Our research ethics policy

Global Health 50/50 maintains high ethical standards and applies established, rigorous methods in all research projects conducted by collective members, in its research partnerships, and in research conducted on behalf of the organisation by external consultants.

Our research and research partnerships are guided by a set of ethical principles and practices that are summarised below.

Research methods

GH5050 uses a variety of research methods from different disciplines. The majority of our data collection entails detailed desktop reviews of the websites of 200 organisations (for our annual Global Health 50/50 Report) or government databases (e.g. in the case of our sex, gender and COVID-19 data tracker).

We conduct applied research with a policy and programme focus. We examine the workplace policies and programmatic approaches of organisations and evaluate the extent to which they are equitable and gender-responsive according to global guidelines and frameworks. We conduct reviews of legal frameworks and legislation at national and global levels. Our research largely focuses on document review, workforce data and national health surveillance datasets, and we also occasionally conduct qualitative research with key stakeholders, policy makers and experts.

While our methods are diverse and deployed by researchers in different contexts, we work to ensure that all our research is consistently conducted in an ethical and transparent manner. Our methods are published in every report and the methods for the annual Global Health 50/50 report are also available on this website page.

Research ethics policy

We adhere to high standards of ethical research and wherever possible, submit our methods for review by authorities on ethics in research. This is done to ensure that the rights, interests and welfare of those involved in the research process are protected. Our key principles for commissioning and conducting ethical research are based on those outlined in University College London’s research governance policies and procedures and informed by commonly agreed standards of good practice, such as the ESRC Framework for Research Ethics 2015 and the guidance of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI).

While GH5050 was housed at the University College London (2017-2021), ethical approval for all research was sought and granted by the UCL Research Ethics Committee.

All GH5050 staff must report any potential conflicts of interest. Before working on a project with us, contracted researchers must also report conflicts of interest and work is assigned or reassigned to avoid the conflict, such as if a researcher is currently or formerly employed by one of the organisations reviewed in the annual report.

Research ethics of the Global Health 50/50 Report

The vast majority of the data reported by the GH5050 annual report is drawn from publicly-available websites. Our ethical considerations primarily concern the proper treatment of internal policies that are shared with us. Organisations receive a detailed information sheet on how their documents will be handled and for what purpose. A focal point must sign an informed consent form before sharing internal documents. Internal documents or policies received are shared via our online verification portal for which organisations must have a unique link in order to access. The documents are stored temporarily on secure servers, only accessible by select, identified researchers, and are deleted six months after the publication of the report. Internal policies, or excerpted text, are never published by GH5050.

In 2018, 2019 and 2020, the UCL Research Ethics Committee granted ethical approval for the research methodology of the annual GH5050 report. (Most recently: Project ID/Title: 18623/001 Global Health 50/50 for the period of 26-10-2020 through 26-10-2021).

Since establishing GH5050 as an independent non-profit, GH5050 no longer has access to the UCL Research Ethics Committee. To date, we have not identified a research ethics committee that grants ethical approval to independent research bodies or projects. In 2023, GH5050 sought ethical appraisal from the Social Research Association, which deemed the report methods to be “ethically sound”. With this favourable opinion, and given that the report methodology has not changed since ethical approval was granted in 2020 (though the substance of the variables and themes may have changed), GH5050 considers its report research methods to continue to be in line with global ethical standards.

Research partnership ethics

GH5050 engages in a number of collaborations and partnerships as part of our research projects. We are committed to a set of principles to ensure our research partnerships are equitable and ethical:

  • We strive for diversity in the research team;
  • We strive to ensure a plurality of perspectives among informants/participants;
  • We work to ensure an understanding of the context of the research setting, including issues of power;
  • We honour core ethical principles in research design and governance (as outlined above);
  • We include capacity strengthening as part of the research process;
  • We strive to be solutions-oriented and/or offer opportunities to redress inequalities;
  • Our analyses of findings include considerations of equity;
  • We strive to ensure benefits for those involved in the research – during and beyond the research project.
Research funding 

Our current research is funded by three grants:

  • Women in Leadership – The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
  • Gendered Data Pathways – The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
  • Global Health 50/50 Annual Report – The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

We are grateful for past funding received from The Wellcome Trust, a philanthropic donor who chooses to remain anonymous, USAID, the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), and voluntary donations from the public.

Please contact Sonja Tanaka (info@globalhealth5050.org) for more information on our research methods.

Last updated 13 March 2023.