Quality Assurance (QA) is essentially the monitoring of evaluation of the quality of an existing program, practice, activity or process taking place inside or outside the University. The University has guidelines for identifying when projects conducted by the University community are QA and do not require approval from the HREC.
Nine conditions must be met for a project to be considered as QA rather than research. Projects must meet all nine conditions relating to consent, risk and burden, privacy and confidentiality, and study design (see the QA Application Form) and be undertaken in order to monitor, evaluate or improve the quality of activity in an existing program. No projects or activities will qualify as QA if they qualify for Level 3 review according to items A1 to A12 of the HREC form Initial Application for Expedited Review.
Types of QA
Administrators monitoring staff or students’ attitudes to aspects of the University’s functions or performance using surveys designed for internal consumption and reporting are conducting Institutional Projects. All non-standard surveys of staff and students (eg. other than SECs, SETs and similarly mandated surveys) must be approved by the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic) before distribution.
A QA Project is an evaluation of the existing program, practice, activity or process and must satisfy all 9 conditions (12 questions + 2 additional) listed in the Quality Assurance Guidelines. If unclear, consult a Faculty Research Ethics Advisor or a Human Research Ethics Officer (HREO). Typical QA projects include: a counselling service’s evaluation of its routinely collected data; a program to improve the awareness of those with dementia; routine domiciliary care; your students’ views of aspects of your teaching etc. Each involves routine practice with routine data collection for monitoring the service.
Submission & approval
Use the QA Application Form for all Institutional and QA Projects. If implementing a non mandated survey of staff or students, obtain prior approval from the Strategic Planning and Quality Unit and submit to the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic).
If a QA Project, submit to the HREO for checking. If accepted, the applicant will usually be notified within 5 working days that ethics approval is not required. If unclear, the HREO will notify the applicant and forward the application to the Chair/Deputy Chair of the HREC. If not accepted by the Chair/Deputy Chair, then the applicant will be given reasons why and advised to complete a research ethics application form if they wish to proceed.
Pilot testing QA processes
A register of Institutional and QA Projects will be established and a summary of the first 50 projects received, and their outcomes, will be prepared. The summary will be reviewed by the Chair HREC, HREO, DVC(A), and the Chair RC or representative. A report will be sent to the DVC(R), DVC(A), HREC, Research Committee etc. with recommendations for any revisions to the procedure, as a result of the pilot testing phase.