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A Peek Behind the Scenes - Conference Paper Selections

Ever wondered how we choose the thought-provoking and inspirational papers for our Annual Conference? Want some top tips on submitting a paper? Well, stick with us and we’ll give you a glimpse behind the scenes of our Programme Committee and the rigorous paper selection process.

Crème de la crème

Our goal for the EphMRA Annual Conference is to offer delegates the best possible programme of presentations and speakers. We want you to leave the Conference having learnt lots, being full of new ideas and feeling inspired.

How It All Works

To deliver this valued event, we put great thought, time and attention to the Conference programme. Here’s a step-by-step guide to the process:

  1. Call for Speakers – whilst it may seem a long time from February until the conference the year after, this is when the Programme Committee meet to discuss what topics/themes will resonate with colleagues at the conference! A great deal of thought is given to this process and from this discussion, the Call for Speakers document is produced.  This is sent out to EphMRA members around the time of the conference in June – giving ample time for submissions to be prepared in time for the deadline in mid-September.
  2. Review of Submissions – the Committee individually evaluate all the submissions using strict criteria – e.g. that the paper is likely to provide clear and tangible takeaway messages and will provide new insights. All of these evaluations are amalgamated and then we gather our Committee together again in October to review the submissions and select a shortlist.

  3. Five-Minute Pitches – each of the shortlisted speakers gives a five-minute pitch to our Committee on the phone, to really bring their ideas to life. There is also time for questions.
  4. The Final Decision – our Committee meets to debate which papers should be selected for the Conference. We ensure there is a variety of topics, high-quality speakers and lots of case studies (as we know how much you love those).

What Makes an Outstanding Paper?


We asked our Programme Committee for some tips on submitting an outstanding paper, here’s what they told us.

“There are a few key elements that I am looking for …

  1. True Innovation – I’m looking for something that is truly unique, not for uniqueness sake, but to give the client what they need in a novel way.
  2. Collaboration – I feel we do our best work when we work together. Case studies that have involved real collaboration between clients, agencies and other stakeholders are likely to present better solutions.
  3. Honesty – True innovation rarely gets it right first time. Honest papers that present the work, warts and all, including the things that went wrong and how setbacks were overcome, provide real learning.”

    Stephen Potts, Elma Research

“Two key tips – look at some element of the industry from a different point of view. This doesn’t need to be a new subject, more a re-evaluation of what we do currently. And secondly, make sure there are 3 or 4 takeaways which people in the audience can implement when they get back to their desk – what is the immediate impact/call to action for the paper.”

Sarah Phillips, IQVIA

  “Don’t be afraid to go into the details of your methodology. We need collective intelligence to generate wider changes and move forward as an industry.”

Xierong Liu, Ipsos Health

Our Programme Committee

We’re grateful to have an experienced and diverse group of people who give their time and expertise on our Programme Committee. Roy Rogers of Hall & Partners told us why he joined: “Partly through a curiosity to get closer to the thinking and developments that are going on throughout the whole of our industry and to watch how a great paper grows from early synopsis stage through to an impactful conference paper.  Also, through a sense of wanting to give back a little - having benefited from what EphMRA has to offer over the years, it’s nice to feel that you can give a bit back.”

You can find out more about the people involved in the Committee on our website. (

If you would like to join our Programme Committee, please email Bernadette Rogers at [email protected] or Caroline Snowdon at [email protected] for more information.

“Being a committee member is a real privilege. It's a great opportunity to work together with peers from across the industry to help shape the content of the EphMRA conference with the aim of selecting the highest quality and thought-provoking papers, so that all delegates leave the conference with new insights that they may apply in their day-to-day working life.”

Tracy Machado, Phoenix Healthcare


Whilst you are too late to submit a paper for the 2020 Conference, if you have an idea for a paper, make a note of it and watch out for our next Conference Call for Speakers or for one of our one day meetings.

Why not come along to the EphMRA Annual Conference in Antwerp, 23 – 25 June 2020 and see the quality of presentations for yourself.

Find out more by reading our blogs on the inspirational venue and hearing delegate feedback on this year’s event.

About the author



Creating excellence in professional standards and practices to enable healthcare market researchers to become highly valued business partners.

Supporting our members and guiding them across the ethics landscape

Preparing the ATC Guidelines and managing new entries, changes and improvements in consultation with pharmaceutical companies

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EphMRA 2020 - Antwerp - June 23-25

The early bird fee period ends on Tuesday 10th March at 4pm UK time.  Register NOW before the fees increase!

We have an outstanding programme of inspirational speakers and networking opportunities for this year’s conference.  This event is not to be missed!