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Establishing and sustaining research partnerships in Africa: a case study of the UK-Africa Academic Partnership on Chronic Disease.

de-Graft Aikins A, Arhinful DK, Pitchforth E, Ogedegbe G, Allotey P, Agyemang C - Global Health (2012)

Bottom Line: We review the partnership's achievements and challenges, applying established criteria for developing successful partnerships.Other goals, such as engaging in collaborative research and training postgraduates, were not as successfully realised.Their long-term sustainability will therefore depend on integrated funding systems that provide a crucial capacity building bridge.

View Article: PubMed Central - HTML - PubMed

Affiliation: Regional Institute for Population Studies, University of Ghana, Legon, Accra, Ghana. adaikins@ug.edu.gh

ABSTRACT
This paper examines the challenges and opportunities in establishing and sustaining north-south research partnerships in Africa through a case study of the UK-Africa Academic Partnership on Chronic Disease. Established in 2006 with seed funding from the British Academy, the partnership aimed to bring together multidisciplinary chronic disease researchers based in the UK and Africa to collaborate on research, inform policymaking, train and support postgraduates and create a platform for research dissemination. We review the partnership's achievements and challenges, applying established criteria for developing successful partnerships. During the funded period we achieved major success in creating a platform for research dissemination through international meetings and publications. Other goals, such as engaging in collaborative research and training postgraduates, were not as successfully realised. Enabling factors included trust and respect between core working group members, a shared commitment to achieving partnership goals, and the collective ability to develop creative strategies to overcome funding challenges. Barriers included limited funding, administrative support, and framework for monitoring and evaluating some goals. Chronic disease research partnerships in low-income regions operate within health research, practice, funding and policy environments that prioritise infectious diseases and other pressing public health and developmental challenges. Their long-term sustainability will therefore depend on integrated funding systems that provide a crucial capacity building bridge. Beyond the specific challenges of chronic disease research, we identify social capital, measurable goals, administrative support, creativity and innovation and funding as five key ingredients that are essential for sustaining research partnerships.

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The Collaborative Continuum. Source: Adapted from McRobbie and Kolbe, 2009 [24] and Whitworth et al., 2008 [3].
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Figure 1: The Collaborative Continuum. Source: Adapted from McRobbie and Kolbe, 2009 [24] and Whitworth et al., 2008 [3].

Mentions: A number of frameworks exist for evaluating the process and outcomes of partnerships. Some focus on multi-stakeholder collaborations such as partnerships between donors, governments and research institutions [3], others focus on academic or research partnerships [2,5,23]. Our evaluation of the successes and challenges of the Partnership is informed by eleven key principles of successful research partnerships outlined by Maselli et al. (2005) [5] (see Table 1). The Maselli et al. conceptual framework focuses on research partnerships. Its principles are captured in other discussions of establishing and sustaining research partnerships, particularly within the African context [6]. We also draw on broader discussions within public health on the ‘collaboration continuum’ where partnerships thrive through a “balanced division of labor and resources” that might begin “as a grant at one end; progress to a “transactional stage” in which partners combine resources toward a common goal; and culminate in an “integrative stage” characterized by merging resources to generate a new identity” (McRobbie and Kolbe, 2009, p. 3) [24] (Figure 1). Similar three-stage models are proposed elsewhere, with the consensual assumption that partnerships start small with seed funding and graduate through internal creativity and external financial support to large-scale long-term projects or institutions [3,6]. The concept of a ‘collaborative continuum’ is essential to our analysis because it places emphasis on a project in progress and of the importance of understanding the fine balance of ‘labour and resources’ that makes the partnership work at each conceptual and/or operational stage.


Establishing and sustaining research partnerships in Africa: a case study of the UK-Africa Academic Partnership on Chronic Disease.

de-Graft Aikins A, Arhinful DK, Pitchforth E, Ogedegbe G, Allotey P, Agyemang C - Global Health (2012)

The Collaborative Continuum. Source: Adapted from McRobbie and Kolbe, 2009 [24] and Whitworth et al., 2008 [3].
© Copyright Policy - open-access
Related In: Results  -  Collection

License
Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC3475042&req=5

Figure 1: The Collaborative Continuum. Source: Adapted from McRobbie and Kolbe, 2009 [24] and Whitworth et al., 2008 [3].
Mentions: A number of frameworks exist for evaluating the process and outcomes of partnerships. Some focus on multi-stakeholder collaborations such as partnerships between donors, governments and research institutions [3], others focus on academic or research partnerships [2,5,23]. Our evaluation of the successes and challenges of the Partnership is informed by eleven key principles of successful research partnerships outlined by Maselli et al. (2005) [5] (see Table 1). The Maselli et al. conceptual framework focuses on research partnerships. Its principles are captured in other discussions of establishing and sustaining research partnerships, particularly within the African context [6]. We also draw on broader discussions within public health on the ‘collaboration continuum’ where partnerships thrive through a “balanced division of labor and resources” that might begin “as a grant at one end; progress to a “transactional stage” in which partners combine resources toward a common goal; and culminate in an “integrative stage” characterized by merging resources to generate a new identity” (McRobbie and Kolbe, 2009, p. 3) [24] (Figure 1). Similar three-stage models are proposed elsewhere, with the consensual assumption that partnerships start small with seed funding and graduate through internal creativity and external financial support to large-scale long-term projects or institutions [3,6]. The concept of a ‘collaborative continuum’ is essential to our analysis because it places emphasis on a project in progress and of the importance of understanding the fine balance of ‘labour and resources’ that makes the partnership work at each conceptual and/or operational stage.

Bottom Line: We review the partnership's achievements and challenges, applying established criteria for developing successful partnerships.Other goals, such as engaging in collaborative research and training postgraduates, were not as successfully realised.Their long-term sustainability will therefore depend on integrated funding systems that provide a crucial capacity building bridge.

View Article: PubMed Central - HTML - PubMed

Affiliation: Regional Institute for Population Studies, University of Ghana, Legon, Accra, Ghana. adaikins@ug.edu.gh

ABSTRACT
This paper examines the challenges and opportunities in establishing and sustaining north-south research partnerships in Africa through a case study of the UK-Africa Academic Partnership on Chronic Disease. Established in 2006 with seed funding from the British Academy, the partnership aimed to bring together multidisciplinary chronic disease researchers based in the UK and Africa to collaborate on research, inform policymaking, train and support postgraduates and create a platform for research dissemination. We review the partnership's achievements and challenges, applying established criteria for developing successful partnerships. During the funded period we achieved major success in creating a platform for research dissemination through international meetings and publications. Other goals, such as engaging in collaborative research and training postgraduates, were not as successfully realised. Enabling factors included trust and respect between core working group members, a shared commitment to achieving partnership goals, and the collective ability to develop creative strategies to overcome funding challenges. Barriers included limited funding, administrative support, and framework for monitoring and evaluating some goals. Chronic disease research partnerships in low-income regions operate within health research, practice, funding and policy environments that prioritise infectious diseases and other pressing public health and developmental challenges. Their long-term sustainability will therefore depend on integrated funding systems that provide a crucial capacity building bridge. Beyond the specific challenges of chronic disease research, we identify social capital, measurable goals, administrative support, creativity and innovation and funding as five key ingredients that are essential for sustaining research partnerships.

Show MeSH
Related in: MedlinePlus