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Human Ethics Review

Review process

1. Research review 

Once an application is completed, it is important to note that it must progress through a research review first before it is submitted to the ethics office, i.e. the ethics review clock has not yet started. Applicants should factor in time for applications to go through this research review stage. 

What's involved? 

If you are a student, an application will need to progress to a supervisor for their review and comment (if needed).

All applications will need to go to the Head of School (or Associate Head) for review before they are submitted through to the Ethics Office.

How long does this take?

If you are a student, factor in time for 2 checks - one by your supervisor and one by the Head of School. If your supervisor is expecting the application, they may be able to quickly action this review. 

Allow up to 5 days for the Head/Associate Head review and endorsement.

2. Initial review by Ethics Office

The Ethics Office conducts risk assessments to determine the appropriate review pathway.

What's involved?

The initial review involves ensuring all HRE application questions have been addressed, and all required documentation is attached.

If an application is missing any of the information, the Ethics Office will be unable to conduct a risk assessment adequately and will need to return the application to the research team.

How long does this take? Once you have a submitted a new HRE application, please allow up to 10 University business days for an initial review and risk assessment to be conducted. 

3. HREC Ethical Review Pathways

3a. Research exempted from review

Research may be exempted from review if:

  • is negligible risk research; and
  • involves the use of existing collections of data or records that contain only non-identifiable data about human beings. 

An HRE application is required to be submitted for an exemption to be formally applied. 

3b. Expedited review

HRE applications that are deemed to be negligible or low risk may be eligible for expedited review. However, where a person's reactions exceed discomfort and become distress, the project is "more than low" risk. 

What's involved?

Research that is deemed to be low risk or negligible risk and does not fall under any of the National Statement chapters listed for a full HREC review, can be sent to expedited review.

The expedited review is completed by at least two experienced people (drawn from a small pool of 5 people consisting of the HREC Chair, Deputy Chairs, and the Ethics Coordinators).  

How long does it take? The expedited review is an ongoing process that operates between February and November. Applicants should allow up to 20 University business days for an expedited review. If there are significant comments, then these will need to be addressed by the research team and the application resubmitted to the ethics office for them to check that the review feedback has been addressed.

3c. More than low risk HRE applications

HRE applications that are deemed to be more than low risk are not eligible for expedited review and must be review by the full UniSQ HREC. Refer to the UniSQ HREC meeting dates for information on submission timelines. 

The UniSQ HREC must review research that involves any of the following:

  • Women who are pregnant and/ or the human fetus
  • people highly dependent on medical care who may be unable to give consent
  • people with cognitive impairment, an intellectual disability, or a mental illness
  • people who may be involved in illegal activities
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples
  • animal-to-human xenotransplantation
  • genomic research
  • forensic or involuntary patients
  • clinical trials
  • active concealment or planned deception
  • exposing illegal activity
  • participants on the DSM-5 scale
  • significant psychological risk
  • accessing sensitive health information or data
  • prisoners or people on parole
  • participants who would not ordinarily be considered vulnerable; however, are vulnerable due to the nature of the research
  • collection of biological materials, i.e. blood, saliva, etc
  • hospital patients
  • research being conducted by parents/ guardians with own children 
  • economic impact due to participation in the research, i.e. loss of income, loss of employment, etc
  • sensitive and/or contentious issues, i.e. suicide, eating disorders, etc. 
  • significant reputational risk, i.e. this could be to the participants, research team or the University

If your research involves any of the following, please contact the Ethics Office to discuss further; prior to commencing an application:

  • Animal-to-human xenotransplantation
  • genomic research
  • forensic or involuntary patients 
  • clinical trials 
  • research being conducted by parents/guardians with own children