Humanities Research Ethics Committee

Home » Faculties of Humanities » Research » Humanities Research Ethics Committee

About Humanities Research Ethics Committee

Welcome to the webpage of the Faculty of Humanities Research Ethics Committee (FREC). This page contains useful documents and information regarding the ethics review processes in the Faculty of Humanities.

Mission and Goals of the FREC

The REC protects the interests of research participants and researchers. This is done through a process of independent, critical review and ethical clearance of research performed within the Faculty, and research submitted for ethical clearance by researchers external to the Faculty, where applicable. The REC also provides research ethics advice and guidance to researchers and other members of the Faculty or other Faculties or Schools within UJ.

Functions of the FREC
  1. To facilitate the ethical review of research in the Faculty, both qualification and non-qualification research.
  2. To facilitate post-approval ethical monitoring of research in the Faculty, as and when required.
  3. To efficiently manage administrative processes related to research ethics application submission, review and dissemination of review decisions and approvals, monitoring and reporting.
  4. To ensure confidentiality of all REC matters pertaining to research ethics application review and approval, monitoring and reporting, and to safeguard REC data and documents in order to ensure business continuity.
  5. To develop policies, procedures, guides and related material for ethics review, monitoring and reporting, and ethical conduct in research when required and to make these easily accessible.

The operations of FREC are conducted in accordance with the FREC Ethics Charter and Standard Operating Procedures.

Who can apply for ethics clearance?

Students and members of staff of the Faculty of Humanities are the primary researchers served by the FREC. However, UJ researchers who are based in Schools or Faculties without an existing research ethics committee, or those whose research may best be evaluated by a Humanities/Social Sciences committee may also submit their proposals for ethics review to the Humanities FREC.

How to apply for ethics approval

Student research proposals

Students’ research proposals are sent automatically to the FREC for review once they have been approved by their Departmental Higher Degrees Committee (DHDCs) and the Faculty Higher Degrees Committee (FHDC). The FREC then reviews the proposals and communicates the outcome of the review directly to applicants: students and their supervisors.

Staff research proposals

Staff research proposals are submitted directly to the FREC via email, using the following email address: Staff proposals must be submitted using the staff proposal template and invitation sheet and informed consent form which are available on this website. The FREC then reviews the proposals and communicates the outcome of the directly to the staff member.

When can I submit my proposal for review?

Proposals can be submitted to the FREC for review at any time. However, the proposals are reviewed during the monthly meetings, which usually take place on the last Monday of the month (except for the month of December). Feedback from the meeting is usually communicated to applicants within five working days of the FREC meetings.

For how long will I receive ethics clearance?

Ethics clearance is granted for one calendar year and needs to be renewed. Without renewal of ethical clearance, a research project cannot continue.

How do I apply for renewal of my ethics clearance?

For student projects, an application for research ethics renewal must be submitted along with the progress reports. Applications for research ethics renewals for staff projects must be submitted via email to the FREC ( ), using the staff proposal renewal form. Staff renewal applications must be submitted within two weeks of the end of the approval period.

Why do I need to renew my ethics clearance?

The renewal of ethics clearance serves as a form of passive monitoring of research.

What if I would like to change my approved research methods and/or procedures after I have ethics approval?

Substantive changes to research methods and procedures need to be reviewed and cleared by the FREC.

If you are a student, you need to follow two steps. You need to first apply for approval of the amendments from your Departmental Higher Degrees Committee (DHDC). Once approval for your amendment has been granted by your DHDC, you need to request approval for your amendment from the FREC. Requests for approvals of proposal amendments must be submitted directly to the FREC with: (a) the DHDC’s letter indicating that the amendment request has been approved; and (b) a completed request for approval of a proposal amendment form.

If you are a staff member you may submit your request for an approval of an amendment directly to the FREC by emailing a completed copy of the request for approval of an amendment form to the following email address:

Answers to requests for minor amendments will be provided within 5 days of applying.

Requests for major amendments need to be reviewed at a meeting of the full board of the FREC.

What happens if I need approval for research which I have already started or which has been completed?

Approval for research which has already started or has been completed (retrospective approval) cannot be granted under any circumstances.

Can I request an expedited review of my research?

Expedited reviews of research proposals will only be permitted for staff in very exceptional circumstances and for research involving minimal risk. To request an expedited review of a proposal one must submit a cover letter with a motivation for the need for expedited review along with the proposal.