The issues of ethics and intellectual honesty are vital to university life. The Faculty takes the issue of ethics in research very seriously and to this end has established a Faculty Ethics for Researchers Committee. The terms of reference of this Ethics Committee include:
- to consider all ethical matters related to research in the Faculty including, but not exclusively, conflicts of interest, authorship, the relationships between junior and senior research workers, and the role of the scientist in society
- to deal with any ethical issues brought to the attention of the Committee by researchers in the Faculty
- to screen and approve, or otherwise, all research proposals in the Faculty that relate to human or animal subjects; this includes proposed research involving students or staff, by UCT researchers or by outside visiting researchers
- to be aware that research questionnaires involving human subjects have ethical dimensions, and that research involving staff or student perceptions of race, identity or ethnicity also have ethical dimensions
- to report all instances of unethical or improper research practice to the Dean for referral to the Chair of the University Research Committee.
At the time of first registration, the supervisor will have had to sign a statement in the MoU relating to the need for any ethical clearance required for your research.
A particular (and unfortunately growing) ethical issue is that of plagiarism. Plagiarism, in essence, is passing off someone else's work as your own: it results from inadequately acknowledging sources of data, analyses and ideas, and includes direct copying of passages of text. It is dishonest and it has no place at a university. If students are in any doubt on issues relating to plagiarism, they must consult their supervisor or the Ethics Committee. Instances of plagiarism will be taken to the University Court and may have very serious consequences, including rustication or even expulsion.
All Masters candidates, at the time of submission, are required to make a declaration, which should be included in the dissertation stating: "I know the meaning of plagiarism and declare that all of the work in the document, save for that which is properly acknowledged, is my own".
The PhD declaration is discussed in the next section.
If in any doubt regarding ethical issues relating to research, seek advice from your supervisor or Head of Department.