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;
ensuring that researchers are properly qualified and experienced; and
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, and the Postgraduate Committee whose principal objective is to monitor and approve graduate research proposals.
The Committee meets once every month (excluding January and December).
Applications must be lodged with the Secretariat of the Committee, by the deadline date of every month. Applications will then be considered at the next meeting.
The application must include the following:
(i) the completed Application for Ethics Clearance, including all relevant attachments
(ii) copy of the letter confirming title registration
(iii) the research proposal approved by the departmental Research Committee (for reference purposes), including a Turnitin report for the proposal.
Procedures for application for Ethics Clearance
Researchers must ensure that the research proposal is approved by the department’s Research Committee. The application form for ethics clearance must be completed in full and signed by all concerned (student, study leader/promoter, departmental Research Committee chairperson and Head of Department).
Where relevant, the following should be attached:
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
Shopping centre management or relevant private/ public facility authority
Letter from the organisation (on their official letterhead or e-mail) granting permission to conduct your research within their company, bank, school or NGO/NPO etc;
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);
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.
Each 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 via the study leader/promoter 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 for completion of 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.
Committee Officer: Mr Marcel Deysel