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Managing health research capacity strengthening consortia: a systematised review of the published literature
  1. Nadia Tagoe1,2,
  2. Sassy Molyneux1,3,
  3. Justin Pulford4,
  4. Violet I Murunga4,5,
  5. Sam Kinyanjui1,3
  1. 1KEMRI Wellcome Trust Research Programme, Kilifi, Kenya
  2. 2Office of Grants and Research, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Kumasi, Ghana
  3. 3Nuffield Department of Medicine, Centre for Tropical Medicine and Global Health, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK
  4. 4Department of International Public Health, Centre for Capacity Research, Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, Liverpool, UK
  5. 5Faculty of Health and Life Sciences, University of Liverpool, Liverpool, UK
  1. Correspondence to Nadia Tagoe; NTagoe{at}


Background Locally relevant research is considered critical for advancing health and development in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). Accordingly, health research capacity strengthening (HRCS) efforts have intensified, increasingly through consortia. Yet, the knowledge base for managing such consortia is not well defined. This review aimed to ascertain the scope and quality of published literature on HRCS consortium management processes, management-related factors influencing consortium operations and outcomes, and the knowledge gaps.

Methods Given the paucity of published HRCS literature, a ‘systematised review’ as outlined by Grant and Booth was conducted, modelling the systematic review process without restriction to research-based publications. A systematic search in PubMed and Scopus was carried out coupled with a manual search for papers using reference checking and citation searching. A quality appraisal of eligible articles using the Mixed Method Appraisal Tool was undertaken. Thematic synthesis was used to analyse the extracted data.

Results The search identified 55 papers, made up of 18 empirical papers and 37 commentaries focusing on consortium-based HRCS initiatives involving LMICs and reporting management-related data. The review indicates increasing efforts being made in the HRCS field in reporting consortia outcomes. However, it highlights the dearth of high-quality empirical research on HRCS consortium management and the nascent nature of the field with most papers published after 2010. The available literature highlights the importance of relational management factors such as equity and power relations in influencing consortium success, though these factors were not explored in depth. Operational management processes and their role in the capacity strengthening pathway were rarely examined.

Conclusion Findings indicate a weak evidence base for HRCS consortium management both in terms of quantity and conceptual depth, demonstrating the need for an expanded research effort to inform HRCS practice.

  • health
  • research
  • capacity strengthening
  • consortium
  • management

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  • Handling editor Stephanie M Topp

  • Contributors NT, SM, JP and SK were involved in conceptualising and designing the review. NT led the search, screening, quality appraisal and analysis of the data. SM, JP, VIM and SK quality checked the selection process and the extracted data and were involved in the quality appraisal and analysis. NT prepared the first draft and all authors contributed to the content, review and revision of the manuscript.

  • Funding This work was supported through the DELTAS Africa Initiative [DEL-15-003]. The DELTAS Africa Initiative is an independent funding scheme of the African Academy of Sciences (AAS)’s Alliance for Accelerating Excellence in Science in Africa (AESA) and supported by the New Partnership for Africa’s Development Planning and Coordinating Agency (NEPAD Agency) with funding from the Wellcome Trust [107769/Z/10/Z] and the UK government. The views expressed in this publication are those of the authors and not necessarily those of AAS, NEPAD Agency, Wellcome Trust or the UK government.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data sharing statement All data will be made available on request.

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