AuthorAID launches new research collaboration forum to catalyse international research partnerships

Researchers from across the global research community have been requesting help in finding research collaborators. The new AuthorAID forums ( have been developed in response to this need.

With the global research environment becoming ever more complex and demanding, establishing external and international collaborations is rapidly turning into a key skill for researchers. Funders and policymakers are realising the power of cross-border and cross-disciplinary research collaborations, and their potential to innovate and solve global challenges. This has led to more opportunities and funding for research projects, particularly around the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

For academics around the world, finding and tapping into overseas research partners can be a difficult process. It is often tough to find local partners with the right level of knowledge and capacity to work on a particular research challenge. With the majority of the world’s research on development being undertaken in the Global South, it is more and more important that links are established between researchers around the word to ensure the visibility and impact of valuable research.

Academics in the Global South struggle particularly to find suitable collaborators or funding opportunities to help catalyse their research projects, and in some cases funding calls require research partners in specific fields or regions in which they have no existing contacts. For many researchers, access to networks and conferences is limited because of a lack of institutional funding, and these same researchers are rarely consulted or included on large overseas funded research projects taking place in their own fields and industries.

To help overcome this challenge, INASP’s AuthorAID website provides a free support platform for resources, mentoring and collaboration. This platform is currently used by over 17,000 global researchers. Over the past year, over 3,200 of these members have marked themselves as ‘open to collaboration’ in a wide number of different development topics including agriculture, healthcare/medicine, environmental sciences and business.

The new AuthorAID collaboration forum

To build on this demand for collaboration, AuthorAID has launched a new set of forums with a ‘Research Collaboration Space’ that offers an opportunity for researchers to post details of their research projects and put out a call for collaborators. This new area has been created in response to a survey of members we carried out in 2017, which identified that the majority of AuthorAID members (95%) need a lot of help and support in finding collaborators. Researchers in our community want to collaborate with a wide range of other stakeholders, both in-country and internationally, in their own subject area and in multi-disciplinary work, and they are looking for collaborators with skills in writing, applying for funding, and international experience.

Respondents in the survey also mentioned that there needed to be more space on the website for thematic discussions around collaboration topics, and a more interactive platform that allowed researchers to post details of their research and/or funding, and ask for collaborators. The new collaboration space addresses both these needs.

The Research Collaboration space can be accessed via the on the AuthorAID website at The forums also include a re-launched version of the AuthorAID discussion forums, a ‘Funding, scholarships and opportunities’ sub-forum and a discussion space for women researchers.

The importance of international collaboration in research

International research collaboration is central to achieving the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The challenges facing us, such as sustainable energy, climate change, and infectious diseases are truly global, affecting both the Global North and South. In the words of Professor Tyrone Pretorius, vice-chancellor of the University of the Western Cape, “It will not be a single scientist working in isolation in his or her laboratory that will make an impact on the challenges.”

For individual researchers in the Global South, there are also practical reasons for seeking collaborators – they can provide a gateway to skills and equipment they do not possess, and also and just as importantly, access to new and innovative approaches to problem-solving: “It is also a great way to establish a worldwide network of colleagues with a variety of backgrounds—scientific, cultural, or otherwise,” says AuthorAID mentor and facilitator Professor Richard De Grijs.

One of the main goals of the AuthorAID project is to empower and build the capacity of researchers in the Global South. However, the platform has been developed with global collaboration in mind, enabling both South/South and South/North partnerships and open, equitable knowledge-sharing to solve global challenges and work towards achieving the SDGs. Therefore, we also encourage researchers from Europe, North America, Australasia and elsewhere to sign up and join the discussion, with a view to finding and supporting potential partners.

We hope the new AuthorAID collaboration forum provides the space and potential to seed discussion around research collaborations that can attract funding, develop innovative ideas, and solve global development problems.

Andy Nobes
Andy Nobes is a Programme Coordinator at INASP.

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