The Research Ethics Committee of the Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences has been established according to a dictate from the Senate Committee for Research Ethics and Integrity of the University of Pretoria.
Research ethics is the science of criteria, norms and values for human action and conduct. It is engaged in reflection and analysis of morals concerning whether an act is good or bad and how it influences the quest for meaning. Its intention is to safeguard human dignity and to promote justice, equality, truth and trust. Therefore, ethics is a critical reflection of morality.
The function of the Research Ethics Committee is two-fold: firstly, it has a monitoring function in respect of generally accepted scientific principles and ethical standards that underlie all research. Secondly, to ensure that all research in the Faculty that involves human subjects and/or respondents is bound by specific ethical principles. These include:
the protection of research participants and researchers from harm or exploitation;
the preservation of a participant’s rights, which takes precedence over society’s rights;
the provision of reassurance to society that their rights are maintained;
investigation of allegations of scientific misconduct and reporting of findings to the Faculty Board.
The underlying rationale is to preserve and respect the rights, freedom and well-being of all people.
The Research Ethics Committee, however, does not function in the place of the ethically conscious researcher, who must take the responsibility for his/her human subjects and/or respondents. Both functions of the Committee are performed with due circumspection so that the integrity of departments, and the University, is not jeopardised.
The Research Ethics Committee works independently, but in synergy with the other related committees, namely the Research Committee, overseeing all research within the Faculty, the Postgraduate Committee whose principal objective is to monitor and approve graduate research, as well as the Assurance of Learning Committee that facilitates the effective implementation of Assurance of Learning (AoL) in terms of AACSB Accreditation, with specific reference to ethical practices when conducting research.
Functions and procedures
The Committee meets once every month (excluding January and December).
Applications must be submitted by the deadline date of every month. Applications received will be considered at the next meeting. Meeting and deadline dates are available here
Procedure for application for Ethics Clearance
All applications for ethics clearance are completed online via the UP Portal. A user manual for researchers explaining the process and completion of the application is available here
Where relevant, the following supporting documents must be uploaded to the application:
Postgraduate students applying for ethics clearance must upload the letter of confirmation that their research title has been approved by the Postgraduate Committee.
A research proposal outlining the research to be undertaken.In the case of postgraduate students, the research proposal must have been approved by the relevant departmental Postgraduate or Research Committee.A Turnitin report of the research proposal is also required.
Copies of any advertisements or letters for the recruitment of human subjects
Introductory letter (printed on the official UP departmental letterhead) to conduct research among, for example, the following types of respondents:
Employees/customers of an organisation
CEO or Manager
Minors (children under 18) [Children’s Act of 2005])
Parent, surrogate parent, guardian or care-giver
Learners at school
School principal and parents/guardians; some school principals may require that you obtain permission from the relevant Department of Education
Mall intercept, shopping centre management or relevant private/ public facility authority
Informed consent includes elements of information, understanding and voluntary participation from the respondents/participants to take part in the research. This can be obtained through a formal letter of Informed Consent or by adding a tick box at the top of the self-completion survey questionnaire (hard copy or electronically). A template for a combined Letter of Introduction and Informed Consent is available here
Letter from the organisation (on their official letterhead) granting permission to conduct your research within their company, bank, school or NGO/NPO etc;
The proposed method(s) to be used for obtaining research should be included, i.e. survey questionnaire, interview schedule, in-depth personal interviews/focus groups, research experiments, observation guide or analysis of published documents.
Every department is represented on the Committee. If uncertainty exists concerning any of the application procedures, any member of the Committee may be approached for clarification. This is especially the case in respect of research projects where the possibility exists that the effects on the human subject may not be immediately evident.
Notification of clearance
The Research Ethics Committee will inform the researcher in writing of the result of the application.
If, after approval by the Research Ethics Committee is obtained, either the research procedures during the research process or the research topic are so amended that the research project obtains new meaning, it will be expected of the researcher and the study leader/promoter to submit an amended proposal to the Research Ethics Committee, before continuing with the research.
The decision of the Research Ethics Committee is final.
Suggestions when completing the application form
When planning research, researchers should ask themselves whether there is anything that, during the course of the research project, could prove to be harmful to the human subject(s). Also ask yourself how serious or subtle in nature this harm may be. Establish that any possible risks will be minimal or slight in nature, viewed within the context of the complete research project.
A further question that you must ask yourself is whether the benefits that you expect will accrue from the research are sufficiently meaningful in nature to justify any possible risks connected with the research and the effects on the human subjects and/or respondents.
Any queries related to the application process may be referred to:
Committee Officer: Mr Marcél Deysel