WHICH PROJECTS NEED ETHICAL APPROVAL?
All staff and Masters’ student research projects involving the collection of non-public information from human participants require an application to the SIT Human Research Ethics Committee (HREC). All staff and student research projects involving the collection of data from animals require an application to the SIT Animal Ethics Screening Committee (AESC), which assesses whether the project requires approval from the University of Otago Animal Ethics Committee. Research that does not involve human or animal subjects (e.g. analysis of stock market results; design of a new mechanical device) does not require ethics approval. If in doubt, contact the Research Office.
Some research falls outside the jurisdiction of the HREC to approve. If your research involves consumers of health or disability support services, clinal trials, human tissue, or health information, it may require approval from an external Health and Disability Ethics Committee (HDEC) unless an exemption applies. Information about health and disability research ethics approvals can be found at Health and Disability Ethics Committees (HDEC) Reviews and approvals. If in doubt, contact the Research Office.
I AM COLLECTING DATA FROM A WEBSITE THAT IS PUBLICLY ACCESSIBLE. DO I NEED ETHICAL APPROVAL?
If the data could be accessed by members of the public, you will normally not need to apply for ethical approval. However, approval is required if individuals are likely to be identified when the data are reported, or if the researcher is directly involved in data collection (e.g. by setting up a public online forum). Websites that require membership fees, or which have restricted registration, are not considered public. If you are in doubt, contact the Research Office. In cases where ethical approval is not required, please note that any use of public data is still subject to any licenses/agreements under which those data are provided.
I AM USING DATA PREVIOUSLY COLLECTED BY AN ORGANISATION THAT I WORK FOR. DO I NEED ETHICAL APPROVAL?
Yes, you need to apply for ethical approval unless these data are publicly available.
I AM A STUDENT ON A BACHELOR DEGREE AT SIT, DO I NEED TO APPLY FOR ETHICAL APPROVAL FOR MY THIRD YEAR RESEARCH PROJECT?
Check with your project supervisor. Most research projects undertaken within a Bachelor degree programme are covered by a blanket ethics approval for that programme, however your project may require individual approval if it involves working with children or vulnerable adults, or is otherwise not covered by the blanket approval. Blanket ethics approvals do not cover projects involving animals.
WHAT IS THE APPLICATON PROCESS?
Applications involving humans should be sent to the secretary of the HREC. The Research Manager will check that submissions contain the required documents and are filled out correctly. If there are problems, the application will be returned to the submitting staff member for changes. Once an application has been checked by the Research Manager it will be added to the agenda for the next HREC meeting.
Applications for projects involving animals should be sent to the Research Office. The Research Coordinator will request further information from the submitting staff member if necessary, and will then convene a meeting of the AESC to consider the application.
WHAT NEEDS TO BE INCLUDED IN MY APPLICATION?
For projects involving humans, please include the following documents:
- A completed ethics application here.
- Interview questions, if you are doing interviews.
- Focus group questions, if you are doing focus groups.
- A copy of your questionnaire, if you are using one. This needs to have a short informative summary at the start that covers your ethical obligations. There is an example of this here..
- An information sheet, if you are doing interviews or focus groups. There is an example of this here for a staff or Masters project, and here for a student project that is covered by blanket ethics approval (eg Bachelors or PGBD).
- A consent form if you are doing interviews or focus groups. There is an example of this here.
- A consent form for parental consent if your participants are minors. There is an example of this here.
For projects involving animals, submit a brief (<150 word) summary of the proposed work.
WHAT IS THE TIMEFRAME?
Applications to the HREC must be with the secretary by the closing date listed above. Applications to the AESC may be submitted at any time. Applicants will be notified as soon as possible about the outcome.
WHO COMPLETES AND SUBMITS AN APPLICATION?
Ethics applications must be submitted by SIT staff. For undergraduate student projects not covered by the blanket approval, applications are made by the supervisor of the student project (NOT the student). Masters student applications must also be made by the supervisor/s. Applications should be completed by the student and their supervisor/s together, however the supervisor must submit the application to the secretary.
IS THERE SOMETHING I CAN READ TO HELP ME WITH MY ETHICS APPLICATION?
Yes here are useful tips and examples to assist you with your application.
I AM USING SOMEONE ELSE TO TRANSCRIBE MY INTERVIEWS. IS THERE A FORM I CAN GET THEM TO SIGN FOR CONFIDENTIALITY?
You can find a form to use for this here.
WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?
Applications considered by the HREC may be approved without any changes, or the committee may require changes be made and a revised application submitted to the chair for approval. If major changes are required, the revised application may need to be resubmitted for reassessment by the full HREC at its next meeting.
Applications considered by the AESC may be approved, or the committee may decide that approval from the University of Otago Animal Ethics Committee is required. In the latter case, the Research Coordinator will contact you to explain the process.
Once your application is approved you will receive a letter to that effect. You MUST NOT begin data collection before receiving formal approval.