LSTM researchers collaborate in multi-country consensus statement to promote equitable authorship

News article 14 Oct 2021

The journal Anaesthesia has published a consensus statement, which presents academic journals with a new and pragmatic approach to the problem of parachute research – i.e. research that is conducted in low- or middle-income countries (LMIC) by researchers from institutions in high income countries, without adequate recognition of the contribution of LMIC research teams.

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 Anaesthesia to launch an inquiry. The subsequent wider-ranging consultation resulted in the development of the now published consensus statement.

Researchers at LSTM 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.”

First author, LSTM’s senior clinical lecturer and honorary consultant in critical care Medicine, Dr Ben Morton, said: “Researchers from lower- or middle- income countries are persistently underrepresented as authors of studies conducted in their countries. 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 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