Researchers at the University of Lagos (UNILAG), Akoka and Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), Ile-Ife, have taken decisive steps towards proffering lasting solutions to the sensitisation of academia about research ethics.
With a collaborative grant funded by the International Research & Exchanges Board (IREX), a research team drawn from UNILAG and OAU have designed sensitisation materials to improve the overall quality of research in both universities and by extension, Nigeria.
Having received training and a joint alumni grant as part of IREX University Administration Support Program (UASP), these researchers had scrutinised existing research structures & policies, to establish a formidable culture of research integrity and ethics.
Dubbed, the “Research Integrity & Ethics and Responsible Conduct of Research (RI&E and RCR)” Alumni Grant Team, these researchers, on Wednesday, September 6, 2023, unveiled the sensitisation materials on RI&E and RCR as well as an Electronic Management System for Ethical Approval Applications which they have developed.
Speaking on the team’s project titled “Entrenching Research Ethics and Integrity Values and Oversight Capacity Building across Two Nigerian Universities”, the Principal Investigator for the team, Professor Abidemi Akindele, shared the project activities/deliverables, intended outcomes and envisaged accomplishments with the gathering.
He expressed gratitude to IREX, on behalf of the team, for the sponsorship and thanked the Management of the University of Lagos (UNILAG) and Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU) for the support given to the team.
He disclosed that members of the team identified the huge lacuna existing in the responsible conduct of research and therefore aim to improve research ethics in the two universities.
Subsequently, a demonstration of how the e-Platform for ethical approval application management (Electronic Management System for Ethical Approval Applications) works was carried out at the unveiling ceremony. The demonstration illustrated the applicant and reviewer perspectives of the e-platform.
It is common knowledge that a good infographic is worth a thousand words. What better way to make stakeholders aware of the importance of research ethics than using infographics?
To ensure optimal impact in the creation of awareness about conducting research responsibly, the RI&E and RCR Alumni Grant Team unveiled twelve (12) infographic posters as sensitisation materials, on the following issues:
- Elements of Research Integrity
- Components of Questionable Research Practices (QRP) | Academic Research Misconduct (A/RM)
- Research Integrity (RI) and Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR) – Meaning
- Fundamental Principles of Research Integrity
- Researchers and Research Institutions Responsibilities on Research Integrity
- Research Integrity (RI) and Research Ethics (RE): How Different?
- Types of Plagiarism to Avoid
- The 3R Principles
- Researchers, Are You Aware of These Facts?
- Researchers’ Responsibility for Animal Use
- For Your Training Needs on Responsible Use of Animals for Teaching and Research
- Confused About Ethics of Any Animal Protocol?
The Unveiling Ceremony which was held simultaneously at the University of Lagos (UNILAG) and Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU) was attended by members of the university management team and key role players in academic research from both universities.
The Director of Academic Planning, UNILAG, Professor Matthew Olusoji Ilori, who represented the Vice-Chancellor, Professor Folasade Tolulope Ogunsola, OON, FAS, in conducting the unveiling ceremony, averred that the event was highly significant as research is a culture which universities must consciously build. He noted that research ethics is not limited to the scientific field of academia but also involves the humanities and thus encouraged all researchers to take the matter of conducting research responsibly very seriously.
While commending the RI&E and RCR Alumni Grant Team for their epochal work, the Director of UNILAG Research Management Office (RMO), Professor Timothy Gbenga Nubi, appreciated IREX for the continuous support to improve research.
According to Professor Nubi, the improvement of the research drive in UNILAG has been so inspiring that it has created a career path for researchers, established a dedicated office for research management (the Research Management Office: RMO), and adopted research ethics as a crucial component of research management.
He called for the review of publications that teach research methodology to include research ethics and integrity as one of the basics of conducting research. The RMO Director pointed out that for optimal impact, the knowledge of responsible conduct of research should be spread across different levels of education.
He cheered the teams from both universities on, and expressed hopes for the final results of their work to be viable for adoption by researchers in the universities and the nation at large.
Professor Morenike Ukpong, Executive Director, Central Office of Research, OAU, while citing several examples across the world, asserted that investment in research always yield novel discoveries and solutions to problems. She expressed the interest of the research management offices of both universities in seeing the active engagement of stakeholders with the final results of the project.
The Director of the OAU Research Office, Professor Babajide Odu, averred that research is considered as currency in OAU, and is thus taken seriously. He shared his belief that the work of the RI&E and RCR Alumni Grant Team would aid researches in aligning with the research requirements of international partners and in turn develop Nigeria, as quality research is needed to develop as a nation.
The ceremony featured a focus group discussion on “Entrenching Research Ethics and Integrity Values and Oversight Capacity Building across Two Nigerian Universities.” Here, researchers, key role players in research administration and research animal management, as well postgraduate students from the University of Lagos (UNILAG) and Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU) shared their views on different aspects of responsibly conducting research.
They answered questions about the formulation process of each university’s policies on research integrity, research ethics and responsible conduct of research; the extent to which the university encourages research integrity through education, clear policies, and reasonable standards; the university’s response to irresponsible research practices; the current institutional attitudes and perceptions regarding the ethical use of animals in scientific research; the responsibilities to be upheld by individuals working with research animals to ensure ethical treatment and humane practices etc.
While speaking on the introduction of whistleblowing management as one of the numerous policies required for ensuring responsible conduct of research, a custodian of research animals, (his/her name) proffered that just as penalties have been proposed for poor research conduct, an addendum should be made that provides recommendations for researchers who repeatedly uphold the tenets of research ethics and integrity and are found to always conduct research responsibly.
The event came to a close with the team calling for members of the universities to help in filling online questionnaires which would aid the findings of the project.
Members of the RI&E and RCR Alumni Grant Team are:
University of Lagos (UNILAG)
• Professor Abidemi Akindele (Project PI)
• Professor Titilola Aderonke Samuel
• Dr. Temitope Olabisi Onuminya
Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU)
• Dr. Bukola Olanike Oyebanji (Project Co-PI)
• Dr. Olufemi Mayowa Adetutu
The International Research & Exchanges Board (IREX) is nonprofit organisation committed to global development and education. IREX works with partners in over one hundred (100) countries in four areas essential to progress: empowering youth, cultivating leaders, strengthening institutions, and extending access to quality education and information.