Research involving human subjects needs approval by either the Avondale Human Research Ethics Committee (HREC) or the relevant Faculty Research Committee. 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 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
Note that it is not necessary to submit an application to the HREC if the research is undertaken for the fulfilment of a degree undertaken from another tertiary institution and the research subjects are not from Avondale College of Higher Education (assumes research approval granted from the ethics committee of that institution).
Applications submitted to the HREC for students in honours and postgraduate programs require a letter of endorsement from their faculty. In most instances this letter should be signed by the Dean of Faculty. Exceptions to this would be: (1) where the Dean is also the supervisor, in which case another senior member of the faculty who is sufficiently expert in the research methodology being proposed should sign, or (2) where it is felt that another staff member in the faculty is more able to determine the appropriateness of the methodology and student's skills.
Ethical clearance must be gained, prior to commencing data collection, from the relevant Faculty Research Committee for research projects conducted:
- By undergraduate students undertaking individual research projects as part of their academic program
- In a class context where data may be collected and the results will be used only for educational purposes within the confines of that class.
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.
Research Ethics Approval Application Forms
Application forms must be submitted by the relevant due dates in order to allow time for circulation of completed application forms to HREC members.
HREC meetings and application deadlines
|Ethics application due dates
||HREC Meeting dates
|Friday 8 February, 12 noon CLOSED
||21 February COMPLETED
|Thursday 28 March, 12 noon CLOSED
||11 April COMPLETED
|Friday 24 May, 12 noon CLOSED
||6 June COMPLETED
|Friday 16 August, 12 noon CLOSED
||29 August COMPLETED
|Friday 11 October, 12 noon CLOSED
||24 October COMPLETED
|Friday 15 November, 12 noon CLOSED
|Ethics application due dates
||HREC Meeting dates
|Friday 7 February, 12 noon
|Friday 28 March, 12 noon
|Friday 23 May, 12 noon
|Friday 15 August, 12 noon
|Friday 10 October, 12 noon
|Friday 14 November, 12 noon
Guidelines For Undergraduate Student Projects Involving Human Participants
The following guidelines have been developed by the HREC to be used by faculties who have undergraduate students who, as part of their academic program, undertake projects involving human participants. It is recognised that these projects are normally educational activities and are unlikely to be published. If it is anticipated that the results will be made public or published in any form, approval for the project needs to be gained from the HREC. These guidelines do NOT apply to postgraduate students and those who are carrying out research projects for Honours Degrees, as their projects require approval by the HREC.
It is not the function of the HREC to legislate with respect to academic and methodological content, but rather to offer guidance as to the possible ethical implications that may arise when students undertake research activities.
- Each faculty is delegated the responsibility of approving and monitoring projects involving human participants, undertaken by undergraduate students, in units offered within the faculty. Projects will normally be jointly assessed by the relevant unit lecturer and the faculty's HREC representative. (The faculty may in its discretion appoint a substitute in place of the unit lecturer). Where there is substantial uniformity in the type of work undertaken by students in fulfilment of a class assignment, blanket approval may be given for the assignment as a whole; but where students undertake distinctive individual research projects, the projects should be approved on an individual basis.
- Each faculty is to ensure that projects adhere to the principles of ethical conduct outlined in the current edition of the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) document National Statement on Ethical Conduct in Human Research (National Statement)(NHMRC, 2007, pp. 11-13).The document may be downloaded from
. Faculties are required to have a hard copy of the above document (for faculty and student access) if they require undergraduate students to undertake projects that use human participants.Each faculty will determine the method by which applications for such projects will be submitted for approval, ensuring that adequate details of the project are obtained to make an informed decision about the appropriateness of the study, particularly in relation to ethical issues. A record of approved projects is to be kept. Each faculty is to submit an annual report to the HREC (at the time designated by the HREC), outlining the number and types of projects approved, and their status (completed or continuing). Special care is needed when approving projects which require the use of participants whose involvement needs additional consideration, identified as involving:
Projects involving deception of participants, concealment or covert observation require approval by the HREC. Normally undergraduate students should not be involved in such projects. Each faculty will determine the method by which approved projects will be monitored, ensuring that all procedures used in the project adhere to ethical standards, through to the completion of the study. Lecturers involved in the supervision of such projects undertaken by undergraduate students are to be well informed about research methods and ethical issues related to research studies that use human participants. Supervisors are to take reasonable and appropriate measures to ensure that each project adheres to the NHMRC document identified above. Students involved in such projects are to have a basic understanding of research methods and be adequately informed about the ethical issues related to their particular area of study. Each faculty is to ensure that projects involving human participants, undertaken by undergraduate students at Avondale, adhere to the principles of ethical conduct as outlined by the National Statement. The following guidelines are based on these principles.
- women who are pregnant (National Statement, 4.1)
- children and young people (National Statement 4.2)
- persons with an intellectual or mental impairment (National Statement 4.5)
- persons highly dependent on medical care (National Statement 4.4)
- persons in dependent or unequal relationships (National Statement 4.3)
- people in other countries (National Statement 4.8)
- Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people (National Statement 4.7)
- people who may be involved in illegal activities (National Statement 4.6)
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 (National Statement section 3).
When approving and monitoring projects by undergraduate students, particular attention must be given to:
- Integrity: Ensure the student carries out the study in an honest and ethical way (National Statement, 1.1).
- Respect for persons: The student must take into account the individual and collective welfare, rights, beliefs, perceptions, customs and cultural heritage of participants (National Statement 1.11). Consider this issue carefully when assessing proposed data collection instruments (eg. questionnaires).
- 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).
- 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). Consider this issue carefully when assessing proposed data collection instruments (eg. questionnaires).
- Justice: In consideration of a balance of burdens and benefits, ensure the student:
- avoids imposing on a particular group which could be subject to excessive study
- designs the study so that 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).
- Consent: Ensure the consent of participants in a study is obtained. Consent must be clearly established either by :
- a signed form
- return of a survey
- recorded agreement for interview (National Statement 2.2.5).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 must give consent voluntarily, with no form of coercion or inducement used (National Statement 2.2.9).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) Research Merit: The potential contribution to knowledge which can be made must be identified, and the student must be able to justify the need to carry out the project (National Statement 1.1).
- Safety: Supervisors of research studies 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).
- Storage and Disposal of Data: Students must ensure that privacy, confidentiality and cultural sensitivities of participants are respected. Students should sign a statement agreeing to maintain the confidentiality of human participants and to destroy all raw data when it is no longer required.
The National Statement on Ethical Conduct in Human Research (2007) may be downloaded from
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]