Human Research Ethics
The University of Divinity’s Human Research Ethics Committee is appointed by the University Council under Regulation 2 and has oversight of human research ethics throughout the University in accordance with the National Statement on Ethical Conduct of Research Involving Humans. The HREC maintains a set of working procedures.
The ethical and legal responsibilities of researchers towards research participants should reflect the values of integrity, respect for persons, beneficence and justice.
All HDR students must apply for HREC clearance or HREC exemption. All academic staff undertaking research projects involving human subjects must apply for HREC clearance.
When is approval needed?
‘Human research’ has a broad definition and includes research conducted with or about people, or their data or tissue. You need ethics approval if you are a University staff member or a postgraduate student and want to conduct certain research activities involving humans. These include, but are not restricted to:
- Gathering information about human beings (and organisations) through interviewing, surveying, questionnaires, observation of human behaviour, audio/video taping, and administering tests or stimuli.
- Using archived data in which individuals are identifiable.
- Study or research in illegal activities.
When may approval not be needed?
Some projects considered to be of negligible risk may not require human ethics review. Such projects include:
- Undergraduate projects with an education, training, or a practical experience focus do not normally require approval. Student coursework, assignments and essays are also exempt.
- Use of information freely available in the public domain.
- Research about a living individual involved in the public arena based exclusively on publicly available information, documents, records, works, performances, public archives or third-party interviews.
- Studies of public behaviour that are purely observational (non-invasive and non-interactive), such as standing in a public place and noting the actions of passers-by. Ethics review is required if the disclosure of recorded observations identifies individuals (names, photographs) and places them at risk of harm, stigma or prosecution.
- Purely observational studies (with no element of intervention) in established educational settings, involving normal educational practices, researching current instructional strategies; or research on the effectiveness of instructional techniques, curricula, or classroom management.
- Testing within normal educational requirements and in accordance with a host institution’s normal practices and approvals.
- Quality assurance/audit projects that do not involve access to or collection of private, sensitive or health data.
- Education, training and practical classes among students, which do not involve students learning through testing procedures on each other.