National Committee On Research In The Social Sciences And Humanities

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1.0            Introduction

Government of the Republic of Malawi established the National Commission for Science and Technology (NCST) under Section 5 of the Science and Technology Act No. 16 of 2003 with functions and powers to advise the Government and other stakeholders on all science and technology matters in order to achieve a science and technology-led development. The specific mandate of the Commission is to promote, support, co-ordinate and regulate the development and application of research, science, technology and innovation in order to create wealth and improve the quality of life. In order, to successfully execute its mandate, the NCST operates through legally established committees that were established under section 11 of the Science and Technology Act. The National Committee on Research in the Social Sciences and Humanities (NCRSH) is one of such committees established for the purpose of performing functions of the Commission under this Act.

2.0             Mandate and Terms of Reference of NCRSH

The mandate of NCRSH is to promote, support, co-ordinate and regulate research and development in the social sciences and humanities. It is a national research ethics committee in the social sciences and humanities charged with a public duty to ethically review and approve proposed research studies in the social sciences and humanities from all stakeholders except those studies originating from institutions that have NCST approved and accredited research ethics committees in the social sciences and humanities. The specific terms of reference for NCRSH are;

  • To review, vet and clear research proposals in line with the existing legislation and national guidelines in the social sciences and humanities originating from researchers and institutions where there are no relevant functional institutional research and ethics review committees that are recognized by the National Commission for Science and Technology;
  • To foster the rights, welfare, privacy and confidentiality of research participants in the social sciences and humanities research;
  • To promote and strengthen social sciences and humanities research capacity building programmes in Malawi;
  • To advise the National Commission for Science and Technology on best practices for promoting and co-ordinating research in the social sciences and humanities;
  • To receive and investigate complaints related to violation of ethics in social sciences and humanities research and recommend to NCST for appropriate action;
  • To interface with other functional committees of NCST on matters of research in the social sciences and humanities;
  • To inspect, monitor and evaluate all the approved research studies in the social sciences and humanities;
  •  To support or organise purposefully targeted research dissemination fora in the social sciences and humanities in liaison with stakeholders;
  • To perform other functions as may be directed by the Commission that are geared towards promoting research in the social sciences and humanities

3.0             NCRSH Requirements and Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs)

In line with its mandate and terms of reference, NCRSH has a carefully developed set of requirements and SOPs that researchers and other stakeholders are required to abide by in preparing research submissions for review and approval. Using a NCRSH required format of a research proposal, researchers shall submit applications accompanied with the required checklist for NCRSH review and approval. The requirements and SOPs are available at the Secretariat whose address is provided below.

4.0             Obligations of  Researchers

Any researcher or stakeholder intending to conduct research in the social sciences and humanities in Malawi is legally required to have the research protocol/proposal ethically reviewed and approved by NCRSH or by any NCST recognized and accredited institutional research ethics committee in the social sciences and humanities. All researchers from institutions that do not have institution-specific research ethics committees in the social sciences and humanities are required to submit their research protocols/proposals to NCRSH for both science and ethics review. Proposed research studies shall be implemented only when there is written evidence of approval by NCRSH or by any NCST recognized and accredited research ethics committee.

5.0             Force of Law

The national policy requirements and guidelines that govern the conduct of research in the social sciences and humanities in Malawi are made in terms of sections 18 and 48 of the Science and Technology Act No.16 of 2003. It is, therefore, an offence in terms of section 48 of this Act to implement any proposed research without having received an ethics review and approval by NCRSH or by any NCST recognized and accredited research ethics committee. A person guilty of an offence shall be liable to the penalty as stipulated in section 49 of this Act (i.e shall be liable to imprisonment for three years and to a fine of K100, 000 or to an amount equivalent to the financial gain generated by the offence, if such amount be greater.  Researchers and all stakeholders are, therefore, called upon to familiarize themselves with the Framework of Guidelines and Requirements for the Conduct of Research in the Social Sciences and Humanities in Malawi so as to ensure that their proposed research is duly approved before implementation.

 

6.0 Enquiries

Members of the public and all other stakeholders may enquire from the following address;

Director General
National Commission for Science and Technology
Lingadzi House
City Centre
P/Bag B303
Capital City
LILONGWE 3

Attention: NCRSH Secretariat

E-mail addresses: directorgeneral@ncst.mw; ncrsh@ncst.mw

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