Human research requiring ethical review

Prior ethical review is required for all proposed human research activity conducted under Swinburne auspices. A judgement that a human research proposal meets the requirements of the National Statement on Ethical Conduct in Human Research (2007) and is ethically acceptable must be made before research can begin and before full funding for the proposal is released.

What is human research?

The National Statement (p8) definitions are simple and to be understood broadly:

  • “Human research is conducted with or about people, or their data or tissue.”
  • Participation in research or participants are to be understood broadly to include those who may not even be aware that they are the subjects of research because of the research aims or method concerned.

Research requiring prior ethical review

In accordance with the above definitions, prior ethical review will be required if your research activity involves human beings through:

  • taking part in surveys, interviews or focus groups;
  • undergoing psychological, physiological or medical testing or treatment;
  • being observed by researchers;
  • researchers having access to their personal documents or other materials;
  • the collection and use of their body organs, tissues or fluids (eg skin, blood, urine, saliva, hair, bones, tumour and other biopsy specimens) or their exhaled breath;
  • accessing their information (in individually identifiable, re-identifiable or non-identifiable form) as part of an existing published or unpublished source or database.

Human research also covers

  • “health information” “personal information” and “sensitive information” as defined by the Privacy Act 1988 (Cth)Health Records Act 2001 (Vic) or the Information Privacy Act 2000 (Vic). Read more on our Privacy Legislation page.

Human research as above can also be undertaken as:

  • part of teaching and learning activity (including professional or work placements, fieldwork and Industry-Based Learning (IBL)
  • contracted research or a consultancy or
  • as Quality Assurance activity.

Note: please also be aware that Swinburne research governance requirements need to be met as regards research subject to contracts or written collaborative agreements, standard or special insurance and indemnification and occupational health and safety (OHS) standards.

Research exempt from formal ethical review

Some human research activity can be exempted from ethical review (eg, Quality Assurance (QA) activity for internal Swinburne purposes only, teaching and learning observational placements with no research-type outcomes, negligible risk research using only existing non-identifiable information).

For further information please contact the Research Ethics Office.