Update on ethics module roll-out on eRA

29 November 2022 | Professor Sue Harrison

Dear colleagues

I am pleased to write to you with an update on the roll-out of an online risk-based ethics application and review module across the University of Cape Town (UCT), using the Electronic Research Administration (eRA) system.

Working in close collaboration with the Senate Ethics in Research Committee and Faculty Research Ethics Committee Chairs and having completed an ethics governance review process, the ethics implementation team has now designed and refined the new ethics application process on eRA in consultation with faculty representatives. This has been rolled out to the Faculty of Engineering & the Built Environment as well as the Centre for Higher Education and Development; while its introduction has commenced in the Health Sciences, Commerce and Science faculties. The roll-out within these units is in various stages of being finalised.

Adapting to new ways of doing things is not easy and introducing new processes never comes without challenges. I would like to express my gratitude towards each one of our colleagues within these faculties for working together with the eRA team to test, adapt and implement this new online application and processing platform.

Applying a risk-based approach to ethics review is crucial to future proofing research at UCT. The ethics module currently being introduced has been benchmarked against and aligned with national and international best practices and will provide greater transparency throughout the ethics process. It reduces risk to UCT and its research community and enables us to conduct sustainable research.

In the coming months, we will be introducing this process to the remaining faculties and groups as follows:

  • Animal ethics (January 2023)
  • Law (May 2023)
  • Humanities (April 2023)
  • Biosafety (July 2023), and
  • Competencies (August 2023).

The new ethics process is expected to be fully implemented across the university by the end of next year.

The roll-out to each faculty starts with an introductory session hosted either by me or the Executive Director: Research, Dr Linda Mtwisha. This is followed by faculty testing sessions to iron out any process issues before it formally replaces the faculty’s existing ethics processing and reviewing system.

UCT’s Research Systems Support and the Information and Communication Technology Services department also provide in-depth training sessions and how-to guides for all staff. Both departments are available for support as the new process moves online.

Thank you to all the members of the UCT community for engaging actively with this new process as it is introduced to you. Thank you as well to our research support and development teams that have been working on this roll-out diligently – in addition to their already demanding workloads – in particular both the teams in the Office of Research Integrity and on eRA implementation, as well as faculty colleagues guiding the implementation.

With best wishes

Professor Sue Harrison
Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Research and Internationalisation

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