Global Code of Conduct for Research in Resource-Poor Settings


Fairness (or justice) can have a number of interpretations but the most relevant concepts for collaborative research ethics are fairness in exchange, and corrective fairness. In collaborations, as the name indicates, at least two parties are involved in a range of transactions, and issues that need to be considered for fairness in exchange might include the opportunities and allocation of benefits from the research for all parties. Corrective fairness is about how to right a wrong and includes considerations such as liability and accountability. This type of fairness is vital in collaborative ventures but can be challenging because it is dependent upon the availability and applicability of legal instruments and access to mechanisms to right a wrong (e.g. a complaints procedure, a court, an ethics committee).​


Article 1

Local relevance of research is essential and should be determined in collaboration with local partners. Research that is not relevant in the location where it is undertaken imposes burdens without benefits.

Article 2

Local communities and research participants should be included throughout the research process, wherever possible, from planning through to post-study feedback and evaluation, to ensure that their perspectives are fairly represented. This approach represents Good Participatory Practice.

Article 3

Feedback about the findings of the research must be given to local communities and research participants. It should be provided in a way that is meaningful, appropriate and readily comprehended.

Article 4

Local researchers should be included, wherever possible, throughout the research process, including in study design, study implementation, data ownership, intellectual property and authorship of publications.

Article 5

Access by researchers to any biological or agricultural resources, human biological materials, traditional knowledge, cultural artefacts or non-renewable resources such as minerals should be subject to the free and prior informed consent of the owners or custodians. Formal agreements should govern the transfer of any material or knowledge to researchers, on terms that are co-developed with resource custodians or knowledge holders.

Article 6

Any research that uses biological materials and associated information such as traditional knowledge or genetic sequence data should clarify to participants the potential monetary and non-monetary benefits that might arise. A culturally appropriate plan to share benefits should be agreed to by all relevant stakeholders, and reviewed regularly as the research evolves. Researchers from high-income settings need to be aware of the power and resource differentials in benefit-sharing discussions, with sustained efforts to bring lower-capacity parties into the dialogue.

Article 7

It is essential to compensate local research support systems, for instance translators, interpreters or local coordinators, fairly for their contribution to research projects.

The development of the Global Code of Conduct for Research in Resource-Poor Settings has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 664771