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Applying for research ethics approval

All research ethics applications will be reviewed in a new online system. More on these online reviews can be found below.

In accordance with the National Statement on Ethical Conduct in Human Research 2007 (updated 2018) and the Australian Code for the Care and Use of Animals for Scientific Purposes and other relevant codes and standards, the University has established a proportional review framework, which matches the process, documentation, length and rigour of the review to the risks and ethical sensitivity of the planned work.

All research and research-related activity should be tested in the Proportional Review Checklist (even if you know ethics review is not required). By answering some brief questions about your planned activity, the Checklist will determine whether the activity requires review and the most appropriate review pathway. Alternatively, your project may qualify for an ‘Out of Scope’ or ‘Exempt from Review’ notification.

Enter the ECU Research Ethics Management System and complete the Proportional Review Checklist.

If you are a student and working on a research project that aligns with your supervisor’s research project or another research project, to avoid duplication of ethical review, Research Services have developed a simple guide for determining how your research should be reviewed.

Please note that REMS is best accessed using Chrome or Firefox browsers. Do you have staff and student profiles? See how to manage multiple log-ins in Office 365 with Chrome.

All animal research project must first be checked within the Proportional Review Checklist. If your work requires full animal ethics review you will receive an automated email notifying you of this decision and taken to STREAM where you will complete your application. Visit the applying for animal ethics approval web page for more information, if notified by the Proportional Review Checklist.

The Proportional Review Checklist

The first stage of the ethics review process is to complete the Proportional Review Checklist (PRC). The PRC is divided in to seven sections, with each designed to determine whether your project requires review and if it does, the proportional review pathway under which it should be reviewed.

For further information on the Proportional Review Checklist, see the Understanding the Proportional Review Checklist web page.

My research activity requires review – how do I apply?

Once you complete the PRC you will be notified of the appropriate review pathway for your research by email. In this email you will be provided with a link to a Microsoft Team site to facilitate collaboration with your research team in preparing your application, and a link to the application form.  You can also access your application form and Team site through your REMS portal .

Please see the narrated PowerPoint presentation that shows you how to complete your research ethics application in Microsoft Teams.

The Proportional Review checklist is the first stage in the ethical review process and determines whether further review is required, and if so, under which pathway it should be reviewed.

Supporting documents

Review of Research Ethics Applications

Your human or animal research ethics application will be reviewed by one of four review committees at ECU. A preliminary review of your application will be conducted by the Research Ethics Team at which time you may be prompted for additional information or attachments. These will need to be uploaded to your Microsoft Team site.

Once ready for review, the Research Ethics Team will assign reviewers or add your application to the next HREC meeting agenda (if applicable). At any time, a reviewer or review committee reserve the right to escalate an application for more rigorous review.

All research ethics applications will be reviewed online from June 2020.  You may be asked to participate in a pilot of this system from mid-May.  The following videos demonstrate how the online review system works from a reviewer and researcher perspective. Please note there is no sound or voice overs in these videos, these are vidusal guides only to assist with familiarity of the software. If you have any questions as you undertake or respond to an online review, please contact the Research Ethics Team.

After the review is complete you will be advised of the outcome of the review and may need to include additional information or make changes to your application. Please make these necessary changes in your Microsoft Team site and return your application for further review.

The University Human Research Ethics Committee (HREC) is responsible for the review of human research ethics applications which involve greater than a low risk of harm to human research participants. The HREC will review applications from students and staff whose research qualifies for this review pathway.

The HREC meets monthly to consider applications. Download this year’s meeting dates.

You can expect feedback on your application one week after the HREC meeting.  At this time, you may be required to address some of the committee’s feedback before your project will be approved.  Depending on the level of feedback requested, your project may need to be considered at a second meeting of the HREC.

For more information about the Human Research Ethics Committee, see the Committee web page.

The School HREC Subcommittees have delegated authority to review low risk human research ethics applications for staff and students. For most committees the review will be conducted by two members who will be given two weeks to review and respond to your application. Depending on the level of feedback requested, your project may need to be considered by reviewers for a second time.

For more information about the Human Research Ethics Subcommittees, see the Committee web page.

The Negligible Risk Subcommittee is comprised of the Research Ethics Team and overseen by the Chair of the Human Research Ethics Committee. This expedited review committee will typically review a negligible risk project within one to two weeks. Depending on the level of feedback requested, your project may need to be considered by reviewers for a second time.

For more information about the Negligible Risk Subcommittee, see the Committee web page.

The Animal Ethics Committee are responsible for reviewing research applications involving animals, but not invertebrates. Depending on the level of feedback requested, your project may need to be considered at a second meeting of the AEC.

For more information about the Animal Ethics Committee, see the Committee web page.


You will be notified once your application has been approved via an automated email from the Research Ethics Management System (REMS).  Notification of ethics approval will also be sent to other areas where necessary, e.g. Graduate Research School, your supervisor, or the Office of Research and Innovation.

All applications are approved with standard conditions of approval and some projects may also have further specific conditions of approval all of which can be found in your approval email.

Important: Recruitment of participants and/or data collection cannot commence until notification of ethics approval has been received.

Support for research ethics applicants

ECU’s collaborative approach to research ethics means there are a variety of different sources of support for you within your community of practice.  These include:

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