Human Research Ethics Committee
The Human Research Ethics Committee (HREC) was established by the University Council to ensure the ethical conduct of research involving humans by ECU staff and students.
All human research must follow the ethical guidelines that are explained in the National Statement on Ethical Conduct in Human Research.
All research involving the use of human participants requires approval from the Committee or the appropriate Faculty or School Ethics Sub-Committee.
The primary role of the Committee is to protect the welfare and the rights of participants in research.
It has responsibility for considering and approving any research activity that involves human participation or definable human involvement and has as its purpose the establishing of facts, principles or knowledge or of obtaining or confirming knowledge.
The Committee must also evaluate the merit of the research and determine whether it is justifiable in terms of its potential contribution to knowledge.
The research must be based on a thorough study of current literature and must be conducted or supervised only by persons or teams with the experience, qualifications and competence appropriate to the research.
The Committee also has the delegation and authority to monitor all approved research projects.
The Human Research Ethics Committee is responsible for the review of human research ethics applications from:
- Master by Research students;
- PhD students;
- Doctorate students;
- Staff; and
- Undergraduate, Honours and Masters by Coursework students, where the research projects are deemed to be greater than ‘low risk’ research.
In addition, some types of research involving particular groups of participants or types of procedures must be reviewed by the Human Research Ethics Committee.
Faculty and School Ethics Sub-Committees
The Faculty Ethics Sub-Committees have delegated authority to review and approve the projects undertaken by undergraduate, Honours and Masters by Coursework, which are deemed to be ‘low risk’ research.
The School of Psychology and Social Science Ethics Sub-committee has delegated authority to review low risk human research ethics applications for students completing a School of Psychology and Social Science Honours project.
All research proposals considered by the Ethics Subcommittees must be low risk. If an application is considered to be greater than low risk, it must be referred on to the Human Research Ethics Committee.
For more information visit your Faculty ethics web page:
The Committee is also responsible for:
- recommending guidelines for the conduct of ethical research to the University Council;
- recommending to the University Council , Academic Board and/or the Research and Higher Degrees Committee or any other ECU committee on matters relating to the conduct of ethical human research;
- providing assistance to staff in the consideration of ethical issues involved in research;
- considering the ethical issues of approved research proposals submitted by staff and research students for projects involving human subjects and providing clearance for those proposals which meet the guidelines for the conduct of ethical research; and
- delegating the authority to Faculty and/or School Ethics Sub-Committees to review and approve low risk human research projects for students at Honours level, Masters by coursework level, and for projects undertaken by undergraduate students.
Members of the ethics committees come from a variety of backgrounds, including people from within and external to ECU.
Committee members may not be experts in your research field, so ensure your application is completed in language that is easily understood.
If members of the ethics committee are unfamiliar with the research, they may request further information, or refer the application to someone with expertise in the area for their opinion.
Membership of the Human Research Ethics Committee
Members of ethical review bodies are responsible for deciding whether an application submitted for review meets the standards of the National Statement and is ethically acceptable.
The Committee is composed of people who meet the following criteria:
- a chairperson;
- at least two members who are lay people, one man and one woman, with no affiliation with ECU who are not currently involved in medical, scientific, legal or academic work;
- at least two people with current research experience that is relevant to applications considered by the committee;
- at least one member with knowledge of, and current experience in, the professional care, counselling or treatment of people;
- at least one member performs a pastoral care role in a community; and
- at least one member who is a lawyer.
To ensure that the committee is sufficiently informed on all aspects of a research proposal, the appointment of additional members with specific expertise may sometimes be necessary.
The Research Ethics Officer acts as Executive Officer to the Committee.
Appointments, including re-appointments, are made by Academic Board after taking into account the Committee's nominations for appointments to vacancies.