Human ethics

Human ethics

COVID-19 Updates


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information (in individually identifiable, re-identifiable or nonidentifiable form) as part of an existing published or unpublished source or database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). 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 California.  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 California and not in Australia.

Important Dates

Meeting dates

Content owner: Human Ethics Last updated: 15 Apr 2020 10:09am

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