Ethics Approval

Research involving human subjects needs approval by the Avondale Human Research Ethics Committee (HREC). Such research may involve the use of surveys, questionnaires, interviews, invasive procedures, etc. The function of the HREC is to safeguard the ethical rights of subjects of human research.


Ethical clearance must be gained from the Avondale HREC, prior to commencing data collection, for human research and animal research projects conducted by:
  • Undergraduate students enrolled in honours programs undertaking research as a component of their program at Avondale College of Higher Education
  • Postgraduate students undertaking research as a component of their program at Avondale College of Higher Education
  • Avondale staff or students engaged in research where it is anticipated the result will be made public or be published
  • Researchers outside of Avondale College of Higher Education who are using Avondale staff or students as subjects/participants in their study

It is not necessary to submit an application to the HREC if the research is undertaken for the fulfillment of a degree undertaken from another tertiary institution and the research participants are not from Avondale College of Higher Education (assumes research approval granted from the ethics committee of that institution).

Projects Involving Human Participants

If a project involves human participants, it must be reviewed by an ethics committee and must not be undertaken until approval has been granted. Avondale's ethics approval processes follow the guidelines of the National Health & Medical Research Council's (NHMRC) National Statement on Ethical Conduct in Human Research and The Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research.

When approving and monitoring projects particular attention is given to:
  1. Integrity: Ensure the research is carried out in an honest and ethical way (National Statement, 1.1).
  2. Respect for persons: The research must take into account the individual and collective welfare, rights, beliefs, perceptions, customs and cultural heritage of participants (National Statement 1.11).
  3. Beneficence: In all projects, the risk of harm or discomfort to participants must be minimised (National Statement 1.7a), and must not be disproportionate to the benefits of the study (National Statement 1.8).
  4. Dignity of participants: Ensure that respect for the dignity and well being of the participants takes precedence over the expected benefits to knowledge (National Statement 1.9).
  5. Justice: In consideration of a balance of burdens and benefits, ensure the research:
    • avoids imposing on a particular group which could be subject to excessive study
    • is designed so the selection, recruitment, exclusion and inclusion of research participants is fair
    • does not discriminate in the selection of participants on the grounds of race, age, disability or religious or spiritual beliefs except where the exclusion or inclusion of particular groups is essential to the purpose of the research (National Statement 1.4).
  6. Consent: Ensure participant consent is obtained for the study. Participants must give consent voluntarily, with no form of coercion or inducement used (National Statement 2.2.9). Consent must be clearly established either by :
    • a signed consent form
    • the return of a survey
    • the recorded agreement for interview (National Statement 2.2.5).
  7. Informed Participants: Prior to obtaining the consent, participants must be informed of the purpose, methods, demands, risks, inconveniences, discomforts, and possible outcomes of the research (including the likelihood and form of publication of research results) (National Statement 2.2.6). Participants should be informed that they are free to withdraw from a study at any time, and they are not required to give any reason for such a decision (National Statement 2.2.19 and 2.2.20)
  8. Research Merit: The potential contribution to knowledge which can be made must be identified, and the researcher must be able to justify the need to carry out the project (National Statement 1.1).
  9. Safety: Researchers must have the experience, qualifications and competence appropriate to the research, and projects must be conducted with appropriate facilities and resources available to deal with any contingencies that may affect participants (National Statement 1.1).
  10. Storage and Disposal of Data: Researchers must ensure that research data and primary materials are stored securely for the required retention period and in accordance with Research Data and Retention Policy [AR.27]. In general the recommended period for retention is 5-years from the date of publication.

Projects Involving Animals - Animal Research Ethics

Avondale is accredited by the NSW Department of Primary Industries as an animal research establishment. The Animal Research Ethics function is administered under an auspiced arrangement with the University of Newcastle. See Animal Research Ethics Arrangements [AR19]


HREC Ethics Approval Process

Avondale Ethics Approval Process
Ethics-Submission-Process-web

Determining a Low-Risk Project

Applications seeking ethics approval of a low-risk nature may be eligible if satisfying these criterion:
  1. The project does not involve participants under 18-years of age; and
  2. All boxes of Question D1 of the Human Research Ethics Approval form are checked 'No'. Where question D1.3a is answered 'Yes', the application may be eligible for expedited review if:
    1. the data collection method is by audio recording
    2. the recorded data is transcribed electronically; and
    3. the original recording is destroyed immediately after transcription.

Research Ethics Forms and Documents

Human Research Ethics Approval Form


Application for Ethical Clearance of Research Projects Involving Human Participants Form (updated October 2016)
Application forms must be submitted by the relevant due dates as listed.

Reviewer Checklist


The HREC is required to review applications for ethics approval with reference to the National Statement on Ethical Conduct in Human Research (NS). The HREC reviewers apply the following checklist to meet this requirement.

This checklist is made available to researchers to enable them to conduct their own check to ensure that their applications address these key issues. Reference should be made tot he relevant sections of the NS as indicated.
HREC Reviewer Checklist

Progress Reports


A progress report is required for each approved research project annually up to the end of the project and a report at the completion of the project. If the completion of the project is less than one year, a progress report must be submitted at the project completion. Progress reports are to be submitted to the HREC Secretary research.ethics@avondale.edu.au using the project progress report form.
HREC Project Progress Report form

Avondale Human Research Ethics Committee Terms of Reference


HREC Terms of Reference

The National Statement on Ethical Conduct in Human Research


The National Statement on Ethical Conduct in Human Research (2007) may be downloaded from
www.nhmrc.gov.au/publications/synopses/e72syn.htm.

The Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research


The Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research may be downloaded from
http://www.nhmrc.gov.au/guidelines-publications/r39

Resources

Australian Human Research Ethics Consultancy Services (AHRECS)

Includes and online repository of exemplary ethics applications. http://www.ahrecs.com/

HREC meetings and application deadlines

2017

Low risk applications can be submitted at any time of the year
High Risk Ethics application due dates HREC Meeting dates
Friday 10 February, 12 noon OPEN 23 February
Friday 24 March, 12 noon 6 April
Friday 19 May, 12 noon 1 June
Friday 11 August, 12 noon 24 August
Friday 29 September, 12 noon 12 October
Friday 10 November, 12 noon 23 November


2016

Low risk applications can be submitted at any time of the year
High Risk Ethics application due dates HREC Meeting dates
Friday 12 February, 12 noon CLOSED 25 February COMPLETED
Thursday 24 March, 12 noon CLOSED 7 April COMPLETED
Friday 20 May, 12 noon CLOSED 2 June COMPLETED
Friday 12 August, 12 noon CLOSED 25 August COMPLETED
Friday 30 September, 12 noon CLOSED 13 October COMPLETED
Friday 11 November, 12 noon CLOSED 24 November