Human Ethics research

All research projects involving humans are subject to peer review and approval by The University of Melbourne  Human Research Ethics Committee (HREC). Research involving human subjects cannot 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, under ‘When should I submit an application?’.

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

Download
A detailed Human Ethics research kit 12MB

Frequently Asked Questions

Who should complete an application?

Staff

All academic 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 and endorsement, then forwarded for approval by the Education, Fine Arts & Business Human Ethics Sub-Committee (EFAB HESC).

Students

All student researchers 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 and endorsement, then forwarded for approval by the EFAB HESC.  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.

NOTE: Standard Risk Project applications will only undergo a technical review to ensure all documents are present by the MGSE HEAG. The application will then be forwarded directly to the EFAB HESC for peer review and approval.

What are 'standard risk' and 'minimal risk' projects?

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

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 all "research-active" students [i.e. those enrolled in a recognised research degree, such as the D.Ed and Ph.D].  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", to do this please contact the Themis Service Desk.

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).

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) in consultation with the Education, Fine Arts & Business Human Ethics Sub-Committee (EFAB HESC).  As a guide, all new human ethics applications submitted by the below stated cycle deadline, will take about four to six weeks to approve.

For 2018, the deadlines are as follows:

Cycle Month Submission to MGSE HEAG Researchers notified of feedback MGSE HEAG meeting Submission to EFAB HESC EFAB HESC meeting Researchers notified of outcome
Day of Week Monday Monday: two weeks later Wednesday: one week later Wednesday Thursday Friday: one week later
January 2 (Tuesday) 15 January 24 January 31 January 15 February 23 February
February 29 January 12 February 21 February 28 February 15 March 23 March
March 5 March 19 March 28 March 4 April 19 April 27 April
April 29 March (Thursday) 16 April 24 April (Tuesday) 2 May 17 May 25 May
May 7 May 21 May 30 May 6 June 21 June 29 June
June 4 June 18 June 27 June 4 July 19 July 27 July
July 2 July 16 July 25 July 1 August 16 August 24 August
August 6 August 20 August 29 August 5 September 20 September 27 September (Thursday)
September 3 September 17 September 26 September 3 October 18 October 26 October
October 1 October 15 October 24 October 31 October 15 November 23 November
November 29 October 12 November 21 November 28 November 13 December 21 December
December 26 November 10 December 17 December (Monday) 2 January 2019# 17 January 2019# 25 January 2019#

PLEASE NOTE:

  1. These dates above should be used as a GUIDE when preparing an ethics application for endorsement and subsequent approval.
  2. # – notion dates for 2019.

Who do I submit the application to?

One signed, single-sided hard-copy of the entire application must be forwarded in person to Human Research Ethics Consultant, Room LW919.13, Level 9, 100 Leicester Street. Human Research Ethics Consultant will process your application and send to the MGSE HEAG reviewers for comment.

What documentation do I need to submit?

A compliant ethics application on Themis and in hard-copy consists of the following components (preferably as Word documents):

  • an application form, with all questions, answered and requisite checkboxes ticked, uploaded and categorised on Themis as ‘Application’.
  • all Plain Language Statements and Consent Forms, on MGSE letterhead, clearly labelled and footer populated with Ethics Id number, date and version, uploaded and categorised on Themis as ‘Plain Language Statement’ or ‘Consent Form’ respectively.
  • all data collection tools, which are clearly labelled, uploaded and categorised on Themis as:
    • ‘Interview’ for interview/focus group questions/protocols,
    • ‘Questionnaire/survey’ for questionnaire/survey questions, or
    • ‘Test’ for test tools
    • ‘Miscellaneous’ for any other collection tools not mentioned above.
  • other relevant documents, e.g. endorsement/recruitment correspondence, recruitment protocol, debriefing statement, advertisements, etc.  All these should be uploaded and categorised on Themis as:
    • ‘Advertisement’ for advertisement,
    • ‘Debriefing Statement’ for debriefing statement,
    • ‘Additional module’ for privacy and databank module form, or
    • ‘Miscellaneous’ for any other relevant documents not mentioned above.

TIP: Please ensure that you upload and categorise each document individually on Themis to avoid compliance errors.

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

Approximately six weeks should be allowed for the processing, review and approval of a standard risk application by the EFAB HESC, and approximately four weeks should be allowed for the processing, review and approval of a minimal risk application by the MGSE HEAG.  This is dependent on the quality of the application submitted, the complexity of the research and the extent of any changes requested.

What will the GSHEAG do?

The MGSE HEAG will review your application and do one of two things:

  1. endorse the application without amendment or;
  2. suggest amendment to the application before forwarding to the HESC for approval.

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

If no amendments are required by the MGSE HEAG, the original hard-copy application is forwarded to the MGSE HEAG Chair for endorsement, then forwarded to the HESC for approval.

What do I do if the GSHEAG recommends changes?

If the MGSE HEAG requires amendments, the Human Research Ethics Consultant will contact the named researchers via email with the details of the MGSE HEAG comments and suggestions. The researcher[s], or the student in consultation with their supervisor, will make the recommended amendments or provide appropriate arguments why the change should not be made. Amended pages can be submitted to the Human Research Ethics Consultant via Themis in electronic form. The amended original is forwarded to the MGSE HEAG Chairperson for endorsement and then EFAB HESC for approval.

What happens at the EFAB HESC?

The EFAB HESC will review the application and may make further comments for action by the researchers. For details of this part of the process (including timelines, amendments and conditions of approval) please visit the REI Human Ethics website.

What happens after the EFAB HESC has approved the application?

The approved applications are returned to MGSE HEAG to send the approval letter to all named on the application.

Useful links for Human Ethics

Checklists

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

Presentations

Human ethics theory and basic principles

Professor Dianne Vella-Brodrick, Chair of the MGSE HEAG, gives an insight into the ethics application process. Here is her PowerPoint presentation on why we have Human Research Ethics.

How to prepare and lodge an ethics application

Tim Mattingsbrooke, MGSE Human Research Ethics Consultant, goes through the process of producing an ethics application for the research you wish to undertake. Here is his PowerPoint presentation on "Ethics – it’s not that hard… really!"

Research Data Tools, Management and Support

MGSE recommends the following secure online data collection tools, data storage and associated statistical support, which meet Research Ethics and Integrity guidelines:

  • Qualtrics – an online survey tool that allows users to easily create surveys, design them collaboratively and share responses with others, and is available to all staff and research students.
  • Figshare – a safe, secure and easy to use cloud-based repository where you can securely store your valuable research data, whilst remaining in full control of it. You can store it for your private research use, or you can easily expose it and share with others.
  • Melbourne Statistical Consulting Unit – high-quality advice on statistical methods to graduate research students and staff at the University of Melbourne.
  • Research Data Management Team – there to assist graduate research students and staff via email, with any questions you might have regarding research data tools, data management and verification of research outcomes.