The Syrian conflict has galvanized the attention of humanitarian agencies, international organizations, and academic institutions. The global response necessitated new forms of North–South research collaboration, often involving international investigators unfamiliar with the social make-up, political economy, or the nature of the conflict in the Middle East. Research has led to new knowledge on the health and social implications of the crisis and highlighted challenges of the humanitarian response. But some of this research has revealed ethically dubious fieldwork practices, inequities, and power dynamics in the funding, conduct, and dissemination of academic research across global North–South divides.
A dominant form of collaboration that has emerged, especially in the multi-institutional Syrian refugee research complex, has been one where institutions in high-income countries are incentivized to be the conceptualizers and producers, while Middle East partners become facilitators and executers. In this context, Dr. Abla Sibai from the American University of Beirut (AUB) Faculty of Health Sciences (FHS), Graduate Public Health Program joined a team from the Magdalene College and Department of Sociology at University of Cambridge, the Center for Population and Development Studies at Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health, KCL Institute of Cancer Policy at King’s College London and London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine to publish in the Lancet journal an article addressing “North–South inequities in research collaboration in humanitarian and conflict contexts.”Friday Letter Submission, Publish on November 22