n Indilinga African Journal of Indigenous Knowledge Systems - The ethics of anonymity and confidentiality : reading from the University of South Africa Policy on Research Ethics




Orthodox research is guided by renowned ethical principles which are rooted in the philosophy of positivism. The positivist paradigm assumes that the researched are vulnerable and need to be protected from harm by disabling their identity. Adherence to these orthodox ethical norms is regarded as the litmus test of a virtuous research practice. Any deviance from these ethical norms is viewed as a serious violation of the research ethical code. However, whilst the significance of these ethical principles is renowned, there is a differing agenda driven by ethicists and some researchers that seek to question their ethicalness and universal appropriateness. This is based on the conviction that these principles are not attuned to other unique systems such as indigeneity. This article looks specifically at the ethicalness of the principles of anonymity and confidentiality as embodied in the Unisa Policy on Research Ethics (2007). This was a qualitative study informed by an interpretive philosophical paradigm that used document analysis as a method for assessing the ethicalness of anonymity and confidentiality as espoused in the University of South Africa (Unisa) Unisa Research Policy. This article concludes that although there is a discernible good intent from the institution detected from the Unisa Policy on Research Ethics (2007) stipulations, there is a lack of clarity or distinct direction towards the ethicalness of ethical codes. It recommends that Unisa needs to relook its' research ethical principles and align them with socio-political realities of the African indigenous milieu.


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