Four Approaches to Supporting Equitable Research Partnerships (2022)

Good practices  For:Funders

Strengthening equity in international research partnerships can help address the current power imbalances that characterize the global research ecosystem and improve the ethical integrity of research agendas and knowledge production. This document was jointly created by the UK Collaborative on Development Research (UKCDR) and ESSENCE on Health Research to provide practical advice and actionable steps for funders, research institutions, and researchers to establish and maintain equitable research partnerships.

It includes recommendations and case studies on how to overcome potential barriers in evaluation mechanisms for assessing the impact and effectiveness of research partnerships to achieve equity. The four approaches are:

1)    Understanding and supporting the research partnership ecosystem.

Key recommendations include: ensuring LMIC representation in funder-level partnerships as well as in research priority-setting and call design; monitoring, recognizing and rewarding equitable partnership-building practices with greater involvement of LMIC institutions; and supporting the co-development of collaboration agreements (e.g., consortia models).

2)    Build and strengthen research relationships and research systems. Key recommendations include: utilizing resources and training to increase awareness of regional discrepancies, language barriers, gender inequalities, and racial inequalities within research ecosystems and making the system more inclusive.

3)    Allocate resources for partnership building. Key recommendations include considering LMIC perspectives while preparing funding proposals; making funding decisions and evaluating research; and increasing LMIC access to funding at all levels.

4)    Transform and implement processes and procedures that sustain partnerships. Key recommendations include working with LMIC and HIC research institutions together to identify and assess reforms needed to improve and harmonize research governance at national, regional and international levels.

This good practice guidance document, which is also available in French, was released at the virtual event “The role of funders in enabling equitable research partnerships for development”, that was jointly organized by UKCDR and ESSENCE for Health at the Science Summit, United Nations General Assembly 77 (UNGA77) in September, 2022. The recording for the event is available online.