Applications and secretariat workload at the University of the Witwatersrand Human Research Ethics Committee (Medical) 2002 - 2011: A case study

Peter Cleaton-Jones


Objective. To examine trends in the numbers of new applications for ethics clearance of health research and associated research ethics committee secretariat activity.

Methods. Data were obtained from research ethics committee secretariat databases with ethics approval.

Results. General research applications increased from 440 in 2002 to 685 in 2011, all handled by one full-time staff member. This
load is expected to increase by 250 per year for 2012, 2013 and 2014 before reaching a plateau. This new applications load per year is based on registered clinical postgraduates at the University of the Witwatersrand in a 4-year specialisation who must comply with the new Health Professions Council of South Africa requirement for completion of Master’s level research in order to register as a clinical specialist. Sponsored clinical trials have remained and should remain at approximately 100 per year but require three staff members to attend to this workload.

Conclusion. The increased workload is a serious challenge and has to be tackled first by increasing the administrative staff number.

Author's affiliations

Peter Cleaton-Jones, Steve Biko Centre for Bioethics, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg

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human research ethics committee

Cite this article

South African Journal of Bioethics and Law 2012;5(1):38-44.

Article History

Date submitted: 2012-01-25
Date published: 2012-06-14

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