Research ethics and integrity

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

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, all research is governed by:

For further reading have a look at the principles of research integrity

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 (RIA)

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 2019 must complete the online component of RIOT prior to confirmation.

Human ethics

The Fine Arts and Music Human Ethics 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 (in person or online)
  • Observation of human behaviour
  • Assessing a person’s skills/health
  • Using archival data in which individuals are identifiable
  • 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 then it 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 actual recording, 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?

It is important that all students discuss and review their ethics application carefully with their supervisor/s PRIOR to submitting it to the HEAG. Your supervisor MUST be named as the 'Responsible Researcher' on your application.

You must complete the Research, Ethics, and Integrity Training Module (RIOT) before applying.

Your application is submitted to the HEAG electronically via the Themis System . If you do not have a student account, you will need to set up your account using the University's Account Management. Please allow 24 hours for the account to be activated. Once activated, you can log in and start submitting your ethics application.

You must answer the questions in Themis and upload all attachments including:

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 of documents 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.

2020 Ethics Submission dates

Please note: All applications, both Minimal Risk and Standard Project, must initially be submitted to HEAG.

HEAG RoundFFAM HEAG Application DeadlineEFAMB HESC Submission Deadline
01/2020Monday, 3 February 2020Wednesday, 5 February 2020
02/2020 Monday, 9 March 2020Wednesday, 4 March 2020
03/2020 Monday, 6 April 2020Wednesday, 8 April 2020
04/2020 Monday, 4 May 2020Wednesday, 6 May 2020
05/2020 Monday, 1 June 2020Wednesday, 3 June 2020
06/2020Monday, 6 July 2020Wednesday, 1 July 2020
07/2020Monday, 3 August 2020Wednesday, 5 August 2020
08/2020Monday, 7 September 2020Wednesday, 2 September 2020
09/2020Monday, 5 October 2020Wednesday, 30 September 2020
10/2020Monday, 2 November 2020Wednesday, 4 November 2020
11/2020Monday, 30 November 2020Friday, 27 November 2020

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 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.

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

For any other queries relating to your ethics application, contact:
Tessa Grimmond, HEAG Administrator
Faculty of Fine Arts and Music
+61 3 9035 0995

Animal ethics

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

For any queries contact the Faculty Research Office by emailing or phone +61 3 9035 9175