Making a complaint

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

Making A Complaint
Concerns about the conduct of human research projects are rare; however, when they arise, they are often concerns that can be quickly and effectively resolved to everyone’s satisfaction.

For this reason, the Human Ethics office always seeks to understand the nature of any research concern that is expressed.

Through explanation and appropriate response, most concerns do not result in a formal complaint; therefore, where they feel that it is appropriate, people are always encouraged to contact the Human Ethics office for preliminary discussion of any concern.

Notwithstanding encouragement to discuss a potential research concern, Chapter 5.6 of the National Statement on Ethical Conduct in Human Research outlines provisions for complaints to be made about researchers, or the conduct of research, or about the conduct of a Human Research Ethics Committee (HREC) or other ethics review body.

Complaints may be made by research participants, researchers, staff of institutions, or others.

The Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research describes ‘research misconduct’ and specifies institutional processes for addressing misconduct.

Where complaints about researchers or research raise the possibility of misconduct fitting this description, they will be addressed under the provisions of the Code.

Any individual or organisation may initiate a complaint about research involving human participants. Without limiting the nature of a complaint, a complainant may have concerns about:

  • human research being conducted in a way that the complainant believes is unethical or contrary to existing policy or legislation
  • human research being conducted without ethics approval
  • human research being conducted in contravention of the university’s terms of approval for the research
  • human research being conducted in a manner that contravenes requirements for confidentiality in recruitment and/or data collection and management, including misuse of research data
Where research requires a Participant Information Form (PIF) or a Participant Consent Form (PCF) those documents must contain contact information so that a complaint can be made.

At UWA, the following paragraph must be included on all PIF and PCF documents:

"Any complaint received in relation to research should be considered an event that may impact on the ethics approval of a project.  As such, all complaints should be registered with the Complaint Resolution Unit (CRU) either by email to [email protected], or on-line at

Staff in the CRU will ensure that the complaint is registered and the relevant ethics office advised of the event.  The Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) will receive notification of complaints that require consideration under the policy."

Any issues raised will be treated in confidence and investigated fully and any person expressing a concern or making a formal complaint will be informed of the outcome.

Further information

For further information, please refer to the following links