Sigma provides leadership in research to enhance the health of the world’s people. Its vision is to create a global community of nurses who lead in using scholarship to accomplish this mission. Advancing the scientific base of nursing practice through research and dissemination of research findings, and fostering the creation of global linkages and collaborative relationships among nursing scholars, leaders and practitioners are goals integral to Sigma’s Strategic Plan 2005. Nursing scientists and practicing nurses are uniquely positioned to collaborate as members of international and interdisciplinary research teams in conducting research that contributes globally to the public’s health and well-being. Collaborative partnerships may be formed among professional organizations, academic and/or other service organizations, or teams of individual researchers. In developing such partnerships, challenges lie in the need and responsibility to address issues of research integrity, conflict of interest, cultural relevance, intellectual property rights and academic freedom.

Collaboration in research is recognized as an essential component of knowledge development in nursing and is vital to promotion of scientific nursing practice. The World Health Organization has acknowledged the importance of international collaboration in nursing through the designation of Nursing Collaborating Centers, which have as their mandate to conduct collaborative research of regional or global significance. The International Council of Nurses has developed the ICN Research Network to serve as a global mechanism for exchange of information and expertise related to nursing and health research. To address specific areas of knowledge development and dissemination and to foster research collaboration, international research networks such as the International Pediatric Nursing Research Network and the International Confederation of Midwives Research Standing Committee have been established.

A review of the literature shows that a variety of collaborative and partnership models for research have been proposed (Dufault Sullivan, 2000; Lengacher Mabe, 1992). There is a expanding literature on research teams that identifies issues and processes for team building and collaboration (Bhopal et al., 1997; Broome, 1991; Csokasy, 1997a, 1997b; DuPont, 1991; Erlen, Siminoff, Sereika, Sutton, 1997; Fain, 1996; Freund et al., 1999; Gueldner, 1996; Kengeya-Kayondo, 1994; Kone et al., 2000; Lengacher et al., 1995; Thiele, 1989; Zachariah Lundeen, 1997). These published experiences and guidelines for collaborative research suggest issues that must be considered when establishing, planning, conducting, disseminating and evaluating international collaborative research.

At the direction of the Sigma Board of Directors, the International Research Committee has developed the International Collaborative Research Guidelines. Ongoing evaluation of the roles and responsibilities of research team members is an important component of the process.

Adopted July 11, 2002, Sigma Board of Directors