Human Research Ethics
All human research projects conducted at the University or by staff and students of the University require approval from the Universityâs Human Research Ethics Committee (HREC) before the research can commence.
Guidelines for Procedures for Methodological Peer Review of Ethics Applications
Human Research Ethics
On the 1 February 2007 the University of Newcastle introduced new processes for human research requiring ethics approval. The University of Newcastle Policy - Peer Review of Research Proposals Submitted for Ethics Approval â Procedure 000800 (Academic Senate) can be found at the Universityâs Human Research Ethics web site.
Following the release of the Guidelines for Scientific Peer Review of Research Proposals by Faculties (RGIC doc 07a-09) the Faculty of Engineering and Built Environment has implemented the following procedure.
Researchers including coursework and research students and staff in the Faculty of Engineering and Built Environment who will be undertaking research involving human participants must have a peer review conducted on their research prior to completing and lodging an ethics application to the University Research Ethics Committee (HREC).
The Faculty Assistant Dean (Research) has delegated authority for Peer Review to the Chair of the Methodological Peer Review Committee. All applications are required to be peer reviewed for methodology prior to submission to the University Human Research Ethics Committee. After approval has been provided by the Chair of the Committee researchers then proceed to submit to the University of Newcastle Human Research Ethics Committee [HREC]. This explanation only refers to guidance on the Peer Review process.
The Research Ethics Advisor [REA] who is also the Chair of the Committee may be contacted for advice on any stage of the process.
The Faculty of Engineering and Built Environmental Research Ethics Application Peer Review Process Chart (PDF 22KB) summarises the steps in the process, whilst the turnaround time is normally 10 working days, it is also dependent upon the load of applications requiring assessment. The Facultyâs Methodological Review Ethics Application Determination Form (PDF 78KB ) will need to be completed, as this will offer guidance in terms of how the Reviewers will assess and peer review the application. The Methodological Peer Review Committee is responsible for reviewing the application description; NOT for reviewing the ethical issues in your application [HREC is responsible for this].
There are 3 phases involved in the Peer Review process and the steps within each phase are as follows:
Phase 1: Ethics Submission Preparation Phase
- Read and understand the implications of the National Statement on Ethical Conduct in Human Research.
- Read and become familiar with the University of Newcastle Research Services Human Ethics webpages for the latest Application forms and procedures and updates.
- Complete the latest version of the relevant Application. Please note that submissions on outdated forms will not be accepted by the Ethics Committee. For advice on relevant application refer to either the Faculty REA; or email@example.com.
- The applicant is the person to whom communication will be entered into, however; in the case of applications where a student is involved (either postgraduate or undergraduate) the student shall be communicated to at the same time, unless the supervisor requests otherwise. In the case of student projects, the applicant according to the University of Newcastle policy is the supervisor (primary).
- The applicant and the student must read, and be familiar with, the National Statement in the case of a student project.
Phase 2: Ethics Submission and Peer Review
- Submit the application to the Secretary of the Faculty Methodological Peer Review Committee. On the advice of the Chair, the application will be then sent out for review by committee members or appropriate experts within the Faculty.
- The Committee is comprised of 3 academic staff members and the Chair, together with any co-opted staff members or suitably qualified discipline experts and the Secretary for the Committee.
- Each application will be reviewed by two Committee members, and a Determination will be made according to the following categories:
- Approved with Conditions; or
- Hard copy and/or electronic submissions (with electronic signatures) are acceptable.
- Applicants who have had their projects peer reviewed by a competitive grant system will only be required to have peer review of methodological material that did not form part of that review (for eg, interview schedules, questionnaires, observation schedule etc).
After the Chair or Secretary of Committee notifies the applicant of Application Approval, (either after the first submission or after subsequent submission/s), proceed to provide the following:
- A hard or electronic copy of the application form with Section G2 (PDF 205KB) ready for signature; and
- The applicant must also provide the Methodological Review Ethics Application Determination Formwith a signature from the applicant indicating that each of the Conditions has been met, as well as a comment on how each Condition was met as per the Determination Form (PDF 78KB)
Reporting to Faculty Research Committee
The Chair or Secretary of the Faculty Ethics Committee will provide copies of the completed Faculty Ethics Methodology Review Forms to the Faculty Research and Research Training Officer (R&RTO). The R&RTO will report to the Faculty Research Committee and complete and forward a quarterly report to the Research Office. This report will identify the mean number (and range) of working days taken for all peer reviews from receipt of an application to the date of return to the researcher.
The University of Newcastle Animal Care and Ethics Committee (ACEC) has been established under the NSW legislation, to oversee the care and use of animals in research and teaching at the University of Newcastle, the Hunter Area Health Service and several other accredited research establishments. Before any vertebrate animal can be used for research or teaching purposes, the investigator must obtain approval from the ACEC.
Please refer to Research Services Animal Ethics for further information.