Doing harm – the impact of UK’s GCRF cuts on research ethics, partnership and governance

In spring 2021, during the COVID-19 pandemic, research projects funded by the UK’s Global
Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) were subjected to budget cuts. The cuts were the result of
UK government’s decision to reduce its Official Development Assistance (ODA), which had
devastating effects for humanitarian, development and research work. This article draws on
focus group discussions with project teams working on three large GCRF-funded projects to
explore the effects of these cuts. The article documents how the cuts curtailed project aspirations
and impact, had a negative toll on the mental health of researchers, and imperilled the trusting
relationships upon which international research collaborations are built. The article argues
that the cuts expose the shallow commitments to research ethics and equitable partnerships of
powerful actors in the UK research ecosystem, including research councils and government. In
‘doing harm’ via these cuts, the article explores the failure of research governance structures and
the continued coloniality underpinning the UK’s approach to researching ‘global challenges’.

Nwako, Z., Grieve, T., Mitchell, R., Paulson, J., Saeed, T., Shanks, K., & Wilder, R. (2023). Doing harm: the impact of UK’s GCRF cuts on research ethics, partnerships and governance, Global Social Challenges Journal (published online ahead of print 2023). Retrieved Jan 12, 2023, from

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