ALU School of Wildlife Conservation
To become leaders in terms of promoting, supporting and facilitating policy- and practice relevant research on the business of conservation in Africa, including specifically research on Africa’s wildlife economy.
Scope of the policy
This policy applies to all those conducting research through ALU’s SOWC, irrespective of the source of their funding or the field in which they conduct their research or the site where the research is conducted. The policy provides structure and establishes a framework within which the School of Wildlife Conservation (SOWC) will support, facilitate and promote policy- and practice-relevant research.
Objectives of the SOWC Research Programme
To promote a growing, inclusive, sustainable wildlife economy in Africa
- To guide research based on extensive practical and academic experience and opportunities to identify important research areas;
- To ensure a coordinated, structured approach to SOWC’s research to enhance outcomes, outputs and learnings;
- To ensure accountable, transparent, good quality policy-relevant research and research outputs;
- To promote effective, practical, policy-relevant research;
- To create an easily accessible database of SOWC research;
- To work closely, and form partnerships, with local and international academic and other relevant institutions to identify research topics and students;
- To ensure the sharing of research to impact policy and practice;
- To provide a framework for the promotion of academically rigorous and ethically responsible research.
Areas of research
Research, which focuses on Africa’s wildlife economy and the business of conservation and can be used to influence policy and practice, will be facilitated and supported by SOWC.
Research ideas will be generated through the engagement of government, NGOs, local communities, and the private sector to identify needs. Data will then be gathered according to these needs, with the aim of preparing data products and tools to support high-level decision-makers in terms of policy and practice.
- It is the responsibility of the researcher to ensure that they have the required permits, from the relevant authorities, required to conduct the research. These need to be given to SOWC for our records. SOWC will, where applicable and possible, assist the researcher with acquiring the required permits/permissions.
- It is the responsibility of the researcher to have the required ethics approvals if needed.
- Any research material or content on social media (Twitter, Youtube, Facebook, LinkedIn, SOWC website, etc.) is quotable, and should, where applicable, be referenced.
- Each citation of published content (e.g. report, blog, speech or an interview) must clearly mention the source and include the date and context, along with the specifically named author/interviewee.
- Any verbal quotes and interviews or phone conversations, where applicable, must be checked with the person being quoted.
- Researchers have an obligation to report research results accurately and transparently in the public domain (also where appropriate to the target group of the study as well as SOWC staff and students) and should not allow funders or other stakeholders to influence research publications.
- All research involving human participants must comply with the following principles:
o Be relevant to the needs and interests of the broader community;
o Have a valid scientific methodology;
o Ensure research participants are well informed about the purpose of the research and how the research results will be disseminated and have consented to participate, where applicable;
o Ensure research participants’ rights to privacy and confidentiality are protected;
o Ensure the fair selection of research participants; and
o Thorough care must be taken to ensure that research in communities is effectively coordinated and does not place an unwarranted burden on such communities.
- Research involving animals and the environment
o The use of animals in scientific research can only be justified if the benefits to both humans and/or animals outweigh the potential harm to the animal subject;
o Care should be taken to ensure that all research that could potentially harm the environment, is carried out with the necessary respect for the impact that it could have on the physical, biological and spatial environment.
- Certain research projects may not fall under either of the categories above but may still be regarded as ethically sensitive such as research involving deceased persons, cultural artefacts, certain historical archives or research that needs to be ‘covert’ in some respect in order to fulfil its objectives. It remains the responsibility of the researcher to conduct a self-critical ethical appraisal of their own research and to obtain ethical approval from an appropriate university research ethics committee if necessary. However formal ethics review and approval is mandatory in all instances where obtaining prior informed consent from individuals or permission from organisations or institutions would be an obstacle to fulfilling the objectives of the research.
- All research projects involve some financial cost and require sound financial management. All researchers are expected to uphold the highest standards of financial integrity and transparency when dealing with all financial, budget related and contractual aspects of research. Researchers are required to familiarise themselves with, and comply with, applicable institutional and funder-specific policies.
- Where applicable, researchers are expected to make a reasonable effort to publish the results of their research in some form of recognised academic media, acknowledging SOWC where appropriate. An author who submits a manuscript for publication accepts the responsibility of having included as co-authors all persons who are entitled to co-authorship, and none who are inappropriate.
- Researchers must collect data, using appropriate methodology and recording practices, and apply appropriate quality assurance mechanisms.
- Data must be properly stored and protected in order to allow for the validation of research findings, to establish priority of the data, allow for re-analysis if necessary, comply with requirements of funders, etc.
- Researchers are expected to maintain the highest standards of honesty and integrity. Researchers must at all times function within an ethically acceptable methodological framework, professional courtesy and good stewardship of research on behalf of others.
- Researchers should employ appropriate research methods, base conclusions on critical analysis of the evidence and report findings and interpretations fully and objectively.
- Researchers should keep clear, accurate records of all research in ways that will allow verification and replication of their work by others.
- Researchers should share data and findings openly and promptly.
- Researchers should acknowledge in publications the names and roles of those who made significant contributions to the research, including writers, funders, sponsors, and others, but do not meet authorship criteria.
- Researchers should limit professional comments to their recognized expertise when engaged in public discussions about the application and importance of research findings and clearly distinguish professional comments from opinions based on personal views
- Researchers will be required to contribute information, articles, data, etc. to SOWC reports and publications which will promote the sharing of academic research and its use in discussions with relevant policy-/decision-makers.
Independence of parties
Where the researcher is not an employee of ALU, ALU and the Researcher and their relevant institution act as independent entities and not as agents or employees of one another.
Conflicts of interest
A conflict of interest occurs when professional judgement regarding an interest, e.g. research, is unduly influenced by another interest, e.g. financial gain or gain in personal status. Where there is, or may be, a conflict of interest this needs to be brought to the attention of the SOWC prior to the research being conducted and, where relevant, disclosed in any research findings, publications, etc.
This policy is valid for all ALU SOWC research.
For more information, contact SOWC Research Director:
Dr Sue Snyman: firstname.lastname@example.org
Source: Adapted from Policy for responsible research conduct at Stellenbosch University. Accessed March 2020: http://www.sun.ac.za/english/research-innovation/Research-Development/policies-guidelines