Navigating the Contours of Ethical Research in Higher Education: An African Perspective


  • Elvis Madondo Durban University of Technology
  • Kemist Shumba University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa



Ethics challenges in Africa, ethical literacy, higher education institutions, monitoring mechanisms, research ethics committees, social research


This study explores the plethora of challenges encountered in ensuring that research conducted in higher education institutions (HEIs) in Africa is ethical and morally unobjectionable. The study reflects on the roles and accountabilities of various stakeholders in contributing to the various challenges, either directly or indirectly. Data were collected using a narrative review of literature. Several challenges militate against the conduct of ethically sound research. The challenges can be categorised at two levels: the individual level and the system level. They include but are not limited to the lack of ethical awareness among emerging researchers, researchers not embracing ethics as their full responsibility, and the prevalence of a wide knowledge gap between researchers and participants. On the part of HEIs, challenges such as the lack of functional ethics committees, institutions’ failure to improve ethical literacy among emerging researchers, and a lack of mechanisms to monitor researchers’ conducts during the course of studies, particularly in empirical research, have been identified. A focus on the wider African research space illuminates such challenges as language barriers, diverging cultural and religious practices, rules and regulations of the land, and lower literacy levels in some parts of the continent. To mitigate these challenges, we recommend that HEIs should prioritise the conduct of ethical research through increased funding, through the institution of monitoring mechanisms, and through ensuring that highly and appropriately qualified personnel are constitutive of ethics committees to ensure best practice.


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How to Cite

Madondo, E. . and Shumba, K. (2021) “Navigating the Contours of Ethical Research in Higher Education: An African Perspective”, African Journal of Inter/Multidisciplinary Studies, pp. 86–96. doi: 10.51415/ajims.v3i1.978.