According to the National Statement on Ethical Conduct in Human Research, research conducted with or about people, or their data or tissue is considered Human research and requires obtaining ethical clearance prior to commencing research. Human participation includes the involvement of human beings in the following activities:

  • surveys, interviews or focus groups;
  • psychological, physiological or medical testing or treatments;
  • observation by researchers;
  • having their personal documents or other materials accessed;
  • collection and use of their body organs, tissues or fluids (e.g. skin, blood, urine, saliva, hair, bones, tumor and other biopsy specimens) or their exhaled breath, and;
  • their information (in individually identifiable, re-identifiable or non-identifiable form) as part of an existing published or unpublished source or database being accessed.

Lodging an Ethics application

The University of Queensland’s Human Research Ethics Committees (HRECs) accept applications using the NHMRC’s Human Research Ethics Application (HREA)Please check the how-to guides if you need help filling in the application

Please contact the University's Human Ethics Office if you have any questions.

Submitting your application to UQ’s HRECs

Once you have completed your application, navigate to the HREC page.

  1. Use the pull down list to select The University of Queensland HRECs.
  2. Select 'The University of Queensland HRECs'.
  3. The contact information for the HREC will be displayed.
  4. Select the review pathway you intend your application to be considered under (i.e.  negligible risk, low risk or greater than low risk).
  5. Navigate to the ‘Generate HREA document’ page.
  6. Verify that the application is complete, the Project Description/Protocol has been attached and that it is ready to be generated.
  7. Select ‘Generate HREA document’.
  8. Follow all the prompts and submit the application.
  9. Upon receipt into UQ’s system, you will receive an automated acknowledgement of receipt email. Please contact the Office of Research Ethics should you not receive the confirmation email.

Projects involving hospitals

 If your projects involves a hospital in any of the following ways;

  • collect data on hospital sites, and/or;
  • access their data/patients/staff, and/or;
  • a hospital staff member is part of the research team

You will need to submit your application to the relevant hospital HREC using the online forms. Once you have secured approval from a hospital HREC, send the approval and all the relevant documents for ratification by UQ. Documents can be submitted via email to the Human Ethics Office.

Ethics review pathways

Low or Negligible Risk

All research involving humans that is not greater than low or negligible risk can be reviewed by one our Faculty-based ethics sub-committees. Please refer to the Low and Negligible Risk page for more information.

Full Committee Review

All research involving humans that is greater than low or negligible risk will be reviewed by one of UQ’s HRECs in a full committee meeting. Regardless of the risk level, full HREC review is required when research involves:

  • request a waiver of consent to access a person's personal information in medical research, or personal health information
  • women who are pregnant and the human fetus
  • people who are highly dependent on medical care who may be unable to give consent
  • people with a cognitive impairment , an intellectual disability or mental illness
  • people who may be involved in illegal activities
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples

Ratifications

UQ researchers who have obtained external ethics approval may submit the external notification of approval and all approved documentation for administrative review. Documents can be submitted via email to the Human Ethics Office.

Exemption from Human Research Ethics

Researchers can apply for exemption from ethics review if the research is

(a) is negligible risk research, and

(b) involves the use of existing collections of data or records that contain only non-identifiable data about human beings.

However, should the request not be approved, researchers will be required to apply to the relevant ethics body at the University (full HREC review or LNR Sub-Committee review). Requests for exemption must be made using the approved form and lodged with the Office of Research Ethics. For further information please refer to the University's Requesting Exemption from Human Research Ethics Review Procedures.

Changes to approved projects

Researchers who wish to make any changes to an already ethically approved project will need to apply for an amendment through the committee that had originally approved their project. For amendments to projects that were approved through a UQ HREC, researchers will need to submit the UQ amendment form (DOCX, 65.9 KB) and the updated version of all relevant document to the Human Ethics Office

Appeals

An "appeal" here means a written submission from a researcher to the Chairperson of the approving Committee (in the first instance) about a dispute. 

Appeals regarding HREC rejection

Where the HREC has rejected an application, the investigator has the discretion to:

  • Submit a new application to the same HREC, taking due account of the HREC’s concerns; or
  • Lodge an appeal with the HREC Chairperson (via the Committee Coordinator) specifying the grounds of the appeal in writing. The HREC Chairperson will respond directly to the appellant regarding the outcome of the review.

Appeals regarding HREC approval

Where the HREC has given a favourable decision on an application, and;

  • An ethical or scientific issue is subsequently identified by any party; or
  • It has become apparent that the decision was based on inconsistent application of policy and guidelines

A written appeal is lodged with the Chairperson (via the Committee Coordinator) in the first instance.

Appeals to Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research)

If the appellant considers the HREC has failed to follow due process after making an appeal in line with the above and remains unsatisfied with the outcome, they have the discretion to lodge an appeal with the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) or request that the Chairperson do so through the Committee Coordinator. The Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) may refer the matter to another UQ HREC, external HREC, or seek other expert advice as appropriate.

Enquiries

Human Research Ethics Committees (HRECs)

The University of Queensland has two multi-disciplinary Human Research Ethics Committees (HRECs). As these HRECs are not discipline-specific, ethics applications will be allocated to the HRECs based solely on the date of submission.

Important documents

 UQ Terms of Reference for HREC A and HREC B 
 UQ Standard Operating Procedures for HREC A and HREC B  (PDF, 634.4 KB)

Submission and meeting dates

Each HREC meets every four weeks on a Thursday with a two week interval between the meeting of HREC A and HREC B. To ensure that your application is considered at a meeting, you need to ensure that your final complete HREA application is submitted by 5:00pm AEST of the cut-off date for that meeting. 

HREC A & B calendar

An electronic copy of the calendar can be accessed here.

HREC A
HREC B

Submission cut-off date

Committee meeting date

21 January

6 February

18 February 

5 March

17 March

2 April

14 April

30 April

12 May

28 May

9 June

25 June

7 July

23 July

4 August

20 August

1 September

17 September

29 September

15 October

27 October

12 November

24 November

10 December

Submission cut-off date

Committee meeting date

7 January

23 January

4 February

20 February

3 March

19 March

31 March

16 April

28 April

14 May

26 May

11 June

23 June

9 July

21 July

6 August

18 August

3 September

15 September

1 October

13 October

29 October

10 November

26 November

8 December

 

Volunteer on a UQ Human Research Ethics Committee (HREC)

The University of Queensland’s world-class medical, behavioural and social science research continues to provide solutions to some of the greatest problems of our time: the needs of young and ageing Australians, investigating new ways to diagnose and treat infectious diseases and address the soaring rates of diabetes, obesity, heart disease, mental illness, and cancer.

For research that involves human participants, UQ’s HRECs review proposals to ensure that values and principles that apply to all human research are fully considered. These Committees include volunteer members from the following categories:

  • Lay person — People with no affiliation with UQ and who does not currently engage in medical, scientific, legal or academic work;
  • Practitioner — People with knowledge of, and current experience in, the professional care, counselling or treatment of people; for example, a nurse or allied health professional;
  • Pastoral care — People who performs a pastoral care role in a community, for example, an Aboriginal elder, a minister of religion;
  • Lawyer 
  • Researchers

You can help in an important and practical way. Your input as a Committee member will help us in the ethical review of human research that will be working to deliver the next medical and social breakthroughs for society. 

Please contact us at humanethics@research.uq.edu.au if you are interested in joining our Committees or wish to learn more about the role of Committee members.

Monitoring and Complaints

The National Statement on Ethical Conduct in Human Research (PDF, 658.8 KB) requires registered HRECs to regularly monitor all approved projects. To help ensure compliance the University has the following checkpoints in place.

  • Annual Progress Report: Reports are due on the anniversary of the approval date of your project. For example if the project was approved on 8 January, the annual report is due by 8 January each year until the completion of the project.
  • Random audits: The ethics committee may undertake random audits of the Projects it has approved as a mechanism for monitoring research. The audit confirms that the project is being conducted in accordance with its approval.
  • Complaints: It is recommended that research participants discuss any concerns that may arise from their participation in the research with the researchers themselves. However, if they wish to talk to an officer of the University of Queensland who is not connected with the project they can contact the Director of the Office of Research Ethics or Human Ethics Coordinators.