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Research Integrity and Ethics

Avondale is committed to excellence in research. Researchers abide by the Principles of Ethical Research to ensure the integrity of their research and adherence to relevant legislation and guidelines such as the Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research, and the National Statement on Ethical Conduct in Human Research.

Research Integrity Advisor

The role of a Research Integrity Advisor (RIA) is to promote the responsible conduct of research at Avondale University and provide advice to staff and students on good research practice.

RIAs can provide general information and advice about:
• the responsible conduct of research;
• the Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research;
• policies and practices related to research;
• strategies that may help staff or students resolve any concerns they have about research conduct;
• how to lodge a concern for formal review.

Research Integrity Advisors do not:
• advocate for or on behalf of anyone involved in a possible concern about research conduct;
• investigate or manage any formal allegations;
• manage or provide advice about sexual misconduct, bullying or harassment. For such matters, contact your Head of School or People & Culture.

RIAs do not review drafts of ethics applications.

The RIA for Avondale University is Professor Brett Mitchell, Professor of Health Services Research and Nursing ([email protected]).

Human Research Ethics Committee

Research involving human subjects must be approved by the Avondale Human Research Ethics Committee (HREC), which functions to safeguard the ethical rights of subjects of human research. Prior to commencing data collection, ethical clearance must be gained by:
Avondale staff and students intending to conduct publishable research (this includes conference presentations and scholarly reports);
External parties conducting research where Avondale staff and students are participating as subjects; and
External parties conducting research with whom Avondale has a current Memorandum of Understanding.
Note: It is not necessary to submit an application to Avondale HREC if the research is undertaken for the fulfillment of a degree from another tertiary institution, and the research participants are not from Avondale (research approval would be granted by the ethics committee of that institution).

NHMRC guidelines
Avondale’s HREC abides by 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.

The National Statement guidelines state that the design, review and conduct of research must reflect the values of research merit and integrity, justice, beneficence and respect.

The National Statement also provides the following categories of risk:

Lower risk
Minimal: No risk of harm or discomfort; potential for minor burden or inconvenience
Low: No risk of harm; risk of discomfort (+/- foreseeable burden)

Higher risk (Individual, group, community, societal or global)
Greater than low: Risk of harm (+/- foreseeable burden)
High: Risk of significant harm (+/- foreseeable burden)

“The greater the risks in any research for which ethical approval is given, the more certain reviewers must be both that the risks will be managed as effectively as possible and that the participants clearly understand the risks they are assuming” (NS.2.1.4)

The Ethics Approval Process 

Avondale Ethics Approval Process 
HREC Reviewer Checklist

HREC Application Form 
Applications should be submitted to [email protected] by the deadlines listed below.
HREC Amendment/Extension Request Form (online form). This form must be submitted to obtain approval for changes to a current project.
HREC Ethical Review Exemption Form (online form). This form should be submitted by researchers who wish to conduct research that is negligible risk and/or involves the use of existing collections of data or records that contain only non-identifiable data about human beings.
HREC Project Progress Report (online form). A progress report must be submitted annually for each approved research project, with a final report submitted at the completion of the project.

Course Related Ethics Approval
This relates to courses containing a minor research project that may involve human participants (e.g. Master of Arts).
Course Convenor Application (online form) This form should be completed by Avondale course convenors.
Student Application (online form). This form should be completed by Avondale postgraduate students at the direction of their research supervisor.

External Ethics Approval
Avondale recognises the ethical review and approval process issued by Australian HRECs that are registered with the NHMRC. HREC External Ethics Approval (online form)

Avondale HREC Terms of Reference
HREC Terms of Reference

2024 HREC meeting dates and application submission deadlines:

Meeting dates
Thursday 15 February
Thursday 11 April
Thursday 6 June
Thursday 15 August
Thursday 10 October
Thursday 28 November

Submission deadlines
Wednesday 31 January
Wednesday 27 March
Wednesday 22 May
Wednesday 31 July
Wednesday 25 September
Wednesday 13 November

Animal Research Ethics Guidelines

The Animal Research Ethics function is administered under an auspiced arrangement with the University of Newcastle. The elected Science representative at Avondale will liaise the Animal Welfare Officer at the University of Newcastle.

The University of Newcastle is responsible for official documentation and approval of research projects at Avondale involving animals as per the Agreement Regarding the Use of the University of Newcastle Animal Care and Ethics Committee.

Research Complaints of Concerns

Complaints and concerns relating to potential breaches of the Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research should be lodged with Research Services ([email protected]).

Complaints and concerns relating to the conduct of Avondale’s Human Research Ethics Committee should also be lodged with Research Services.

While the Research Integrity Advisor (RIA) may be consulted regarding a complaint or concern, it is not the role of the RIA to advocate for or investigate a complaint.

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