Discoverability: Encouraging Interdisciplinary Collaboration in One Health

In 2018, I attended the 5e One Health International Congress, organized by the One Health platform. For me, it opened my eyes in terms of the scope of the One Health concept and the challenges and obstacles to putting the One Health approach into practice. The One Health approach could provide lasting solutions to global health problems, however, the interdisciplinary collaboration that would be required is not easy. Here, I discuss some ways journals can promote collaboration.

One Health is a broad concept and there are different definitions of what One Health encompasses. The US CDC describes it as:

“One Health is an approach that recognizes that human health is closely linked to animal health and our shared environment… Successful public health interventions require the cooperation of human, animal and environmental health partners. “.

The One Health Commission defines it as:

“A collaborative, multisectoral and transdisciplinary approach – working at local, regional, national and global levels – to achieve optimal health and well-being outcomes by recognizing the interconnections between people, animals, plants and their environment commmon. “

Although definitions may vary, the themes of working together and collaborating are central to all versions of the concept. Internet communication these days means that we have the opportunity to collaborate with groups all over the world, but how do you find people that you could collaborate with on studies related to One Health, especially if they are not part of the same? discipline that you? This is particularly difficult if your potential collaborator is not a researcher. I have been working in journal publishing for over ten years and can see the potential role journals can play in fostering collaboration.

A scientific journal is not only a store of published articles (which can be read multiple times) but can be a platform to bring together articles on common themes (through collections and special issues) and make your “discoverable” work through various model publications and offering avenues available in parallel with the “traditional review”.

Michael Schloter (Helmholtz Center for Environmental Health) co-edits ambitious special issue in the transformative journal Microbial ecology called Emerging Pathogens, Food Security and One Health inviting papers from all disciplines and encouraging interdisciplinary collaboration (current and future) to find solutions to global health problems.

Michael says of the One Health concept:

The “One Health” concept describes the link between the environment and human health. It is based on the observation that many common illnesses are the result of negative impacts from disrupted environments. This includes allergies, infectious diseases, but also cancer and diabetes. The interplay of environmental and human microbiomes plays a key role in this concept, focusing first on the antibiotic resistant and pathogen microbiota, but now also recognizing the importance of a highly diverse environmental microbiome as a trigger. of our immune system.

The One Health concept has also led to an overhaul of medicine, implementing a more systemic vision of the development of the disease. Thus, more and more, beyond the development of new therapies for sick people, disease prevention is becoming a major subject. This includes measures for the protection of the environment and the restoration of sites with a negative human footing such as urban or industrial areas.

As you can see in the last sentence, the emphasis is on thinking beyond traditional health sciences and encouraging collaboration with social scientists, people working and promoting sanitation in the home. environment, public service departments… and this is just one example.

Michael’s special issue invites new submissions for now, but even if your recent article has already been published, it’s not too late to include them in the collections (at no additional cost). Publishers create collections (many are inter-journal) on trending or emerging topics, so look for them in marketing emails or on journal home pages. One of these collaborative collections that I have personally created is Contribution of Climate Change to the Spread of Infectious Diseases, which brings together already published open access articles from sixteen journals. The articles are then brought to the attention of readers of completely different journals through these collections.

Another way for journals to play an important role in promoting collaboration is to improve discoverability. Of course, making your research open access is an important way to accomplish this, as many interested and potential contributors may not have access to the journals. Publishing datasets and making them available open is a not-so-obvious approach, but still useful for promoting discoverability (datasets can be published on their own or with a research paper) and encourage collaboration by allowing someone else to build on the information already available – the Missing Maps project works on this basis. Ruth Timme and colleagues explain how genomic data can be optimized and shared to support One Health approaches.

Scientific articles are not the easiest to read and digest. They follow a prescribed linguistic format and are not accessible to people outside this scientific discipline. Blogs are a relaxed and informal way to communicate complex science concepts – BugBitten is a prime example. What you might not realize is that publishers often host free blogging platforms – and most importantly, they want you to use them to talk about your work. BugBitten receives between 20,000 and 30,000 visitors (academic and non-academic) per month, making it a great way to promote your work to potential collaborators. BugBitten is part of the larger BMC blogging network and the Nature portfolio hosts community sites – all of these blogs are available to authors as well. Just contact the editorial office or editor of your journal to find out how you can use their blogs.

There are many avenues for promoting collaboration, and journals offer a few options for this. I hope that through this article you are encouraged to try some of them.


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