Preamble

This code expresses the ethical values of all staff engaged in academic and/or research activities at the Workers’ College, who have committed themselves to:

Uphold and promote the values of democracy, excellence, human dignity, respect for diversity, equality, freedom and socioeconomic emancipation of the working class

Continually improve knowledge, teaching and learning

Offer effective academic learning and research opportunities to students and be of general service to society in the development and dissemination of knowledge

To promote shared ethical values and ensure compliance with such values

Build trust and value in and for the organisation through the application of ethical standards and lived values.

Purpose: The purpose of this code is to communicate and guide staff, students, contractors, sponsors and clients of the Workers’ College engaged in or supporting academic and research activities as to;

  • The rights of all stakeholders
  • Promote human well being and dignity
  • Protect the rights and interests of research participants
  • Ensure fairness in relationships between staff and students in an academic and research context
  • Uphold and promote integrity in all academic and research activites
  • Facilitate open communication and decision making around ethical considerations involved in research

Custodianship of the code

The research ethics committee is the custodian of this code and shall develop further policy, play an advisory and oversite role and function as a decision making body in the case of ethical complaints or appeals against decisions of line function heads on ethical grounds about research proposals. The board shall act as the final arbiter of high level appeals.

All academics need to take into account other codes of ethics that might be relevant to their work, i.e. international codes of ethics negotiated by regional or global organisations and codes of ethics accepted by national and international academic organisations.

Values

This code of ethics finds its basis in the Constitution of South Africa enshrining the core value of democracy as interpreted in the Bill of rights.

All students, staff and contractors engaged in research and academic practice must be familiar with the fundamental human rights contained in the bill of rights.

These fundamental human rights inform the core academic values of the Workers’ College which include the pursuit of working class emancipation through truth and free enquiry and expression in open and constructive dialogue. There is an academic commitment to quality and the just and fair treatment of all people and the environment.

Roles and responsibilities

Different parties and stakeholders in the research and academic relationship shall have rights and responsibilities.

It shall be the responsibility of the Workers’ College to provide a nurturing and enabling environment for academic and research excellence that is aimed at the transfer of knowledge to learners, participants and society at large.

It shall be the responsibility of staff to identify the learning opportunities in academic and research practice by;

  • keeping appraised of cutting edge practice and methods
  • keeping abreast of good practice and other relevant ethical codes as per section 3.2 of this codes
  • Structuring practical research and academic activities with a view to the learning outcome requirements
  • Reviewing and developing teaching and research methods continually
  • Giving adequate feedback in a timeous way to students, sponsors and clients
  • Respecting and nurturing student commitment to high quality and ethically based research practice
  • To monitor and observe all student proposed research activities for potential breaches of the code of ethics and to ensure the values in this code are central to all research practice in the Workers’ College.
  • To respond to student submissions within an agreed time frame
  • To fairly assess student submissions with regard to method and content
  • It shall be the responsibility of students to;
  • conceptualise and propose a particular research activity where this is an academic requirement, in the required format and with due consideration of the standards required, with sufficient detail to allow staff to adequately assess and support a proposed course of research action
  • Submit drafts and instruments in an agreed time frame
  • To familiarise and bind themselves to this code of ethics and practice

It shall be the responsibility of management and the ethics committee

  • to support staff and students in their relationship
  • Act as a mechanism of appeal to staff decisions including assessment based appeals
  • Request external support, expertise or peer review of research outcomes and or practice where required or prudent
  • Seek institutional funding support for research initiatives
  • Promote research excellence and reputation of research at the Workers’ College.
  • In support of the research head and director develop institutional networks and collaborative partnerships of mutual benefit in building excellence and capacity

Methodological Rigour

Researchers aspire to the highest degree of integrity in their research through;

  • Reviewing available literature in an area of research endeavour including methodological considerations
  • Keeping abreast of and complying with the highest standards of academic and or scientific research
  • Always fully describing methodological application in a research piece and fully divulging the limitations of methods, data sets and findings
  • Complying with accepted standards of data collection and processing
  • Not falsifying, fabricating or manipulating data beyond accepted statistical methods for smoothing or otherwise processing data
  • Not committing any form of plagiarism
  • Acknowledging all authorship of consulted research sources in a prescribed format
  • Acknowledging contributions of different members and authors of a research process
  • Declaring any sponsorship or support for a research piece and explaining any potential conflicts of interest or biasing factors inherent in a research undertaking
  • Practicing no form of unfair discrimination in research

 

Research Approval Process

All student research shall be proposed in a prescribed format and reviewed by the appropriate staff member before further work on a research process can take place

Externally commissioned research shall be developed to proposal level and presented to the research ethics committee for approval before contractual undertakings are made between the Workers’ College and a external party in this regard.

Students and staff must as part of the proposal submit in writing as part of any research proposal a consideration of any potential ethical considerations and an acknowledgement and plan to uphold this code in that regard.

Research Participants to be respected and protected

All researchers must be aware or made aware of these primary obligations and shall at all times;

Respect research participants rights to freedom, choice dignity, privacy, and freedom from any potential physical, psychological, social or economic harm.

Research design and testing must expressly consider any potential threats to these rights and either be subject to redesign to eliminate such potential threats or document steps to control external elements in so far as this will adequately manage such threats.

It is the duty of staff to oversee such elements and where necessary seek advice from the research ethics committee in doing so.

Respect that all research participants are in the first instance considered anonymous and data sets when shared with other parties continue to respect this right. This consideration may only be waived with the express and informed consent of a research participant.

Researchers may use people as participants of research only if they have given their proven free prior and informed consent for their participation in the research

Researchers should respect and exercise due diligence in care for the environment.

Sponsors and Clients

Sponsor’s support the college research agenda and either partially or fully fund a research project or area. Clients commission a piece of research and therebye determine the topic of investigation.

Client commissioned research should be developed into a mutually agreeable framework through methods such as a reference group. A client should not be enabled to undermine the integrity of a research piece or require any action that would violate this code of conduct.

Sponsors and the Workers’ College may engage in discussions on methodology and data processing but the sponsorship can not undermine the integrity of the research process or influence the findings in any way. There shall be no requirement for violating any element of this code either explicitly or implicitly in a sponsorship agreement.

Any sponsorship or client commissioned research must be approved by the research ethics committee and a written agreement entered into between the parties.

The methods, contents and results of research that has been funded (fully or partially) by external funders, must be fully disclosed. Full particulars of the person or institution from outside the Workers’ College who funded the research must be provided in the published results of the research.

Secret research (results will not be published) is generally discouraged and can only be accepted where there is a compelling developmental or human rights advantage to the research or there is an obvious and non-harmful confidentiality requirement or a commissioned piece is for internal organisational purposes and not in the public interest, for the research being conducted. The Research Ethics Committee must expressly approve such a research project stating in full the reasons for such approval. The research area and client must however be publicly disclosed through the normal reporting and communication channels.

Researchers are to be honest with sponsors and clients of their research about their qualifications and their research expertise and skills. Researchers must ensure that sponsors require nothing of their research that is contrary with internationally acknowledged standards for ethical research.

Researchers will only utilise a sponsor’s or client’s funds for purposes explicitly approved by the sponsor or client.