Funds spent on collaborative research in developing countries should advance knowledge and support infrastructure. Lorelei Silvester, programme manager at the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, discusses how to ensure they do.
In recent years the UK has spent increasing amounts of its overseas aid budget on research programmes to build capacity in low and middle-income countries through initiatives such as the £1.5-billion Global Challenges Research Fund and the £735m Newton Fund.
As well as strengthening science in partner countries, these projects often generate high-quality research. But there can be a lack of clear evidence or consensus about whether the capacity building function has been carried out effectively, measurably and sustainably. There is a dearth of rigorous research into how such programmes strengthen research capacity, but this knowledge is needed by all involved to ensure that the effectiveness of such programmes can be optimised.