Human research ethics

The University’s Code of Conduct for Research prescribes the standards and ethical conduct expected of those engaged in research at this institute.

Staff and students need to be familiar with the ethical framework governing research at the University and need to comply with institutional and regulatory requirements.

The National Statement on Ethical Conduct of Research (NHMRC) 2007 sets out the national standards of ethical conduct for research involving humans and should be used by researchers when developing their projects.

The Office for Research Ethics and Integrity provides the essential ethics requirements and information about how to apply.

The essential values that guide ethical research

The values of respect for human beings, research merit and integrity, justice and beneficence should guide the design and conduct of human research and help shape a relationship of trust, mutual responsibility and ethical equality between researchers and research participants.

Ethics approval

Research projects requiring ethics approval include those involving surveys, interviews, certain types of observational studies, using archival data in which individuals are identifiable, administration of tests or stimuli, collection or use of human tissue, bone, blood or other body fluids and clinical trials.

University of Melbourne researchers, including Higher Doctorate, Doctorate by Research, Masters by Research, Doctorate by Coursework and Bachelors Honours will require ethics approval if undertaking research involving humans.

Students undertaking undergraduate, honours, masters by coursework projects should consult with their supervisor to determine a suitable research project.

Projects undertaken by undergraduate students (excluding Honours year) will usually have an education, training and practical experience focus and will not normally require ethics approval. Course Co-ordinators can usually provide advice on this.

The process

What is the process?

Human ethics applications are submitted electronically via Themis under the Human Ethics Workbench.

All applications must be signed (electronic signatures accepted) by each researcher named on the application, and lodged online. No hard copy required.

Note: Animal Ethics applications are completed on line and submitted directly to the Animal Ethics Committee (AEC) at the Melbourne Research Office.

Steps to completing an ethics application involving humans

Completing a human research ethics application can be a significant process and it is suggested you allow an appropriate amount of time in order to present a well written and clear application.

1. Getting Started
  • Login to 'Themis' using your username and password
  • Select Research Self Service
  • Human Ethics Workbench
  • Create an application
  • Step 1: Select the box which best describes your project
  • Step 2: Select your response and move > to Selected Checklist Items

(Please note that “Project Application” denotes high risk application)

2. Save as you proceed
  • At Step 3: select your Application type, noting Standard Project denotes a higher risk project
  • At Step 4: make a note of your Ethics Application ID number
  • Continue through the steps 'saving as draft'
  • The step sequence varies depending on the selection you made in Step 1. Your responses will determine which application best suits your project
3. Download and complete your application
  • Attach your application and all relevant documents (plain language statement, consent form, survey/questionnaire, any other supporting documentation) to your online application in 'Themis'.
  • When the application has been checked thoroughly, submit the application. Following submission you will no longer be able to make changes to your application. If you have changes you will need to contact the Ethics Administrator (Dr. Adelene Auyong) to change the status to allow access.
4. Printing application summary
  • Go to 'Reporting' tab (top left-hand side of screen)
  • Report Name select 'Minimal Risk - Application summary' or if a different type of application select the appropriate summary
  • Application Version: insert Ethics ID no. and click on the torch - select
  • Submit > OK
  • Click on 'Refresh' until icon appears in the Output
  • Double-click the output icon to print or save

The Office for Research Ethics and Integrity provide a more detailed Step by Step process including QUICK REFERENCE SHEETS that can be used as a guide when completing your application.

Human Ethics Advisory Group

Chair: Associate Prof. Simon Batterbury
Phone: +61 3 8344 9319

Secretary/Administrator: Dr. Adelene Auyong
Phone: +61 3 9035 7362

DownloadApplication Deadlines and Ethics Committee meeting dates : 480KB