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The Women Rise Research Team Completes Ethics Training Before Fieldwork

Updated: Aug 6, 2023

By Tim Hart

Photograph of Tim Hart with five of the successful candidates: Thandokazi Silosini, Zikhona Mtwa, Anelisa Ndamase, Anelitha Tukela and Bonelwa Nogqaza (from left to right)

The empowerment of emerging South African women scholars represents a key goal of the Women Rise Ukuvula Isango (Opening the Gate) research project that has been launched by the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) and McGill University in Canada. As part of this empowerment process, a research ethics training course was held with potential fieldworkers, fieldwork coordinators and project partners on 16 February 2023. The course was coordinated by the HSRC’s Research Ethic Committee (REC) and presented by Dr Tim Hart, who is a member of the HSRC REC. The course was presented as part of a week-long series of training workshops around ethnography and fieldwork held in Chintsa-East in the Eastern Cape.

The research ethics training covered a number of topics concerning the legal, regulatory and conduct requirements for undertaking ethical research and protecting study participants in South Africa. After the training, participants completed a 10-item online questionnaire which assessed their knowledge about research ethics in South Africa and more generally. The minimum requirement was a score of 60%. Everyone who undertook the online assessment passed, achieving scores between 70% and 90%.

The training, which was supported by the Women Rise management team, enabled the HSRC REC to transfer research ethics skills and knowledge to the eight fieldworkers at the training as well as to representatives from the Eastern Cape government, Walter Sisulu University and local non-governmental organisations (NGOs) who were there. The training marked the first time HSRC-employed fieldworkers have completed HSRC REC-accredited training before conducting fieldwork.

I had the privilege to present the researchers and supervisors with their research ethics certificates at a second meeting held in Chintsa-East in May 2021. The Women Rise project has been issued with HSRC REC ethics approval Protocol No REC 1/18/01/23 which is renewable in June 2024.

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