Ethics in research crucial for quality journal papers

Doing what is right, just and fair is pivotal during the academic research process, according to Dr Kefa Simwa, the executive director for the African Network for Internationalization of Education (ANIE), who also emphasised the critical importance of research ethics at a recent gathering of young researchers.

Simwa was addressing participants during a workshop held from 21-23 September in Nairobi, Kenya. ANIE, together with the Open University, United Kingdom, has been implementing a project on Writing International Student Migration in Africa aimed at improving the quality of research papers and scholarly work.

The workshop provided an avenue for scholars who are working on research about international student migration in Africa to establish partnerships as well as to help emerging researchers develop skills in the publication of educational papers for journals.

According to Simwa, in higher education, research ethics require researchers to obtain consent from study participants to publish data to the public.

“This helps the sources to accept that the data gathered is a true reflection of what they disclosed during data collection,” Simwa emphasised in an interview.

He told University World News that abiding by ethics should be emphasised more to budding researchers to better them as future academic scholars who will produce evidence-based research that meets international requirements, hence avoiding issues of ‘cooked data’.

Although various academic articles have been published regarding research ethics, this workshop served as a refresher for scholars and, most importantly, aspiring researchers in higher education.

The publishing journey

Participants presented their tentative papers on various topics pertaining to higher education that have arisen in various regions in Africa and globally. These cut across the use of digital devices for studies and how they became handy during the pandemic, why African students opt to study abroad and student visa management.

The presentation session gave participants room for critiquing each other’s work to polish the papers before publishing. It emerged that the research paper’s layout, which includes the context, language, the exploring of concepts, coherence, and conversationally driving the subject, is equally fundamental for researchers and scholars.

“Any research paper that schematises the literature is strong and good. It gives the audience something to hang onto as it provides thorough understanding. Amalgamate your literature to stand out as a researcher and be ambitious, but practical,” said Professor Parvati Raghuram from the UK’s Open University.

Raghuram said that the paper presentation and critiquing session were vital for the researchers as they provided an opportunity for critical feedback as well.

“Developing good publishable research is always a journey of building oneself upon the shoulders of the giants before us.

It’s also a collective enterprise for the good of the researchers ... Critiquing research may be tiresome and it is not meant to make researchers feel bad about their work, but it is a good way to change the world through actively supporting each other’s work by listening and even reading,” she told University World News.

About women in research, Raghuram stressed that emerging women researchers are essential in shaping the future of academia, as are men, but they need to take positions at discussion tables like men to scrape off inequalities faced by women globally.

“"It’s also important for women to cite each other’s work to build and promote each other,” she clarified.

Generally, the call to sharpen the skills of emerging researchers at the workshop helped to address the mismatch between skill sets which make investing in research skills an innovative developmental enterprise.

For scholars and researchers to successfully apply for grants and bag them, participants agreed that it is prudent for one to focus on solving a problem with their projects and thoroughly checking to find out if the project proposals have been funded before. Confidence in what one’s proposal is about is also key, as funders look out for projects that explain the impact through output and outcomes.

Said Raghuram: “Break the goal down to specific measurable pieces, the outcomes of which can be measured to determine actual accomplishments.”