Researchers Seeking to Conduct Human Research in High-Risk Destinations

Researchers who are seeking ethics approval to conduct research in high-risk destinations (i.e. those declared by DFAT as "Do not travel" destinations within travel advisories at need to include details in their ethics protocols about risks to participants and themselves that may arise because of the high-risk environment within the countries that they wish to visit.

Formal travel approval from the Vice-Chancellor is a requirement for ANU staff wishing to conduct research in such countries, and this approval would normally require a formal risk assessment to be carried out for the researcher. Formal travel approval is a separate process from the research ethics approval process, however it would assist the Committee in understanding the risks to researchers if formal risk assessment details could be provided when the ethics application is submitted.

Critically, the Committee is concerned about any risk to participants in these destinations that might arise through their participation in the research, and detailing the risks to the researcher alone will be insufficient for the Committee to be able to approve the protocol. The Committee is interested in assessing both the level of risk and any risk management strategies that the researcher can put in place. Note that protocols that claim that there is no risk or negligible risk in such environments are likely to be carefully scrutinised and it is better for protocols to provide an honest assessment of the risk and for the researchers to develop strategies to deal with that risk, recognising that removing the risk entirely will almost certainly not be possible.

Researchers are encouraged to apply for the relevant travel approval as well as ethics approval well before they need to travel.

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