Protocol for Ethical Research in the Faculty of Economics and Management Sciences


In January 2012 Stellenbosch University (SU) implemented a policy to manage the ethical risks linked to research in the humanities. The policy document is available here: SU Research Ethics Policy_Mar09.doc

The policy also applies to the Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences (EMS). With this in mind, a Standard Operational Procedure (SOP) was drafted by the Research Ethics Committee (REC) to serve as guideline for the implementation of the policy. The SOP text is available here: REC SOP DRAFT 15 24 Nov 2011 _3_final.pdf

The SOP, however, allows room for interpretation at Faculty level. The guidelines according to which the SOP will be applied in the Faculty of EMS are as follows:

Departmental responsibilities

Each department in the Faculty is responsible to give effect to the following:

  1. 1.Convening of a Departmental Ethical Screening Committee (DESC).

  2. 2.This committee consists of the departmental chairperson and at least one other staff member who is not involved in the research project.

  3. 3.The DESC has to complete the standard checklist (Addendum 2 DESC.docx) for each new research project which is undertaken in that Department.

  4. a.For this purpose the concept, research project, includes the following: research with a view to being published in journals or books, or as working documents; contract research, policy research and industry research.

  5. b.All research by permanent or part-time staff members is hereby included.

  6. c.All research by postgraduate students is included, as well as the following: honours assignments which contribute 20% or more of the course credits, and masters assignments which contribute 20% or more of the course credits.

  7. d.Undergraduate essays are not included.

  8. e.For this purpose essays by a student as part of a postgraduate course (masters or honours) are not regarded as research.

  9. f.Should a student, however, wish to elaborate on an essay (as described under d) with the purpose of it forming part of research output, the checklist has to be completed accordingly for this work.

4.The DESC has to store a hard copy of each checklist for a period of ten years and send a copy of the checklist to the REC.

5.Should the checklist indicate a medium or high ethical risk, the matter has to be referred to the REC. In such cases the DESC must indicate on the last page of the checklist what steps need to be taken to manage the risks and on a separate page point out to the REC for precisely what ethical clearance is needed.

6.Each Department must make the following documents available to researchers: SU’s policy on ethical research (SU Research Ethics Policy_Mar09.doc) a subject-specific list of ethical principles for research and the SOP (REC SOP DRAFT 15 24 Nov 2011 _3_final.pdf) – as described above.

Responsibilities of researchers

All researchers (including postgraduate students) in the Faculty are responsible for the following:

  1. 1.All researchers have to be thoroughly acquainted with the University’s policy on ethical research as described in the document SU Research Ethics Policy_Mar09.doc.

  2. 2.All researchers must be well acquainted with the SOP (REC SOP DRAFT 15 24 Nov 2011 _3_final.pdf) and its application.

  3. 3.A completed SOP checklist (Addendum 2 DESC.docx) must be submitted to the DESC for each research project.

  4. 4.To complete the SOP checklist it is compulsory that a summary consisting of two paragraphs on the planned project be submitted. This summary must describe the research question, motivation, methodology, data and how the data was collected.

  5. 5.It is the researcher’s responsibility to obtain ethical clearance from the REC should the SOP checklist indicate a minimum or high ethical risk regarding the project.

  6. 6.Researchers must at all times be sensitive to possible ethical risks which may occur during project roll-out.

  7. 7.Should ethical risks, initially not foreseen by the DESC, unfold during research the researcher must revise the ethical clearance process without delay.

Submission to the Humanities Ethics Committee

All submissions have to be done electronically. The contact person for the Humanities Research Ethics Committee is Sonja Oberholzer (