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Letter to the Editor: Response to Global soil science research collaboration in the 21st century: Time to end helicopter research by Minasny et al.

Bates, Imelda ORCID:, Chabala, Lydia M, Murray Lark, R, MacDonald, Alan, Mapfumo, Paul, Mtambanengwe, Florence, Nalivata, Patson C, Owen, Richard, Phiri, Elijah and Pulford, Justin ORCID: (2020) 'Letter to the Editor: Response to Global soil science research collaboration in the 21st century: Time to end helicopter research by Minasny et al.'. Geoderma, Vol 378, Issue 114559.

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Budiman Minasny and colleagues (Minasny et al., 2020) are to be congratulated for their incisive article about helicopter research in soil science, as are the editors of Geoderma for their new policy such that papers reporting research with primary data collection should include authors from the countries concerned. On the basis of our shared experience, as collaborating investigators working on soil science research in sub-Saharan Africa, we recognize the importance of this issue and its wider implications for sustainability of both research collaboration and development partnerships.

We are collaborators on the CEPHaS project, a project funded by the UK Government’s Global Challenges Research Fund, which addresses the development of capacity in soil physics, geophysics, hydrogeology and statistics to study conservation agriculture, a suite of interventions aimed at improving resilience of soils and crops under climate change. CEPHaS involves researchers from Zambia, Zimbabwe, Malawi and the United Kingdom – soil scientists, agronomists, agricultural economists, social scientists, geophysicists, hydrogeologists and statisticians. We have been collaborating on the project since October 2017, and many of us have been working together for longer than that. In this letter we share some aspects of our experience, practices and policies which we think go some way towards facilitating more equitable partnership in research. In summary, we think that the problem of helicopter research can be tackled only through the development of genuine partnerships, in which the global asymmetries of power and wealth between north and south are not allowed to distort the research agenda or to prevent equitable collaboration in which the interests, opportunities and contribution of all parties are respected. This requires a commitment to capacity strengthening and long-term engagement on the part of researchers, their institutions and the funders of research.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: QW Microbiology and Immunology > Environmental Microbiology > QW 55 Environmental microbiology
WA Public Health > Health Problems of Special Population Groups > WA 395 Health in developing countries
WZ History of Medicine. Medical Miscellany > History, By Period, Locality, etc. > WZ 112 Collective biography
Faculty: Department: Clinical Sciences & International Health > International Public Health Department
Digital Object Identifer (DOI):
Depositing User: Rachel Dominguez
Date Deposited: 17 Sep 2020 11:36
Last Modified: 29 Jul 2022 01:02


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