Ethical guidelines for Global South academic partnerships


Recently Finnish initiatives for research, education, and innovation collaboration with the Global South have increased, encouraging higher education institutions (HEI) to develop and build new partnerships. Although these collaborations are expected to be based on values of equality, reciprocity and responsibility, they are operating in ecosystems and environments that are governed by and accentuate global inequalities. Issues such as how we understand and consider the complex global and local contexts and power relations in academic collaborations, how we engage with our partners, and how we talk about and with our partners in the Global South are some of the components that may be affected by and accentuate global academic inequalities. The Finnish University Partnership for International Development (UniPID) aims to address these issues by developing and providing support for building more fair and responsible global academic partnerships.

In Finland, the institution in charge of promoting the responsible conduct of research, preventing research misconduct, promoting discussion and spread of information on research integrity is The Finnish National Board on Research Integrity (TENK). All Finnish universities are committed to TENK’s guidelines on the responsible conduct of research, on authorship, on responsible conduct related to dissertation process, and on research and human participants. Though comprehensive, these guidelines do not specifically address issues related to research or academic collaborations with the Global South or in unequal settings. UniPID initiated cooperation with TENK to create such complementary guidelines, and address specifically Global South related research and academic collaboration.


The aim of the complementary guidelines is to provide researchers with a conceptual framework as well as practical tools for creating more responsible and equitable approaches in their research and cooperation. Specifically, the guidelines should help increase the knowledge and understanding of the ethical issues that may rise when conducting research in the context of the Global South, to help prevent risks and develop more reciprocal, equitable and responsible partnerships. In addition to research, the guidelines can be useful also for other forms of global academic collaboration. The guidelines also seek to contribute to the wider aim of decolonizing Finland’s academic research and global partnerships.


The work has been designed in a two-level approach:

Level 1: Focused on micro-level practices, identifying current bottle necks in academic collaborations and providing tools/good practices based on the current legal and institutional frameworks.

Level 2: Focused on macro-level discussions, identifying opportunities for scaling up and provide policy-level recommendations for decision makers (policy-makers, funding agencies, academic institutions, etc.)


Photo credits: Domina Petric, 2023, on Unsplash