The Research Ethics Committee (REC) considers the ethical acceptability of proposed research projects of the TUT research programmes and endeavours to clarify all matters pertaining to the ethical aspects of research. The REC deals with human subjects, as well as animals and the environment. The REC is mandated to fulfil its function by the Senate of the University.
The essential functions of the REC are the following:
- The REC independently reviews research proposals referred to it by the Faculty Research Ethics Committees (FRECs), Faculty Higher Degrees Committees (FHDCs), Faculty Research and Innovation Committees (FRICs) and other TUT environments (e.g. the support and administration environments), as long as the research proposals in the last case have been approved by one of the formal TUT research-competent committees [e.g. FHDC, FRIC or the Research and Innovation Committee of HEDS (RICH)].
- To review and approve research proposals that require mandatory adherence to national and/or international regulatory requirements, e.g. clinical trials, human genetic research, and research that involves vulnerable participants/communities.
- To review research proposals that have been submitted by non-TUT researchers (nationally and internationally) for projects in the TUT environment.
- To review research-related questionnaires (paper-based format, electronic format or as part of an interview guide for interviews and/or focus groups) intended to be distributed among TUT staff members and/or students.
- To monitor the implementation of the proposed research.
- To develop and implement policies and/or guidelines regarding research ethics issues in the TUT context.
The purpose of independent ethics review and monitoring is the protection of the dignity, rights, safety, well-being and advancement of all human research participants, animals and the environment. Special attention will be paid to research that includes vulnerable participants. The REC is also available to review, advise on, and approve or reject research proposals involving human participants, animals and the environment submitted to it by researchers who are not members of the University. The REC's detailed Standard Operating Procedures and Guidelines (SOP) document is available on request.
The Animal Research Ethics Committee (AREC) is exclusively responsible for the evaluation and approval of research proposals that involve the use of vertebrate animals.
An expedited review process is in place to speed up the review and approval of "minimal risk" research proposals and certain study-related documentation in the period between committee meetings. The expedited review process may not be used for research proposals where the identification of the participants and/or their responses would reasonably place them at risk of criminal or civil liability, or be damaging to the participants’ financial standing, employability, insurability, reputation, or be stigmatising, unless reasonable and appropriate protections will be implemented so that the risks related to the invasion of privacy and breach of confidentiality are minimal.
Many diploma or B Tech students are required to complete small research projects in the course of their studies. They often have a very limited time available to complete these studies and are often not sure whether or not the project needs ethical clearance from the REC. They are also often concerned that the ethical review process may not leave them with enough time to complete the research project. The REC is aware of these problems and has thus established the following procedure:
- The REC will regard the supervisor as the principal investigator, who assumes ultimate responsibility for the project and its ethical components.
- The student and supervisor should discuss the potential ethics issues of a research proposal. It is the supervisor’s responsibility to decide whether or not the proposal requires ethical clearance.
- When ethical clearance is required, the research proposal must be submitted to the relevant Faculty Research Ethics Committee (FREC) for approval.
Dr WA Hoffmann, DEd (Psych Edu)
Chair: Research Ethics Committee
Tel +27 12 382-6246
Tel (Secr) +27 12 382-6265
Fax +27 12 382-6262