A partnership agreement or memorandum of understanding (MOU) is a written document describing the partnership. It is a tool that partners can use to help get on the same page, address challenging questions up front, and hold one another accountable.
Partnership agreements need to be developed collaboratively, with as much honest and open dialogue as necessary to come to an agreement everyone feels good about. A good partnership agreement is a living document — it evolves over time as the partners see the need for changes. And it can’t just sit on a shelf. It should be returned to regularly.
Agreements should address questions such as:
- What are the goals of the partnership?
- What values drive our collaboration?
- What are the roles, responsibilities, and expectations of each partner?
- What strengths, resources, and assets will each partner bring to the table?
- How will decisions be made?
- What direct payments or other benefits will go to partners?
- How will data be stored and owned?
- What products will be created and how will authorship be attributed?
For a more in-depth discussion of community-based research agreements check out Celina Su’s URBAN publication, Towards New Ethics Protocols for Community-Based Research.