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Ethical in Research

Training in animal and human ethics is a requirement for all students who need the appropriate ethical approval for their work. All students must be familiar with the relevant legislative and compliance requirements of the University and also of regulatory and advisory bodies in relation to their research or experimentation.

As research projects and practices must conform to the accepted ethical standards and statutory requirements, you are not permitted to commence research involving human or animal subjects, or genetically modified organisms until you have completed appropriate ethics training and obtained the required approvals. Students are reminded that ethics approval cannot be granted in retrospect and that the conduct of research without appropriate ethics approval would be a breach of the Australian Code for the Responsible Practice of Research.

Required ethics approvals must normally be arranged by the time you lodge the 'Core Component of the Structured Program' form with the Adelaide Graduate Centre.  To demonstrate that you have obtained the necessary ethics approval(s), you must record the relevant approval number on the core component form and attach a copy of the letter(s) confirming ethics approval from the relevant ethics committee(s) before lodgement with the Graduate Centre. A copy of the ethics application itself is not required.

Following approval of your core component, if there is a change in project direction and ethics approval becomes necessary later in your degree, you must ensure that an application is submitted at least three months prior to the date when you expect to commence this aspect of your research to allow sufficient time for the application to be considered and processed.

During your online annual reviews, you will be asked to report on whether your ethics requirements have changed subsequent to completion of your core component or previous annual review. As with the core component, it is important to note that your annual review will not be approved while required ethics clearance(s) remain outstanding as evidenced by your supply of the relevant approval number on the annual review form and, where not previously provided, by provision of the letter(s) confirming ethics approval from the relevant ethics committee(s).

Failure to obtain the necessary ethics approval(s) can have serious consequences. For example:

  • You as a researcher can be held personally liable in relation to non-compliance. Not only could your candidature be jeopardised, penalties can include criminal prosecution, fines or imprisonment. A major noncompliance could possibly cause a shut down in a particular area if a statutory body withdrew its accreditation licence;
  • major funding bodies will only release funds to successful grant holders once all relevant approvals have been obtained. Ongoing funding is also dependent on ongoing compliance with your ethics approvals;
  • indemnity and insurance are becoming more and more of an issue. It is a condition of the University's insurance policies that you have the necessary approvals in place.

Whilst it is your principal supervisor who will submit the application(s) for any required ethical approval(s) for your higher degree project, you will be involved in preparing applications for approval which may involve interaction with the relevant ethics officer.

It is your responsibility to ensure that your supervisor has obtained ethics approval and to see that this is reported to the Adelaide Graduate Centre. It is also your responsibility not to commence research without any necessary ethics approvals and your supervisor's awareness that the research is due to commence.

The ethics officers can be found in the University's Office of Research Ethics, Compliance and Integrity (ORECI). ORECI provides resources, advice and assistance to University researchers regarding their ethics and compliance obligations. The work of the office covers: human research ethics, animal ethics, gene technology, quarantine and security sensitive biological agents.



Level 2, Schulz Building,
The University of Adelaide
SA 5005


Telephone: +61 8 8313 5882
Facsimile: +61 8 8313 5725

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