Apply to Human Research Ethics Committee

All research involving human participants carried out by staff or students at the University of Western Sydney undergoes ethical review by either the full Human Research Ethics Committee or its Executive. The Risk level of the research activity determines which Committee will review the project. Details of the NS levels of risk.

All unfunded staff research and research projects to be carried out by coursework postgraduates or undergraduate Honours students must first undergo research merit and integrity review prior to applying for ethical review by a discipline based Peer Review Committee. Research candidate projects do not undergo review by a Peer Review Committee because they go through a quality review process as part of their Early Candidature Plan and Confirmation of Candidature.

Researchers carrying out consultancy or short term contract research should contact humanethics@uws.edu.au for advice regarding review within a limited timeframe.

Applicants intending to access UWS student records should seek approval of Academic Registrar (PDF, 56.88 KB) prior to applying for ethical review.

How to avoid common problems and delays with research ethics applications (PDF, 27.14 KB).

For more information about the UWS Human Research Ethics Committee (HREC) please view the Human Ethics Review.

Levels of Risk and the Ethical Review Process

Under the National Statement on Ethical Conduct in Human Research (NS) guidelines, the Risk level of the research activity determines which Committee may review the project. The types of Risk and which Committee is able to review and issue a protocol is as follows:

High risk - This is defined as any research that can cause severe harm to a participant psychologically, physically, socially, economically, cause legal harm or devaluate a person's self worth (NS 2.1).

Under the National Statement, high risk applications must be reviewed by the full Human Research Ethics Committee (HREC). HREC meetings are held on the third Monday of every month. Please observe the deadline dates for submitting your application.

Following submission of your application:

  • You will receive a confirmation email advising the date of the meeting at which your application will be reviewed.
  • You will receive a response from the Committee within seven working days of the HREC Meeting.

Low2 risk - This is defined as where the foreseeable risk to participants is greater than discomfort or where there are risks to the researcher or the participants are particularly vulnerable (NS 5.1.6). Under the National Statement, Low2 risk applications will be reviewed by the Human Research Ethics Committee. HREC meetings are held on the third Monday of every month. Please observe the deadline dates for submitting your application.

Following submission of your application:

  • You will receive a confirmation email advising the date of the meeting at which your application will be reviewed You will receive a  response from the Committee within seven working days of the HREC Meeting.

Low1 risk - This is defined as where the only foreseeable risk is one of discomfort (NS 2.1.6). Under the National Statement, Low1 risk applications may undergo expedited review and be considered by the HREC's Executive Committee. The Executive meets weekly – on Mondays - except on HREC meeting dates and public holidays.

Following submission of your application:

  • You will receive a confirmation email advising the date of the meeting at which your application will be reviewed You will receive a  response from the Committee within seven working days of the HREC Executive Committee meeting.

Negligible risk - This is defined as where there is no foreseeable risk of harm or discomfort; and any foreseeable risk is no more that inconvenience. Where the risk, even if unlikely, is more than inconvenience, the research is not negligible risk (NS 2.1.7).

Under the National Statement, Negligible risk applications may be considered by the HREC's Executive Committee. The Executive meets weekly – on Mondays - except on HREC meeting dates and public holidays.

Following submission of your application:

  • You will receive a confirmation email advising the date of the meeting at which your application will be reviewed You will receive a response from the Committee within seven working days of the HREC Executive Committee meeting.

How to apply for human ethics approval

UWS uses the National Ethics Application Form (NEAF) (opens in a new window) developed by the ARC, NHMRC and AVCC (now Universities Australia). NEAF is a dynamic, interactive web-based software application tool on a secure server. For questions, comments and feedback about NEAF, please contact NEAF Assist at neafassist@nhmrc.gov.au or 1800 500 983.

Prior to filling in the National Ethics Application Form applicants must establish a NEAF user account and complete the 'My Details' section.  Where there is a student researcher both the supervisor and the candidate must establish a NEAF user account and complete the 'My Details' section.

  1. Go to National Ethics Application Form (NEAF) (opens in a new window) and create a new user account (opens in a new window) for both supervisor and candidate.
  2. To populate the details fields, click the blue button – 'Copy My Details'.
  3. The candidate should initiate a proposal and invite the supervisor to review.

When you invite other NEAF users to read or edit the proposal – beware – no tracked changes so you can't see what they've done – make a copy first.

Higher Degree Candidates – your Principal Supervisor is the applicant but you are the Principal Researcher. Your Principal Supervisor must endorse the accuracy and quality of the proposed protocol described. 

Honours/Masters Coursework and HDR Candidates should ensure they tick 'student' in the application. This process will bring up the sections to be completed by the principal and other supervisors.

All applicants must sign the hard copy of the application. UWS does not require the Dean of School or Institute Director's signature.

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Core Attachments

There may be a number of core attachments in addition to the NEAF application form that will be needed to complete your human ethics application. These core attachments may include an information statement and consent form, a questionnaire, and/or interview schedule.

UWS HREC requires applicants to use the templates provided unless otherwise arranged with the Human Ethics Officer:

Check list for application

If this is an Honours student or HDR candidate project,

  • The Applicant is the Supervisor. The UWS staff member is responsible for all content in the application and its quality. Supervisors should indicate by signing or email to the Human Ethics Officer that they have read and approved the NEAF.
  • The Supervisor is the Applicant and Contact person; the student is the Principal Researcher 1. The Committee will liaise with the Applicant.

If this is a Higher Degree Research student project, please provide:

  • Confirmation of candidature documentation

All applicants

  • Ensure you have read the IP policy and the UWS Research Code of Practice which will guide on data storage requirements, including duration of storage (specify in NEAF the room, building and campus of storage).
  • Include: Consent Forms, Dialogue Sheets - if applicable. All consent forms, participant information sheets and other related material should be developed using the University templates.  
  • Provide: Information Sheet/s - if applicable. All consent forms, participant information sheets and other related material should be developed using the University templates.  
  • Provide: Questionnaire/Survey Instrument/s, Interview questions - if applicable   
  • Ensure contact details are a UWS email and address or telephone – no private email, address or telephone numbers.  
  • Check: NSW Privacy Legislation compliance

Applicants seeking reciprocal approval having obtained approval for a protocol from another HREC must provide:

  • The original application to the approving / administering HREC (no new NEAF application required)
  • The approval letter from the approving / administering HREC 
  • Any amendments approved by the approving / administering HREC 
  • Any other correspondence, including previous progress reports

HREC Reciprocal Approval Cover Sheet (PDF, 1666.15 KB).

Applicants seeking to access student records must provide: Academic Registrar approval for access to UWS student records (PDF, 56.88 KB).

HREC meeting dates and submission deadlines

2014 HREC Meeting and Submission Closing Dates

Please Note: all applications will be subject to initial review by the Human Ethics Officer (HEO) before being submitted to the HREC for their review and approval. Please send an email to the HEO (humanethics@uws.edu.au) to arrange a meeting either in person or via the phone so that you can discuss your application before the submission deadline. Once you have decided on the time you can send a draft email with the application form and all attachments for discussion. After the initial discussion you may be required to make changes to the application form and attachments, before you finally submit the documents for HREC review.

Proposals involving not greater than minimal risk will be reviewed by the HREC Executive on a weekly basis – excepting the third Monday of each month when the full committee meets. Applications for the following Monday must be received by the previous Monday. 

Submissions must be received by midnight on the date of closing.

Submission deadline HREC meeting date
27 January 2014 17 February 2014
24 February 2014 17 March 2014
31 March 2014 14 April 2014
28 April 2014 19 May 2014
26 May 2014 16 June 2014
30 June 2014 21 July 2014
28 July 2014 18 August 2014
25 August 2014 15 September 2014
29 September 2014 20 October 2014
27 October 2014 17 November 2014
24 November 2014 8 December 2014

 

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Lodging your application

UWS has a two tier review process: Tier 1 involves the review of research merit and integrity prior to ethical review (Tier 2).

Lodging an ethics application:

  • Save the NEAF application as a PDF document using the applicant's surname to identify the document (the applicant is in all circumstances a UWS staff member).
  • Email a copy of the NEAF Form and the required attachments to the Human Ethics Officer via humanethics@uws.edu.au; and
  • Mail the original signed paper copy of the NEAF with all the required attachments to Human Ethics, Research Services, Building K1, Penrith Campus. Note: There is no need to have the head of the academic unit sign the application.
  • If the application relates to an HDR candidate's project, include evidence that the confirmation of candidature has been completed.
  • Forward original signed by all chief investigators, including candidate, either by mail or by hand-delivery, to Human Ethics, Research Services, Building K1, Penrith Campus. Supervisor must submit the application.

If you are a postgraduate coursework or 4th year Honours student your supervisor should apply to the Peer Review Committee for research merit and integrity (Tier 1) review.

  • Email – a copy of the NEAF and required attachments to the relevant Peer Review Committee; and
  • Mail – the original signed paper copy of the NEAF with all the required to the relevant Peer Review Committee, Executive Officer.

Signatures

All named researchers are required to sign the original copy of the NEAF that is sent by mail or delivered by hand to the Human Ethics, Research Services, Building K1, Penrith Campus. Electronic signatures may be inserted.

UWS does not require not the School Dean or Institute Director to endorse the application, although the NEAF signature page includes space for a number of school/department signatures.It is suggested that applicants retain a physical copy of the signed NEAF, in case the original goes astray in the mail.

NEAF requires that student and higher degree research candidate applications are submitted by the applicant – the UWS staff member supervising the research.

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The progress of your application

Applicants may submit applications at any time throughout the year, however, applicants should note that Committees are sent papers and agenda well in advance of the meeting date.A closing date is set for receipt of applications for HREC

.

The nature of the project and an assessment of the risk of harm to participants will determine if the application undergoes expedited review (weekly) or will be considered by the full Human Research Ethics Committee (monthly).

Applications tabled to either the full HREC or the HREC Executive cannot be accepted – all applications must be submitted through humanethics@uws.edu.au for registration on the University's research management database and inclusion on the next available HREC or Executive meeting agenda.

The HREC is unable to review incomplete applications. Please ensure that all questions have been responded to and all support documents are included.

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Amendments to approved protocols

From time to time it may be necessary to adjust or amend aspects of an approved human ethics protocol – for example, the addition of new researchers or the discontinuation of some researchers; changes to the recruitment procedure; addition or change to a site or a survey instrument.

How to progress an amendment request:

Requests for amendments are considered by the Chair and will be responded to within 2 weeks of receipt by Research Services.

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