These guidelines are meant to serve as a template to assist midwives to collaborate in research across international and culturally diverse communities, and to provide fundamental principles that will hold true globally, wherever research is conducted. They must also be adaptable to the local situation. They contain basic structures and processes essential to produce collaborative research that is respectful of research partners and research participants and that is in the best interest of the health of women, their newborn babies, their families, and their communities.
The structure of the document is patterned on the ICM International Code of Ethics for Midwives (1) and Thompson & Thompson (2) bioethical-decision-making model as applied to research collaboration. This employs an ethical and moral reasoning approach to analyse, weigh, choose, justify and evaluate reasons for each step in the collaborative research process. In this respect, the procedure mirrors both the scientific method and the midwifery care process.
These guidelines should be implemented during the establishment of a collaborative research partnership. They should assist the researchers, research team, research participants and other interested parties to begin a transparent collaborative partnership.
The following principles underlie these guidelines:
International and culturally diverse collaborative midwifery research must:
* Be beneficial to the participating parties
* Address questions that have not been answered sufficiently or when new information may provide new insight
* Be timely
* Address the needs of women, their newborn babies, their families, their wider community, research partners, and/or the needs of the midwifery profession and the health services
* Be feasible within timescales and budgets
* Be well designed and conducted by an appropriate research team.
* Step 1: Review the situation to determine the following
Whether the research question/study being posed reflects the needs of women, and their families
Have these needs been identified through a review of the literature and prioritised by local health care providers, agencies and consumers? (Or, if not identified beforehand, do the local people agree that these needs matter?)
Identify the people affected by the study (stakeholders, women, care providers, etc) likely to be affected by the research collaboration
Determine the commitment among those involved in the research collaboration to remain involved until completion of the project
Identify who will seek funding and from which sources or how much of needed resources will be contributed by each partner.
* Step 2: Gather additional information to clarify and understand
The legal, ethical or cultural constraints to the conduct of the research
The time frame needed to evaluate the potential and actualisation of the collaborative relationship, including wider political issues that could impinge on the process
The decision-making capabilities of the persons (participants/data collectors/health care providers/researchers) involved. This should address those who do not have a direct voice in the process.
The institutional policies that will affect the conduct of the research