Do I need ethical approval?

All University of Sydney staff and students who intend to conduct research involving human participants as part of an Honours, Diploma, Masters, Doctorate or other higher degree must apply for approval from the appropriate responsible ethics review body.

What is human research?

Research is a systematic investigation that intends to generate or extend generalisable knowledge.

As explained in the National Statement on Ethical Conduct in Human Research, human research is conducted with or about people, their biological materials or data (information) about them. It therefore includes a broad range of activities such as:

  • Taking part in surveys, interviews or focus groups;
  • Undergoing psychological, physiological or medical testing or treatment;
  • Being observed by researchers;
  • Researchers having access to participants’ personal documents or other materials;
  • The collection and use of participants’ biological materials (body organs, tissues, fluids or exhaled breath);
  • Access to participants’ information as part of an existing published or unpublished source/database.

If you are not sure whether you are conducting human research or not, please contact the Ethics Office for advice.

Ethics approval for research helps to:

  • protect the welfare, rights, dignity and safety of research participants
  • protect researchers’ rights to conduct legitimate investigation
  • protect the University of Sydney’s reputation for research conducted and sponsored by it
  • minimise the potential for claims of negligence made against any individual researchers and the University of Sydney.

If you need ethics approval and you want to find out which ethics review body would be most appropriate to review your project, please refer to Where do I get approval ?