University of South Africa: The importance of research ethics and academic integrity

Hosted by the College of Graduate Studies, the School of Interdisciplinary Research and Graduate Studies, in collaboration with the Research Integrity Unit in the Research Support Department, the Master’s and Doctoral Research (M&D) Ethics Symposium was a significant event, as crucial matters on research ethics and academic integrity were addressed. The symposium offered a platform to engage with postgraduate students about academic integrity and research ethics. In addition, it included an overview of research ethics and how to conduct research with vulnerable populations.

Fundamental principles and procedures of ethical research were discussed. Dr Retha Visagie, Manager: Research Integrity, raised essential factors, such as the responsibility to protect participants, whether these participants are humans, plants or animals, and the importance of upholding academic integrity. M&D students were guided through issues relating to research ethics, legal implications, professional frameworks, obligations and standards, and the session demonstrated that these factors need to be prioritised while conceptualising their research projects. Regarding their role as researchers, they must respect participants and promote ethically sound engagements.

Conducting research with vulnerable populations taught participants the importance of being knowledgeable about vulnerable individuals. These criteria constitute vulnerability, their level of access and how much input they can offer. In addition, the researcher must be cognisant of additional barriers or challenges and consider whether vulnerable people can be included in research ethically.

University of South Africa
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