This new opportunity is open to applications from Africa-based researchers at African institutions to lead Africa-centred projects in collaboration with colleagues at the University of Bristol. Building on advances made in the UK research sector toward promoting greater equity in collaboration with global South partners, this funding aims to help embed a mode of partnerships that goes further in redressing the multiple layers of power imbalances often found in global North-Africa research.
As such, the fund’s goal is to contribute to a championing of transformation in Africa research and partnerships, within the University of Bristol and beyond. This programme has been made possible by generous philanthropic gifts from alumni and friends of the University.
Intensifying debate and initiatives on equitable global North-South research partnerships have galvanized awareness and acceptance of the need for ensuring greater fairness in the setting of agendas for inquiry, the division of labor, and administrative arrangements within research projects, as well as access to resources and rewards – such as academic publications. Many scholars across disciplines in Africa and in Bristol are presently engaged in collaborative projects that aim to put such approaches into practice.
In parallel, evolving African perspectives on the imperative of decolonizing higher education and research are focusing attention on other interrelated power imbalances that often manifest in global North-Africa partnerships and require redress. Among others, and occurring variously across the different subject areas, these include:
- The frequent requirement of identifying research foci within the frame of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), which may preclude inquiry on other African priorities not captured in this global framework.
- A typically uni-directional development and research ‘gaze’, which posits the global North as ‘developed’ or advanced and Africa as ‘developing’. The gaze typically implies global North involvement in research to aid the continent and forecloses bi-directional investigations of common or comparable development challenges or even a reversed South to North investigation of Northern challenges.
- Vast disparities in infrastructures and resources required for research.
- The dominant use of Western epistemologies, theories, and concepts to guide the collection and the interpretation of data, with little value given to existing African knowledge systems and theoretical perspectives or explicit new theorizing from the continent.
- The privileging of global/Northern over local audiences in the communication of research and its findings – underpinned by the almost exclusive use of Western languages.
- A frequent positioning of global North institutions as senior and African institutions as junior partners within collaborations.
Such perspectives highlight the importance of centering African constituencies in defining where and how research collaborations with the global North need to change, and what forms of ‘equitable partnerships’ arrangements are desired for what purposes.
Aim of call:
This call aims to support and help embed research collaborations that build on ideas of African scholars and institutions about what fairer, transformed partnership arrangements should look like. As such the call is open to any Africa-led project that addresses any basic or applied aims prioritized by the African applicant, and that is conducted in collaboration with researchers at Bristol. Research areas may be empirical or theoretical, from any discipline, and related to local and/or national, sub-regional or continental, African Union aspirations for social progress.
Collaborations may build on existing Africa-University of Bristol partnerships. However, applications are also encouraged from African scholars and institutions who do not yet have connections to the University. If you are in this position please refer to the Seeking a Bristol Partner section below for more information about how we will help with this.
The collaborative research projects may be uni-, multi- or interdisciplinary and include non-academic stakeholders such as policymakers, civil society organizations or other local actors as appropriate. The collaboration will be designed to put into practice equitable partnership arrangements envisaged by the African applicant to redress key imbalances in global North-Africa research relations. Methodologies will be as suited to the pursuit of such a partnership model as they are to the solving of the research problem.
Applications must include plans for the submission of at least one academic publication and must include a learning aspect focused on deriving lessons from their Africa-centred collaboration modes and on sharing these, through active contributions, with the PARC Community of Interest. Award holders will engage with PARC in a simple monitoring, evaluation and learning (MEL) process to strengthen insights into the practice, and understandings of the impacts and implications, of new Africa-led and centered research collaboration modes, and how to further embed and enhance such approaches. Further details will be provided at the award stage.
The budget for this call is £200,000 and within this envelope, we anticipate funding approximately 3-5 projects. Whilst no precise upper award limit is given, applications for a significant portion of the budget must make an outstanding value for money case. Bids for lower-value awards are also very welcome. Projects are expected to last up to 12 months and commence in Spring 2022.
The project aligns to African-centred academic or social/policy-focused aims and demonstrates the potential for relevant high-quality outcomes.
The project design actively addresses any potential power imbalances and takes advantage of its Africa-centred collaboration mode in pursuing its specific research or social/policy aims. A learning aspect focused on deriving lessons from the collaboration is included.
The planned activities are appropriate and likely to deliver the aims of the call. The project management design is clear and appropriate, with sufficient consideration given to ethical considerations, wider complementary partnership building initiatives, or plans for mobilizing capacity.
The project team possesses the necessary balance of skills, including an appropriate level of interdisciplinarity and relevant stakeholders.
In aid of its sustainability, the project involves appropriate engagement with relevant end-users; the potential to deliver research or applied outcomes at the local, national and/or international level beyond the initial award period; and the potential for African and Bristol partners to develop their research profile.
The project fully justifies its costs, includes only eligible costs, and represents good value for money.
The core team should consist of an African researcher based at an African HEI or research institution as lead and at least one Bristol researcher. We call the lead research organization the “host organization”. The host organization must ensure that the principal investigator will have a contract in place that covers the duration of the award.
The application must be made through an African host organization (e.g. a University, Research Institute) where the appropriate authority has agreed for the application to take place.
The Bristol researchers can be either experienced researchers (over seven years post-PhD) or early career researchers (e.g. postgraduate up to within 7 years post-PhD). We would expect their experience to be reflected in the role they take on within the project, e.g. co-investigator or named researcher. Where a Bristol early career researcher is participating, we would expect the application to detail what additional support they will receive from Bristol colleagues, commensurate with their prior experience.
Additional eligible partners
Whilst the funding offer does not provide for a large consortium, additional partners are welcome in order to adequately address the focus of your application.
- Other African co-investigators and researchers can be costed.
- Non-academic African partners can be costed.
- Academic or non-academic partners from other DAC countries can be costed.
- Other academic UK partners not based at Bristol can be included but not cost.
- Non-academic UK partners can be costed where a strong justification for their costs can be provided.
- Academic or non-academic partners from other non-DAC countries can be included but not cost.
Seeking a Bristol partner:
We welcome applications from African researchers who do not yet have connections to the University. We have provided time within the call schedule to help you connect to Bristol researchers. Please complete the Partner Enquiry Form and send this to us. While we cannot guarantee to match you to a suitable researcher, we will do our best to help broker new connections.
- Please complete the Partner Enquiry Form found on the call webpage.
- Please try to self-identify potential Bristol researchers where possible, using this portal. You will be in the best position to determine whether a Bristol researcher’s profile is relevant to your project idea.
- Please remember to include a short CV when you submit your form.
- Submit the form and your CV to [email protected] no later than Friday 8th October.
- We will try to identify a suitable and available researcher as quickly as possible.
This brokerage service will finish on 22nd October. This is the latest date we will respond to any submitted request.
Application process and timeline:
Applicants are encouraged to attend and participate in the call webinar. The webinar will be recorded and posted on the call page afterward, including responses to questions raised.
Applicants submit the application form and all supporting documentation by the deadline.
We strongly encourage you to submit your application as early as possible. This will help us in case an issue requires clarification. Should we be unable to resolve an issue by the deadline we may not be able to forward your application to the panel.
Please note the University’s last day before Christmas closure is Thursday 23 December 2021 and it will open on Wednesday 5 January 2022.
Opening Date: 15 September 2021
Deadline:7th January 2022
Download application files below