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Table 7 Matching Partnership Goals to Criteria for building communities of research excellence

From: Establishing and sustaining research partnerships in Africa: a case study of the UK-Africa Academic Partnership on Chronic Disease

Maselli, Lys and Schmid (2005) Partnership achievement(s) Enabling Factors Barriers
1. Decide on objectives together Yes A working relationship between the lead partners and the core working group based on trust, respect and openness. Good communication access (e.g. email, phone, annual meetings). None
2. Build up mutual trust Yes Pre-existing relationships between applicants on original grant. Trust, respect and openness, key aspects of these relationships. None
3. Share information, develop networks Yes Good communication channels between partners (see 1 and 2). Partnership website was developed but not fully functional in the first two years due to limited administrative support (see 4).
   Openness and flexibility to involve new members and especially postgraduate students.  
   Funding for annual meetings created platform for sharing information and developing networks.  
4. Share responsibility Yes Shared commitment by core working group members (see 1,2 and Box 3) Limited funding and capacity for administrative and management support. The coordination of tasks and activities was the responsibility of the lead partners who had full-time academic responsibilities. As lead UK partner transitioned from postdoctoral fellowship status to a full-time lecturing position, the time and capacity to engage in increased administrative tasks diminished.
5. Create transparency Yes Informal and flexible communication approach. Commitment by lead partners to disseminate important information, e.g. levels of engagement, meetings, opportunities for publications, calls for grant proposals. None
6. Monitor and evaluate collaboration Yes Reflexivity built into project because of BA reporting processes. Lack of clear indicators to measure some goals (e.g. Goal 2).
   Flexibility and simplicity of BA reporting processes. Limited funding and a lack of administrative support affected the monitoring and evaluation of external processes (e.g. the impact of policymakers’ participation in partnership events on policy development)
7. Disseminate the results Yes Funding available for annual multi-stakeholder meetings. Monitoring and Evaluation indicators were not systematically outlined at the outset of the project. This affected the evaluation of goal 2 (the translation of research dissemination into policy development).
   In-kind support from hosting institutions (e.g. fee waivers for cost of venue, logistical assistance with publicity).  
   Access to journal editors through core working group members’ networks.  
8. Apply the results Yes Access to journal editors enabled proceedings of partnership meetings to reach a wider international audience Failure to secure funding prevented the development of collaborative research in the first three years.
   Creative strategies enabled the development of pilot projects funded by northern institutions  
   Access to funding (competitive grants and seed funding) and the administrative capacity of northern partners’ institutions enabled the development of collaborative research projects  
9. Share profits equitably Partially A spirit of openness and inclusiveness enabled collaboration between northern and African members as well as senior academics and postgraduate researchers. Profits (mainly publications, travel opportunities) were shared by core working group members. Lack of funding affected the sharing of some profits (e.g. international travel to partnership meetings were not available to all members (see Table 1)
10. Increase research capacity Partially Access to northern institutional seed funding Limited funding during first 3 years of partnership.
11. Build on achievements Yes Access to in-kind support by African institutions Multiple responsibilities shared by few core working group members.
   Commitment from core working group. Lack of administrative and management capacity is likely to undermine grant proposal writing by African partners, especially partners outside Ghana.
   Access to seed funding from northern institution to support US-Ghana research collaboration Lack of funding may undermine our medium term goal to establish regular international conferences on chronic conditions in Africa.
   Access to in-kind support from African institutions  
   Access to a competitive grant to support Ghana- Europe research collaboration