There is not a single answer to this question as it will depend on the specific contexts and circumstances of the partnership. However, some general principles apply to all collaborations
- Equitable division of labour: partners in the Global South should not be engaged as fieldwork assistants, tasked with data collection, while the most intellectually intensive aspects of the research are undertaken by partners in the Global North
- Shared agendas: overseas partners should be involved from the early stages of the research design and planning of activities. They should have power to influence the research priorities according to local needs and social/cultural expectations.
- Shared resources: whilst funders often have specific financial management requirements, control over resources should be equally shared. All partners ought to be given a say in how funds should be distributed and managed. Transparency through agreed mechanisms for decision making are an essential component of fair partnerships.
Having appropriate and robust governance procedures is key to ensure that overseas partners are involved in major decisions and have an equal status and say in the project's development as other research partners. The GCRF guidance advises setting up an Executive group which is responsible for plans, policies, responsibilities and key decisions and that overseas partners should be represented on this group.
Fairness is not just about equality. It is, above all, about recognising the inherent power disparities between partners and taking positive steps to reduce them where possible. Open dialogue about issues of power is important at every step of the project. Over time, this builds the necessary trust that is at the heart of fair research collaborations.