Dr Retha Visagie holds numerous leadership positions, both locally and internationally. She is a non-executive director and the chairperson of the Board of the not-for-profit company, EthiXPERT. This company’s specific focus and contribution are to enhance responsible and ethical research capacity in and for Africa. She played a leading role in the establishment of the Research Ethics Committee Association of Southern Africa (REASA) as a founding member, non-executive director, and the former chairperson of the Board. She was recently appointed to serve as a member of an international Pool of Experts under the auspices of Globethics.net and is a member of the Technical Sub-committee for Good Research Management Practice led by the African Academy of Sciences. Retha was the co-chair of the 6th International Association for Ethics Education Conference, which was held in Stellenbosch in October 2018. She is also a member of the Advisory Panel of the Seventh World Conference on Research Integrity, which will take place in Cape Town in 2021.
Retha established the Research Integrity Office at the University of South Africa in 2014 and is serving on many high-level committees. She chairs the Academic Integrity Committee, is the deputy chairperson of the Unisa Research Ethics Review Committee, and a member of the Unisa Senate Research Committee and Unisa Social and Ethics Committee of Council. She develops policy, leads inquiries into alleged cases of research misconduct, and represents the university as an expert witness during disciplinary hearings.
With a doctorate in Advanced Psychiatric Nursing Science and recognition as a UNESCO-trained ethics educator, Retha is well-equipped to conduct research in the interrelated fields of research ethics and integrity in Social and Health Sciences. She has a keen interest in Positive Psychology and Appreciative Inquiry, as seen in previous research, and is an advanced business coach. Retha completed a postgraduate diploma in Health Research Ethics (Cum Laude) through the University of Stellenbosch, receiving the prestigious title of Fogarty Fellow. In 2018, SARIMA recognised her contributions in the field through the Department of Science and Trade/SARIMA Award for Professional Excellence in Research Management. She is the author of several accredited peer-reviewed articles and book chapters, and the co-editor of a scholarly book focusing explicitly on Social Science Research Ethics in Africa. Retha remains active as a postgraduate research supervisor and is a sought-after research ethics facilitator who has trained more than 1200 academics, research professionals, and members of research ethics review committees over the past five years.