Human research ethics

The following information is applicable to both research students and academic staff.

COVID-19 Advice

In line with government directives on social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic, research activity that involves researchers being physically present for data collection with human participants (such as face-to-face field work, experimental and cohort studies, clinical trials etc) cannot currently commence and will need to be deferred and rescheduled. In exceptional circumstances, where such activities are part of priority research, including that directly related to the University’s COVID-19 response, approval to commence may be given by the relevant Dean and endorsed by the Deputy Vice-Chancellor Research.

Desk-based elements of your research project can commence now, as can data collection that can be conducted online or via telephone, subject to necessary approvals or amendments to ethics applications.

Researchers will be advised by the University when other elements of planned and approved data collection can commence. Please consult the COVID-19 website for research guidance, FAQ and updates. https://staff.unimelb.edu.au/covid-19-response/research-activity

Overview of human research ethics

All research undertaken at the University of Melbourne is governed by:

They stipulate the obligations on all researchers to be aware of the ethical framework governing research at the University and to be compliant with regulatory requirements.

Will I need ethics clearance for my project?

Does your research involve gathering information on human subjects (and/or organisations) by:

  • Interviews
  • Surveys
  • Questionnaires (in person or online)
  • Observation of human behaviour
  • Audio/video taping
  • Using archival data in which individuals are identifiable
  • Study or research in illegal activities

If you answered "Yes" to any of the above, you will be required to apply for ethics clearance prior to commencing your research or data collection.

What do I need to do before I lodge an ethics application?

Before you lodge an ethics application, please familiarise yourself with the Research Integrity and Misconduct Policy (MPF1318) and the National Statement on Ethical Conduct in Human Research (2007) – Updated 2018.

Student researchers should ensure that they have completed the necessary Research Integrity Online Training (RIOT) prior to lodging an application.

Please note: It is important that all students discuss and review their ethics application carefully with their supervisors PRIOR to submitting it to HEAG.

How do I set up a Themis account?

All applications must be submitted via the Human Ethics Workbench in the Research Self Service section of Themis. You will need to set up your account and you can do this using the University’s Account Management. Please allow 24 hours for the account to be activated. Once activated, you can log in and start submitting your ethics application.

How do I lodge the application in Themis?

Research has this helpful Apply for ethics approval step-by-step guide. Please ensure that the Responsible Researcher has signed the declaration section of the application form prior to uploading it to Themis.

No paper copy of the application is required.

All applications will be reviewed by the Faculty of Arts Human Ethics Advisory Group (HEAG).

2020 Faculty of Arts Human Ethics Advisory Group (HEAG) submission and meeting dates

Please note: All applications, both Minimal Risk and Standard Project, must initially be submitted to HEAG.

Minimal Risk Projects require approval by HEAG only. For Minimal Risk applications, the assessment is on a rolling-on basis. The average turnaround time between initial submission and receiving HEAG feedback is two to three weeks.

Standard Projects will require approval by the Humanities and Applied Sciences Human Ethics Sub-Committee (HESC). This means that applications need to be submitted to HEAG initially, revised to incorporate HEAG feedback, and then resubmitted for referral to HESC by the HESC submission date (see table below). The average turnaround time between initial submission and approval for Standard Projects is two months. Please ensure that your application is submitted on time so it reaches HESC by the deadline.

2020 HESC submission and meeting dates

Meeting/Round
Initial submission date to Arts HEAG
HESC submission date HESC meeting date
1/2020 3 January 22 January 6 February
2/2020 22 January 19 February 5 March
3/2020 19 February 18 March 2 April
4/2020 25 March 22 April 7 May
5/2020 22 April 20 May 4 June
6/2020 20 May 17 June 2 July
7/2020 24 June 22 July 6 August
8/2020 22 July 19 August 3 September
9/2020 19 August 16 September 1 October
10/2020 23 September 21 October 5 November
11/2020 21 October 18 November 3 December

Faculty of Arts HEAG Members (Semester 2, 2020)

PeopleSchool/Team
Dr Guy Morrow, HEAG Chair School of Culture and Communication
Dr Megan McIntosh, Deputy ChairArts Teaching Innovation
Dr Anthony Spires Asia Institute
Dr Jon Glade Asia Institute
Dr Jennifer Beckett School of Culture and Communication
Dr Kirsten Stevens School of Culture and Communication
Dr Matthew Martin School of Culture and Communication
Dr Sonja Molnar School of Culture and Communication
Assoc. Professor Richard Pennell School of Historical and Philosophical Studies
Dr James Bradley School of Historical and Philosophical Studies
Dr Jonathan Kemp School of Historical and Philosophical Studies
Assoc. Professor Heather BenbowSchool of Languages and Linguistics
Dr Debbie Loakes School of Languages and Linguistics
Dr Jason Fan School of Languages and Linguistics
Dr Jonathon Lum School of Languages and Linguistics
Dr Kellie Frost School of Languages and Linguistics
Dr Malcolm Angelucci School of Languages and Linguistics  
Assoc. Professor Bina Fernandez School of Social and Political Sciences
Assoc. Professor Irma Mooi-Reci School of Social and Political Sciences
Assoc. Professor Jennifer BalintSchool of Social and Political Sciences
Assoc. Monica MinnegalSchool of Social and Political Sciences
Assoc. Sana NakataSchool of Social and Political Sciences
Dr Clayton Chin School of Social and Political Sciences
Dr Geoffrey Mead School of Social and Political Sciences
Dr Lesley Pruitt School of Social and Political Sciences
Dr Michael Breen School of Social and Political Sciences
Dr Rebekah Plueckhahn School of Social and Political Sciences
Professor Alison Young School of Social and Political Sciences
Professor Belinda Hewitt School of Social and Political Sciences
Professor Jenny Lewis School of Social and Political Sciences
Professor Karen FarquharsonSchool of Social and Political Sciences
Professor Keith McVillySchool of Social and Political Sciences
Professor Lyn CraigSchool of Social and Political Sciences
Professor Sally YoungSchool of Social and Political Sciences
Laura Liao Arts Research Team
Jacqui Randall Arts Research Team

After ethics approval

Research provides details of processes that follow approval on their Managing approved projects web page.

Variation to projects

If subsequent variations or modifications to the project are required once approval has been granted, a Request for Amendment form must be submitted for approval. If the HEAG considers that the proposed changes are significant, researchers may be required to submit a new application for approval of the revised project.

For more information please see the Research Amendments web page.

Annual reports

The Human Research Ethics committee requires all researchers to submit an annual report on each of their projects in February of the following year, or at the conclusion of the project if it continues for less than a year (see the Office for Research Ethics and Integrity Annual Reports web page). Failure to submit an annual report at the end of each year will mean approval for the project will lapse and a new application will need to be submitted.

Contact

Students should first consult with their supervisor. Please send any further queries to arts-heag@unimelb.edu.au.