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Video Transcript: Human Ethics Top Tips



The first really important top tip is to familiarise yourself with the relative legislation and that's the National Statement. The National Statement, we've got a link on our website which always links to the National Health and Medical Research Centre, who, always, update the National Statement and so you'll always get the most up-to-date version. If you want to download it from our website, it will lead directly to download link on the NHMRC website. And the most important sections to cover for you before you even start your application are the first two sections which cover in section one the values and principles of ethical conduct and then the themes in research ethics like risk, benefit and consent. Section two is divided into three different chapters, which cover risk and benefit then general requirements for consent and then qualifying or wavering conditions for consent. So we do urge you to read through those very conscientiously.

Tip 2 is to know the process and to apply for the correct application. So we've got the two processes - which is the expedited low risk process and the higher risk process which we call NEAF, where you have to fill in the form online and then submit it to us. But if you go through Tip 1, reading through the first two parts of the National Statement that'll help you identify which path to take and which application to submit to us.

Always use the latest form. That's another top tip regarding the process and you can download them via the links we provide.

Then generally, general ethics guidance, so to think critically actually about ethical issues right through from the very, very beginning, from your research question through to your recruitment, your data collection, the writing up of your findings as well as the dissemination thereof. Really consider each of the stages of your project, and think critically about any ethical issues that might arise there.

Some of the key issues to consider there are, privacy and confidentiality, perception of coercion and recruitment, and risk. And these are, of course, you know these are not, it's not an exclusive list, these are just the most common things that we find people, might lack some considerations on.

Tip 4 is to be realistic and declare all risks. But don't say there's no risk, just tell us what the risks are, identify all the risks and be sure that you design your research to minimise the risks and also put processes in place to deal with them. That's really important that you just work around what risks you identify and adapt your research to deal with them.

Just some common errors that I want to just briefly touch on. Never say there's no literature. Something that we have trouble with sometimes at HREC meetings is that researchers communicate in just really posh language and people don't really understand exactly what their methodology is. So just use lay language as if you were talking to your daughter or your cousin or someone who you really want to explain the gist of you're doing. And clearly convey your project's methodology, the aims and objectives and the benefits and risks.

Attach all the necessary supporting documentation. There's information consent forms for example that we have samples for on our website that you can just download and adapt to your research which is really helpful for you. We provide all the links further down to some of the supporting documentation. And really to think about what would we want to see. So if you, for example, involve another institution in your research you will want to communicate to them and maybe get their consent that you can even involve them in the research. So, also letters that might go back and forth between you, advertisements that you might want to put in place to advertise. Anything that you can think of that is related to your research and to communication to participants.

And then of course utilise your mentors, your supervisors, your colleagues and us of course, and we can't say that enough, just give us a ring, we're really happy to help you and even if we personally can't help you we can surely put you in contact with someone that we know can help you along the way.

The first one was to avoid the last minute rush. Allow generous time frames to plan to complete the application and allow for changes requested by HREC, so that you can actually work on those changes. Then check the HREC meeting schedule, which is also something that we've got on our website and the links will be provided further down. And plan well in advance which date you will aim to submit your application to. And again like Louise said, we're always happy, if the date comes and you're like, arrrgh, I'm not ready yet, I need some signatures. Just give us a ring and we can, even if we have already sent out the agenda we will just put it on an agenda and send your application as a late item to members even if it's a week before the meeting. So just talk to us. Make sure that the information for and the care processes for participants are thorough and sound and then ask for help early in the process.