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Equitable North-South research collaboration


Danida Fellowship Centre’s annual “Science Engagement Days” serve as a hub for science engagement, knowledge exchange, and networking among researchers supported by Danida.

“Equitable Partnerships in Development Research Projects” was the overarching theme for our first ever “Science Engagement Days”, held at MS TCDC in Tanzania in March 2023. The purpose was to explore ways to address and overcome the structural power imbalances in research partnerships and enhance the uptake and impact of research knowledge from across the globe. Danida researchers involved in FFU projects (selected by the Consultative Research Committee for Development Research) or the Building Stronger Universities programme had recommended this topic. We divided it into four sub-themes: Equality in authorship, setting the research agenda, the financial and institutional set-up, and mutual learning.

41 researchers, from 20 universities across seven countries in Africa, six universities in Denmark, one in Myanmar, one in Australia, and one in Spain, took part and, after three days of discussions, they formulated several recommendations. They recognised that achieving equitable research partnerships is a complex process requiring the active involvement of all of the stakeholders. They emphasised that research should be informed by local knowledge systems, and that researchers should be mindful of potential negative consequences on local communities. Their recommendations also included building effective research networks across East, West, North, and South partners, improving partnership development efforts, enhancing South-South collaborations, prioritising collaboration, creating opportunities for mutual learning, and establishing clear legal agreements for publishing and other uses of research findings.

Reducing Southern dependency on Northern financing and promoting private sector involvement for project ownership and sustainability were also among the researchers’ suggestions. Additionally, they proposed that donors and grant holders provide frameworks and procedures in the application phase to support equal development of research proposals.

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How to deal with the power dynamics in North South research partnerships

The researchers’ recommendations

The videos: Science engagement days 2023. Equitable research partnerships