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African Journal for Physical Activity and Health Sciences

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Health-related doctoral distance education programmes: A review of ethical scholarship considerations

VJ Ehlers

Abstract


Doctoral distance education programmes enable students to obtain their qualifications without leaving their homes, jobs or countries. There is an increasing demand for health-related distance education doctoral programmes. The objective of this paper is to consider ethical scholarship issues that might impact on the quality of these programmes, based on a literature review.Addressed ethical issues include the univeristy’s admission procedures, the role and composition of institutional review boards for approving different types of health-related research, ethical aspects related to the research methodology, and to publications based on the research findings.The university’s institutional review board members should ensure that doctoral research projects comply with ethical principles. Unless a university can guarantee the presence of a supervisor during research data collection and analysis, the authenticity of the findings might be questionable, as well as that of the doctoral degree awarded to the student.Health-related doctoral research might impact on the health and wellbeing of individuals and communities, and should thus comply with globally accepted ethical standards of such studies.Universities should encourage and support supervisors and students to publish research findings in academic journals and to present these at conferences. However, communities that participated in a research project are also entitled to this information.

Keywords: Distance education, doctoral programmes, ethics, scholarship.




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