Promoting research integrity and avoiding misconduct - perspectives on and from Africa

SOURCE: Social science research ethics in Africa
OUTPUT TYPE: Chapter in Monograph
TITLE AUTHOR(S): C.Van Zyl, F.Kombe, P.Okonta, T.Rossouw
SOURCE EDITOR(S): N.Nortje, R.Visagie, J.S.Wessels
DEPARTMENT: Deputy CEO: Research (DCEO_R), Deputy CEO: Research (ERKC)
Print: HSRC Library: shelf number 10947
HANDLE: 20.500.11910/14289

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Research in the social sciences provides insights into human behaviour and social interactions. Evidence from such research may inform policies and decisions affecting the lives of many. It requires trust between the researcher, research participants, other stakeholders and the public. To earn trust, the quality and integrity of work done by researchers should be impeccable. Introducing the concepts of research integrity, research ethics and responsible conduct of research as desirable characteristics of research practice, this chapter also deals with questionable forms of research practice and research misconduct the latter including fabrication, falsification and plagiarism. Little is known about the prevalence of, and reasons for, research misconduct in Africa, and there are no national or regional policies, guidelines or structures to promote research integrity on the continent. The voice of Africa and perspectives from African researchers are largely missing in international debates and research about research integrity. Possible risk factors that may lead to research misconduct or questionable research practices are highlighted, with examples specifically dealing with fabrication, plagiarism and authorship issues. Special reference is made to the risk of unequal power relations in internationally-funded research studies, and the need to provide support to research fieldworkers to ensure the quality and integrity of research and research relations. Recommendations to strengthen research integrity in the social sciences in Africa include networking and information sharing, training and capacity building, research on research integrity (and research misconduct) and the introduction of policies, systems and structures to enhance research integrity institutionally, nationally and continentally.