Insights from the RST8 and LuxOR Workshop on Operational Research

Participants in the workshop on research in MSF OCB migration projects

A collaborative workshop was held on November 27 and 28 in Brussels XL, where RST8 MedOps and LuxOR convened to explore and set the stage for an operational research agenda around the migration projects under the header of RST8. This pilot workshop brought together medical representatives from projects under RST8, aiming to identify knowledge gaps within the common thread of migration. In the past migration projects have extensively engaged in conducting and publishing research to contribute to the collective knowledge on the consequences of migration policies on the wellbeing of people on the move. The workshop was therefore an opportunity to step up this commitment and exploit collaboration and synergies between the multiple ongoing efforts.

Collaborative Endeavours

Organized by LuxOR and RST8 MedOps, along with relevant medical advisors and Analysis department members, the workshop marked a step towards fostering operational research collaborations. The focus remained on migration, aligning with LuxOR's ambition to develop longer-term research agendas across different thematic areas.

A Vision for Structured Research

LuxOR's commitment to making research more structured and achievable and provide direct support to projects took center stage. This approach, extending to projects and Regional Support Teams (RSTs)/Cells, holds potential advantages in terms of resource allocation, collaboration with internal and external partners, and linking research to broader policy, practice, and advocacy activities. MedOps in RST8 supported and utilized this workshop to fortify the development of research agendas.

Objectives and Achievements

The two-day workshop aimed to create clear priorities around knowledge gaps requiring operational research in RST8 projects. Achieving this involved explaining the purpose of operational research, outlining key milestones in the research process, and stimulating collaboration between various stakeholders.

The workshop successfully identified a part of research needs within RST8, translating them into concept notes. Prioritization was based on rational frameworks, considering common needs across projects, addressing knowledge gaps, and aligning with key medical /operational and advocacy objectives.

An Inclusive Approach

The workshop facilitated alignment and utilization of medical data for scientifically backed advocacy agendas, particularly focusing on MSF's témoignage in migration, including the political dimensions in Europe. One invited researcher from ITM took part in this workshop as well (details)

Collaboration in Action

The diverse cast of participants, including representatives from different countries and MSF units, engaged in presentations, Q&A sessions, and collaborative concept note development. Technical expertise was sought to refine broad research ideas into concrete topics aligned with project and RST8 goals.

Ethical Considerations

Day two featured a presentation on ethics in medical research by Eman Ahmad from the MSF-Ethical Review Board (ERB) secretariat, highlighting the importance of ethical considerations in the research process, especially concerning projects around migration.

Future Prospects

The workshop ended with feedback from participants, emphasizing the value of collaboration and ensuring regular follow-up and progress monitoring in 2024 through periodic catch-up meetings among the participants. In the course of 2024 selected projects will move forward.


In essence, the workshop was a constructive step towards collaborative operational research in RST8. It provided a platform for knowledge exchange, idea generation, and alignment of research agendas by bringing projects, research advisors, medical referents and advocacy colleagues together with a set objective. As we reflect on these two days, we recognize the potential for future cross-country collaborations and the positive impact these endeavours can have on MSF's operational research landscape. Based on the success of this pilot, LuxOR envisions extending this collaborative model to more RSTs, Cells and specific thematics that require a cross-disciplinary approach to address knowledge gaps in the specific space MSF occupies in the humanitarian landscape.