This week Nature Portfolio set out steps to address inclusion and ethics in global research collaborations with a focus on practices such as ‘helicopter research’1 and ‘ethics dumping’2.
Unfortunately, these practices can be prevalent in many different types of settings but are most commonly associated with situations marked by legacies of unequal partnership, for example, collaborations between high income countries and low middle income countries and research with historically marginalized groups within countries. Research across similar settings of privilege and power is also not immune to these detrimental research practices.
In a Nature editorial released to coincide with the World Conference on Research Integrity, we stress that inclusion and equity in global collaborations is not only a moral imperative but it is also vital for producing reliable and trusted research. We hope that our engagement and that of others on these issues will have a positive impact on the development of the Cape Town statement.
How we’re taking action
Current Springer Nature Foreign and Local Authorship policy encourages working with local collaborators and researchers, and providing attribution in authorship or acknowledgements (where collaboration does not meet authorship standards). After an extensive consultative process, Nature Portfolio is now going further to further support inclusive collaborations. Using the Global Code of Conduct, a code of ethics for equitable research partnerships, embraced by funders and institutions as an orienting framework for our approach, and taking inspiration from the San Code of Research Ethics, we are taking action in the following four ways:
In addition, we have created a dedicated section on inclusion and ethics in our Authorship Policy which encourages authors to provide a disclosure built around specific listed questions, and we have included the new guidance in the Editorial Policy Checklist so authors are aware of it throughout the course of their usual publishing workflow.
We are taking a first step in trying out a new approach with Nature Portfolio journals but it is our ambition that this will both advocate for a new standard of inclusion and ethics in research and stimulate discussion more broadly across the industry.