Raising Concerns about Human Ethics


Researchers must immediately report any complaints from participants or unexpected events that may affect the continued ethical acceptability of the project to the Ethics Manager: human.ethics.officer@anu.edu.au, +61 2 6125 3427.



The Australian National University takes every complaint seriously. Once a complaint has been submitted, the Research Ethics Office or the Chair of the Committee will investigate the allegations. Investigations may take up to 6 weeks.

Complaints about ANU research

If you are a participant and have a complaint or concern about the research that you participated in, you can find contact details of the research team on the Participant Information Sheet. If you would prefer to discuss your complaint with someone that is not on the research team, contact the Ethics Manager: human.ethics.officer@anu.edu.au, +61 2 6125 3427.

The Ethics Office will advise the Chair of the relevant Ethics Committee, and (if applicable) the primary investigator, of the complaint. The Chair will consider the complaint and will take what action they deem appropriate as soon as possible. Actions may include:

  • verifying that the researcher has conducted themselves according to the approved protocol
  • requesting the researcher take steps to rectify the issue by, for example, deleting participant data or issuing an apology
  • nominating the Chief, Office of Research and Innovation Services to meet with the participant and/or the researcher
  • temporarily suspending ethics approval

All actions will be conducted in a confidential manner.

Complaints about the ethical review process

According to the National Statement Chapter 5.6, researchers may issue complaints about the process of ethical review, but cannot appeal a final decision to reject an ethics application.

Requests for the researcher to resubmit the application with amendments are common when inadequate information is provided in the original application. Applications are rejected rarely and only after careful consideration of the application. If an application is being considered for rejection, the researcher will be given an opportunity to address the Committee’s concerns in person at an interview or Committee meeting. The decision by the Committee to reject an application is final and may not be appealed.

Complaints about the process of ethical review must be made in writing to the Chief of  Research and Innovation Services Chief.RI@anu.edu.au, who will inform the Chair of the Committee of the complaint, and investigate to resolve the matter.

Complaint about the conduct of an ANU researcher

ANU researchers must conduct research in line with the Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research, ANU Code of Research Conduct policy and the ANU Code of Conduct policy. If you believe that research misconduct has taken place, this complaint will be handled through Research Integrity. Please see the Responsible Research Practice webpage for more information.

Complaints or concerns about serious misconduct involving other people (e.g., harassment or bullying) should be resolved according to the relevant ANU Policies and Procedures (e.g., ANU Staff Grievance Resolution Procedure through ANU HR).


Has this research project got ethics approval?

Academic research involving data collection from human participants may require Ethics approval. If you are a participant, you should receive a Participant Information Sheet when taking part in a research study. On the Information Sheet, you can find the Ethics Committee Clearance number (Protocol YYYY/NNN). If you suspect academic research has been conducted without appropriate Ethics approval, please contact the Human Ethics Manager: human.ethics.officer@anu.edu.au, +61 2 6125 3427.

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