Human ethics

Before commencing their research, researchers (including undergraduate and postgraduate students) who wish to undertake projects involving human participants must obtain approval from the Human Research Ethics Committee. No research can take place without ethics clearance.

COVID-19 - Research with humans

COVID-19 presents as a significant risk to the health and well-being of researchers and research participants. All USQ researchers are advised to adhere to the guidelines provided by the University in the conduct of all research activities, with further consideration given to the specifics of research activities involving face-to-face conduct with others. Should COVID-19 present as a significant risk in your research, either to researchers, participants or the wider community, you are advised to postpone research activities and seek advice from the USQ HREC.


Operational Matters:

  • Human Research Ethics Committee will continue to assess applications, subject to continued staff/member availability. Zoom arrangements are in place for upcoming meetings.

New Applications:

  • For new applications which plan to involve direct face to face contact with participants, Principal Investigators (PI) should consider alternate methods (e.g. phone contact, Skype/Zoom) for projects planned to be conducted over the next 3-6 months, especially where participants represent vulnerable groups. 
  • When reviewing applications, COVID-19 will be taken in to consideration as a potential risk for participants and researchers by the USQ HREC.

Currently Approved Projects:

  • For already approved projects that involve direct face to face contact with participants but which have not commenced recruitment, PI’s are advised to consider deferring commencement or consider alternate methods (e.g. phone contact, Skype/Zoom). Using zoom for interviews which would have been conducted in person, or making temporary adjustments to data storage (e.g. changing from secure home office storage from work office) this will not require an amendment as the integrity of the research and security remains in these instances. A larger change may require an amendment to be submitted and approved. Please seek advice from the Ethics team if you are unsure.
  • For already approved projects that involve direct face to face contact which have commenced recruitment, PI’s are reminded of the current Public Health guidelines for social distancing, duration of contact and hand hygiene, if the conduct of the project is not possible adhering to these guidelines (e.g. close contact or physically touching participants is required) then PI’s are advised to consider suspending research activity and recruitment until current Public Health guidelines change or consider alternate methods if possible. An amendment will then be required.
  • HREC will endeavour to facilitate rapid review of amendments, where feasible.


Amendments and reporting