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 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:
- The University of Melbourne's Research Integrity and Misconduct Policy
- The Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research, 2018; and
- The National Statement on Ethical Conduct in Human Research (2007) - Updated 2018
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.
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.
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.
All ethics applications for projects within the Faculty of Fine Arts and Music are reviewed by central, interdisciplinary committees comprising of active researchers across multiple faculties.
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 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 for review. 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.
You will complete a series of questions in Infonetica that will determine the level of potential risk associated with your project. Low to Negligible Risk applications are assessed by a central Low to Negligible Risk committee (formally HEAG committee). Greater than Low Risk applications are assessed by a central Greater than Low Risk committee (formally HESC).
Be prepared for feedback from the review committee. The appropriate committee 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 committee can understand the project activities and what you are asking the participants to do and what benefit your research provides.
How long does it all take?
It depends on how long it takes you to develop your application and respond to the committee's recommendations. Committees meet weekly, but reviews and revisions can take weeks or months to be finalised. 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.
- Advice on Research Data Management
- Research, Integrity and Ethics Webpages
- Other Resources and Training
Ethics support for staff and supervisors can be found on the Staff Hub.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or phone +61 3 9035 9175