Research

Welcome to the Human Ethics office at UWA

A focus on research of an international quality and the fostering of an outstanding research culture have positioned UWA as one of the best universities in Australia and in the top 150 in the world.

Human Ethics Resources


What Do You Want To Do?



Forms for Human Research Ethics


Welcome To The HREO

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:

  • Surveys, interviews, and focus groups;
  • Medical, physiological or psychological testing, including clinical trials;
  • Using people’s personal material, including documents;
  • Use of human organs, tissue or fluids;
  • Using information about people obtained from a database, including linkage data-sets or private practice patient files;
  • or, even just observing people for a research purpose.

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.

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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:

  • Information about human research ethics principles, guidelines, procedures and responsibilities.
  • Forms and procedures required to submit an application.

What you need to know about human research ethics

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.

What do you want to do?

Most researcher requirements for ethics approval, or for managing and reporting on a research project, are addressed in the following lists of options for "Obtaining ethics approval" or for "Managing your project".

The left-hand menu provides links to all information available on our human research ethics web pages; however, on most occasions, what you need to do is likely to be covered in the action lists below.

Please use these lists to identify the procedures you will need to follow and to access the required forms.

Obtaining ethics approval

What kind of ethics approval are you seeking?

  • Ethics approval application for a single project
  • Ethics approval application for a Course/Unit
  • Notify the University of an existing ethics approval from another institution
  • Exemption from formal ethics review 

Managing your  project

What kind of project management issue do you need to undertake?

  • Amendment of an existing, approved project
  • Progress Report for an existing, approved project
  • Closure Report for a research project that has been completed
  • Extension of the existing ethics approval period beyond 5 years
  • Re-opening a project that has been closed
  • Adverse event report relating to a research project

Making a complaint

Policies and procedures are available for any person wishing to make a complaint in relation to a human research project.