Applying Cultural Evolution

Cultural Evolution in Global Health Research

Research team

Angela Obasi, Principal Investigator
Co-Investigators: Seye Abimbola, Refiloe Masekela, Ben Morton, Ndeky Oriyo, Rose Oronje, Andre Vercueil


Key Information

Full title: Prevention of parachute research: Implementation and Evaluation of reflexivity statements as a novel tool for cultural change in global health research (POPRI-Change)
Host institution: Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine
Research locations: UK, Kenya, South Africa


Project overview 

THE PROBLEM: Research is key to innovation and progress in almost all areas of human development. But research is produced by systems and institutions that have characteristics, cultures and biases. These features can adversely affect both the quality and the direction of research.

It is increasingly recognised that cultures in the field of Global Health Research are unfair, particularly when research is conducted by scientists from high income countries in lower income country settings.

One important example of this unfairness is parachute research – the practice of high income country researchers conducting and publishing research from low income country settings without fair recognition of researchers from the country where the research was conducted.

WHAT IS NEW ABOUT OUR RESEARCH? We developed guidelines to promote fairness in research authorship, in global health. They recommend that research publications from partnerships that include both high and low income country partners should be accompanied by a structured reflexivity statement, explaining how collaborators from lower income countries, and other disadvantaged groups, have been treated fairly in the research. This practical approach aims to harness the key role that publication plays in the research ecosystem as a force for positive change. Multiple journals have now endorsed this reflexivity statement approach.

WHAT WILL WE DO NOW? Our current project will draw on existing reflexivity statements and perspectives from a range of Global Health Research stakeholders and settings, to see how reflexivity statements are used, and if (or how) their use encourages people in Global Health Research think more actively about fairness. We will also create a structure and tools to measure and understand how equity develops in global health research microcultures.


Update

Rose Oronje (Co-I) and Melissa Taylor (post-doc), both involved in this CES Transformation Fund project, have recently been interviewed by Science regarding the use of positionality statements in research publications. The article covered a range of opinions on the subject and highlighted this project (led by Angela Obasi) as it is evaluating the results of author reflexivity statements in publications against their intended effects of enhancing equitable authorship. Read the full interview here.


Project contact

If you would like to contact the project team, please email the grant management team in the first instance, at ces.transformationfund@durham.ac.uk.