COVID-19 Updates (Human Ethics)

Updated April 2022

The ANU Human Research Ethics Committee (and delegated committees) are working hard with the Research Ethics Team to keep to our usual application review cycles, based on the usual submission deadlines.

Please keep in mind that:

  • Due to the ever-changing nature of the current situation and the increased risk environment for research participants, the review of applications is taking longer and there may be delays in the review of your application. Every effort will be made to communicate delays directly with applicants.
  • We strongly urge researchers to put participant well-being at the forefront and defer face-to-face data collection until the Omicron surge has peaked and cases are declining.

Please continue to follow all hygiene and social distancing guidelines, and always keep the changing situation and your participants' wellbeing in mind as you plan your research.

 

Fieldwork

The HREC strongly urge researchers to put participant well-being at the forefront and defer face-to-face data collection until the Omicron surge has peaked and cases are declining.

The re-commencement of fieldwork will be approved, provided that all required ANU protocols are met.

A draft COVID 19 fieldwork plan should be prepared and submitted with your protocol application. We are presently asking this of all fieldwork so the human ethics committees can review from a perspective of whether the risks to the participants have been addressed and can suggest changes where necessary.  Once your ethics application is approved, the fieldwork plan can be submitted to your head of school for signoff ahead of submitting your travel approval form.

Information about travelling overseas and within Australia is available on the COVID Pathway to 2022 page.

Re-introduction of Face-to-face Research

As part of restarting face-to-face research, it is a requirement that all relevant COVID-19 related social distancing and hygiene practices are implemented.

With research activity increasing on campus, regulatory requirements must still be met in regards to ethics protocols, and any changes in government restrictions will immediately override any protocols in place around resumed research. Any new work proposed would need to provide a strong argument as to why face-to-face methods are integral to the research as opposed to other approaches, which would minimise in-person interactions.

All researchers looking to resume face-to-face research must develop contingency plans should restrictions tighten again. Careful consideration and planning is required to avoid placing participants at risk for little or no benefit - if the situation changes and data collection methods have to be modified partway through a project, this could potentially render early collection with differing methods unusable. Contingency plans should also allow for immunocompromised individuals to participate, and/or those potential participants who would be uncomfortable with face-to-face methods but would like to be involved

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