Research

Research integrity—a continental concern

The Unisa Research Integrity team together their Moi University guests: Busisiwe Sibiya, Prof Eunice Kamaara, Dr Retha Visagie, Jepchirchir Kiplagat, Kgomotso Gill, and Prof Edwin Were

“Everyone is singing the song of integrity—one that makes and strengthens the whole quality of integrity to flow within Unisa.” This observation came from Jepchirchir Kiplagat while on a visit to Unisa from Moi University in Kenya.

She and two other Moi University staff members, professors Edwin Were and Eunice Kamaara, were guests of Unisa’s Research Integrity Office during a week-long fact-finding and benchmarking mission. From 2 to 6 July 2018, they had the opportunity to learn about how the institution has structured its research integrity system and procedures.

Moi University is developing a new framework for dealing with research integrity as its Institutional Research Ethics Committee has noticed an increasing number of cases of research misconduct, particularly plagiarism, in research ethics applications.

Unisa stakeholders participated in discussions about a wide range of topics. These included research ethics, the governance and operationalisation of research integrity, and the role of internal audit in investigating research misconduct and disciplinary procedures. Other topics addressed were the roles of colleges and the library in promoting research integrity, publication ethics, intellectual property and patents. “Research integrity at Unisa is a global project that is both horizontally and vertically integrated,” commented Professor Edwin Were.

Among the external stakeholders that participated were academics from the Tshwane University of Technology and University of Pretoria, as well as research management staff from the Human Sciences Research Council. The discussions focused on the promotion of research integrity and management of alleged research misconduct on a national level. To this end, a call was made for the establishment of a National Research Integrity Office to set standards and provide strategic guidance on matters relating to research misconduct.

“As an ethicist, this has been an enlightening experience in terms of helping people translate belief into practice,” said Kamaara.

The team attended the Unisa 145th anniversary celebration and agreed that the institutional vision and mission are intertwined and placed at the core of all activities, including research integrity, thus ensuring a level of consistency in service delivery.

Dr Retha Visagie engaging on Research Integrity matters with Prof Eunice Kamaara and Jepchirchir Kiplagat of the Moi University

*By Mpho Moloele