Research ethics is important in the library space. Library staff find, create, organise, package, evaluate, use, and share information on a daily and continuous basis. It is important to know when information can be disseminated ethically, especially when choosing to report and/or publish the information in one or more ways. It is vital that library staff are aware of the procedures and outcomes of ethical research.
The Research Enablement Strategic Focus Area planned and hosted a Research Ethics Seminar for all library staff which took place on 26 July 2022. The purpose of the seminar was to inform library staff on ethical research procedures and processes. Lesego Makhafola, Information Specialist in the EBIT Faculty Library and Driver of the Research Enablement Strategic Focus area, was the facilitator for the seminar. Ms. Carlien Nell, a Senior Manager for Market Research in the Department of Institutional Planning, was the guest speaker. Ms. Anna Siwela, Deputy Director for Academic Services in the Department of Library Services welcomed everyone to the seminar and mentioned that as custodians of information, it is important that library staff are aware of ethical considerations when creating, disseminating and interacting with information that is created and which is in our domain. She also mentioned the four pillars of information ethics which are: respect, honesty, fairness and care.
The following key points were covered by the guest speaker, Ms. Carlien Nell during the seminar:
- The implementation of the new iGaPP policies, revised research and survey policies, and the POPIA for research activities at UP
- The role and function of the Institutional Survey Committee
- Important aspects to consider when developing a research project
Surveys are influenced by the iGaPP programme, information governance policies, survey policy and research policies. The iGaPP programme aims to establish a sustainable, decentralized model of information governance, privacy protection compliance with data protection legislation (i.e. POPIA), and the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation.
There are three new information governance policies which were introduced that researchers need to be aware which are available on the UP intranet: Protection of Personal Information (Privacy) policy, Information Security Management Policy, and Records Management Policy. Important to note, was the fact that the current research policies are in the process of being aligned and will result in three main research policies namely: Intellectual property, survey policy, and research policy. The process in on-going and the policies will be re-introduced later in this year.
Ms. Veliswa Tshetsha did the closing remarks and thanked the guest speaker. She also summed up key aspects covered during the seminar and also emphasized that it is important to make sure that library staff adhere to the research policies and we must follow the necessary ethics approval process as we are likely to use secondary data, and finally, understanding why ethical clearance is required and why it is important to obtain clearance in advance. She noted that any data that library staff intend to share publicly, will require clearance.
It was an overall informative and comprehensive seminar with compliments from library staff for the speaker and the seminar. There are plans to have similar seminars in future.