On Tuesday, 30 July 2019, the University of Venda (UNIVEN)’s Directorate of Research and Innovation hosted the Research Ethics Workshop to promote research ethics. This workshop was held under the theme: “Promoting Research Ethics to its pole position”. The workshop was delivered by members of the Research Ethics Committees and Library. 54 participants from various categories of Postgraduate Students (40) and Researchers/Staff (14) attended the workshop. The workshop focused on the importance of ethics and application procedure of ethical clearance in the University of Venda.
The objectives of the workshop included: Reflection upon participants’ understanding of the nature of research ethics and integrity; engagement with the nature of postgraduate students’ academic responsibilities and the international nature of the research ethics practices. The workshop covered the following Importance of Ethics in Research; Brief Overview of Research Ethics Applications at UNIVEN; How to complete R7a and R7 Ethics Application and Consequences of Plagiarism/Predatory Publishing.
Facilitators with participants of the workshop
When opening and welcoming the attendees of the workshop, Prof VO Netshandama who is the chairperson of the University Research Ethics Committee (UREC) welcomed the participants of the workshop on behalf of the University management who were attending a meeting with the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET). She urged the participants to have a fruitful and interactive session ahead.
Prof Vhonani Netshandama began her presentation with an open discussion with participants about what they already know about ethics in general, and these were some of the responses the participants gave: – “Ethics is about doing things the right way, having moral principles, doing things accordingly and following protocol”. She continued with her interactive presentation where she indicated that ethics should talk to the soul of the researcher which means doing the right thing all the time even when no one is looking.
Prof Netshandama and Participants went on to discuss further on how ethics is important in research, stating how researchers should always protect and respect the dignity of their research participants and always treat personal information in a confidential manner.
Throughout her presentation, Prof Netshandama emphasized on the importance of how ethically all researches should be scientifically sound – that the research methods and procedures should be described such that someone should be able to replicate, trace and or verify. She further highlighted the integrity as all-encompassing the principles of Carefulness, Mindfulness, Openness, Transparency, Confidentiality and Responsible Publication. It involves above all a commitment to intellectual honesty and personal responsibility for one’s actions.
In Closing, Prof Netshandama pleaded with the participants to respect Intellectual Property as an important ethical issue during research. She particularly emphasised respect for Indigenous knowledge as well as research with marginalised population. She also emphasized that students/researchers should make it a priority to apply for ethical clearance before starting their research.
The Research Administration Coordinator: Mrs Julia Sigama gave a presentation on the Brief Overview of Research Ethics Application processes at UNIVEN, the presentation highlighted the process of packaging and submissions of documents for processing of ethical clearance certificate. She further discussed the importance of attaining ethical clearance before the commencement of research as the Research Ethics Committee will not provide retrospective ethical clearance to either staff or students.
The Chairperson of the Animal, Environment and Biosafety Committee: Prof IEJ Barnhoorn and Member of the Human and Clinical Trails Research Ethics Committee Prof RT Lebese
The Chairperson of the Animal, Environment and Biosafety Committee: Prof IEJ Barnhoorn and the member of the Human and Clinical Trails Research Ethics Committee Prof RT Lebese made presentations on How to complete the different application forms namely the R7a/R7 where they highlighted the importance of correctly completing the application form, in the presentations it was further stressed that applicants must avoid referring reviewers to proposals instead of answering the questions as required in the form.
Participants during the Workshop
Dr TA Matodzi presented the Consequences of Plagiarism/Predatory Publishing during the workshop. She described plagiarism as the unjustified presentation of another person’s intellectual property as a product of one’s own mind. In her presentation the consequences of plagiarism include a destroyed professional or academic reputation, lawsuits, revoked awards, revoked titles, academic degrees, legal repercussions, absolute copyright laws – author can sue. She further indicated that authors can be granted monetary restitution and sometimes it can be deemed criminal offense with a jail sentence. UNIVEN deploys plagiarism detection software named Turnit-in to eradicate all forms of plagiarism.
She also indicated the various consequences of predatory publishing which included waste of research, ripple effect, brand cost, permanent stain: academic record tainted amongst others. She concluded her presentation by talking about predatory publishing and advised participants on how to spot and avoid publishing from a predatory journal.
During the closing of the workshop, Mrs Livhuwani Priscilla Nemaangani, the Research Administration Officer in the Directorate of Research and Innovation gave a reflection about the success of the ethics workshop and thanked all the facilitators for their fruitful and effective presentations.
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University of Venda
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Date: 28 August 2019