Barriers to Multi-centre Researches among Early Career Doctors in Nigeria

Musliu Adetola Tolani, Ahmadu Bello University / Ahmadu Bello University Teaching Hospital, Zaria

According to Dashevsky et al. (1), multi-centre studies, in the context of health researches, are defined as “collaborative efforts between three or more medical centres”. It is attractive because of its capacity to explore a large study population for sample collection and its potential to harness multidimensional skills from different focal points to produce a high-quality research output that will be more acceptable for publication in high impact journals.

Early Career Doctors (ECDs) in Nigeria mostly work in clinical settings, either public or private hospitals, with little or no drive for research engagements due to the non-existence of experienced mentors to direct them on available opportunities for multi-centre research works.(2) This leaves interested doctors in the lurk on the search for a potential network of like-minds, which in some instances only occurs by serendipity, especially in the absence of a referral or a professional organization advert.

Even in the presence of excellent ideas that require multi-centre collaborations, local institutional grants or external funding to drive key aspects of this big project might be lacking. This finance could go a long way in creating a robust infrastructure for data collection & management and offset payment of the expensive article submission fee and or article processing charge in journals with high impact factors.

Another problem that might be encountered during the initiation of multi-centre research is a delay in obtaining the health research ethics committee’s approval. This could occur in cases where the committee has a huge workload. It could also be related to a delay in effecting protocol revisions based on the committee’s recommendations. Even if ECDs within identified research sites have the interest, absent co-operation from their colleagues, who believe that their efforts must be compensated in one form or the other, could frustrate their resolve to provide meaningful data contribution to the global project. Furthermore, the non-existence or poor functionality of local research network offices dampens the promotion of collaboration meetings and research works in a serene environment free from logistic hassles and distractions.(2)

As a result of the decentralized distribution of collaborators across a large geographical divide, efficient communication in the form of face-to-face meetings and informal discussions could be a challenge.(3) However, virtual technologies, such as the android conference call application and real-time google doc-based manuscript drafting used by the Research Collaboration Network in Nigeria, could promote a seamless exchange of ideas among collaborators. Nonetheless, the existence of a slow and sometimes unreliable internet network in some areas of the nation could stall the effective integration of these technologies into multi-centre projects.(4)

Finally, non-commitment to shared responsibilities and timelines could occur in the presence of other competing priorities and could lead to a halt of the execution of the research project. A strong leader is thus needed to pivot the process of enlisting highly motivated collaborators, provide solutions for the barriers encountered, and paddle the multi-centre research process to completion.


  1. Dashevsky BZ, Bercu ZL, Bhosale PR, Burton KR, Chatterjee AR, Frigini LAR, et al. Multicenter research studies in radiology. Acad Radiol. 2018;25(1):18–25.
  2. Lewis LS, McNett M, Aucoin J, Riemen K, Yeager S, Olson DM. Barriers to conducting multicenter nursing research. J Nurs Care. 2014;3(2):1–7.
  3. Hagen NA, Stiles CR, Biondo PD, Cummings GG, Fainsinger RL, Moulin DE, et al. Establishing a multi-centre clinical research network: lessons learned. Curr Oncol. 2011;18(5):e243–9.
  4. Adebayo O, Ogunsuji O, Olaopa O, Kpuduwei S, Efuntoye O, Fagbule OF, et al. Trainees collaboratively investigating early career doctors’ themes: a NARD initiative in Nigeria. Niger J Med. 2019;28(1):93–7.

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