Patrick Chitumba Midlands Bureau Chief
First Lady Auxilia Mnangagwa was among Midlands State University (MSU) PhD students who attended a research ethics workshop in Gweru yesterday. The workshop was facilitated by Professor Paul Ndebele, a director at the Medical Research Council of Zimbabwe.
The First Lady sat through the workshop, which started at 8.45am and ended at 1pm.
The First Lady graduated with an Masters of Business Administration from MSU in 2008.
Prof Ndebele said the workshop was of utmost importance for the students as it could help them come up with quality research that could be recognised worldwide.
“This workshop is very important as it will assist you come up with quality research projects as PhD students, as well as this institution,” he said.
Prof Ndebele said students should abide by laws and ethics governing the exercise so that animal and human rights were taken into consideration.
He said no one should be forced to participate in research, adding that the participant’s right to abandon research should be considered.
“You should avoid unnecessary suffering of participants during the research,” said Prof Ndebele. “Know that research can be stopped at any time and the interest of the participant should always prevail.”
In her welcome remarks, MSU pro-vice chancellor Prof Doreen Moyo said: “Universities are research engines that generate new knowledge and proffer solutions to challenges bedevilling our communities, industry and other sectors of the economy.
“Research output is pivotal when it comes to career advancement, product development and ranking of institutions.”
Prof Moyo said increasing research activity and competition for research funding could sometimes result in dishonest and fraudulent practices, adding that it was imperative that all research involving humans, animals and the environment be scientifically sound and ethical.
Ethics, she said, referred to norms of conduct that distinguished between acceptable and unacceptable behaviour.
Prof Moyo said research ethics were bound by various national and international codes and guidelines supplemented by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948.
“In terms of these documents, all research involving human subjects should be conducted in accordance to four basic ethical principles, namely: respect; beneficence, non-malfeasance and justice,” she said.
MSU, Prof Moyo said, was committed to implementing research ethics as evidenced by its senate-approved research ethics policy.
“The university also has a functional ethics committee and rudimentary faculty ethics committees,” she said. “The ethics committees are mandated to vet and approve research proposals and provide oversight.
“It is my sincere hope that the deliberations of this research ethics sensitisation workshop will enhance the services of the university ethics committee and cultivate a conducive environment for research.”
Prof Moyo said research at MSU should underscore core values of integrity, innovativeness and creativity, teamwork and professionalism.
She said high-ranked journals made it mandatory that all submitted research manuscripts had a section that stipulated that research was done ethically.
“Grant funders also have the same requirements when it comes to research grant applications,” said Prof Moyo. “This underscores the importance of fully implementing the university ethics policy.”