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) - updated 2018 and is ethically acceptable must be made before research can begin and before full funding for the proposal is released.

When is approval needed?

All Swinburne staff and students (including undergraduate and postgraduate students) who intend to conduct research involving human participants and/or their data must apply for approval from the appropriate Swinburne human research ethics committee prior to commencing their research.

'Human research' has a broad definition and includes:

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(in individually identifiable, re-identifiable or non-identifiable form) as part of an existing published or unpublished source or database, and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

Research exempt from ethical review

Some research projects may not require Swinburne human research ethics review, including research that has been considered exempt from review under section 5.1.22 in the National Statement on Ethical Conduct in Human Research

Examples of other types of research that may be exempt from review are listed below. Please contact your Human Research Ethics Advisor or the Human Research Ethics Team for advice in this regard.

Education and training exercises

Find out more information on our dedicated Education and Training ethics page.

Quality assurance/evaluation projects

Quality assurance/evaluation projects that do not involve access to or collection of private, sensitive or health data may not require review.

Quality assurance and evaluation activity refers to two types of activity - either:

  • very low risk activity, usually involving the collection and analysis of data generated coincidentally out of current practices or current standard operating procedures and/or protocols; or
  • data being collected and analysed expressly for the purpose of maintaining standards or identifying areas for improvement in the environment from which the data was obtained.

Find out more information from the National Health and Medical Research Council guidelines.

Ethical approval and publishing

Many peer reviewed journals require evidence of ethics approval prior to submission of manuscripts for publication. The School of Graduate studies may also want to see evidence of relevant ethics approval when it comes to submitting your thesis for your Honours, Masters or PhD thesis. Swinburne's human research ethics committees cannot retrospectively grant ethics approval. Please view our FAQs (FAQ no.26) or contact the Human Research Ethics Team and we can advise you on whether or not you may require ethics approval in order to conduct your research activity.