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Fair and equitable research partnerships for international development research

Funding for research in international development often includes a focus on fair and equitable partnerships. Academics based in the global North are increasingly encouraged by funders to include academic partners based in the global South and civil society practitioners in their research projects. But achieving this is complicated: partnership and research are both political.

This set of resources has been designed to help academics, NGOs, CSOs and research brokers put principles for fair and equitable research partnerships into practice.

The resources were written by staff of Christian Aid’s Centre for Excellence in Research, Evidence and Learning. They are based on findings from research by the Rethinking Research Collaborative, an informal international network of organisations who are working together to encourage more inclusive, responsive collaborations to produce useful and accessible international development research. The research was funded by UK Research and Innovation.


What are fair and equitable research partnerships and why are they important? This introduction describes eight principles for working towards fair and equitable research partnerships.


These modules provide insights and ideas to translate the eight principles into practice.

Each module has been designed to support one type of research stakeholder to reflect on fair and equitable partnership. It asks what the stakeholder brings to research partnerships and describes challenges they commonly encounter. It goes on to provide a checklist of questions for the stakeholder to ask at each stage of a research process, two tools that they will find useful for reflection, and short summaries of other relevant publications.

As well as reading modules for your own stakeholder group, looking at the modules for other groups will shed light on the experiences and challenges of those you may be working in partnership with.

Download modules for:

Case studies

In these case studies, different stakeholders who have been involved in research partnerships reflect on their experiences, bringing to life some of the dilemmas, challenges of and opportunities for working towards fair and equitable research partnerships.

Download reflections from:

  • Dr Bhavani of the M.S.Swaminathan Research Foundation, who narrates her experiences of coordinating work and navigating relationships in an international research partnership funded by the UK Department for International Development.
  • Eric Gutierrez of Christian Aid, who discusses the process of applying for a Global Challenges Research Fund grant as part of a multi-stakeholder partnership, and the complex relationship between international NGOs and academics in research partnerships.
  • Kate Newman of Christian Aid, who shares her experience as a civil society participant on an academic panel convened to make recommendations about research grants.
  • The Rethinking Research Collaborative, who reflect on the strengths and challenges of their efforts to model a fair and equitable research partnership in during the research that produced these resources.
  • Tom Kariuki of the African Academy of Sciences, who considers some of the challenges of devolving research fund management to African organisations.

Listen to conversations with:

  • Andrea Cornwall of SOAS University of London, who talks about a research project she was involved in which turned traditional roles in international development research upside-down by putting social movement activists in charge of the research process (11:32).
  • Jude Fransman of the Open University, who discusses how she worked with a diverse range of partners to develop the proposal for research funding that led to the production of these materials (10:07).
  • Pradeep Narayanan of Praxis, who considers whose ethics count in research partnerships (5:38).
  • Rachel Hayman of INTRAC, who reflects on her experience of taking a brokering role in several research partnerships (8:45).