The President of Princess Sumaya University for Technology, Prof. Mashhoor Al-Refai, opened the Scientific Research Ethics Unit, established in accordance with the Arab Charter of Ethics for Scientific Research and Technology which received the keen interest of HRH Princess Sumaya bint El Hassan, the Chair of PSUT’s Board of Trustees. Her Royal Highness has made it clear that scientific research in the many fields of science and knowledge is the foundation of the progress of countries and the prosperity of civilizations, as well as being the mainstay of the economy and the move forward toward sustainable development. The Unit aims at applying the ethics of scientific research by reviewing proposed methods, the preservation of rights and advancing the University's vision of creating a top class research environment. The Unit is the first of its kind to be established at a Jordanian university.
The opening of the Unit was organized by the King Abdullah I School for Graduate Studies and Scientific Research. In a speech made at the opening ceremony, PSUT President Prof. Mashhoor Al-Refai stressed the need to pay attention to scientific research, which has become the topic of the hour, as it is the best way to achieve scientific and technological development in various fields of life. Consequently, it is has now become necessary today to establish a set of moral values and principles, under the umbrella of the "ethics of scientific research," with these ethics being regulated by a special council. Prof. Al-Refai underlined that PSUT's embrace of the Council of Scientific Research Ethics is a clear affirmation of the University's vision and mission aimed at creating an advanced and credible research environment, while taking into account the privacy of those carrying out the studies and raising ethical awareness to protect the privacy of participants, especially when the research involves people from different countries. In recent years, the University has focused on scientific research output in terms of quantity and quality. Anybody looking into international research databases can see that the number of research works published each year has quadrupled, and this achievement is only due to the University's commitment to providing a suitable research environment through the adoption of wise policies, the provision of adequate financial support and incentives to encourage outstanding research and enable distinguished researchers to participate in a wide range of research activities, and the application of ethical rules and principles.
Prof. Al-Refai pointed out that PSUT has made great strides along the path of leadership and excellence and has earned a reputation to be proud of. He added that the University would remain a bright beacon for all those who aspire to leadership and innovation, thanks to the guidance of HRH Princess Sumaya bint El Hassan, Chair of the Board of Trustees.
Prof. Al-Refai also thanked all those involved in the success of this cooperation. He expressed his hope that this Unit would achieve the desired goal and that this experiment would be an example to be emulated by other Jordanian universities, thus serving the advancement of scientific research.
The Dean of the King Abdullah I School for Graduate Studies and Scientific Research, Prof. Mohammad Sababha, said, “Today, we are opening the Scientific Research Ethics Unit at PSUT, as a new unit and link to bridging the gap between researchers and their abstract studies on the one hand, and the human element on the other. This is particularly important since, although medicine and health sciences institutions have been giving much attention to this for a long time, many other institutions have neglected such practices. With the rapid progress of science, and regardless of whether the subject of research is in the medical, social, political or economic field, we need to pause for a moment to consider the basic goal of all this work, which is the human race.”
Prof. Sababha stressed the need to ensure academic integrity while carrying out research, saying, “While originality and non-plagiarism are not among the functions of the Unit, the focus is on maintaining the confidentiality of data regarding participating people, both ordinary people and those of standing. It promotes a culture of transparency and honesty in data collection where the participant feels assured of the confidentiality of his data and the good faith in the questions addressed to him. This is the importance of this Unit at PSUT. We hope that this initiative will achieve the objectives of the first stage, at least at the local level.”
Program Coordinator and Director of PSUT’s El Hassan Library, Dr. Nadia Sweis, gave a detailed presentation on how the beginnings of the establishment of the Research Ethics Unit, in the form of committees that enforce research ethics by examining the proposed research methods to ensure that they respect and preserve the privacy of the participants. These committees are officially appointed to monitor and review medical and behavioral research projects that include the participation of human beings to ensure that participants’ privacy is maintained and that they are not exposed to any physical or financial risk. This committee often conducts some forms of risk and benefit analysis in an attempt to determine whether research should go ahead or not. This is especially crucial since the University has many academic and research partnerships with foreign universities. Such committees are essential to ensure the ethical conduct of research and to take into account the differences of cultures between countries, of particular importance when carrying out research involving people from different countries.
The Unit was established with technical and financial support from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID Integration, with the work carried out by the International Research & Exchanges Board (IREX).
At the close of the ceremony, the participants toured the Research Ethics Unit, which was established on campus with funding from USAID.