Action to protect the independence and integrity of global health research
In a Viewpoint in the Lancet, experiences of censorship in donor-funded evaluation research were shared. The authors warned about a potential trend in which donors and their implementing partners use ethical and methodological arguments to undermine research.
Reactions to the Viewpoint—and lively debate at the 2018 Global Symposium on Health Systems Research—suggest that similar experiences are common in implementation and policy research commissioned by international donors to study and evaluate large-scale, donor-funded health interventions and programmes, which are primarily implemented in low resource settings.
Researchers are responsible for conducting research ethically and with integrity. Yet, without strong and reliable institutional support, they are often in a vulnerable position when faced with vested interests. What action is needed to avoid undermining independent and critical research findings? What kind of institutional structures and practices might support researchers in dealing with the ethical and political dilemmas associated with the dissemination of (potentially) contested research findings and evaluation results?
To start a discussion on ways forward, the authors invited input from an international network of global health, health systems and policy researchers from diverse disciplines. They discuss suggestions, endorsed by more than 200 researchers based in 40 different countries on how the organisations that commission, undertake and publish research and evaluations can safeguard independence and integrity.
Storeng KT, Abimbola S, Balabanova D on behalf of the signatories, et al, Action to protect the independence and integrity of global health research, BMJ Global Health 2019;4:e001746.