Research ethics and integrity

Advice on getting approval for doing research with people or animals. Advice on research integrity, conflicts and breaches and RIOT (Research Integrity Online Training).

Research Integrity

Research integrity means that research is trustworthy due to using sound methods and being honestly and accurately described.

At the University of Melbourne, we describe research integrity according to three broad responsibilities, and 18 procedural principles...continued

The cornerstone of research integrity at the University of Melbourne is the Research Integrity and Misconduct Policy. This policy prescribes standards of responsible and ethical conduct expected of all persons (academic staff, students, technical and other support staff) engaged in research at the University.

Research Integrity Advisors

If you have a concern about the conduct of research at the University (or elsewhere), then you should speak to a Research Integrity Advisor.

You can meet with any of the RIAs. You are not restricted to those that are from your Faculty. In some cases, meeting with someone outside your Faculty is probably a good idea.


Research and Integrity Online Training

RIOT is an online community available through the Learning Management System (LMS).

If you are a graduate researcher (PhD or master by research), you will be automatically enrolled in RIOT. When you log into the LMS, it should appear in the list of communities on the right hand side of the screen.

If you are not a graduate researcher or haven't been automatically enrolled, simply log into the LMS then click here and press 'submit'.

All graduate researchers (PhDs and master by research, excluding honours and masters by coursework) enrolling from semester 2 2016 must complete the online component of RIOT prior to confirmation.

Human Ethics

The Fine Arts and Music Human Etihics Advisory Group (HEAG) is responsible for reviewing all ethics applications for research projects for the Faculty of Fine Arts and Music. The committee is made up of active researchers from across the Faculty and it can approve “MINIMAL RISK” applications, while “HIGHER RISK” applications must also be reviewed, and then approved, by the central ethics committee (HESC).

Do I need ethics approval? Research projects, and parts of research projects, by University staff and students that involve gathering information about humans and/or organisations may require ethics approval.

Projects that involve any of the following are likely to require ethics approval:

  • Interviews
  • Surveys and questionnaires
  • Assessing a person’s skills/health
  • Trialling the benefits of a certain approach, activity, and/or experience
  • Access to an individual’s personal documents or information.

Projects in which only publicly available information is used, or that are purely observational and non-interactive, are unlikely to require ethics approval.

The Faculty of Fine Arts and Music is very diverse in its research activities, not all of which require ethics approval. As a rule of thumb, ask the following questions: where is the *information* used in your research project coming from? Is it coming from within yourself? Or from outside yourself? Information coming from outside yourself that includes other people’s input, requires ethics approval. If it’s coming from within yourself the generally doesn’t.

For example: a student researcher is performing with a group, recording the performance and analysing it. If the information comes from the student researcher’s analysis of the recording and/or their reflection on the experience, this would not require ethics approval. However, if the student researcher intends to include the other performers’ reflections on the performance, or information taken from interviews with the other performers, etc., this would require ethics approval.

Please contact your supervisor or the HEAG administrator if you are unsure whether you need ethics approval.

How do I submit my application? You should work closely with your project supervisor/s when putting together the application as they will be named as the “Responsible Researcher”. The National Statement on Ethical Conduct in Human Research will also guide you on what information to provide the HEAG.

You are expected to have completed the Research, Ethics, and Integrity Training Module (RIOT) prior to application.

Your application is submitted to the HEAG electronically via the Themis System.

You must answer the questions in Themis and also attach all documents including:

  • Application Form – signed by the “Responsible Researcher” (ie Supervisor)
  • Plain Language Statement/s (use the template provided above)
  • Consent form/s (use the template provided above)
  • Other support materials (eg interview questions, advertisements, letters etc...).

When you complete and submit the application in Themis the HEAG administrator will receive an email prompt and start the HEAG review process. NO HARD COPIES ARE REQUIRED.

Be prepared for feedback from the HEAG. The HEAG will review your application thoroughly and provide detailed feedback on your application. Almost every applicant will need to make some revisions and respond to the feedback. The word limits on the form, where provided, are indicative of how much information is required to answer the questions. It is important to provide enough information so the HEAG can understand the project activities and what you are asking the participants to do and to what benefit.

How long does it all take? It depends on how long it takes you to develop your application and respond to the HEAG’s recommendations.  The HEAG reviews applications once a month (see list of deadlines above). For "Minimal Risk" applications, the full process takes at least six weeks, including writing the application, committee review, making amendments, and receiving final approval. “Higher Risk” projects require review and assessment by the HESC, in addition to the HEAG review, and it can take two to three months to be processed. Be sure to factor this into your research plan as no research data can be collected from participants until ethics approval is granted.

Where can I go for advice? As a student, you should speak with your supervisors in the first instance. They are named as the “Responsible Researcher” and it is their responsibility to provide support to you in making your application.

Themis access and step by step guide

Advice on Research Data Management

More Frequently Asked Questions

Research, Integrity and Ethics Webpages

National Statement on Ethical Conduct in Human Research

Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research

Research and Misconduct Policy

Other Resources and Training

Ethics support for staff and supervisors can be found on the Staff Hub.

For any other queries relating to your ethics application, contact:

Olivia Boddeus, HEAG Administrator

Faculty of Fine Arts and Music

(03) 9035 9281

Animal Ethics

Animal ethics approval is required for all research or teaching conducted with animals. For more information see

For any queries contact the Faculty Research Office via or 9035 9175