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 only 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 count people with brown eyes).

In both of these types of cases where humans are included as participants in studies, ethics clearance is required.

Where animals are included in studies, you need to submit your application to the Animal Ethics Committee and not to the EBIT Ethics Committee.

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 reseracher/student from another university) and your research requires UP staff and/or students as informants, please contact the UP Survey Coordinating Committee at: [email protected] (Ms Carlien Nell) - who will inform you what documents are required for applicaton.

If you are not a member of EBIT personnel or a student, please enquire from the EBIT Ethics Office whether you are submitting your application to the appropriate ethics committee.

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 Ethics Application and Approval link.

From here, download the application form (see Forms section below). Complete this along with other forms or documents that may be required (this will become clear when you complete the application form). When ready, submit all the forms and documents online.

Note that applications can only be submitted online, and not as paper copy or via email.

Note: 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 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 request that you submit your application directly to the Faculty of Health Sciences Research Ethics Committee (FHSREC) . 

For 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 launch a separate application 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 and academic department in the relevant section of the application form.

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.

4.4 Therefore, 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. An email message from the chair of the departmental research committee, head of department or study leader to confirm that the research proposal has been approved should be submitted to the ethics committee along with the application form.

4.5 Under certain circumstances, the ethics committee may refer applications to other ethics committees. In particular, studies involving human subjects typically are either where people are included as informants, or where they partake as research subjects. Applications received by the Faculty of EBIT ethics committee that include people as informants will usually be evaluated by this committee. However, where people partake in research as research subjects, the EBIT ethics committee may need to refer the application to (typically) either the Faculty of Humanities or the Faculty of Health Sciences ethics committees. It is expected that very few studies in the Faculty of EBIT will be referred to either of these committees. When they are, the applicant will be notified and the application will have to comply with the operating procedures of the relevant ethics committee in the other faculty.

4.6 As mentioned above, 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).

4.7 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).

4.8 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).

4.9 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 Confirmation that the research proposal has been approved by the relevant departmental research committee or study leader (see explanation above). Submit online as a pdf file.

5.2  Application form for ethics clearance by the ethics committee. This is should be submitted online as a pdf file.

5.3 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.

5.4 Declaration by researcher. Statement by researcher regarding confidentiality and conflict of interest (print out, sign, scan and upload - i.e. a copy with your signature is required). This should be submitted online as a pdf file.

5.5 Informed consent form, to be completed by research subjects (not by the researcher), before the research study commences (but after ethics clearance has been obtained) and to be kept on record by the researcher.

(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.

5.6 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.

5.7 For any studies in which UP students or UP personnel will be respondents or participants, you need approval from the Dean of the faculty in which those student study (or in which the personnel work) to include them in your study. An approval letter (or email message) from the Dean should accompany your application. This should be submitted as part of your application to the EBIT Ethics Committee (as a pdf file).

In practice, the process is as follows: send an email (preferably by your study leader if you are a student) to the Deputy Dean: Research (Prof Jan Eloff).

The body of the message should explain briefly

(i) what your research is about, and

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

(iii) Indicate that details appear in the attachment.

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

(v) Attach the following:

(a) Research proposal (one page summary);

(b) If you are a student, confirmation that the research proposal has been approved - obtain this from your departmental research committee or your supervisor. 

When you receive a return email message, you may submit this online (as an additional document in pdf file) along with your application to the EBIT Ethics Committee. 

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.

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).


  • 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:

Application form

Declaration by researcher form

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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