The National Commission for Science, Technology and Innovation (NACOSTI) has renewed the accreditation of the Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT) Institutional Ethics Review Committee (IERC) for the next three (3) years. The JKUAT (IERC) was first accredited in October, 2016.
The Chairman of the JKUAT IERC, Dr. Patrick Mburugu, said, after getting the accreditation renewal, the committee “will therefore continue with its independent mandate of reviewing and evaluating research proposals to ensure researchers comply with the guidelines on human subjects protection.”
The mandate of the committee is to evaluate the scientific and ethical merits of research proposals. Research protocols that conform to required standards both scientifically and ethically are issued with an approval as required by NACOSTI.
Which proposals require ethical approval?
All research involving human participants should undergo ethical review and approval before commencement of the study. This includes any social science, biomedical, behavioral or epidemiological activity that involves data collection or analysis in which human beings are involved.
Internationally seeking ethical review and approval is a well-established part of the research process. The ethical review and approval is done by independent ethics committees regulated by NACOSTI in Kenya and JKUAT IERC is one of them.
What does the committee look for before approval?
The committee assigns reviewers based on their expertise to review the document and ensure it adheres to basic principles of ethics in research. Before approval, the researcher must ensure that the research:
1. Maximizes benefits: The researcher needs to show that the research benefits outweighs the risks posed to study participants. The project design should ensure quality and integrity that maximizes a chance for credible results. It should ensure a plan for dissemination of study findings. In addition the aims and objectives should be clear and methodology used should be appropriate to address them.
2. Respects autonomy: The researcher should demonstrate the respect for autonomy of individuals involved. The researchers should outline in the protocol how they will ensure study participants are not coerced to participate and there will be no penalty for refusing to participate. That the participants understand the study and are free to withdraw at any time with no repercussions. The proposal should also enumerate how personal data provided by participants will be rigorously protected for confidentiality and anonymization. This should be addressed through comprehensive consenting procedures.
3. Minimizes harm: The protocol should outline the expected potential risks/harm to participants involved and how they will be avoided or addressed.
4. Integrity: The researchers have an obligation to conduct research with integrity and transparency throughout the research project. Ethical committees are mandated to conduct site visits to ensure compliance.
All applicants are expected to adhere to these basic principles before applying for ethical approval. Adherence to the basic principles and the provided check lists before submission ensures that your application is processed without delay.
JKUAT IERC assures applicants that applications will be reviewed fairly and without delays.