Research that requires ethics approval

Human research projects conducted at the University of Newcastle – or by staff and students of the university – must have ethical approval before the research can begin.

Human research is defined as research conducted with or about people, their data or tissues. Examples include:

  • people taking part in surveys, interviews or focus groups
  • people undergoing psychological, physiological or medical testing or treatment
  • people being observed by researchers
  • researchers having access to participants personal documents or other materials
  • the collection and use of any part of a participants body, organs, tissues, fluids, commercially available cell lines or their exhaled breath
  • researchers having access to participant information (in individually identifiable, re-identifiable or non-identifiable form) as part of an existing published or unpublished source or database.

Conducting human-based research often has an impact on the lives of others who are not direct participants. When this impact is reasonably foreseeable, it may raise ethical questions for researchers and for those responsible for the ethical review of research projects.

The use of data, documents or records that are all publicly available (such as publicly accessible archives or publications) does not require ethical approval. However, ethical approval is required for data collected from social media (e.g., Facebook, Twitter, blogs etc).

Institutions are responsible for establishing procedures for the ethical review of human research. That review can be undertaken at various levels, according to the degree of risk involved in the research.