Before you begin your first ethics application:
1. Watch the Human Ethics & ARIES Training Video
Online Human Ethics & ARIES training is compulsory for first-time applicants and also available for those needing a refresher. The training covers everything you need to get started on your application, including guidance on addressing key ethical concerns in your application, the category (risk level) of your application, and how to use the University’s online applications system: ARIES (ANU Research Information Enterprise System).
New academic staff are automatically registered for an ARIES account. Sign in using your uni-ID and HORUS password. If you are a new student or a professional staff member, you may need to sign up for an ARIES account using the ARIES New Investigator Form.
The Human Ethics ARIES Manual has quick outlines of the steps to create, edit and submit a protocol in ARIES. Please note that the manual only has basic instructions on a few common areas and is not a substitute for the training video.
2. Read the National Statement
If you think your proposed research will need ethics clearance, you should start the process by reading the National Statement on Ethical Conduct in Human Research (2018). Section 3 of the National Statement provides valuable guidance on the ethical considerations in the design, development, review and conduct of research.
It's too long? See our Key Ethical Concerns page for a summary of the key ethical concerns in the National Statement.
3. Check Policies and Guidelines Relevant to your Research
Sometimes certain areas of research or research involving particular groups of people have specific policies and guidelines that you need to follow. For example, if you are conducting research with children, you may need a working with vulnerable people card. Conducting research on ANU staff and students requires registration with ANU Planning and Performance Measurement Division (PPM). You can check whether there are additional requirements for your research on our Specific Research Areas page. If you don't see anything related to your research on this page, make sure you check with your supervisor or colleagues who are familiar with your research area just to be sure.
4. The ANU Ethics Application Process
All ANU ethics applications are submitted through ARIES. An overview of the application process is available in the ANU Human Ethics Submission Process flowchart.
ANU has a three-level classification of ethical risk to simplify the preparation and ethical review of applications. The application process and timeline differ slightly depending on the risk level classification. If you begin an "Expedited Ethical Review" application in ARIES, your project is automatically classified into one of the three risk classifications by your answers to the questions in the application. For more information on the risk levels, see FAQ: What is the risk level of my research? For all submission deadlines, see Human Ethics Committees & Dates.
What else do I need to know?
Allow enough time for the ethics application and review process
Obtaining ethics clearance may be a time-consuming process, so build allowance for this into your research plans. High-risk applications are assessed monthly, and depending on the amendments requested by the Committee, may take longer than 8 weeks for approval. Lower risk applications are assessed more frequently and have a shorter turnaround time. (See FAQ: How long does it take to get approval?)
Research students can submit an ethics application only after their supervisor has reviewed and approved the submission. Given the short timeframe of many student research projects, it is especially important to allow time for the review process when planning.
PhD students should submit their ethics applications after they have completed their proposal seminar and been given permission to commence fieldwork.
For more information about student applications, see the page Student and supervisor responsibilities in research ethics.
Submitting and Finalising the Application
Before you submit your application in ARIES, make sure you download a copy of your application. In the Header tab in your application, click "Print Form", and then select the review level of your protocol to download your application in rich text format.
Once your application is complete and you have submitted online in ARIES, you must send a signed PDF of your application (the PDF must also include all relevant documents) to the Research Ethics team (email@example.com). The Ethics Office accepts electronic signatures, either via DocuSign or Adobe Acrobat e-signature, on ethics applications.
It is only after this signed copy is received that the application is finalised, and will be assigned to the next Committee meeting.
After the Application is Reviewed
After your protocol is reviewed at the appropriate Ethics Committee meeting, you will receive a response from the Committee requesting clarification on certain details about your project or changes to ensure that the project is fully compliant with the National Statement. Your response to the feedback from the Committee is then reviewed out-of-session by the Chair of the Committee. There may be some back and forth until both parties are satisfied with the final protocol and documentation.
I need help with my Ethics application
If you require assistance with your Ethics application: