The Human Ethics office coordinates services for staff and students undertaking research involving people.
Academic research that involves people in any way is called “Human Research”. That includes working with people, human tissue, or even information about people in any of the following ways:
People in any of those categories are called ‘participants’ in research.
Research at the University must be reviewed and approved by an ethics committee before you interact with participants. This review is usually done by a formally constituted Human Research Ethics Committee (HREC) which meets once a month. However, projects defined as low-risk by the ethics code can be reviewed more informally by panellists in each faculty who are trained in the application of the ethics code.
In most cases participants' consent must be obtained before you conduct your research and participants are at liberty to participate, or not, without coercion. In rare circumstances, consent can be waived by making special application to the HREC.
Human research can also affect the lives of the family, friends, or community members who are not directly participating in your research. If impact on others is foreseeable, that must be considered in the research design and the ethical review of your research.
Research institutes in Australia, including Universities, follow and ethics code called the National Statement on Ethical Conduct in Human Research.
Research involving Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islanders also needs to be conducted according to the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies' (AIATSIS) Guidelines for Ethical Research in Australian Indigenous Studies (GERAIS) to ensure that research with and about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples follows a process of meaningful engagement and reciprocity between the researcher and the individuals and/or communities involved in the research.However, health projects dealing with Aboriginal people must be reviewed by the Western Australian Aboriginal Health Ethics Committee (WAAHEC), so UWA does not review these. Rather, we accept the review decision made by WAAHEC.
UWA is committed to the highest standards of ethical practice in research involving or affecting people.
The ethical conduct of research involving humans is governed by a number of guidelines and by legislation. In particular, the National Statement on Ethical Conduct in Human Research embodies the key values, principles and guidelines for the design and conduct of human research.
The University, and its staff and student researchers, must comply with the principles and guidelines contained in the National Statement when designing and conducting human research.
In addition to ethics guidelines contained within the National Statement, information and guidance relating to research governance issues is provided in the Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research.
The human research ethics web pages are intended to assist researchers in addressing a wide range of requirements, including:
Research, like everyday life, often generates ethical dilemmas in which it may be impossible to find agreement on what is right or wrong. In such circumstances, it is important that all those involved in research and its review bring a heightened ethical awareness to their thinking and decision-making.
Ethical values and guidelines are not simply a set of rules: their application should not be undertaken simply to comply with a list of administrative requirements.
Ethically acceptable research should be developed through careful deliberation on its values and principles; the exercise of sound judgement; and an appreciation of context.
All staff and student researchers at UWA must be aware of, and must meet, their ethical responsibilities when designing, implementing and managing human research projects.
The Human Ethics office provides information on this web site to assist researchers in designing research projects that meet all ethics requirements.
A well designed, comprehensive package of ethics application documents explaining your project in plain language will usually result in ethics approval in the minimum time possible. Therefore, it is recommended that you carefully examine the web pages that explain what you need to know to develop a high quality ethics application.
Please use these lists to identify the procedures you will need to follow and to access the required forms.
What kind of ethics approval are you seeking?
Policies and procedures are available for any person wishing to make a complaint in relation to a human research project.