Human ethics

At Deakin, we're committed to helping our researchers understand and meet the ethical obligations associated with human research. We do this through a fast and efficient ethics review process.

What is human research ethics?

Human research is research conducted with or about people or their data or tissue. All human interaction, including the interaction involved in human research, has ethical dimensions.

Ethical conduct within research is more than simply doing the ‘right thing’. To comply with ethics protocols, research must involve acting in the right spirit, out of an abiding respect and concern for fellow humans1.

National Statement on Ethical Conduct in Human Research, 2007, p.3

Governing human research ethics

All human research conducted at Deakin is assessed by an ethical review body for its ethical acceptability and for its compliance with:

  • the Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research (2007)
  • the National Statement on Ethical Conduct in Human Research (2007)
  • other relevant guidelines and legislation. 

These documents are available to download from the Guidelines section at the bottom of this page.

Role of the ethics review bodies

Human Research Ethics Committees are responsible for ensuring that all human research complies with the National Statement on Ethical Conduct in Human Research (the National Statement) and is ethically acceptable.

The Deakin University Human Research Ethics Committee (DUHREC)

DUHREC is comprised of two panels – one based at Geelong, and the other in Melbourne. The composition of each panel complies with the requirements of the National Statement on Ethical Conduct in Human Research 2007.

Geelong Panel 2017

Chair Dr Mary Lou Chatterton...
Deputy Chair Dr Lisa Hanna
Biostatistician Dr Liliana Orellana
Layman Mr Bernard Nicholls
Layman Mr Daniel Clair
Laywoman Ms Judith Vardy
Pastoral Carer Rev Dr Tim Smith
Researcher Dr Phillip Swain
Researcher  Prof Gerard Gill
Researcher Prof Trisha Dunning
Researcher Prof Brian Martin
Researcher Prof Caryl Nowson
ResearcherDr Patsie Frawley
ResearcherDr Coral Campbell
LawyerMs Eloise Dias

Melbourne Panel 2017

Chair Dr Mary Lou Chatterton
Deputy Chair Dr Lisa Hanna
Biostatistician Dr Mohammadreza Mohebbi
Lawyer Mr Paul Natoli
Lawyer Ms Arwen Johns
Layman Dr Tony Dawson
Laywoman Dr Pam Montgomery
Laywoman Dr Jenny Wajsenberg
Pastoral Carer Rev Chris Appleby 
Professional Carer Dr Louis Cukierman
Researcher A/Prof Mark Stokes
Researcher A/Prof Peter Enticott
Researcher A/Prof Andrea Vocino
Researcher Prof Brian Martin
Researcher Dr Claudia Strugnell
ResearcherDr Victoria Stead
ResearcherA/Prof Grazyna Zajdow
ResearcherA/Prof Ambika Zutshi
Professional CarerDr Helen Smith
ResearcherDr Severine Lamon

The DUHREC Terms of Reference are reviewed once a year.

Human Ethics Advisory Groups (HEAGs)

The National Statement recognises that research may carry different levels of risk and defines 'low risk research' as research in which the only foreseeable risk is one of discomfort.

At Deakin, low risk research is reviewed by HEAGs composed of specially trained academic staff members from within each of our four faculties (Arts and Education; Business and Law; Health; and Science, Engineering and Built Environment).

What are the rights of research participants?

The values of the National Statement on Ethical Conduct for in Human Researchrespect for human beings, research merit and integrity, justice and beneficence – helps to shape a relationship of trust, mutual responsibility and ethical equality.

Research merit and integrity

Unless proposed research has merit and the researchers who are to carry out the research have integrity, the involvement of human participants in the research cannot be ethically justifiable2.

As a participant in research at Deakin, you can be assured that the project you have volunteered for has been assessed by an ethics review body to ensure that:

  • the benefit of the research justifies any associated burdens or risks
  • it is designed in such a way that it will meet its aims
  • it is based on all the available evidence from previous research studies
  • participants will be shown respect throughout their involvement in the research
  • it is conducted or supervised by people who have appropriate qualifications, skills and experience
  • the appropriate facilities and resources are available to conduct the project
  • it is carried out according to recognised principles of research conduct
  • it will be honestly conducted and reported.

The expectations described above are based upon the requirements outlined in section 1 of the National Statement on Ethical Conduct in Human Research 2007.

National Statement on Ethical Conduct in Human Research 2007 p. 12-13.

Justice

At a profound level, justice involves a regard for the human sameness that each person shares with every other. Human beings have a deep need to be treated in accordance with such justice, which includes distributive justice and procedural justice3.

As a participant in research at Deakin, you can be assured that the project you have volunteered for has been assessed by an ethics review body to ensure that:

  • the choice by researchers to include or exclude particular groups of participants is fair given the nature of the research
  • the process by which you were recruited was fair
  • you will not be unfairly burdened by your participation
  • the benefits of participating in the research are fairly distributed
  • you will not be exploited as a participant in the research
  • the benefits of the research will be made accessible fairly
  • the outcomes of the research will be made accessible to you in a timely and clear way.

The expectations described above are based upon the requirements outlined in section 1 of the National Statement on Ethical Conduct in Human Research 2007.

National Statement on Ethical Conduct in Human Research 2007 p. 12-13.

Beneficence

Researchers exercise beneficence in several ways: in assessing and taking account of the risks of harm and the potential benefits of research to participants and to the wider community; in being sensitive to the welfare and interests of people involved in their research; and in reflecting on the social and cultural implications of their work4.

As a participant in research at Deakin, you can be assured the project you have volunteered for has been assessed by an ethics review body to ensure that:

  • the likely benefit of the research justifies any risk of harm or discomfort to you
  • the project has been designed to minimise the any risk of harm or discomfort to you
  • you are fully informed of what the potential benefits and risks are
  • the researchers are responsible for your welfare as a participant in their project
  • if you won't personally receive a benefit from participating in the research, the risks to you are lower than might otherwise be ethically acceptable
  • if the risks to you became unjustifiable in light of the benefits, the research would be suspended while a decision regarding whether it should be discontinued or modified was made. This decision could involve consultation between researchers, participants and the ethics review body.

National Statement on Ethical Conduct in Human Research 2007 p. 12-13.

Respect

Respect involves recognising that each human being has value in himself or herself and that this value must inform all interaction between people. Such respect includes recognising the value of human autonomy – the capacity to determine one's own life and make one's own decisions. 

But respect goes further than this. It also involves providing for the protection of those with diminished or no autonomy, as well as empowering them where possible and protecting and helping people whenever it would be wrong not to do so5.

That means that as a participant in research at Deakin, you can be assured the project you have volunteered for has been assessed by an ethics review body to ensure that:

  • it has due regard for your welfare, beliefs, perceptions, customs and cultural heritage, and that of anyone you identify with as a participant
  • the researchers will respect your privacy, confidentiality, any cultural sensitivities, and if relevant, those of your community
  • any specific agreements made with you, or your community will be fulfilled
  • you will be given the opportunity to make your own decisions about your ongoing participation in the research
  • where you are not able to make your own decision about participating in the research, or have diminished capacity to do so, the researchers will show respect for you by empowering you to do so where possible, and providing for your protection as necessary.

The expectations described above are based upon the requirements outlined in section 1 of the National Statement on Ethical Conduct in Human Research 2007.

National Statement on Ethical Conduct in Human Research 2007 p. 12-13.

Research participants providing feedback

The National Statement on Ethical Conduct in Human Research encourages institutions to regularly assess their ethical review processes. It states that where, possible the assessment should be informed by the documented experience of research participants.

General Feedback

As a research participant at Deakin, you can expect to be involved in a high-quality, ethically sound project. As part of our efforts to ensure this is the case, we would welcome your feedback regarding how well you feel we met the expectations described in the participant rights above and any other expectations you may have had prior to your participation.

Please ensure that you indicate whether you would like us to follow up with you regarding your feedback.

You can provide this feedback by email, phone or mail:

Human Research Ethics Office
General enquiries
+61 3 9251 7123
Email the Human Research Ethics Office

Human Research Ethics Office
Deakin Research Integrity
Deakin University 
221 Burwood Hwy
Burwood VIC 3125

Complaints handling process

If you have been a participant in research at Deakin University or are another interested party, and you feel that your experience didn't meet the expectations described in participant rights and/or any other expectations you may have had prior to your involvement, please notify us via the contact details below.

When doing so, please provide as many details as possible, including things such as:

  • the reference number and title of the project
  • the names of any researchers involved in the project
  • the nature of your dissatisfaction with the project.

Please note: the reference number, title and names of the researchers involved in the project should have been provided to you on the Plain Language Statement you received prior to providing your consent to take part in the study.

When providing your feedback, please ensure that you indicate whether you:

  • are happy for us to pass this feedback onto the researcher(s) involved and if so, whether you are happy to be identified
  • would like us to follow up with you regarding your feedback, and if not,
  • the specific action you are requesting that we take in response to your feedback, if any.

Researchers who receive a complaint about their project will report that complaint to the ethics office in writing as soon as possible.

Where the complaint is received by ethics office staff, the person responsible for handling complaints will be informed as soon as possible upon its receipt.

A response will be made to the complainant as soon as possible if the complaint is made by email or via the research team.

If possible the complaint should be resolved in the initial contact with the complainant.

If it is not possible to resolve the matter immediately, the complainant’s permission will be sought to contact the researcher(s) concerned and inform them of the complaint.

The person handling the complaint will work together with the researcher(s) and the complainant to resolve the matter Where a resolution is not able to be reached, the matter will be taken to the Pro Vice Chancellor Researcher Development and Integrity, the Deakin University Human Research Ethics Committee (DUHREC) Chair and/or to the researcher(s) Head of School or Strategic Research Centre who will take further steps to seek an acceptable resolution for all concerned.

A report will be made to DUHREC regarding the complaint and its resolution.

A comprehensive record will be kept of the complaint, its handling, resolution and report to DUHREC.

Human Research Ethics Office
Complaints management 
+61 3 9251 7129
Email the Human Research Ethics Office

The Manager, Ethics and Biosafety 
Deakin Research Integrity 
Deakin University 
221 Burwood Hwy
Burwood VIC 3125

Guidelines

There are a number of other guidelines and legislation which may apply to certain types of human research, with the most common being the Commonwealth and State-based privacy legislation.

Other guidelines and legislation apply to human research that involves things such as ionising radiation, assisted reproductive technology, human embryos, or the inclusion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander participants.

Contact us

Human Research Ethics Office 
+61 3 9251 7123
Email the Human Research Ethics Office
Send an online enquiry

Deakin Research Integrity
Deakin University 
221 Burwood Hwy
Burwood, VIC 3125

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