Human Research Ethics
The University of Divinity’s Human Research Ethics Committee is appointed by the University Council under Regulation 1 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 academic staff and HDR students undertaking research projects involving human subjects must apply for HREC clearance in accordance with the National Statement.
When is approval needed?
‘Human research’ has a broad definition and includes research conducted with or about people, or their data or tissue. Ethics approval is required by University staff members and research students who 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 may not require human ethics review where there is no foreseeable risk of harm or discomfort and any foreseeable risk is no more than inconvenience. Reference should be made to the National Statement (2018 revision) sections 5.1.22, 5.1.23, and 2.1.7 before contacting the Research Office for more guidance. Such projects may include
- Undergraduate projects with an education, training, or a practical experience focus. Student coursework, assignments and essays may also be exempted.
- 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.
- 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.