Ethics Application Form – Info Page
If you are intending to undertake human participant research (e.g., interviews, questionnaires, studies of human behaviour, focus groups, etc.), you are required to complete the following ethics protocol (or application for ethics approval) to be considered by the Human Research Ethics Committee (HREC) before approval of the research proposal is granted by the Research and Research Studies Committee of the ACT.
The ethics protocol is in three sections:
- Section 1 is a coversheet, which records your contact details, the details of your supervisor and the title of your project.
- Section 2 is the guidelines for the Ethics Protocol. Your completed Ethics Protocol provides the HREC with more detail about your project and particularly your interaction with research participants.
- Section 3 is a checklist for you to complete. It identifies key issues you must address.
Please complete all three sections and lodge the form.
Ethics approval and approval of your topic and supervisor will not be finalised until copies of all necessary materials have been received by the HREC.
Approval may be granted for initial stages of your study/research, with additional information (such as research tools) to follow for approval by the HREC once they are developed.
The ACT does not accept liability for any material included in the research that has not gained approval from the HREC.
Every candidate has the right of appeal and/or complaint. These should be addressed in the first instance to the Director of Research of the ACT. Details of complaint and appeal procedures can be found in Part 5 of the Academic Integrity Policy for HDR candidates (2014).
Ethics Protocol guidelines
Please keep your responses as brief as possible while providing enough information for the members of the HREC to see how effectively you demonstrate your duty of care to your research participants and to yourself. The National Statement on Ethical Conduct in Research Involving Humans and Australian Code for Responsible Conduct of Research provide advice about what the Committee requires. You are required to read these documents before you draw up your proposal. You can access these via the NHMRC website at www.nhmrc.gov.au. Remember that members of the Committee might not have the background in your area of study that you have. Your responses should be written in plain English for a non-expert audience.
Why ethical research?
Background to the National Statement and the 4 Core Principles
In any of our interactions with other human beings – talking together, eating together, living together, supporting each other, enquiring about each other – there is always an ethical dimension. However ‘ethical’ behaviour or conduct with others is more than just simply doing ‘the right thing’. It involves us intentionally and consciously considering and reviewing how we can demonstrate ongoing respect and concern for the wellbeing of other people. The National Statement on ‘ethical conduct in human research’ is designed to help us identify more than just ‘dos’ and ‘don’ts’.
Human research is research that is conducted with or about people, or information about their lives. Much human research is highly valuable, carries little risks of distress or harm, and contributes to the wellbeing of both individuals and communities. However, other human research can involve significant risks and can even do unintentional harm.
Research participants need to know two things before they willingly agree to participate: firstly, they may not know the person who is researching them and need to be assured that their trust is warranted; secondly, many who consent to participate do so for the common good and may not expect any recompense for their time and effort. Both these factors highlight the importance of protecting research participants.
The National Statement sets out national standards for the ethical design, review and conduct of human research. The standards are undergirded by four core values – if you have any questions about any aspect of your research design, review or implementation, reviewing how it addresses these four core values of ethical research is a best practice.
The four core values are:
- Respect for human beings
- Research Merit and Integrity
Respect for human beings is an active recognition of their intrinsic value. It requires having respect for research participants’ welfare, beliefs, perceptions, customs and cultural heritage, both individually and with regard to their community allegiances.
Merit is demonstrated through identifying potential benefits of research and its contributions to knowledge and understanding, improved social welfare and individual wellbeing of human beings, and the development of skills and expertise of researchers.
Integrity is made evident through the transparency of researchers who are committed to searching for knowledge and understanding, who follow recognised principles of ethical research conduct, who conduct research honestly, and who communicate findings in ways that permit scrutiny and contribute to public knowledge and understanding.
Justice is practised by ensuring there is no unfair burden of participation in research by particular groups and that there is fair distribution of benefits of participation and fair access to the benefits of research for all.
Beneficence ensures that the likely benefits of research justify any risks of harm or discomfort to research participants. If there are no likely benefits for participants then the risk to participate should be lower than if there were any likely benefits.