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How to Apply for Human Ethics Approval

Human research is conducted with or about people, or their data or tissue and involves human beings in:

  • taking part in surveys, interviews or focus groups;
  • undergoing psychological, physiological or medical testing or treatment;
  • being observed by researchers;
  • researchers having access to their personal documents or other materials;
  • the collection and use of their body organs, tissues or fluids (eg skin, blood, urine, saliva, hair, bones, tumour and other biopsy specimens) or their exhaled breath;
  • access to their information (in individually identifiable, re-identifiable or non-identifiable form) as part of an existing published or unpublished source or database.

A researcher should apply for ethical clearance when a 'level of risk' has been ascertained. Researchers are urged to familiarize themselves with the National Statement on Ethical Conduct in Human Research (2007) (NS), the guiding documentation for Human Research, specifically with the first two sections of the NS, to determine the level of risk involved in their research.

Once the level of risk has been established, the researcher must submit one of the following applications to the Ethics Office, for consideration by the Human Research Ethics Committee (HREC).

Negligible to Low Risk Research

An Expedited Application form must be submitted, for consideration via the expedited processes. This is usually done by the Chair of the Human Research Ethics Committee, and in some instances additional reviewers, depending on the project. Expedited applications can be submitted at any time.

  1. Download and complete the Expedited Application form (doc)
  2. Download the Sample Information Sheet and Consent Form to ensure all mandatory information is included in your Participant Information Sheet and Consent Forms.
  3. Submit the digital form, including all signatures and relevant attachments (consent forms, information sheets, copies of questions/surveys) to ethics.lismore@scu.edu.au.

Moderate to High Risk Research

Submit a Full Application at one of the scheduled meetings via one of the accepted online application processes.

  1. Fill in the online form: HREA Form Portal .
  2. This form is comprehensive and you will be asked pertinent questions about all aspects of the research.
  3. All applications must be certified with appropriate signatures and relevant documentation attached (such as consent forms, information sheets, copies of questionnaires/surveys, approvals by external clients).
  4. Download the Sample Information Sheet and Consent Form to ensure all mandatory information is included in your Participant Information Sheet and Consent Forms.
  5. Submit downloaded PDF application to ethics.lismore@scu.edu.au
  6. Help and Information:
    1. NHMRC have developed a HREA "How to" Guide and HREA Getting Started Guide and some "How to" videos.
    2. The Secretary is available to assist researchers in completing their applications. Please allow sufficient review time before the submission date.
    3. All correspondence regarding ethics applications is usually processed within two weeks of the HREC meeting.

Minimisation of Duplication

If a research proposal has been approved by another organisation or University ethics committee and also involves SCU researchers, then a minimization of duplication application is submitted to SCU as a formality and to receive an SCU ethical clearance number (ECN). SCU must be aware of ALL research being conducted by SCU staff and students. There is a specific form for External Ethics approval and this is usually approved expeditiously. A copy of the external ethics approval and the application must be included. Download Minimising Duplication of Ethical Review Form (doc).

Review Outcomes

You will receive acknowledgement within 3-5 business days of receipt, about what review process we will apply to your application.

The ethics office will communicate the outcome, in writing within ten (10) business days after receipt has been acknowledged or within five (5) business days of a meeting, resulting in one of the following outcomes:

  1. Approved with standard conditions (Annual Reporting, Reporting of Changes of Protocol, Completion Reports and Adverse Events reports).
  2. Approved with more than standard conditions.
  3. The Committee has further questions and you will need to respond or re-submit parts of your application.
  4. You may be required to resubmit the application.

All Ethics applications are approved for 3 years, with standard conditions or additional conditions as communicated by HREC.

If unsure, please always feel free to get in touch with the Ethics Office or the Chair of HREC.