Human Ethics research

All research projects involving humans are subject to prior review and approval by The University of Melbourne Human Research Ethics Committee (HREC). Research involving human subjects can not and must not proceed until clearance has been obtained.

The HREC has established Sub-Committees and Advisory Groups to review staff and student ethics applications. The Melbourne Graduate School of Education Human Ethics Advisory Group (MGSE HEAG) suggests that you read the information below and download the kit, which includes procedures for submitting an ethics application, taking particular note of the MGSE HEAG deadline schedule.

Human Ethics administration within MGSE is provided by the Human Research Ethics Officer: mgse-ethics@unimelb.edu.au

Download
A detailed Human Ethics research kit 12MB

Frequently Asked Questions

Who should complete an application?

Staff

All researchers who are members of staff of the Graduate School, and aim to conduct research which involves humans as participants, must submit an application to the Melbourne Graduate School of Education Human Ethics Advisory Group (MGSE HEAG) for review, endorsement, and approval.

Students

All postgraduate students in the Melbourne Graduate School of Education, who are enrolled in a thesis or research project subject, and are gathering data from human subjects, must submit an application to the MGSE HEAG for review, endorsement, and approval. In the case of student projects, the student (as the Student Researcher) completes the ethics application in consultation with their supervisor. The application form must be read and signed by the supervisor (as the Responsible Researcher) before being submitted.

Standard Risk Project applications must also have the approval of the relevant Human Ethics Sub-Committee, of the Human Research Ethics Committee (HREC) before undertaking any research involving human subjects. In the case of Education projects, this is usually the Humanities and Applied Sciences Human Ethics Sub-Committee (HAPS HESC).

What are 'high risk' and 'low risk' projects?

For ethics purposes, projects are classified as being either 'high risk' or 'low risk' depending on the nature of the enquiry being undertaken and the nature of the participants. As a general indication, projects involving children, persons undergoing medical treatment or any person likely to be seen as vulnerable will be 'high risk'. Projects involving consenting adults with non-controversial subject matter will be 'low-risk'. The online process through Themis will make these distinctions clearer, and will usually ensure that the appropriate forms are used. Low-risk projects generally take less time to approve than high-risk.

On-line application through Themis: Where do I log in?

All ethics applications are lodged through the Themis Ethics module, as follows:

  1. Log in to www.themis.unimelb.edu.au for the online form
  2. Click on UOM Research Service
  3. Click on Human Ethics Workbench
  4. Follow the instructions

How can students submit an on-line application through Themis?

Students must first be eligible for a Themis account

Student access to the Themis Human Ethics module is now available for "research-active" students [those enrolled in a recognised research degree, such as the PhD]. Students will be assigned the Responsibility of UOM Research Student Self-Service. For the Human Ethics module this will give them access to the same functionality as staff researchers – namely the Human Ethics Workbench, Meeting Schedules and Reporting functionality. Students who are not research-active cannot access Themis. It is possible for individual students to have their status set to "research active", either individually or as a cohort.

The Themis account must then be activated

Students activate their Themis account via Account Registration System (ARS) just as Staff do. They will need the following information to activate their Themis account:

Full name
Student number
Date of Birth (format is DD-MON-YYYY)
Postcode of home residence
Library BarCode
Using this information, the student logs in to the Accounts Registration System (ARS): http://accounts.unimelb.edu.au

When should I submit an application?

Deadlines for submission are devised each year by the Melbourne Graduate School of Education Human Ethics Advisory Group (MGSE HEAG). As a guide, all new human ethics applications submitted by the below stated cycle deadline, will take about eight to nine weeks to approve.

For 2017, the deadlines are as follows:

Cycle Submission Deadline to MGSE HEAG Researchers Notified of Feedback Re-submission Deadline for Endorsement Submission Deadline to HAPS HESC Researchers Notified of Outcome
Jan 3 January 16 January 25 January 1 February 24 February
Feb 30 January 13 February 22 February 1 March 24 March
Mar 13 March 27 March 5 April 12 April 5 May
Apr 3 April 19 April 26 April 3 May 26 May
May 1 May 15 May 24 May 31 May 23 June
Jun 29 May 13 June 21 June See Note 2 30 June
Jul 26 June 10 July 19 July 26 July 18 August
Aug 31 July 14 August 23 August 30 August 22 September
Sep 28 August 11 September 20 September 27 September 20 October
Oct 25 September 9 October 18 October 25 October 17 November
Nov 23 October 6 November 15 November 22 November 15 December
Dec 20 November 4 November 13 December See Note 2 22 December
PLEASE NOTE:
  1. These dates above should be used as a GUIDE when preparing an ethics application for endorsement and subsequent approval.
  2. There is no HAPS HESC (Central University Ethics Committee) meeting for the June and December cycles. Minimal Risk, Project within Program and Request for Amendment ethics applications will be endorsed and approved by the MGSE HEAG. Standard Risk and Program applications will be endorsed by the MGSE HEAG and held over to the subsequent HAPS HESC meeting for approval.

Who do I submit the application to?

A hard-copy original application signed by all the researchers with supporting documentation must be forwarded in person to Tim Mattingsbrooke, Room LW905, 100 Leicester Street. Tim will process your application and send copies to the MGSE HEAG reviewers for comment.

How long will it take for the GSHEAG to review my application?

Approximately two months should be allowed for the processing of a high-risk project, whereas low-risk projects which undergo expedited review application usually take up to one month, depending on the extent of any required changes.

What will the GSHEAG do?

The GSHEAG will review your application and do one of two things.

  1. Approve an application without amendment or;
  2. Suggest amendment to the application before forwarding to the HESC for consideration

What do I do if the GSHEAG approves my application
without amendment?

If no amendments are required by the GSHEAG, the signed original hard-copy application is forwarded to the GSHEAG Chair and the Associate Dean (Research & Research Training) for approval.

What do I do if the GSHEAG recommends changes?

If the GSHEAG requires amendments, Tim Matingsbrooke will contact the principal investigators via email or internal mail with details of the GSHEAG comments and suggestions. The investigators, or the student in consultation with his/her supervisor, will make the recommended amendments or provide appropriate arguments why the change should not be made. Amended pages can be submitted to Tim either in electronic form or hard-copy. The amended original is forwarded to the GSHEAG Chairperson and Associate Dean (Research & Research Training) for approval.

What happens after the GSHEAG has approved the application?

The original approved applications are returned to Tim to make the required number of copies. The original and copies are sent to the Humanities and Applied Sciences HESC for consideration on behalf of the HREC.

What happens at the Humanities and Applied Sciences HESC?

The Humanities and Applied Sciences HESC will review the application and make a recommendation. For details of this part of the process (including timelines, amendments and conditions of approval) please visit the MRO Human Ethics website.

Useful links for Human Ethics

Checklists

The MGSE has developed the following documents to assist with the process of ethics application

Presentation

Human ethics theory and basic principles

Professor Leo Goedegebuure, former Chair of the MGSE HEAG, gives an insight into the ethics application process. Here is the PowerPoint presentation (see attached) on why we have Human Research Ethics.

How to prepare and lodge an ethics application

Tim Mattingsbrooke, current MGSE Ethics Officer, goes through the process of producing an ethics application for the research you wish to undertake. Here is the PowerPoint presentation (see attached) on ethics – it’s not that hard … really!

Top 10 Errors and getting your application right

This animated series takes a looks at the Top 10 errors found in lodged ethics applications. The series runs through each issue to win the battle for ethical supremacy. Ethics success won’t come easy, but it does start with getting your application right!

Note: Episodes 1-5 have been released (see attached), with Episodes 6-10 to be released shortly (attachment to follow).