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Table 1 Implications of communities disclosing information about their customary plants

From: Building partnerships for linking biomedical science with traditional knowledge of customary medicines: a case study with two Australian Indigenous communities

 No information disclosedSelective information disclosedAll information disclosed
Plant nameTraditional usesTraditional preparation methods
Community
 Advantages• The community controls all traditional knowledge about their bush medicine.
• Completely blind and unguided testing could provide the community with new, confidential information about the potential uses, medicinal properties, and/or preparation of their plant.
• Information is collated from other reports and published literature that can increase the depth of information provided to the community.
• Able to compare the community’s uses with pre-existing scientific research and published information about other communities who also use the same plant.
• Fewer tests may be required that can reduce time and cost.
• Laboratory tests for assessing bioactivity can be selected to correspond with the traditional uses of the community, thus providing preliminary scientific evidence about potential medicinal properties of the plant.
• Fewer tests may be required that can reduce time and cost.
• The laboratory results will more closely apply to the traditional preparations used by the community.
• The community can use the results to further optimise their bush medicine products, for example, potency or shelf-life.
• Fewer tests may be required that can reduce time and cost.
• The community can maximise the researcher’s expertise to provide efficient, timely laboratory analysis that most closely corresponds to the community’s preparations methods and uses.
• The community can prepare to commercialise their bush medicine products as both traditional and scientific knowledge will be required for the process, including possible regulatory requirements.
 Disadvantages• Laboratory testing is unguided at all stages and can be more time consuming and expensive.
• Results may not align with the community’s traditional uses and preparation methods.
• The community must trust that researchers will maintain confidentiality about the results of the laboratory tests.
• Laboratory testing and correlating results may not align with the community’s preparation and uses.
• The community must trust that researchers will maintain confidentiality about traditional uses.
• If the laboratory testing only aligns to customary uses, novel applications for the bush medicine may not be discovered.
• The community must trust that researchers will maintain confidentiality about traditional preparation methods.
• The community may not be able to replicate the optimal preparation methods identified in the laboratory, for example the extraction solvents may not available to the public or very expensive equipment may be required.
• The community must trust the researchers will maintain and protect all confidential information and intellectual property.
Research team
 Advantages • Researchers can review the scientific literature to help to guide plant handling, laboratory methods, and testing, review results of previous research, and identify characteristics of the plant to inform their laboratory testing.• Researchers can build on the community’s knowledge to optimise the selection of the bioactivity tests.• Researchers can build on traditional knowledge to optimise plant preparation and extraction methods for laboratory testing.• Researchers can build on all the community’s knowledge to optimise every stage of the laboratory testing.
 Disadvantages• Can be time consuming and expensive.
• Testing is limited by the expertise of the research team.
• The potential novelty of the results cannot be confirmed as plant name is unknown.
• Plant preparation, extraction methods, and selection of bioactivity tests are limited by the expertise of the research team.• Plant preparation and extraction methods are limited by the expertise of the research team.• The bioactivity tests selected are limited by the expertise of the research team.