Research Ethics

Research, Innovation and Postgraduate Studies

1. Introduction and Purpose

– Independent review by RECs is one approach to ensure research is meaningful, valid, respectful and safe. It is generally, a legal, policy based and to in some cases a professional requirement that a research project undergoes such review.
– The University has three independent Research Ethics Committees (RECs) namely, Research Ethics Social Sciences Committee; Human and Clinical Trails Research Ethics committee; Animal, Environmental and Biosafety Research Ethics Committee which are aligned with the Department of Health (NHREC) guidelines and are responsible for effecting ethics approval of research proposals.
– University Research Ethics Committee (UREC) is an oversight committee of SENATE and it is established to promote Research Ethics and Integrity and takes an oversight role of the Research Ethics Committees (RECs). It is constituted by the respective chairs of RECS and key stakeholders.
– The main purpose of the RECs is to conduct rigorous ethics review of research proposals to ensure that the welfare and other interests of participants, researchers and animals used in research are properly protected and that the research will be conducted in accordance with the required ethical norms and standards. The aim of the reviews is to protect the rights, safety and well-being of the research participants and their communities. It does this by evaluating all factors that may influence the scientific validity and ethical acceptability of the proposal by applying the various ethical benchmarks.
– The Research Ethics Committees uses Guidelines and implements the policy which is designed to support ethical standards for research projects seeking approval in the University of Venda.
– UNIVEN classifies 3 categories in relation to the degree of risk namely, i) Exempt from Research Ethics Committee (straightforward research without ethical problems); ii) Expedited review (minimal risk to humans, animals or environment) and iii) Full Ethics review required (risk to humans, animals, environment, or a sensitive research area)

2. Process flow of the Research Ethics Clearance application is as follows:

Submissions and Presentation of the project proposal at the Departmental and Faculty colloquium/meeting to include:
– Applicable Ethics checklist from Faculty
– All other applicable forms as required by FHDC

Applications for ethical clearance:
– Forms (R1 and R7a and R7) to be submitted immediately after recommendation from the Faculty Higher Degrees Committee (FHDC)

Submission of proposal to UHDC to include:
– Proposal
– Ethical clearance Approval by Relevant RECs
– All other applicable forms as required by UHDC

3. Crucial documentation to be included in submission

a) Completed R7/R7a
b) Proof of Registration (Current year of application)
c) Approved Project Proposal
d) FHDC Approval letter (applicable to Masters and Doctoral Students)
e) UNIVEN Standard Informed Consent Form/s
f) Data collection tool e.g. questionnaire (if applicable)
g) Interview guide/schedule i.e. the list of questions to be asked (if applicable)
h) Letters from researcher to respective gatekeepers asking permission to conduct research
i) Conflict of interest (Researchers) –This form should be signed by all researchers in the study. (Refer to SOPs)
j) Copy of advertisements to be used (if applicable)

Refer to the Guidelines for Classification of Prospective Research with Respect to Research Ethics, TORs, SOPs and Research and Innovation Policy: Chapter 13 Research ethical standard policy.