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How international research consortia can strengthen organisations’ research systems and promote a conducive environment and culture

Pulford, Justin ORCID:, El Hajj, Taghreed ORCID:, Tancred, Tara ORCID:, Ding, Yan ORCID:, Crossman, Susie, Silvester, Lorelei, Savio, Martina, Bevan, Natasha, Tagoe, Nadia and Bates, Imelda ORCID: (2023) 'How international research consortia can strengthen organisations’ research systems and promote a conducive environment and culture'. BMJ Global Health, Vol 8, Issue 4, e011419.

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Research systems and cultures have been criticised for their detrimental effect on members’ mental health and wellbeing. Many international research programmes operate through research consortia that have the resources to make a substantial contribution to improving the research environment in their member organisations. This paper collates real-life examples from several large international consortia-based research programmes about how they strengthened organisations’ research capacity. The consortia primarily involved academic partners from the UK and/or sub-Saharan Africa and covered research topics including health, natural sciences, conservation agriculture and vector control. They were partly or wholly funded by UK agencies including the Wellcome, Foreign and Commonwealth Development Office, UK Research and Innovation Fund, and the Medical Research Council and they operated for 2-10 years between 2012-22.
Consortia’s size and ability to access and share resources among their member organisations according to need meant they were uniquely placed to target actions to address weaknesses in members organisations’ research capacity, to widen networks and collaborations, and to build in sustainability of capacity gains. Consortia’s actions covered: a) individuals’ knowledge and skills; b) capacity strengthening ethos; c) organisations’ visibility and prestige; and d) inclusive and responsive management practices. Evidence about these actions formed the basis of recommendations for funders and leaders of consortium-based programmes about how they could make more effective use of consortia’s resources to enhance organisations’ research systems, environments and cultures.
Key lessons were that training should cover management and research leadership and should be offered beyond consortium members, including to research support staff such as technicians and managers. Consortia often tackle complex problems requiring multi-disciplinary inputs, but overcoming disciplinary boundaries—and making everyone feel valued and respected—takes time and skill on the part of consortium leaders. Consortia need clear guidance from funders about their commitment to strengthening research capacity. Without this, consortia leaders may continue to prioritise research outputs over creating and embedding sustainable improvements in their organisations’ research systems

Item Type: Article
Subjects: WA Public Health > WA 100 General works
WA Public Health > WA 20.5 Research (General)
WA Public Health > WA 30 Socioeconomic factors in public health (General)
Faculty: Department: Clinical Sciences & International Health > International Public Health Department
Digital Object Identifer (DOI):
Depositing User: Rachel Dominguez
Date Deposited: 13 Apr 2023 09:55
Last Modified: 25 Apr 2023 12:26


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