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Fine Arts Ethics Application

FINE ART DEPARTMENT . Tel: (046) 603 8192 . Fax: (046) 6037351  

E-mail: fineart@ru.ac.za


 Departmental Ethical Protocols

The Department of Fine Arts Ethics Committee (FAEC), in accordance with Rhodes University Research Ethics Committee (RUESC) and national ethics protocols, aims to protect the dignity and rights of all human participants (and animals where possible) in university-related research and teaching activities. It seeks to promote transparent, fair practices of research engagements with wider communities.

In doing so, the Department of Fine Art has set up an internal committee that will administer the university’s ethics guidelines regarding university research involving human and animal subjects. As such,

-          All student research proposals and research projects by students, associate researchers and staff (in some Teaching and Learning contexts) must take note of the University’s Ethics Policy.

-          All research proposals (4th year BFA, Honours in Art History, Masters in Fine Arts, Masters in Art History, PhD in Art History) must complete and submit an ethics application with their research proposal before they submit their research to the Departmental Higher Degrees Committee (Ethics Committee Dates for the year are set at the beginning of each year and communicated in the Departmental Postgraduate Handbook along with consideration of Ethics criteria).

-          Any research which involves human and/or live animal subjects must adhere to the University’s conduct on ethical researching methodologies in research (which aligns with National research ethics criteria). Such research must include the following documents which are submitted to the Department of Fine Arts Ethics Committee:

  • Research Proposal
  • Departmental Ethics Application Form
  • Participant Information Sheet
  • Informed Consent Form
  • Gatekeeper Permission Form

-          All human participants must be given as full a disclosure of the research project as is possible. They must be informed that they can withdraw participation in the research, have the option of anonymity and be informed how the information will be used (e.g. will it be confidential past the research process, is it going to be in print only, will it be available on a digital archive?). Participation must be confirmed through the signed consent sheet. Participants must be made aware of how to lodge a complaint with the supervisor/lead researcher or FAEC should the need arise.

-          Any research which does not deal with human or live animal subjects will declare this on the Departmental Ethics form which will be submitted with their research proposal. The Departmental Ethics Committee will sign-off that no ethics clearance is needed on the form.

-          Any research which involves human or live animal subjects will need to obtain ethics clearance from the Departmental Committee based on the documentation requested above and may only proceed with data collection/interviews/human-animal engagement following clearance from the Departmental Committee. As permission cannot be granted retrospectively, researchers are not allowed to engage human/animal subjects without first getting permission from the Departmental Committee. After receiving permission from the Departmental Committee, the research can go ahead, but please note that FINAL ETHICS APPROVAL is only officially granted by RUESC at its quarterly ethics meetings.

-          In the case of particular vulnerable groups or where the Committee feels the interdisciplinarity of the student’s research requires ethical considerations by other fields specialists (e.g. educational specialists, psychology scholars), the Departmental Committee might ask for assistance with such applications from other university departments best positioned to assist in such ethical considerations. In such instances, supervisors/lead researchers are, in advance, to approach such disciplinary partners to assist beforehand in these considerations and ethics application. PLEASE NOTE WITH REGARD TO RESEARCH INVOLVING CHILDREN: the Departmental Ethics Committee will approve the application internally, but the application is then referred to RUESC for final approval.

-          All ethics applications will be provided with a response from the Departmental Ethics Committee which correspond to the following:

  • Approved with no stipulations
  • Approved with stipulations
  • Modifications and resubmission Required
  • Disapproved

-          Students/staff/researchers will receive a formal tracking number for their applications and the Department’s Ethics Committee decisions will be communicated in writing to them following the Committee’s review of applications.

The Department of Fine Arts Ethics Committee commits to the following:

-          Setting up an internal Ethics Committee which will consist of at least three members of staff. At present this consists of the Head of Department Prof Maureen de Jager, Department Higher Degrees Committee (HDC) representative Ms Natalie Western and Senior Art History and Visual Culture lecturer, Dr Sharlene Khan. The committee will be constituted of at least two members at all times. As such, as both the HDC representative and the Head of Department are involved in the administration of all research proposals in the Department, there is an integration of all information and procedures in research in the department. The Committee is also composed of members of staff that are able to judge both creative practice and theoretical research.

-          Decisions will be made with a majority decision (two thirds consist a majority). Should a majority decision not be possible, and only where necessary, applications will be forwarded to RUESC for further consideration.

-          The Departmental Committee has set up all relevant documentation to facilitate the process of ethics applications (all this information will be made available on the Departmental webpage). All research proposals will be screened for ethics considerations. Applications needing ethical clearance will be issued with an internal tracking number; all applications will be reviewed by the three committee members and a decision made at the internal Ethics Committee meetings. The Committee decisions will be recorded and communicated timeously to applicants. The Committee decisions will be prepared for RUESC and sent as required before each RUESC meeting. A record of the process will be kept by the Department of Fine Art administrator (in accordance with possible future auditing of such processes by RUESC/National Ethics Research Committees).

-          All documents will be kept confidential by the Departmental administration and stored securely for the space of five years (or for research involving children, a period of seven years).

-          Should any conflict or indecision arise in the processing of internal ethics applications, RUESC will be consulted in the final decision making.

Research, Teaching and Learning and Community Engagement Ethics Applications:

In accordance with RUESC guidelines, the Department of Fine Art is guided by the following ethics preambles in its daily teaching/learning, research and community engagement:

-          “Protecting the rights and dignity of humans and, minimally, the welfare of animals involved in research is thus of utmost importance for all activities under the auspices of Rhodes University.”

-          “Research and teaching must be conducted with maximum care in order to respect those rights and the welfare of the individuals who are involved in research and teaching.”

-          “Minimal risk: The probability and magnitude of harm or discomfort anticipated in the research is not greater than that ordinarily encountered in daily life in a stable society or in routine medical, dental, educational or psychological tests or examinations.”

As such all staff, students and associate researchers are to be guided by these precepts in our scholarly research and community engagements. The Departmental Fine Art Ethics Committee and Departmental Higher Degrees Committee will screen all research proposals for ethical considerations, including those which DO NOT require ethics clearance, which will be noted.

Which research/teaching-learning requires ethics clearance?

-          Any research (staff/student/associate researcher) in which human participants and animals are engaged in any manner. This includes interviews with creative producers, vulnerable groups or even public space/forums. Attention is drawn to students with their practical creative projects and their engagement with live subjects and obtaining their consent for participation in projects (for example, students engaged in photography or digital media must consider the social invasiveness of their media and whether consent needs to be/can be sought for their projects which involves human participants). Where creatives work with dead animals/specimens, the manner in which such was obtained should be declared.

-          Associate researchers who have obtained ethics clearance from other bodies need to check with FAEC if further ethics clearance is required from Rhodes University.


-          While postgraduate theses/dissertations do not require that the student researchers obtain permission for the use of images/literature from either publishers or creatives, for the sake of best practice the Department encourages student researchers to obtain consent from creative producers in the consent form. Student researchers are to note that such consent is limited only to the research produced for the university and does not extend to further publications, for which additional consent must be sought for the reproduction of images/texts.

-          Public platforms, public ‘collaborations’ and creative media present various challenges for creative producers today. Students and researchers are asked to be cognisant of copyright issues in such instances and strive for best practice and acknowledge other creative producers wherever possible.

-          Copyright of creative works remains with the creative producer and should be credited as such in all research.


-         Participant Consent form

-         Participant information sheet

-         School of Fine Art Ethics Form New_August 2017









Last Modified: Wed, 20 Sep 2017 15:01:33 SAST