Ethics, integrity and policies

Ethics, integrity and policies

COVID-19 Updates

as of 24/04/2020

Coronavirus (COVID-19) infection: latest information click here.

For Research Integrity Issues:

The research integrity team continues to work remotely. If you are having difficulty reaching the team via phone you can email research.integrity@mq.edu.au. Alternatively you can contact a Research Integrity Advisor, go here for contact details.

For the Animal Ethics Committee:

Business as usual: please submit all Animal Ethics new applications, annual reports (progress/final) and amendments via the normal online process.

Amendments (urgent/personnel) & Responses

These will be reviewed by the Executive/Chair of the AEC via the online system. These will be sent out for review on a rolling basis as soon as they are received in the animal ethics online system. Please contact the animal ethics email for any further queries: animal.ethics@mq.edu.au.

For both the HASS and MDS Human Research Ethics Committees:

Will the ethical review of new Human Research Ethics Submissions continue?

The Macquarie University HRECs will continue to review Human Ethics submissions via its regular schedule of meetings, please see here for dates. Researchers have been directed to pause all face-to-face data collection until the COVID-19 situation has improved. Potential methods to replace face-to-face data collection include:

  • delivery of interviews, focus groups or online intervention training via Microsoft Teams, Zoom or Skype and/or via telephone (*) see information below.
  • administration of interview questions via electronic data capture platforms such as LimeSurvey, REDCap or Qualtrics (although please note data stored on Qualtrics is stored offshore, this needs to be made clear to all participants) (**) see information below.
  • employ virtual visits, tel  ehealth, electronic consent or otherwise implement teletrials
  • changes in the way participants are supplied with any materials or devices;
  • change the ‘site’ to a location outside of a hospital or clinic or permit referral to another hospital or clinic
  • extend protocol timeframes for visits, procedures, trial medication delivery or follow-up to accommodate isolation periods or other disruptions

All proposed modifications to the human research protocols must be reviewed before implementation.

Before submitting an amendment for modified research procedures, research teams should pay particular attention to whether the revisions may result in: participants experiencing difficulties using technologies, personal information such as names or email addresses being inadvertently disclosed via the platforms being used, inappropriate protocols for responding to those that show signs of distress. To justify the delivery of research using a modified method, research teams must provide appropriate strategies for minimising the risk of the above events.

How to submit an amendment in response to COVID-19

Any and all amendments submitted in response to COVID-19 will be considered urgent and be sent for expedited review.

  1. Please submit as normal via the system and notify us of the urgency via the Ethics Secretariat email address, ethics.secretariat@mq.edu.au.
  2. These urgent amendment requests will be sent out for review on a rolling basis as soon as the amendment is submitted and an email is received by the Ethics Secretariat.
  3. If the amendment is approved, an interim approval will be granted.
  4. The interim approval will then be sent to the HREC for ratification at the normal scheduled meetings.

PLEASE NOTE: that expedited review is ONLY for urgent COVID-19 amendments. Anything else will be reviewed by the Executive or the HREC at the next available meeting.

Are there specific review considerations for New COVID-19 Human Research?

New research relating to COVID-19 can be reviewed by the Macquarie University HREC via an expedited process, where meetings will be held virtually and on a rolling basis. All current human ethics review procedures, guidelines and requirements still apply when submitting applications for review. Researchers should contact the office via  ethics.secretariat@mq.edu.au for further information.

PLEASE NOTE: For any NEW COVID-19 related applications you must include a full/detailed justification for expediting the COVID-19 review, otherwise the applications will be sent to the next available HREC meeting.

How can I proceed with an approved Human Research Project?

Researchers should consider postponing research, delaying physical recruitment, travel or revising research procedures/data collection activities that involve person to person contact until the COVID-19 situation has improved. Any modifications to the human research protocols must be reviewed before implementation. The review and any approval will be interim for later ratification at an HREC or Executive. Both the MDS and HASS HRECs will continue to review Human Ethics submissions via its regular schedule of meetings.

To protect yourself and others, research occurring within health services, aged care facilities or hospitals should be postponed and must follow the recommendations released by these services in response to the COVID-19 situation.

What if I am conducting research in other countries and employ research assistants/personnel living in these countries to assist in recruiting and data collection?

Following the Deputy Vice Chancellor of Research’s directive; that researchers must pause face-to-face data collection methods until further notice, researchers are also requested to pause face-to-face research activities that are conducted by overseas-based research personnel.

Face-to-face research activities could place overseas participants and research personnel at risk and investigators are requested to revise their projects so that research activities are conducted using non face-to-face methods.

How do I report a deviation from an approved project? ?

Deviations can be reported to HRECs in the usual manner or collected and submitted in bulk form at the end of the crisis.

(*) ZOOM – real-time online communication and collaboration

Macquarie University has taken steps to provide unlimited Zoom access for all Macquarie staff. Students have the “basic” or 40-minute license. With staff access you can hold meetings, presentations, and seminars (“webinars”) with up to 300 people with no time limitations for meetings.

To use Zoom, log in using your MQ OneID. If you are a MUH staff, your MQ OneID is what you use to login to HROnline. More information about how to use Zoom, please visit the university’s Zoom website.

We strongly recommend downloading the latest meetings client instead of using your browser, as the client has more features and better security defaults. Make sure to choose the “sign in with SSO” option on the meetings client. The domain is: “macquarie.zoom.us.”

Zoom is permitted, with appropriate ethics approval, for general and sensitive research use, with the following notes.

Recording on Zoom and Privacy

  1. If you need to record and save your interviews, then save locally ONLY. Make sure you turn off cloud saving. Currently all cloud saves are being saved to the US or China which is in breach of the Australian Privacy Act. The university is working towards migrating us back to Cloudstor in Australia, we will let you know when that happens. Please check back here for updates regularly.
  2. There is also the threat of "zoombombing" where someone shows up unexpectedly. To ensure this does not happen:
    1. Enable waiting room (and for an interview, it must be for everyone, not just external guests)
    2. Enable meeting passwords
    3. Don’t share your Zoom link or code on social media or any public website.
    4. Set screen sharing to “host” only. (You can promote participants to ‘co-host’ if you would like them specifically to share their screen)
    5. Turn off the annotation feature if not needed.
    6. Restrict other features as needed in host controls.
  3. The critical component is to make sure the zoom client is the latest version and that all of the security options specified above are on by default in advanced profile are checked.
  4. For highly sensitive data please note because Zoom does not have end-to-end encryption it is not considered secure or private enough. Please discuss with Ethics and your IT team for project specific solutions.
  5. It is important that you are aware of all security and privacy settings of any chat service or online communication platform before using, if in doubt contact Ethics or your IT team.
  6. Your specific protocol for managing Zoom and its recordings will need to be approved by Ethics before you can use Zoom for human research. Please submit an amendment for expedited review as outlined above.

(**) What online survey platform is acceptable for my data?

Currently best practice for online surveys at Macquarie University is LimeSurvey (https://limesurvey.mq.edu.au) or for highly sensitive data, RedCap (access to this is limited and you would need to raise a Onehelp ticket to enable this). What kind of data do you have? Please see this attachment for an Interim Data Standards Advice. Qualtrics is still an option for surveys which do not collect any identifying or sensitive data about participants.  If your survey includes identifying or sensitive information about participants you will need to inform them that their information will be stored in Canada.  Note: it is in breach of the Australian Privacy Act if you do not notify participants of this and obtain their consent. If you choose to use Qualtrics you must include a statement in your Participant Information and Consent Form informing them of this international data storage, such as: "Responses for this survey are stored in North America and not in Australia"

If you are collecting sensitive information, then this must be specified in all new projects and if are still recruiting you must update the PICF via an amendment request following this step by step process:

  1. log into HREMS
  2. Start the process for an amendment request (if you don’t know how to do this please see “Requesting Amendment”)
  3. You will start on the “Summary” page, so to follow the correct pathway for an amendment from the
    1. click on Section 1.1 Project Details>Q1.1.0 Application purpose>choose “Amendment Request” radial button
    2. this will auto populate new sections, so navigate to the appropriate section for either form as below;
      1. Humanities & Social Sciences (HASS) Section 11.1 Request for Amendment
      2. Medical Sciences (MDS) Section 3.1 Request for Amendment
    3. Answer the questions as below
      1. (MDS) Q3.1.1 or (HASS) Q11.1.1 Indicate the nature of the change you are making to the project: Other project changes
      2. (MDS) Q3.1.1.2 or (HASS) Q11.1.1.2 Please explain the changes that are intended and the rationale for making these changes:  “The PICF is being updated with the Statement: Responses for this survey are stored in North America and not in Australia. To inform participants that their data will be stored offshore in compliance with the Australian Privacy Act 1988”
      3. (MDS) Q3.1.1.3 or (HASS) Q11.1.1.3 Outline any potential inconveniences or risks to participants arising from changes proposed: There will be no additional inconveniences or risks to participants as a result of this amendment.
      4. Then upload your amended PICF in the uploads section of the application

How do I get advice or support from the Human Ethics Team?

The human ethics team continues to work remotely. Please contact them as below via phone or email.

Email: ethics.secretariat@mq.edu.au

  • T: +61 2 9850 4459 (Administration)
  • T: +61 2 9850 7850 (HREC: Humanities and Social Sciences)
  • T: +61 2 9850 4194 (HREC: Medical Sciences)

This HREC advice represents current thinking and best practice at the government level. It reflects the shared views of all state and territory Departments of Health, the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA), National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) and the Clinical Trials Project Reference Group (CTPRG).

If you have concerns or queries about the conduct of research by Macquarie University during this period, you might find a useful contact here.

Macquarie University is committed to maintaining the highest standards of research ethics and integrity, and has thus embedded a culture of professional and responsible research practice across all disciplines and faculties.  The Research Ethics and Integrity teams support and promote responsible research practices through the provision of resources, guidance and education.

Research Ethics and Integrity

  • Research Integrity

    At Macquarie, we aim to promote and support responsible research practices by providing resources and guidance to our researchers.

  • Human Research Ethics

    All research with human participants must adhere to the National Statement on Ethical Conduct in Human Research (2007).

  • Animal Ethics

    We are strongly committed to supporting the care and welfare of animals; and the ethical conduct of people who work with animals for scientific research purposes.

  • Policy

    If you are intending to conduct any research at Macquarie, you must comply with a series of policies and guidelines.

  • Biosafety, biosecurity and gene technology

    Making bold discoveries means researchers need to work with hazardous materials. Read how we ensure these materials are minimised, managed and disposed of correctly.

  • Chemical

    Chemicals and substances that have the potential to harm human health, property and the environment. Find out about our induction on hazardous chemical safety.

  • Laser

    Lasers produce a high-intensity beam which can cause damage to eyes and the skin. Learn about our commitment to the safe use of laser products both on and off campus.

  • Radiation

    The ultimate aim when working with any source of radiation is to minimise the doses that staff and students receive. Read about the actions we are taking.

  • Controlled goods and technology

    The Defence Trade Controls Act 2012 protects the national interest by preventing sensitive goods and technologies from falling into the wrong hands. Learn how we are compliant.

  • Autonomous Sanction Act

    Find out how we take reasonable precautions and exercise due diligence to avoid breaching the Autonomous Sanctions Act 2011 where applicable.

Content owner: Research Integrity Last updated: 24 Jul 2020 9:48am

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