Research ethics and integrity issues in supervision

  • Daniel Maposa Department of Statistics and Operations Research, University of Limpopo, Private Bag X1106, Sovenga, South Africa.


Research ethics and integrity plays an important role in postgraduate supervision in universities and various research institutions across all continents in the world. Higher education (HE) institutions, in particular, universities and medical research institutions, are battling with issues related to research ethics and integrity. Studies that involve human participants, animals and biosafety materials require ethical approval of the research protocol or proposal from an accredited research ethics committee or board before commencement of the research study. Once the research protocol has been approved by the research ethics committee, it is expected that the researchers maintain research integrity in carrying out the research study and reporting of the findings. The literature is abundant with issues of research misconduct and unethical practices in research, for example, the notorious Nazi medical experiments in Germany during World War II in the health sciences. The massification of postgraduate supervision has also given rise to research misconduct and unethical practices in supervision. The present study provides a critical review of the research ethics and integrity issues in research and postgraduate supervision. Particular reference in the study is made to a HE institution classified as a historically disadvantaged institution (HDI) according to the South African context of categorisation of universities. The study presents the Singapore Statement and also highlights some research ethics and integrity issues faced in HDIs in South Africa. The recent and relevant literature sources were used to support the arguments raised and useful examples were provided to enhance the discussion and to provide justification and critical edge to the points raised.