Before You Begin

When to Start Thinking About Ethics Clearance

Obtaining ethics clearance is a time consuming process and allowance for this needs to be built into research plans. If your proposal has to go to the full ethics committee and the committee asks for some amendments, it can take longer than eight weeks, however, low-risk applications have a short turn-around time. If you think your proposed research will need ethics clearance, you should start the process by reading The National Statement on Ethical Conduct in Research (2007) and consider the implications for your research. The National Statement consists of a series of guidelines made in accordance with the National Health and Medical Research Council Act 1992 and is subject to rolling review. It was last updated in 2018. Section 3 of the National Statement provides a guideline on the elements of a research project and will provide researchers with valuable guidance in design, development, review and coduct of research. PhD students should submit their ethics applications after they have completed their proposal seminar and been given permission to commence fieldwork. The Australian National University has an on-line application form in The Australian National University Research Enterprise System (ARIES). Before applying researchers should:

Risk levels

A three-level classification of ethical risk is used to simplify the preparation and ethical review of protocols, and to streamline the ethical review of low-risk protocols. To assist in the system, and also to improve the efficiency of administration.

  • Low-Risk Expedited 1 Protocols (E1) Engage participants only in activities that they would encounter in normal everyday life
  • Low-Risk Expedited 2 Protocols (E2) Engage participants who are fully competent and not vulnerable in research settings that are relatively benign - not what the participants would encounter in everyday life
  • High-Risk Protocols (FULL Review) Engage participants who are in some way vulnerable, or research settings that are particularly unusual or uncomfortable.

Please Note: The HREC will not review any undergraduate/honours high-risk (FULL Review) research protocols.

The on-line application form is self-classifying in respect of the level of ethical risk, using desiderata derived from the National Statement. The form itself determines the amount of information required to assess and review the ethical risk of a project. 

Once your application is complete and you have submitted online in ARIES, an email will be sent informing you to obtain the relevant signatures and how to submit a signed application to the Research Integrity team, either by PDF or hard copy, at the researcher's discretion. Your application will then be assigned to a meeting.You can print an application from ARIES from the Header tab in your application. The print button is located next to the Submit button.

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