The evidence synthesis and meta‑analysis in R conference (ESMARConf): levelling the playing field of conference accessibility and equitability
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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Rigorous evidence is vital in all disciplines to ensure efficient, appropriate, and fit-for-purpose decision-making with minimised risk of unintended harm. To date, however, disciplines have been slow to share evidence synthesis frameworks, best practices, and tools amongst one another. Recent progress in collaborative digital and programmatic frameworks, such as the free and Open Source software R, have significantly expanded the opportunities for development of free-to-use, incrementally improvable, community driven tools to support evidence synthesis (e.g. EviAtlas, robvis, PRISMA2020 flow diagrams and metadat). Despite this, evidence synthesis (and meta-analysis) practitioners and methodologists who make use of R remain relatively disconnected from one another. Here, we report on a new virtual conference for evidence synthesis and meta-analysis in the R programming environment (ESMARConf ) that aims to connect these communities. By designing an entirely free and online conference from scratch, we have been able to focus efforts on maximising accessibility and equity—making these core missions for our new community of practice. As a community of practice, ESMARConf builds on the success and groundwork of the broader R community and systematic review coordinating bodies (e.g. Cochrane), but fills an important niche. ESMARConf aims to maximise accessibility and equity of participants across regions, contexts, and social backgrounds, forging a level playing field in a digital, connected, and online future of evidence synthesis. We believe that everyone should have the same access to participation and involvement, and we believe ESMARConf provides a vital opportunity to push for equitability across disciplines, regions, and personal situations.