Faculty Committee for Research Ethics and Integrity


EBIT ethics committee details

Please direct all correspondence to the EBIT Ethics Office at [email protected], and not to any members of the Ethics Committee.

Chair: Prof Alice Chan. For all queries, please contact the EBIT Ethics Office.

Members: committee members include UP academic personnel from each of the schools in EBIT.

Secretariat (EBIT Ethics Office): Mrs Marié van Niekerk (012 4204244; [email protected]). 

Note: as a practical arrangement, please contact the EBIT Ethics Office via emails only.

 


Application for ethics clearance of a research project

1. Who needs to apply for ethics clearance?

By UP regulation (see below), ALL studies (undergraduate, postgraduate, or studies by personnel) that include humans or animals are subject to ethics clearance before data gathering may commence.

Humans may be informants (e.g. when you ask somebody's opinion, or a survey, questionnaire or interview is used), or they may be subjects (i.e. where they are the object of study, e.g. when you measure reaction time or observe people or ask people to perform tasks).

In both of these types of cases where humans (informants and/or subjects) are included as participants in studies, ethics clearance is required.

Where animals (and/or insects) are included in studies, you are also required to apply for ethics clearance. 

Where UP related data (e.g. study guides, academic records) are to be used, you are also required to apply for ethics clearance. See more details below in red under section 2.

Please read the material below before submitting an application.

 

2. How to apply for ethics clearance

If you are not a member of UP personnel or student (e.g. a researcher/student from another university or external organisations) and your research requires UP staff and/or students as informants and/or UP related data (e.g. academic records), please contact the UP Survey Coordinating Committee at: [email protected] (Ms Carlien Nell) - who will inform you the process and documents are required for the application at the institutional (UP) level.

If you are not a member of EBIT personnel or a student (i.e. from another Faculty), please consult first with your home faculty wrt to the ethics application process. All applicants should apply at the home faculty first, then the adminstrator may transfer to the relevant faculty if necessary.

EBIT applicants whose research that involve UP staff/students, Alumni or any other UP stakeholder (for example prospective students, donors, employers etc) as participants (survey/interview/observation/experiments) as well as using UP related information/data should first apply at EBIT REC (home faculty). Once approved by EBIT REC, then apply at the UP Survey Coordinating Committee at: [email protected] (Ms Carlien Nell) using their application form. All the aspects listed in the application (where appropriate) are addressed in the research or survey proposals. To download the UP Survey Committee application form please go to the end of this page under Downloads. 

Applications and all accompanying documents must be submitted electronically via the online ethics system (details below).

All correspondence between the applicant and the EBIT Ethics Office takes place via e-mail.

Feedback on applications is given via the online ethics system.

All documents regarding regulations and procedures are available electronically (via links on this page).

When applying within EBIT (i.e. EBIT personnel and students), the process to apply for ethics clearance is straightforward. Log into the UP Portal, and then click on the Research Grants & Ethics, followed by the Ethics Application and Approval link.

Once you have created a new application online, you are required to complete the details of the applicant as well ad the application form online. Complete this along with other forms or documents that may be required (this will become clear when you complete the application form online). When ready, submit all the forms and documents online. You can always save your application (every new application will have a specific Protocol Number) and then later search for your application using the Protocol Number (under Preappoval Submissions, then to Find an Existing Value, search for your Protocol Number). Once all the documents are ready, submit the application. From here onwards, the application is first routed by the system to the supervisor (if the applicat is a student), then to the HoD before it reaches the EBIT ethics office. This may take long depending on each department's internal process. It is highly recommendd that if the applicant is a student that s/he input the supervisor's personnel number and email correctly. The correct department should be chosen for all applicantions, in order to reach to the correct HoD. 

Note 1: Applications can only be submitted online, and not as paper copy or via email.

Note2: You will be saving yourself time by making sure that the application is complete and correctly completed. Incomplete or incorrectly completed applications will result in delays.

There is a two-step process for certain categories of applications. This would typically be the case for any work that is health or animal related. Applications should always be submitted to the home faculty ethics committee first. Please note, however, that there may be specific cases in which the EBIT Ethics Committee will transfer your application directly to the Faculty of Health Sciences Research Ethics Committee (FHSREC) or Faculty of Veterinary Science (FVSREC). This is done automatically by the portal system, you don't need to submit a new application to another faculty. 

For example, all health-related projects or studies, you need apply to EBIT first if you are a student or member of personnel of this faculty (EBIT). The EBIT Ethics Committee can grant preliminary approval, and this should then be used to transfer your application by the system to the Faculty of Health Sciences Research Ethics Committee (FHSREC) via the online ethics system. The FHSREC may require corrections or modifications, and they will grant final approval (or endorse an EBIT health-related study) where appropriate.

3. Code of Ethics for Research

The application form must be completed only after you have familiarised yourself with the University Code of Ethics for Scholarly Activities as well as Policy and Procedures for Responsible Research (links below). By submitting an application, you declare that you know and understand the content of these documents. 

4. Aspects to consider when preparing an application

4.1 If you are a student, ensure that you provide the details of your study leader under Research Team in the online application form. Incorrect personnel number and email address will result in your application routed by the sysetme to the wrong person. It is adviced that you email your supervisor immediatly after you have submitted online for his/her attention.

4.2 Ensure that all documents use correct grammar and spelling.

4.3 Note that the ethics committee considers whether the research to be conducted complies with ethical guidelines, not whether the research or research methodology is correct or appropriate. However a concise description of the methodology with relevant ethical aspects are required (under Materials and methods in the online applicaiton form). 

4.4 If you are a student, your research proposal must be approved by the departmental research committee (of the department where the research originates), or by the study leader before requesting clearance from the ethics committee. After you have submitted your application the system will send a notification to your study leader who will need to provide his/her recommendation for your application to proceed further to the EBIT REC for review. 

4.5 All research within the faculty that may be classified as "medically-related research" will be considered by the EBIT Ethics Committee first, and must then be submitted to the Faculty of Health Sciences Research Ethics Committee with EBIT's recommendation. As examples, this would include any work carried out in hospitals, or any work in which devices are attached to people (e.g. ECG monitor, blood pressure monitor). 

4.6 As a general rule, surveys or questionnaires that request personal details of respondents will not be approved (i.e. details like name, address, telephone number, ID number, student number, health status, gender, income, number of people in a household). If you require any of these from respondents in a survey, you should expect questions from the ethics committee which will delay the process. To avoid delays, decide whether you actually need to know these. If yes, motivate explicitly and clearly in your application (provide a motivation letter as an additional document with strong theoretical construct/justification).

4.7 Finally, please ensure that your email address as given on the application form is correct.

 

5. Submission checklist

You need to submit the following documents online.

5.1 Application form for ethics clearance by the ethics committee. This is should be complete online.

5.2 Questionnaire, survey or interview questions, where applicable for the particular study. If unstructured interviews are to be conducted, you still need to provide the list of questions to be used. This should be submitted online as a pdf file.

5.3 Informed consent form, to be completed by research participants (therefore not yet signed by the research participants when you are preparing for the ethics clearance application), before the research study commences. After ethics clearance has been obtained and forms are signed before data is collected, these signed forms should be kept on record by the researcher for 5 years.

(i) An example of the informed consent form appears at the link below, but (important) please adapt this to be specific for your study.

(ii) The title of the research study and your name needs to appear on the informed consent form.

(iii) The informed consent form should be informative, and, among others, explain the risks to the participant.

(iv) If voice recordings are to be used, the informed consent form need to explicitly request permission for this.

(v) Personal information may not be voice recorded.

(vi) Video recordings are generally not allowed.

(vii) Online questionnaires are allowed, but this also required informed consent. The usual approach is to prohibit the participant from continuing to the questionnaire until explicit informed consent is provided. Note that you will still need validated records of informed consent. Typically a cover letter for an online questionaire is required (see tempalte of such a cover letter under Forms section below).

Your example informed consent form should be submitted online as a pdf file.

5.4 Company permission letter, where applicable. When your research is conducted at an institution or company (e.g. a bank, a government department, or a retail company), you need to submit a permission letter from that entity (from the owner, CEO, director or other authorized person) that allows you to perform a research study there. This should be submitted as a pdf file via email.

5.5 For any studies in which UP students or UP personnel only within EBIT will be respondents or participants, you need approval from the Dean of EBIT faculty. A requesting letter to the EBIT Dean (Prof Jan Eloff) should accompany your application as an additional document (as a pdf file) online with the file name as: Letter to the Dean.

The body of the letter should explain briefly

(i) what your research is about, and

(ii) why UP students or UP personnel from EBIT need to be included.

(iii) how data will be collected from them and the duratio of the data collection period.

(iv) ask permission to include either UP students, or UP personnel, or both in your study.


If you require UP staff and/or students from other faculties (i.e. not just only EBIT), then the permission from the Registrar is required prior to the submission of the letter to the EBIT Dean. Contact the UP Survey Coordinating Committee (detail provided on top of this page) for the process. Once you have obtained the approval, submit the approval letter as an additonal document. Mention this approval in the letter to the EBIT Dean. 


If any of the above is not submitted (where required), your application will be delayed for at least one application round (around 5 weeks).

 

6. Submission

The deadlines for submission are given below.

Strictly adhere to the deadline dates of submission, as submissions that are late for the present cycle will be considered in the next cycle, without exception. This means these applications will be delayed for five weeks or more.

Submissions made by the staff will be routed by the system to the HoD before it reaches the EBIT Office. Submissions made by students will first be routed to the Supervisors for checking. Please make sure that you have entered your supervisor's personnel number and email addrss correctly. Once you have made a submission, follow up with your supervisor. Once the supervisor has checked and set it for submission, it will then be routed to the HoD before it reaches for EBIT Office. The submission deadline in the table below refers to the date that the application reaches to the EBIT Office, not the date that you have submitted online. 

The "review completion by" date is the expected date of review process completion of a particular cycle of applications. Allow a few days after this for feedback. Feedback may be "approved", "conditionally approved", "rejected", or "modifications required". If the latter, please submit these as soon as possible after receiving feedback to be in time for the next round.

Deadlines for submission of ethics applications
Round Submission deadline Review completion by
1 22 January 2021 26 February 2021
2 12 March 16 April
3 30 April  4 June
4 18 June  23 July
5 30 July 3 September
6 10 September  15 October
7 29 October  26 November
  21 January 2022 25 February 2022

NOTE: Ethics submissions or revisions received after 29 October 2021 will only be considered in the next round (deadline 21 January 2022; completion 25 February 2022). 

7. Feedback and revisions

If submitted on time, applicants will wait for around five weeks for feedback (feedback after the next completion date). If a revision is required, this should be submitted by the next submission deadline, which will be within around a week after feedback.

The revised/improved application will then be considered in the next round of applications. For example, if your submission deadline was 15 March, you would receive feedback on or just after the next completion date, 18 April. If a revision is required, this is due by the following submission deadline after this date (3 May), and feedback on this is at the end of that round (after 7 June).

Therefore:

  • Please ensure that your application is complete and correct - if not, it may take several additional weeks to be approved.
  • Leave enough time between the application and the planned commencement of the research. Apart from the possibility that a revision may be required, some additional weeks will need to be allowed where applications are referred to another committee (e.g. Health Sciences for any health-related project),

Upon approval, notification will be sent to the applicant via the online system.

 

8. Important note on conducting research before clearance is obtained

By regulation, applicants may not commence with research before clearance is received from the ethics committee.

Conducting research requiring clearance from the ethics committee without approval is a serious offence and may be followed by disciplinary action. When research is conducted without the necessary clearance, all data gathered will be null and void and will not be allowed as part of the requirements of a degree (e.g. masters dissertation or PhD thesis) or research publication. This is strictly enforced. No ethics clearance will be given ex post facto.

 

9. Forms

Click to download:

Informed consent form (example only). Adapt to be informative and specific to your project.

Cover letter (example only) for online questionniare. Adapt to be informative and specific to your project.

Published by Alice Chan

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