The University of Queensland has two Human Research Ethics Committees (HRECs). UQ’s HRECs are HREC A and HREC B, these committees are not discipline specific. Ethics applications will be allocated to UQ’s HRECs based solely on the date of submission. Both committees are duly constituted in accordance with the National Statement on Ethical Conduct in Human Research (2007) (National Statement).

Ambit of School Level Ethical Review Committee

Schools are encouraged to establish their own ethical review mechanism (if they have not already done so) to review research protocols from their students up to the level of, and including, PhD.  The general principle is that school level ethical review committees should consider research projects up to the level of, and including, PhD, in the following circumstances:

  • Where the project involves no more than low risk (research is "low risk" where the only foreseeable risk is one of discomfort), and
  • The school committee considers that it does not require institutional review (by either of UQ’s HRECs)

Projects involving commonly accepted professional or clinical practices and procedures may be assessed by a school ethics committee to be low risk.  The function of school committees is not the review of protocols involving more than low risk. School committees are not constituted under, or registered with, AHEC, nor should be so constituted or registered.  Protocols involving a higher risk will properly fall within the jurisdiction of one of UQ’s HRECs.
If the school committee considers the risk to be above the prescribed level, or considers it prudent in the circumstances, for an institutional ethics committee to review the protocol (e.g., because the research is of a particularly sensitive nature or the study population is a particularly vulnerable group), then the application may be referred to UQ’s HRECs. Alternatively, the school committee may require the protocol to be amended in order to reduce the risk to within the threshold level.
Irrespective of the level of risk involved, research of a kind falling under the following chapters of the National Statement must be reviewed by one of UQ’s HRECs:

  • Deception and concealment (Chapter 2.3.4)
  • Interventions and therapies, including clinical and non-clinical trials, and innovations (Chapter 3.3)
  • Human embryos and embryonic stem cell lines (Chapter 3.4)
  • Human genetics (Chapter 3.5)
  • Women who are pregnant and human foetus (Chapter 4.1)
  • People highly dependent on medical care who may be unable to give consent (Chapter 4.4)
  • People with a cognitive impairment, an intellectual disability, or a mental illness (Chapter 4.5)
  • People who may be involved in illegal activities (Chapter 4.6)
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples (Chapter 4.7)

School Level Application Form

A standard application form for review by schools is available as a document download from the UQ Human Ethics website. Schools may wish to adopt this form for use in protocol submissions to their committees, as an alternative to developing their own individualized form.  School committees should maintain records of protocols reviewed.  It is expected that the research student's supervisor would carefully work with the student in completing the application form.

Additional Notes:

  • Where Schools do not currently have an operating ethics committee, they are encouraged to establish one, and may refer applications to UQ’s HRECs.
  • Authority to approve research ethics submission is granted through UQ’s HRECs.
  • Principles of the National Statement and the UQ guidelines must be adhered to.
  • The Chairperson of the School level ethics committee can refer protocols to UQ’s HRECs for clarification or advice at any time, as well as deem that the risk on a submitted protocol is too great for their Committee to approve, and submit to the Ethics Officer for consideration by one of the Committees.
  • Proposals by research academics (i.e. non-student) must be submitted to UQ’s HREC.

Student submissions

  • Students up to and including PhD level, provided the risk criteria are satisfied, should submit a completed application form to their respective School ethics committee for process, after consultation with these guidelines, their peers and supervisors.
  • It is the student's responsibility to become acquainted with the review process and any specific requirements of submission to the School ethics committee. (e.g. closing dates, number of copies, etc.)
  • The School ethics committee may elect to have their own application form and it is the responsibility of the students to acquire the correct form for submission.
  • Students should be aware that the School ethics committee Chairperson may elect to submit their proposal for consideration to UQ’s HRECs for advice.
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