ACU Equitable Research Partnerships Toolkit - FAQs

Answers to frequently asked questions (FAQs) about our new research relationship resource.

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This will soon be a space for answers to the most common questions on the ACU Equitable Research Partnerships Toolkit. In the meantime, we thought it would be useful to spotlight recent queries that came up at the toolkit launch event on 25 April 2023.​​

When thinking about global north-south research partnerships, how does the toolkit bridge the gulf in research between developed and developing countries? Can it be adapted to suit different contexts?

Michelle Brear (toolkit co-creator): “When you say ‘gulf in research between developed and developing countries’, I understand this as most of the research being conducted in developed countries, i.e., volume of research. The intention of the toolkit is to support academics working in research partnerships in making the processes and outcomes of their partnership more equitable. This might include outcomes like more career opportunities for academics from the global south, i.e., developing countries, or more research being conducted in the global south, about issues that are priorities for societies in the global south. The toolkit can be adapted to different contexts, for example multidisciplinary and community-academic research partnerships.”

Do you recommend using the Equity Café (tool 1) when reporting on the research, and does it provide for equity in reporting research?

Michelle Brear: “Outputs and data produced using the Equity Café, and other tools in the toolkit, may be included in progress reports and similar documents submitted to donors. This can help to support claims about steps that have been taken to enhance equity, as well as justifying applications for funding to implement future equity enhancing activities. There are also numerous tools that address equity issues that arise in the dissemination/reporting stage of research. For example, tool 17, the Partnership Equity Check has a section dedicated to assessing equity in authorship of research outputs. Tool 7, the Skills and Roles Assessment Questionnaire tool draws attention to authorship or research reports and presentations.”

How do you defuse power in collaborations with socially marginalised groups?

Michelle Brear: “The toolkit presents a set of approaches to address unequal power relations that often lead to inequitable processes and outcomes in research partnerships. The tools work to address power by initiating discussion about inequities. These inequities are inherently linked to power inequalities. While many of the tools could be adapted to other contexts, the toolkit specifically addresses inequities within research partnerships, rather than power within socially marginalised groups.”

Are there differences in equitable research partnerships between the north and south in Africa, Asia and Latin America?

Michelle Brear: “Every research partnership is unique. However, north-south research partnerships as a group are characterised by unequal relations of power. Partners from the global north tend to have greater power than partners from the global south. Partners from the global north often have more secure jobs and opportunities for advancement. They are also likely to work for better funded institutions, that give greater support and value to research, and have better access to research funding because of their global location. There is much heterogeneity in universities and academics in the global south, including within and between African, Asian and Latin American countries. However, as a group, partners from the global south often have less power to negotiate fair and equitable research relationships than those in the global north.”