What is Fair Research Contracting? Fair Research Contracting (FRC) is a practical resource providing guidance to improve contracting for researchers or community groups considering participating in research partnerships. The FRC toolkit is designed to facilitate and support the ability of vulnerable populations to participate in equitable research and innovation collaborations.


Why is the FRC toolkit useful? The purpose of the FRC toolkit is to provide vulnerable populations in poorly resourced settings, access to easy-to-use and practical guidance on developing fair research relationships, whether as co-researchers or as communities or individuals asked to participate in research programmes. It aims to provide guidance in negotiation, interpretation and implementation of fair North-South collaborative research contracts.

It has been designed to highlight some of the key issues faced in research contracting and to offer practical ways in which these can be understood and managed in order to produce fairer and more ethical research contracting. While the guidance is not intended to give a comprehensive coverage of contracting, it provides a snapshot of the legal insight that participants should keep in mind while engaging in the aforementioned activities.  Armed with such guidance, it is hoped that participants can then take a first step in considering and invoking their specific cultural and social contexts in the contracts.


Who can use this toolkit?  The FRC toolkit is aimed at any individual or organisation who is or intends to engage in a research partnership (for example, researchers, investigators, research organisations, research managers, legal services, technology transfer offices, ethics committee members and community stakeholders) with little or no access to legal expertise or support. The approach of this online tool suggests steps to improve negotiations in research collaborations with emphasis on practical action, rather than technical advice.


How does this toolkit work? The FRC toolkit provides functions as a source for access to information, links and references in order to understand what is involved when entering into a research partnership. It can for example, be used to help research partners develop their own policies and processes toward equitable and transparent collaborations. The intention is to make the toolkit easy to access and use from anywhere in the world, and to provide up-to-date information on the basic know-how of research contracting.  The toolkit has been  structured into six themes (toolboxes) which represent six critical areas that are important for establishing effective and equitable research partnerships.

The six toolboxes (or themes) focus on

• Negotiation Strategies

• Research Contracting

• Data Rights

• Intellectual Property Rights

• Technology Transfer

• Research Costing

Each toolbox expands into five components providing

Keywords >Key Questions >Tips >Case Studies >Additional Resources

Each toolbox brings together some of the essential elements that need to be addressed in order to establish fairer research contracts and avoid potential exploitation of vulnerable groups.



The TRUST project is made up of an international consortium, led by Professor Doris Schroeder of the Centre for Professional Ethics at the University of Central Lancashire (UK). The TRUST partners are working together to improve adherence to international ethical standards by ‘Creating and enhancing trustworthy, responsible and equitable partnerships in international research’. The project is funded by the European Commission’s HORIZON 2020 funding programme and is composed of a global, multi-interdisciplinary level collaboration of ethics bodies, policy advisors, civil society organisations, funding organisations, industry and academic scholars.

The project deliverables include three tools

1) Global Code of Conduct for funders

2) Fair Research Contracting on-line toolkit and

3) Compliance and Ethics follow-up tool.

The Council on Health Research for Development is the lead on the Fair Research Contracting webtool deliverable. The COHRED collaborating team includes Professor Carel IJsselmuiden (COHRED, Executive Director), Ms Jacintha Toohey (COHRED, Project Manager) and Mr Rafael Sahb (COHRED, Web Manager).

Please find documents on the FRC project here:

Initiating the FRC: the Bellagio meeting

Fair Research Contracting Guidance (Booklet)

Negotiating Research Contracts (Booklet)

FRC flyer (version 2017)

FRC flyer (version 2018)

First project report on the FRC online tool (2017)

Second project report on the FRC online tool (2018)

Final technical report on the FRC online tool (2019)

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Feedback, comments or suggestions for the improvement of these guides can be sent to cohred@cohred.org


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