Human ethics

Human ethics

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Macquarie University is renowned for its research expertise. The Human Research Ethics team is responsible for ensuring that processes, resources and guidance embed ethics across all research practices. Contact Research Ethics and Integrity here.

Macquarie University staff and students conducting research with or about people, their data, or tissue, must apply for ethics approval. According to the National Statement on Ethical Conduct in Human Research (2007) (the National Statement), human research is understood broadly to include the involvement of human beings through:

  • taking part in surveys, interviews or focus groups;
  • undergoing psychological, physiological or medical testing or treatment;
  • being observed by researchers;
  • researchers having access to their personal documents or other materials;
  • the collection and use of their body organs, tissues or fluids (eg skin, blood, urine, saliva, hair, bones, tumour and other biopsy specimens) or their exhaled breath;
  • access to their information (in individually identifiable, re-identifiable or nonidentifiable form) as part of an existing published or unpublished source or database

Approval is required before there is any interaction with participants or their data. If your research includes any of the above, you must apply for ethics approval before you commence your research.

Two centralised Human Research Ethics Committees (HRECs), and several Faculty-based low risk ethics subcommittees review the conduct of research involving humans.  These HRECs are constituted and operate in accordance with National Statement on Ethical Conduct in Human Research (2007) (National Statement) and are responsible to the Vice-Chancellor.

The following documents provide more information about the HRECs:

If your research has biosafety or biohazards issues, including the use of recombinant DNA, potential pathogens, radioactive isotopes or other hazardous substances, the project may need clearance from the Institutional Biosafety Committee. Visit Biosafety, biosecurity and gene technology for more information.

All staff and students who will be conducting research or demonstration teaching projects that involve the use of live vertebrate animals must apply to Macquarie University's Animal Ethics Committee for ethics review.

Online Human Research Ethics Management

All research conducted at Macquarie University or Macquarie University Hospital, or by staff, students or visitors to Macquarie University or Macquarie University Hospital, or which is carried out using University equipment, facilities or premises owned by the University or otherwise under control of the University must obtain ethics approval from a Macquarie University Human Research Ethics Committee (HREC) before it can commence.

Human Research Ethics applications are managed via an online Human Research Ethics Management System.  Applications, amendments and reporting must be submitted via this system.  For more information about this system, and supporting resources relating to new submissions and the management of existing applications, please refer to the Human Research Ethics Management support page.

What online survey platform is acceptable for my data?

Currently best practice for online surveys at Macquarie University is LimeSurvey ( 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 (link to the attached PDF).

Use of Qualtrics by Researchers

PLEASE NOTE: Macquarie Universities have extended their contract with Qualtrics until March 2021.

New Projects

  • Strong recommendation that NEW projects use either LimeSurvey[1],[2] or REDCap[1] for clinical data
    • If Qualtrics is considered more suitable than REDCap or LimeSurvey, then the project MUST use Macquarie's Qualtrics server in Australia.
    • Be aware that MQU’s contract with Qualtrics may not be extended beyond March 2021).

Projects at transition points

Projects that are at a transition point should consider

  • exporting all existing Qualtrics data and storing in on SharePoint or Cloudstor (depending on data sensitivity and researcher needs) for collaboration and analysis, and
  • migrating future research to REDCap1 or LimeSurvey1 as viable long-term platforms. Beginning in August, additional eResearch staff will be available to assist with export and transition.

Existing projects

  • All existing surveys are located in an offshore server (Canada):  so there may be data residency issues depending on the sensitivity of data.
    • For existing projects that are still recruiting please include this statement “Responses for this survey are stored in North America and not in Australia” in the Participant Information and Consent Form (PICF). (Please Note: it is in breach of the Australian Privacy Act if you do not notify participants of this and obtain their consent)
    • For research that is no longer recruiting nothing needs to be done.
  • Investigators can migrate current Qualtrics projects and  surveys to REDCap, LimeSurvey, or the Australian Qualtrics server
  • It is strongly recommended that Qualtrics surveys with highly sensitive data either be moved to: LimeSurvey, REDCap or the Australian Qualtrics server
    • Surveys cannot be “automatically” migrated and need to be moved manually.
    • Qualtrics has provided a guide on how to perform the migration once Macquarie is ready. Refer to:
    • Qualtrics recommends moving surveys that are inactive or closed, because emailed surveys will lose distribution names, history, and ability to send thank you and reminder emails.
    • Until surveys are moved, consent forms must indicate that the data is stored in the US.
    • Longer-term, if MQ continues to use Qualtrics, overseas servers will be discontinued in favour of Australian servers.

[1] eResearch offers training for these systems on a regular basis, please contact via additional eResearch staff will be available from August to assist with setup in these systems.

[2] ACSPRI offers responsive support for LimeSurvey

Important Dates

Meeting dates

Important Resources

Qualtrics Status

Content owner: Human Ethics Last updated: 24 Jul 2020 12:01pm

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