Purpose

This policy provides a policy framework for the management, support and development of research at the Workers’ College. It also regulates ethics and conduct of peoples conducting research from or on behalf of the Workers’ College.  The policy also addresses the roles and responsibilities between learner and research supervisor where such relationships are established by way of an organisational programme. It is intended to;

  • Provide a framework for research governance
  • Ensure research is prioritised in organisational budgets and planning
  • Ensure curriculum and teaching is informed by research
  • Develop an evidence based and coherent framework to influence/support national policy and the general practice of worker education.
  • Ensure clear communication within the organisation and with external partners, stakeholders and users of the Workers’ College services of the principles and priorities of the organisation’s research agenda
  • To effectively and efficiently use organisational resources in the planning and conduct of the institution’s research agenda and activities.
  • Ensure fair treatment of, and appropriate conduct by researchers, staff, contractors and students of the Workers’ College.
  • Integrate research with teaching and curriculum development processes, quality management and strategic planning.
  • Direct research activities strategically to support the organisational mission and reflect the organisational values.
  • To support the development of the working class and working class organisations through the development and dissemination of knowledge.

Scope

The policy covers all research conducted within and by the Workers’ College and is applicable to all temporary, fixed term contract and permanent employees, externally contracted organisations and consultants and research relationships established with other institutions, as well as registered students of the Workers’ College.

Definitions

The following definitions of different types of research apply

Participatory Action Research: A general orientation of a research process that emphasises the participation of those who would normally be considered the subjects of research in the definition of the research purpose, its design and implementation towards supporting action and the assessment of these actions in addressing some form of social or workplace problem.

Basic Research: Theoretical or experimental research that’ focuses on developing new knowledge related to the underlying phenomenon or assumptions and observable issues. This form of research will be promoted through contributions to and the development of academic publishing in peer reviewed journal form.

Strategic research: This is research directed to a defined problem area that supports better understanding of a problem towards the end of developing recommendations for redefining or solving such problems.

Applied research: This is directed at a defined area often relating to practice. In the case of the Workers’ College this may include the applying research to academic teaching practice, or developing particular methodologies and or curriculum.

Principles

The Workers’ College QMS, mission and strategic plan commits the organisation to evidence based quality education. Research is considered a corner stone of curriculum development and quality management.

Research is also central to the assessment of learner and service user needs and the alignment of curriculum and service offerings with these needs.

The Head of Research and Legal is generally responsible for ensuring operational compliance with this policy in consultation with the Director and Research ethics Committee. The Head of Education must ensure compliance at an operational level where research activities are part of the curriculum.

Support is provided both for sustaining and promoting the research activities of established researchers, as well as for the development of less-experienced or less-developed researchers

The Workers’ College shall approach relevant and appropriate organisation for financial support, including but not limited to the National Research Fund, The Department of Labour, The Department of Justice and the Department of Higher Education and Training, provincial and local government departments and Civil society and labour funding support organisations more generally.

The Workers’ College shall prioritise research that;

  • relates to trade union and community development education and Training,
  • community development and trade union functioning,
  • the documentation and exposure of labour community and human rights abuses and exploitation and the development of recommendations and actions to end such abuses,
  • policy engagement and support on matters relating to the betterment of the working class
  • Human resource development in general and worker’s education within human resource development in particular
  • the promotion of adult literacy and adult education in general, the betterment of working class lives in general and the
  • The practice and development of socialist alternatives
  • The general upliftment and betterment of working class lives
  • The competitiveness of South African academia and industries within a framework of improving working and living standards.
  • The development and practice of participatory and action orientated research.

These priorities form the base of the research strategy which shall be compiled annually and must be reviewed as part of the general policy review process as required from time to time.

The Workers’ College shall build a balanced research profile across the four identified types of research being, participatory, basic, applied and strategic research.

The Workers’ College shall promote practical experience of research through the development of curriculum related and non-curriculum related research interns

The Workers’ College shall promote the integration of all intern systems such as paralegals through a rotation system within the research functions of the organisation.

Requests for support of research projects or activities are judged on the merits of the proposal, the merits of the applicant, the need for research capacity development, and the need to sustain existing research activities or capacity.

Research conducted by the Workers’ College shall be within the general internationally accepted ethics and norms of academic research. To achieve this, researchers shall at all times adhere to the Research ethics and code of conduct of the Workers’ College (Annexure A of this policy.)

A breach of the research ethics and code of conduct can result in corrective or disciplinary action proportional to the seriousness of the breach.

Staff development funds will be prioritised for staff wishing to conduct original research contributing to the priority areas of the Workers’ College research agenda.

The Workers’ College staff, contractors and students shall familiarise themselves with the required formats for the referencing of all resources used in research and academic writing.

Sources of information, knowledge and ideas must at all times be formally recognised and appropriately referenced in research and research reporting.

Externally funded and or commissioned research must conform to the requirements and timeframes of grants and where this is not possible the contractual obligations in terms of variations must be adhered to by the lead researcher.

Reporting of externally funded and or commissioned research may follow the requirements of these organisations but researchers must still comply with the standards, values and ethics of this research policy and code of ethics. It is usual to provide such an organisation with a copy of the Workers’ College research policy when contemplating collaboration.

The Workers’ College shall make public all research undertakings of the institution, including information pertaining to the source of funding and commissioning organisations.

Where the results of any research undertaking may be embargoed for a period exceeding 120 days as a contractual requirement of a commissioning organisation such a contract may only be entered into with the approval of the research ethics committee.

Academic freedom and research: The Workers’ College’s central functions of teaching, learning, research, and scholarship depend upon an atmosphere in which freedom of inquiry, thought, expression, publication, and peaceable assembly are given the fullest protection. Expression of the widest range of viewpoints should be encouraged, free from institutional orthodoxy and from internal or external coercion.

Individual scholars should be free to select the subject matter of their research, to seek support from any source for their work, and to form their own findings and conclusions. These findings and conclusions should be available for scrutiny and criticism in accordance with the principles of research openness and peer review.

The Workers’ College recognises the value of primary data and shall endeavour to foster its collection and preserve same.

The Workers’ College shall retain all original research documentation generated in pursuance of research projects for a minimum of five years. At this point such records should be archived or digitised and retained in perpetuity.

Researchers who have developed research enquiry may retain copies of such data upon departure from the Workers’ College however the originals must be retained by the Workers’ College.

The Workers’ College supports the notion of freedom of access to information and openness and transparency in research as a means to building the knowledge available in society in general and to ensure the rigour of public scrutiny and peer review.

It may be necessary at times to recoup the cost of production of knowledge content through the sale of research.

All research conducted by the Workers’ College shall be made publicly available with the exception of research that may require section 4.19 consent from the board.

The development of any academic publications and or journal under the auspices of the Workers’ College must entail a blind peer review process as a central element of building reliable and quality knowledge contributions to the various fields of engagement.

Research and information made available publicly and free of charge, by the Workers’ College shall be done so on the principle of copy left where all derivative use of such research and information must also be made available free of charge by such users.

Workers’ College shall hold copyright on intellectual property on any work, research or documented ideas of persons employed by the college or students and/or interns of any description in so far as the work produced is/was in furtherance of duties or participation in activities related to the undertakings of the Workers’ College.

Clause 4.30 (the previous clause) does not include individual research and assignments completed by students in furtherance of their academic studies. It also excludes situations of externally commissioned research which may remain the property of the commissioning organisation. The Workers’ College shall in such cases endeavour to reach agreement in contractual discussions for the public disclosure of the research so conducted. Should this be refused by a prospective client, the research ethics committee must approve such a project.

Work produced by students of the Workers’ College remain the property of the student but the Workers’ College is entitled to use such work with due acknowledgement in furtherance of knowledge pursuits along the lines of copy left principles. All substantial research concluded by students shall be digitised and databased for access by the student body, Alumini and user organisations. A hard copy of all postgraduate dissertations shall be catalogued and mainlined within the institutional resource centre.

The Workers’ College can not claim copyright on intellectual property on any work or ideas developed by employees, students or contractors prior to engagement at the college or in relation to work or ideas generated in separate contractual arrangements with third parties even where these are used by an employee, student or contractor in furtherance of the interests of the Workers’ College.

The Workers’ College shall endeavour to reach contractual agreement with all external contractors engaged by the organisation for the ownership of any intellectual property so generated in fulfilment of the contractor’s engagement with the college.

Research techniques should not violate established professional ethics pertaining to the health, safety, privacy, and other personal rights of human beings.

Research participants/ subjects must give their free prior informed consent to any research process undertaken by students, staff or contractors of the Workers’ College.

A research ethics committee shall be established as an ad hoc body to review this policy and attached codes, deliberate over complaints of breaches of academic or research ethics and to assess the implementation and observance of fundamental principles of this policy. Such committee shall be made up of the head of research, head of teaching, the director and at least one board member. Such committee shall compile an annual report to the board on all matters pertaining to research and academic and research ethics.

The Research Ethics Committee is the custodian of the research policy, code of ethics and research strategy whilst line functional heads shall assume operational responsibility for various aspects of this policy set.

The Research Ethics Committee shall advise on ethics issues and act as a decision making body and appeal body for all research related decisions. Secret or confidential research shall be subject to a recommendation by the committee for a board decision.

The operationalisation of this policy shall be achieved through its code of ethics and the research strategy attached here to as Annexure A and B respectively.

The policy and its Annexures shall be reviewed annually.