Invitation for paper proposals: Special multidisciplinary issue on social support and maternal and child health

We would like to invite authors from any discipline to submit a paper proposal for a special issue on social support and maternal and child health, organised and edited by Dr Abigail Page, Dr Emily Emmott and Dr Sarah Myers. We particularly welcome original research proposals (quantitative, qualitative or mixed-method), as well as interdisciplinary paper.


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Deadline for paper proposal: 6th September, 6pm GMT


Contribution types: Original research, reviews, opinion pieces and perspectives between 2,000 – 8,000 words depending on the contribution.


What you need to submit: A title, an abstract describing the proposed paper content, its contribution and relevance to the topic, your academic discipline, author and affiliation list.


For questions and submissions:

When making a submission, please include “Proposal for special issue” in your e-mail subject.


Timeline: The final decision on the inclusion of your proposed paper in the special issue will be made by the 20th Sept, 6pm GMT. The decision will be made based on the suitability of the proposed paper in terms of topic, and its contribution to the special issue. Once paper contributions are finalised, organisers will submit the special issue proposal to Phil Trans B. If successful we expect to have the confirmation by mid-Dec. 2019, and the first submission of papers will be expected for peer-review by April-May 2020. Revisions and final submission will be expected by Oct.-Nov. 2020 for publication in Jan. 2021.


Organisers and editors:  Dr Abigail Page (LSHTM, MRC Research Fellow), Dr Emily Emmott (UCL, Senior Teaching Fellow in Biological Anthropology), Dr Sarah Myers  (UCL, Honorary Research Associate in Evolutionary Anthropology)


Confirmed contributors: Prof. Rebecca Sear, Dr Kirsty Budds, Dr Lia Betti, Dr Masahito Morita, Dr Lee Gettler, Dr Adam Boyette, Prof. Betty Kirkwood, Dr Rob Hughes, Dr Marina Daniele, Mairi Macleod, Dr Rihlat Said Mohammed, Prof. David Coall (spanning fields of public health, anthropology, human ecology, human biology, midwifery, paleoanthropology, demography and social psychology)


Special issue information for Phil Trans B:


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Background and topic information: 


Mother and child health have long been under a spotlight, with an array of institutions and agencies targeting the mother-child unit as a key to development and improved population outcomes. This focus is found in public health approaches in low, middle and high income countries alike. However, mothers and their children do not exist in a vacuum; social support structures provide essential scaffolding for both mothers and children. Indeed, the discourse on mother-child health increasingly acknowledges the importance of social support; however, what constitutes social support is often poorly defined, and it may variously be conceived as stemming from informal social structures (such as relatives or friends), formal support networks in terms of voluntary peer structures, health visitors and midwifes, as well as wider social institutions. Despite these varying concepts of support, there is typically a strong nuclear family bias regarding the scrutiny of, and interventions to augment, caregiving, to the exclusion of other potentially important actors.


Different disciplines – from psychology to anthropology, sociology, epidemiology, demography, public and population health – all approach the topic with different perspectives, assumptions and outlooks. When research remains contained within disciplinary confines, it risks not only being blinkered to the benefits of alternative approaches but also reducing its impact by failing to reach a wider audience. A holistic picture of social support and its consequences for maternal and child health is essential to effect change and can only be achieved with communication across disciplinary boundaries. This call for a multidisciplinary issue seeks to bridge the disciplinary gap and facilitate collaboration between researchers from any discipline working on social support in the context of maternal and child health.


During a very successful workshop held at UCL on social support and maternal-child health we established how important interdisciplinary work is to improve how we can support mothers with young children. This workshop brought together a real synergy of researchers from diverse backgrounds all trying to better understand the nature of social support and the impact it has. The workshop also spent time discussing how we can better improve interdisciplinary links to improve research. One conclusion reached was the importance of working on themes (i.e. mother and child health and social support) rather than just within our academic boundaries (the workshop summary can be found here). The next step on from this workshop is the production of a special edition on mother-child health and social support which approaches the issue from a range of perspectives. Details of the workshop and further work by Emily, Sarah and Abbey can be found at our OSF pages:


As Emily, Sarah and Abbey have a background in evolutionary anthropology, we are actively seeking more contributions from other disciplines, including but not limited to, public health, epidemiology, nursing and midwifery, demography, psychology, sociology, and education research.


If you have any questions about the topic, possible contribution ideas or any of the above information, please do not hesitate to email Abbey at