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Research Ethics

In 2009 the Faculty of Arts established its own Human Research Ethics Committee, a sub-committee of the University's Human Research Ethics Committee, to review low risk and negligible risk ethics applications for research involving human participants.

The purpose of the Faculty's Human Research Ethics Committee is to:

  • Provide a more expeditious review process for low risk and negligible risk applications within the Faculty of Arts; review should take 15 working days or less from receipt of your application to notification of the initial decision
  • Ensure low and negligible risk applications still receive quality review and meet the requirements of the National Statement on Ethics Conduct in Human Research 2007 (referred to as the National Statement)
  • Devolve responsibility for ethics review to the Faculty as a mechanism to provide education and training regarding research ethics to a wider pool of staff
  • Reduce the workload of the Universitys Human Research Ethics Committee, to ensure that high risk or sensitive research receives adequate review.

The Faculty of Arts Human Research Ethics Committee is committed to good ethical review …. open communication between review bodies and researchers, and a shared commitment to the review process, see the National Statement, 5.2.13, page 84. Any feedback you receive on your application, or request for amendment, will be to ensure that your research is conducted in accordance with the standards of the National Statement and that your research findings cannot be called into question on ethical grounds. The review of, and feedback on, your application is there to protect you as the researcher, the participants in your research, and the reputation of Macquarie University.

Contact the University Ethics Secretariat at for the terms of reference of the Faculty sub-committee and see below for the committee membership list.



Macquarie requires all researchers (staff and students) to conform to the NHMRC Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research; the National Statement; and to other relevant legislation and guidelines. The assessment and monitoring of compliance to these codes and statements is the responsibility of the Universitys Human Research Ethics Committee.

The National Statement recognises that research protocols vary in the level of risk that participants are potentially exposed to. The National Statement allowed research institutions to establish sub-committees of their Human Research Ethics Committee to review and approve those research applications which are considered to be low risk or negligible risk. The Faculty of Arts Human Research Ethics Committee is a sub-committee of the Universitys Human Research Ethics Committee.

The Facultys sub-committee will review your application against the same standards and criteria, and with the same thoroughness, as the full Human Research Ethics Committee reviews applications the main difference is that the Faculty sub-committee should reach its decision much quicker. Many of the ethics applications of students (especially Honours and HDR students) from the Faculty are assessed to be low or negligible risk and are reviewed by the Faculty sub-committee rather than the full Human Research Ethics Committee.

The definitions of low risk and negligible risk are in the National Statement, Section 2, pages 15 to 24; the assessment of the level of risk of your application is the responsibility of the Universitys Ethics Secretariat.

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Application Process

  1. You submit your ethics application directly to the University's Ethics Secretariat, not to the Faculty.
  2. If your application is assessed to be a low or negligible risk application by the Ethics Secretariat, it will be forwarded to the Faculty for review. If your application is sent to this sub-committee, you will receive an email from the Faculty of Arts Research Office advising you of this, and giving you the contact details for enquiries.
  3. Your application is reviewed by the sub-committee and you will be notified of the outcome by the Chair of the Faculty of Arts Human Research Ethics Committee.

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Writing your Ethics Application

Application, request for amendment, progress and final report forms can be found  here along with guidelines and an example of an information and consent form.

Information about and links to legislation, guidelines and codes governing research with humans is available clicking here .

Methodology and Ethics

A methodology is the theoretical framework we choose to construct the processes of how we conduct a research project. It is not only the HOW of research, but the ideas that support the reasons for doing research in the particular ways that the researcher has chosen.

It may be self evident that HOW we do things has profound effects on our proposed research out-comes and on the effects of the research on participants. These are the reasons why ethics and methodologies in research are inseparable. Researchers need to include the thinking about ethics as part of the development of their research project rather than considering ethics approval as a compliance issue afterwards.

Participant-observation fieldwork

Participant-observation is a highly valuable approach to research which is capable of producing nuanced and sophisticated grounded theory. It is not, however, a simple, straight-forward case of participating in something and observing somebody or something. There are many different ways in which participation and observation can be understood and many ways in which they can be employed in a research project. It is important, if you intend to use participant-observation fieldwork as a method, that when you prepare an application for ethics approval you are very careful in explaining how you intend to conduct participant-observation in the context of your project and that you reflect on what the possible effects of your approach may be on participants.

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Application Process Outcomes and Amendment

The Faculty of Arts Human Research Ethics Committee may approve, request amendment to, or reject your research proposal on ethical grounds. The majority of applications require minor amendment or clarification of certain points.

If the Faculty sub-committee requests amendment to your application you will be notified that your application was Approvable with conditions. The notification (usually via email, sometimes in a letter) will list the issues to be addressed and you have a maximum of 6 weeks to respond to the sub-committee. Until you have responded to the issues raised by the sub-committee and been notified that your application has been given Final Approval you may not commence research on your project.

Please note : If, during the review of your application by the Faculty of Arts Human Research Ethics Committee, the Committee considers that there are issues with your application or aspects of your research which fall outside of the definitions of low and negligible risk, your application will be returned to the Ethics Secretariat for consideration by the Universitys Human Research Ethics Committee.

If, after your research project has commenced, you need to change your project plan and/or methodology, you may well need to amend your ethics application. To do this, follow the advice on the Research Office website.

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Faculty of Arts Human Research Ethics Committee Members

The Faculty of Arts Human Research Ethics Committee members can be contacted for assistance if your have questions or require advice prior to submitting your application.

Committee members:

Dr Mianna Lotz - Committee Chair

Dr Ian Collinson

Dr Kate Gleeson

Dr Kristian Ruming

Dr Margie Borschke

Dr Toby Fattore

Dr Nicole Matthews

Dr Shirleene Robinson

Dr Kate Rossmanith

Dr Lee O'Brien

Dr Kimiko Tsukada

Dr Paul Sheehan

Administration staff:
Glenda Hewett Christine Boman
Ruth Cox