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Research Ethics

The University insists that all its research be conducted following the very highest ethical standards. Research integrity in general is a corner stone of high quality research.

The University subscribes to the research integrity standards as set out in the Singapore Statement which may be viewed here.

All researchers including staff and students conducting any research that may impact directly or indirectly on people, animals or the environment need to seek ethics clearance before any research is conducted. If one fails to obtain ethical clearance before the research is started, then this may lead to a breach of research integrity, articles not being published and students being barred from graduating.

The University’s Ethics Committees are registered with the National Health Research Ethics Council (NHREC) of the Department of Health. As such, we fully subscribe to the document entitled Ethics in Health Research. 

Online Application for Ethics Approval using the Ethics Management System (EMS)

  • If you need help with writing and/or submitting an application, please use this Ethics User Guide 
  • It is best to access the EMS via the webpage which describes the most appropriate ethics committee for your research. There are six committees which can be reached by following this link.

Research on Wits or its people

Should you want to conduct research about the University of the Witwatersrand or want to use the University community as research participants then please read this letter carefully and then follow the process described therein and below:

Step 1: Submit your research protocol to the relevant Wits ethics committee (HREC-Medical for health science related research or HREC-Non-medical for social science related research) for review.

Only after receiving an ethics clearance certificate (or waiver) can you proceed to Step 2.

Step 2: Before any research can be conducted about the University or using the students and staff as research subjects approval must be granted, in writing, by the University’s Deputy Registrar, Ms Nicoleen Potgieter. The following guidelines will facilitate the approval process:

Honours, Masters, or PhD students currently registered with or staff currently employed by the University of Witwatersrand:  Please complete Form A below before approaching the University Deputy Registrar's Office for permission to conduct the research.

Students/academics/researchers who are not currently registered with or employed by the University of the Witwatersrand: Please complete Form B below before approaching the University Deputy Registrar's Office for permission to conduct the research. The University Deputy Registrar can be contacted at: 


FORM A Request from Hons, Masters & PhD students or staff to conduct research

FORM B Request from Non-Wits Students or Staff to conduct research