The Research Fairness Initiative is a reporting initiative. It provides a template for good quality reporting on conditions that countries, research organisations, business and research funders can use to describe what measures they have in place and plan to put in place in future to optimize fair partnerships – i.e. measures that encourage the creation and maintenance of trusting, lasting, transparent and effective partnerships in research and innovation.
We prioritize global health, and, in particular, the position of low- and middle-income countries – but the RFI applies in many other settings as well. In fact, given the absolute absence of frameworks and benchmarks for quality and fair partnerships in research and innovation, the RFI will be useful in any situation – even if only as a means to reduce conflict and contract negotiation times!
In the absence of any agreement on frameworks or benchmarks for ‘fairness in research collaboration,’ it is impossible to define criteria, cut-off points or targets that would have to be met to ‘be compliant’.
Instead, by providing a reporting system, the RFI encourages all stakeholders in research and innovation for health to begin reporting what is actually done within their organisation to promote fair partnerships and what improvements are being planned going forward.
When a growing number of governments, research institutions, business, funders, national research and innovation agencies and others begin using the RFI, there are both immediate and medium-term impacts for users themselves, for prospective partners, and for the global research and innovation in general:
- IMPACT 1: Improved internal management processes –becoming better at contracting, internal negotiation, optimize inter-divisional synergy, reducing costs
- IMPACT 2: Improved transparency –making explicit partner choice a reality
- IMPACT 3: Improved global learning –seeing what others are doing provides an incentive to improve, and, gradually, will lead to the formulation of ‘best practice standards’ and benchmarks that are currently lacking
- IMPACT 4: Meta-analysis and Ad Hoc investigations of ‘hot topics’ –Looking at more than one RFI report at a time creates ample opportunity to anyone interested to approach RFI users for specific, more detailed assessments leading to further insights into constructing research partnerships for global health, equity and development.
As the current Secretariat for the RFI, COHRED will certify quality of reporting – and not achievements of specific targets. While that may come in future revisions of the RFI, the principle underpinning the RFI is that high quality reporting on key conditions and measures taken to promote great partnerships is the core of its impact and success.
For more information, access the RFI brochure here: