Gaining Ethics Approval for your Research Project
- Do I need ethics approval to analyse data I had when I joined the University?
- Does the offer of course credit constitute a coercive inducement to participation?
- How do I get partial release of approved funds for research?
- How do I know when to renew my ethics approval?
- Am I able to continue data collection for a project started before I joined the University?
- If I send a draft Participant Information Statement for ethics approval, does it require my supervisor's signature?
- Is there any support for completing a NEAF?
- My data collection was approved by the HREC at the University of Newcastle but a while ago. I want a student to do further analyses on this data. Do I need another ethics application?
- My supervisor is abroad. Can I provide an email from them in support of my application?
- What if I begin my research before I have obtained ethics approval?
- What if I don't submit a progress report?
- What if I said my project was completed in a progress report?
- When do I need to consult with the marketing and media department?
- When do I need to provide details of counselling services within the Participant Information Statement?
- When do I need to submit a variation application?
- When do I need to use the University logo?
- Do you have a complaint?
1. Do I need ethics approval to analyse data I had when I joined the University?
The answer to this varies depending on your situation.
If you are analysing data as initially approved by a properly constituted HREC you do not require ethics approval.
If you are doing more than analysing the data or are analysing the data for a new purpose e.g. if you add a student or other new researcher, wish to collect more data or otherwise change the approved protocol, you will need to apply to the University HREC for ethics approval. In this situation, you will be required to provide the participant information statement and consent form.
2. Does the offer of course credit constitute a coercive inducement to participation?
No. Course credit is a standard reimbursement used within the School of Psychology and does not constitute a coercive inducement.
However, you should always advise the Human Ethics department exactly how much credit is on offer for participation.
3. How do I get partial release of approved funds for research?
To secure the partial release of approved funds for research you are required to contact Rebecca Palmer in the Grants office and advise why you need the funds to be released.
Furthermore, you will need to provide an assurance that you will not conduct any research that requires ethics approval until it has been granted.
4. How do I know when I need to renew my ethics approval?
You will be sent an automatically generated request from the Human Research Ethics Office to advise that a progress report is due.
If the project is at the end of its 3-year approval and you indicate it is still in progress, the progress report will automatically convert to an application for renewal. This will then be sent to the next HREC meeting for consideration and you will be advised via email of the outcome shortly afterwards.
5. Am I able to continue data collection for a project started before I joined the University?
If you are the Principal Investigator (or Student Supervisor) you will most likely need obtain ongoing approval from the University HREC.
If you are a Co-Investigator you will most likely not need an application as this will be categorised as 'collaborative research'.
Please contact a Human Research Officer if you require further advice.
6. If I send a draft Participant Information Statement for ethics approval, does it require my supervisor's signature?
No. You need to include a signature block for each signatory from the research team to indicate where each researcher will sign, but the draft document itself does not need to be signed when being submitted for ethical approval. It can be signed once the draft is approved and the document is ready to be released.
7. Is there any support for completing a NEAF?
Yes there is.The NEAF form can appear quite complicated but you should simply complete the form as best you can.
To access the NEAF form you will first need to register with the NSW Human Research Ethics Committee
Please note: the HREC will accept this version of the form or that provided by the National Ethics Application Form website directly. The NSW Health website provides help and it is not only for research in NSW Health facilities. All Level 3 applications in the University currently require a NEAF application.
- Alternatively go to the NEAF website
- If you are still having problems contact your Faculty's Research Ethics Advisor (REA).
8. My data collection was approved by the HREC at the University of Newcastle some time ago. I want a student to do further analysis of this data. Do I need another ethics application?
No. If originally approved at this University, complete a Variation form to indicate the direction of review and provide the student's details.
9. My supervisor is abroad. Can I provide an email from them in support of my application?
Yes. If your supervisor is abroad and sends us an endorsement of your application via their University of Newcastle email then this will be accepted in place of their signature but only if they are overseas or are unable to sign the application personally.
10. What if I begin my research before I have obtained ethics approval?
The Human Research Ethics Committee CANNOT grant retrospective ethics approval (National Statement on Ethical Conduct in Human Research).
If you realise after you begin your research that you need human research ethics approval you must stop data collection IMMEDIATELY and contact a Human Research Ethics Officer. They can establish if you do need approval or not and what should be done.
Deliberate or continued failure to seek and obtain ethics approval will definitely result in rejection of your research proposal.
11. What if I don't submit a progress report?
Failure to submit a progress report by the due date, means you no longer have a valid approval for your project and its status will change to 'Approval Expired' and the research must stop immediately. The matter will then be referred to the HREC for consideration at its next scheduled meeting and approval may then be withdrawn.
12. What if I said my project was completed in a progress report?
Contact a Human Research Ethics Officer via email and advise which project it was and indicate that you wish to reopen it for further analyses. The record can then be retrieved from longer term storage.
13. When do I need to consult with the marketing and media department?
Whenever the media is to become involved in your research project OR you want to send a recruitment poster outside of the University grounds.
All media releases relating to research projects by students and staff of the University must be prepared by the Media and Public Relations team and approved as per normal University procedures.
If you intend to contact the media about your project in any way (i.e. phone call, community service notice, classified advertisement, email etc.), you are required to send background information to the Media and Public Relations team at the University of Newcastle. Please allow three days for an initial response.
Any advertisement or marketing material (including posters) containing the University's seahorse logo must be sent off for approval to Digital Marketing at Marketing and Public Relations. It is preferrable to send a PDF file to email@example.com for approval. Please allow three days for an initial response.
For further information regarding marketing and media questions you may have please contact the division of Marketing and Public Relations.
14. When do I need to provide details of counselling services within the Participant Information Statement?
Whenever you feel that there is a realistic possibility of the participant suffering stress or anxiety as a result of their participation.
Examples include; investigations into mental health or emotive issues such as bereavement, depression, illness or any self-image questions that might make the participant feel uncomfortable or unhappy.
15. When do I need to submit a variation application?
Any time you want to change any aspect of the research protocol approved in your original ethics application. This can include a change to any of the following:
- the participant group (increase or reduction)
- the research personnel (addition or removal of students or assistants)
- your procedure (e.g. number or timing of administration of tests or data collection)
- the data collection sites.
Essentially, complete and submit a Variation form to formally advise the Human Research Ethics Office of any intended changes from the approved protocol. Do this prior to making changes.
16. When do I need to use the University logo?
You need to use the University logo in the following cases:
- On your participant information sheet
- On your consent forms
- On any posters/flyers advertising for participants both within and outside of the University grounds.
Note: please make sure that you use the updated University logo - a black seahorse head (which you can obtain form Marketing and Public Relations) and not the old logo - a seahorse emblem beneath the Southern Cross.
The University logo is not required in the following cases:
- On questionnaires
- When the research is collaborative research being conducted by a body which is already part of the University of Newcastle (e.g. the Royal Institute for Deaf and Blind Children).
17. Do you have a complaint?
If you have a complaint about the manner in which research involving humans is being conducted at the University of Newcastle, please contact the Senior Human Research Ethics Officer in the first instance.
If you are a researcher who wishes to dispute a decision of the HREC, please contact the Senior Human Research Ethics Officer in the first instance.
The Senior Human Research Ethics Officer can be contacted on (02) 4921 6333 or via firstname.lastname@example.org.
Information on the procedures for handling complaints can be found at Policies and Guidelines - Complaints.