In 2018 the RRC implemented a programme of strategic research and capacity building funded by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) to understand and improve ‘fair and equitable research partnerships in response to global challenges’. The project aimed to bring to the fore a ‘partners’ perspective’ on fair and equitable partnerships. It sought to offer a deeper understanding of persistent bottlenecks in partnerships that risk undermining the international development goals of research initiatives such as the Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) and the Newton Fund (NF); and to offer strategies to address these.

In particular the project aimed to address the limited voice of practitioners and academics based in the global South in the governance, design and implementation of UK-funded international development research. As well as including existing participants in GCRF and NF programmes, this also included actors who are either not currently engaged or who drop out early in process.

The project targeted three types of ‘partner’: academic institutions based in the global South; civil society organisations based in the global South; and international non-governmental organisations (INGOs) and international organisations providing research capacity building or playing a brokering role between the other partner groups and UK-based academics/research funders. The following table sets our the project’s objectives and activities

Objectives What we did
To model a fair and equitable research partnership and generate reflexive learning. Designed a collaborative process and reflected on the nature of participation throughout the process (See reflexive case study here)
To gather qualitative research into partner experiences of participation through the lens of ‘fair and equitable partnerships’. Rapid data collection over three weeks, reaching out to individuals, networks and organisations in Africa, Asia, Latin America and Europe. Substantive responses were received from 59 people from 25 countries and regions. 15 people took part in webinar group interviews; 19 in individual interviews; and 25 made written contributions (see data analysis for further information).
To draw on existing evidence-informed frameworks to identify barriers to and opportunities for fair and equitable participation in research. Data analysis was guided by the iterative framework adapted from the ESRC seminar series: Evidence and the Politics of Participation in Academic-INGO Research Partnerships for International Development.
To convene a roundtable bringing international experts with decision-makers on UK research policy to establish principles for best practice, identify capacity needs for different stakeholder groups, and develop policy recommendations. Thirty-four people attended a one-day round table on 27 April hosted by UKCDR including: UK-based research funders and policymakers; UK-based academics and university administrators; research brokers and capacity building providers; INGOs; members of the RRC from Praxis, PRIA, University of Victoria, Africans Rising (headquartered in Senegal) and SEPHIS (headquartered in Brazil). This event contributed to the identification of the 8 principles for fair and equitable partnerships
To consolidate existing resources on supporting best practice for different stakeholder groups. Reviewed and synthesised resources on partnerships, identifying best practice and tools for partnerships targeted to different groups (see a summary of resources here).
To develop training modules for each stakeholder group responding to the principles of best practice. New resources produced for six stakeholder groups, including: guidance checklists, targeted tools and resources, audio and written case studies (see 6 learning modules)