LSTM endorses consensus statement promoting authorship equity in scientific publications

News article 26 Nov 2021

LSTM has formally endorsed a recently published consensus statement on measures to promote equitable authorship in research publications from international research partnerships. 

The statement was recently published in a landmark paper, co-authored by a number of LSTM researchers, which highlighted practical measures to address the risk of so-called ‘parachute research’, where researchers, typically from high income countries, conduct research in low- or middle-income countries (LMIC) without adequate recognition of the contribution of authors in these countries.  

The paper proposes a pragmatic way to challenge and change such behaviours. It recommends that journals require authors to include a ‘reflexivity statement’ that demonstrates how equitable partnership has been promoted throughout the design, conduct and publication of the research.    

'Following this formal endorsement, we now have to embed the recommendations of the consensus statement in our research ethics, data management and publication review processes', says LSTM Dean of Research Culture and Integrity, Professor Hilary Ranson. 'We encourage all our staff working on collaborative projects to read and adopt these recommendations and encourage journals to mandate statements of this type ahead of publication.' 

The recent publication in the journal Anaesthesia has led to a global debate as publication of parachute research is not only confined to global health journals, but also occurs in specialised journals across a wide variety of disciplines. A series of recent submissions led the editorial board of the journal to launch an inquiry. The subsequent wider-ranging consultation resulted in the development of the now published consensus statement. 

LSTM staff, as part of a multidisciplinary team of researchers and journal editors from South Africa, Kenya, Tanzania, Nigeria, Malawi, and the UK, reviewed relevant literature and existing guidelines and developed the proposed guidance. The statement is designed to address research equity, authorship, and the role of academic journals in the context of international health research partnerships. 

Senior author Dr Ndekya Oriyo, a principal research scientist at Tanzania’s National Institute of Medical Research (NIMR), an organisation whose responsibility includes national level permissions to publish health research in Tanzania, stated: “Submitted manuscripts, covering research conducted in so-called LMICs by collaborations that include partners of high-income countries, should be accompanied by a structured reflexivity statement describing how equity has been promoted within the partnership. We recommend that journals should publish these together with the accepted manuscripts.” 

A recent analysis showed that 30% of publications of primary research conducted in LMICs did not contain any local authors. 

Corresponding senior author, LSTM’s senior clinical lecturer and Honorary Consultant in HIV and Genitourinary Medicine, Dr Angela Obasi, said: “We provide guidance to journal editors about how they should assess these statements when they make their decisions to accept or reject submitted manuscripts. We urge them as well as all research institutions in higher income countries to adopt these recommendations to ensure we halt the practice of parachute research and redress current authorship inequities in their journals.” 

Consensus statement on measures to promote equitable authorship in research publication from international research partnerships as published in Anaesthesia DOI: 10.1111/anae.15597