Over the past few years, the Faculty of Health Science (FHS), North-West University (NWU), has managed to build up an effective research ethics system under the management of the Faculty of Health Sciences Ethics Office for Research, Training and Support. In 2018 two changes occurred: 1) the appointment of Deputy Deans in certain Faculties, and 2) the NWU approving the NWU Policy on Academic Integrity (2018, revised 2021). The mentioned policy includes both academic integrity matters related to teaching-learning and research practices. It provides guidelines on how the office of the Registrar will handle a formal internal and external investigation into potential academic misconduct of an undergraduate or postgraduate student or a staff member. It further states that Faculty boards and academic units (including research entities) must establish processes and procedures for the effective implementation of this policy. These two mentioned changes, as well as an increase in cases of a breach in research integrity (RI) (also referred to as Responsible Conduct of Research [RCR]) in the FHS and other faculties, created a greater awareness of the importance of RI and the need to find more effective and comprehensive ways to manage RI in the FHS.
In 2018 the management of RI was delegated to the Deputy Dean: Research and Innovation (DD: R&I) and previously formulated processes and procedures (SOPs) falling under the Faculty of Health Sciences Ethics Office for Research, Training and Support had to be reviewed. The first step in 2018 was to create a greater awareness of RI and RCR within the FHS. This was accomplished by presenting several training sessions in RI and RCR on all three campuses to both academics and postgraduate students. Since 2019 an introduction to RI and RCR became an integral part of the two-day Research Ethics Training course in the FHS with the first morning dedicated to RI and RCR. Towards the latter part of 2019 it was decided to develop an extensive research integrity management system for the FHS, as well as its accompanying processes and procedures during 2020 under the auspices of the DD: R&I, envisaged to roll out in 2021.
The system became known as the Integrated Research Integrity Management System (IRIMS) of the Faculty of Health Sciences.
In 2021 the role out started in earnest with setting up administrative systems, giving training on IRIMS to Research Directors, academics, and postgraduate students, as well as building a climate that fosters RCR. The IRIMS is now in full use.
See more detail on the IRIMS under “About us”.