination of ideas, consensus building and the dissemination of critical information to a wider audience within a specialty or research area or across specialty areas. By co-publishing, societies can often broaden the reach of these high-impact papers and disseminate relevant information more quickly — especially important when the information affects clinical care and health outcomes. Here are a few examples.

Joint article publication

The National Kidney Foundationse abre en una nueva pestaña/ventana (NKF) and American College of Radiologyse abre en una nueva pestaña/ventana (ACR) developed and endorsed inaugural consensus statements to improve and standardize the care of patients with decreased kidney function who have indications to receive intravenous gadolinium-based contrast media (GBCM). The societies’ shared mission was to disseminate this important consensus report to both the nephrology and radiology communities, so they jointly published the report in Kidney Medicinese abre en una nueva pestaña/ventana (an NKF journal) and Radiologyse abre en una nueva pestaña/ventana (the journal of a related organization: the Radiological Society of North Americase abre en una nueva pestaña/ventana).

“By collaborating with the ACR and jointly publishing our consensus statement, we were able to reach both nephrologists and radiologists with guidance about how to avoid complications of using certain contrast media in people with kidney disease, while meeting the need for appropriate diagnosis of other health conditions,” says Dr Kerry Willis, Chief Scientific Officer for the National Kidney Foundation.

Since publication, this joint report has garnered multiple citations to the Kidney Medicine version and Radiology version — and high article downloads on both journal sites — achieving the goal of broader dissemination and engagement of this important cross-disciplinary topic.

Joint virtual special issue

The Elsevier-owned journal Gait and Posturese abre en una nueva pestaña/ventana, which publishes new and innovative basic and clinical research on all aspects of human movement, is currently putting together a virtual special issue (VSI) — an online collection of articles on a topic or research area — that will bring together at least eight societies. The VSI will showcase guidelines on gait posture and represent insights from various regional and national societies. So far, two guidelines have published with many more in the works:

While some of these societies have affiliations with the journal, that’s not required for publication in the VSI. This VSI will act as a hub to both showcase these guidelines and collect similar research on a rolling basis going forward. The collaboration will bring together insights from around the world that can be used to advance the knowledge of dynamic aspects of human movement and postural control for researchers, clinicians and patients.

2. Joint working groups

Professional societies in a specific discipline or area of science often face similar complex challenges and have unique opportunities to work together toward solutions. Joint working groups consisting of representatives from multiple professional societies allow for different perspectives and ideas to be shared in a broader and more impactful way.

One example is the Global Environmental Evolution in Nephrology and Kidney Care – GREEN-K initiativese abre en una nueva pestaña/ventana. Led by the International Society of Nephrologyse abre en una nueva pestaña/ventana, this initiative is a global effort by 10 prominent national and regional kidney societies to promote environmentally responsible kidney care in line with UN principles for climate action. It has a vision of “sustainable kidney care for a healthy planet and healthy kidneys,” and mission to “promote and support environmentally sustainable and resilient kidney care globally through advocacy, education, and collaboration.” This initiative will be inclusive and global, focusing on collaborative action to develop a coordinated plan to achieve low carbon kidney services across the spectrum of care. Members of the Steering Committee shared their initial call to action in a Special Report published in Kidney International: Our Shared Responsibility: The Urgent Necessity of Global Environmentally Sustainable Kidney Carese abre en una nueva pestaña/ventana.

Joint working groups can result in joint position statements from participating societies, foster research in new areas, generate higher levels of advocacy for a particular challenge, and really move the needle on developing ways to address complex issues in a particular field.

3. Joint meetings/conferences

Many large international societies offer joint membership or other benefits for regional affiliated societies. This helps to increase visibility of these societies across multiple research communities and broadens the reach of any affiliated events. These types of cross-organizational agreements help create greater visibility for conference panelists and speakers and can attract a larger, more diverse group of conference participants.

One such example is the collaboration between the American College of Chest Physicians (CHEST)se abre en una nueva pestaña/ventana, with which Elsevier publishes three high impact journals (the journal CHEST®,se abre en una nueva pestaña/ventana CHEST® Critical Carese abre en una nueva pestaña/ventana and CHEST® Pulmonaryse abre en una nueva pestaña/ventana) and the Fleischner Society. CHEST is an organization focused on clinical education, with more than 22,000 pulmonary, critical care and sleep medicine professionals, while the Fleischner Society is a niche international organization of key opinion leaders in thoracic radiology.

First collaborating through the organization’s flagship journal, CHEST, both organizations found mutual benefit in working together. “The Fleischner Society produces numerous white papers in areas like lung cancer and interstitial lung disease, where information gleaned from imaging becomes critical to determining a treatment plan,” says Dr Peter Mazzonese abre en una nueva pestaña/ventana, Editor in Chief of the journal CHEST and member of the Fleischner Society.

These White Papers had traditionally been published only in radiology journals, and there was a clear benefit to getting these pieces in front of the CHEST audience to expand the reach of the papers and, ultimately, the understanding among pulmonologists.

Beyond the published research, the Fleischner Society is present at the CHEST Annual Meeting and involved in educational programming through sessions and postgraduate courses. “This collaboration allows CHEST to provide the latest advancements to those focused on thoracic radiology and allows the Fleischner Society access to the wide-reaching membership of the CHEST organization,” says Jenny Szabo, Chief Operations Officer for CHEST and publisher of the CHEST journal.

Peter Mazzone, MD, FCCP, Editor in Chief, CHEST

Peter Mazzone, MD, FCCP, Editor in Chief, CHEST

A seven-year collaboration that will continue to grow, this relationship reflects the crossover that exists between adjacent disciplines and the value of collaborating in support of common goals. The Fleischner Society can have a greater impact on the care provided by pulmonary clinicians, and the CHEST community and its leadership is more deeply involved with the latest advancements shared by the sub-specialty society.

The benefits of collaborating with other societies

The synergy achieved through these society partnerships helps to create shared knowledge, broadened reach, and amplified advocacy for the advancement of each society’s goals. We encourage you to explore collaborative opportunities to drive positive change in your communities and beyond.


Sarah Pratta


Sarah Pratta

Executive Publisher, Nephrology and Pathology


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Simanta Buck


Simanta Buck

Executive Publisher, Respiratory Medicine


Leer más acerca de Simanta Buck