ACU Equitable Research Partnerships Toolkit

A collection of practical tools and resources - specially designed to drive equity and fairness in global higher education research partnerships.


Higher education research partnerships can help optimise knowledge creation and impact, strengthen research capacity, and improve the overall quality and relevance of research. However, these alliances can also bring about a unique set of considerations and challenges, particularly around power imbalances in planning, implementation and dissemination.

Equity is key. If a research partnership is to have maximum impact it should function on a fair and level playing field.

What is the ACU Equitable Research Partnerships Toolkit?

The ACU Equitable Research Partnerships Toolkit is a collection of practical resources to assist analysis and action for addressing equity in research partnerships. Supporting the establishment and advancement of fairer north-south and south-south research relationships was at the forefront during its creation. This was informed by substantial research, conducted with a range of ACU members from across the Commonwealth, as well as equitable research partnership stakeholders and experts.

The toolkit looks to stimulate critical thinking and dialogue about what equity means, and what it might ‘look like’ in a research partnership, as well as suggesting practical actions that can be implemented to strengthen this. Each tool comes with specific guidance on why, when and how to use it. Every tool is designed to help establish or enhance equity within a research partnership.

Navigating the toolkit

To help you navigate the toolkit, we’ve broken it down into an introduction and six different sections. These sections are based on the tool type, and its outputs and outcomes.

Each individual tool also includes guidance on which stage of the partnership process it is most applicable to. Certain tools can be used at multiple stages, but many of them are particularly pertinent to the planning phase.

Toolkit Contents Overview Toolkit Contents Overview (FINAL) Equitable Research Partnerships Toolkit

Changing the toolkit view

Accessing each section of the toolkit will launch a Microsoft Sway presentation. This uses a horizontal, left-to-right navigation. There are two viewing options for these presentations, a main slideshow view and a timeline view. The slideshow view gives you the option to move through the presentation using the scroll bar or the left and right navigation arrows. The timeline view allows you to explore the presentation based on page headings. To adjust your view, click on the timeline icon in the bottom right-hand corner. 

Accessibility options

When viewing the toolkit sections, click on the three dots in the top right corner to see more viewing options. These include Print, Export and Accessibility View.

You may find it useful to print out parts of the toolkit. When viewing any of the sections, click the three dots in the top right corner and select Print. Sway will create an optimised PDF for printing and will then give you an options menus for things like number of copies, etc. You can also convert the sections into Word documents using the Export function. 

All toolkit content is © Association of Commonwealth Universities 2023. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons BY-NC-ND 4.0 licence.  

How does the ACU support equitable partnerships?

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