Step 6

Getting your proposal reviewed

Once your supervisor is happy that your proposal is ready for submission, then you need to proceed with the Ethics Application using this form. You will need to submit this via Ms. Michelle Ramlall (details above) to the Biomedical Research Ethics Committee (BREC). Please note that the BREC subjects your proposal to careful review. The PGEC sends out your proposal to reviewers, who then send back comments. You are then expected to respond to these comments by working with your supervisor. These comments are then considered by the reviewers, and if they are happy, then BREC accepts your proposal, and sends you a letter confirming this. You should anticipate a period of at least three months for this review process to be complete.

Should you be using an already collected dataset, or participating in a project for which ethics clearance has already been obtained, then you will need to do an expedited review. Discuss this with your supervisor. As part of your application you may require letters from “gatekeepers” indicating their willingness to grant you access. These “gatekeepers” could be managers at a factory or other workplace. In the case of research being done in the public sector health facilities, you must get approval from the Department of Health in Pietermaritzburg (the Health Research and Knowledge Management), or from local government Department of Health for local government clinics. Generally these higher level departments will require that you get approvals from the local clinic or hospital manager as well. BREC will only give you provisional approval until you get formal letters of approval from the “gatekeepers”

In addition to the above, you will need to complete a course in research ethics. This can be done online, and the certificate must accompany your BREC application. The BREC website lists several online sites, including the US National Institutes of Health course, which is most recommended.

Once you have received approval from BREC you are ready to start your research, which you will do under the guidance of your supervisor. 

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