Human ethics process

Ethics approval for research involving human participants must be obtained prior to commencing research. You must not commence research until you have received advice from the Ethics Committee Support Officer via formal letter that your application has been approved.

Step 1

Read the National Statement on Ethical Conduct in Research Involving Humans so that you are aware of your obligation to participants.

Step 2

Complete the (DOC 265KB)Human Ethics application form in consultation with your Supervisor. Ensure that the application is written in plain English, and define all terminology and acronyms. and please read the technical jargon note from the Human Research Ethics Committee

Step 3

Obtain written permission from an organisation where you intend to conduct research.. For example, if a researcher intends to survey teachers in Queensland schools then consent from the Principal of each school involved will be required. Attach a copy of this permission to your application.

Step 4

If the research consists of a survey and/or interview questions include a sample of the questions with the application.

Step 5

Please note that identified surveys and in-depth interviews all require a consent form. A  (DOC 127KB)consent form template is provided for your use if you wish. Please ensure when using the template or creating your own consent form that it is written using plain language and it includes:

  • names of researcher(s)
  • a description of the project and the purpose
  • details of participant involvement in the research (i.e. what is expected of participants and how this will impact on their life);
  • possible benefits;
  • possible risks;
  • details of privacy, confidentiality and disclosure of information;
  • details of whether results of research will be available (i.e. via publication);
  • assurance that participation in the research is voluntary;
  • assurance of the right to withdraw from the project at any time without fear of the consequences;
  • a space for the participant’s signature and the date;
  • include the following statement: Should you have any concern about the conduct of this research project, please contact the USQ Ethics Committee Support Officer, Office of Research, University of Southern Queensland, West Street, Toowoomba QLD 4350, Telephone +61 7 4631 2690, email

Step 6

Number each page of the application and attachments consecutively. Please sign and date the application and forward both electronic (via email: and hard copy of the completed application (including all attachments) to:

Ethics Committee Support Officer
Office of Research
University of Southern Queensland
West Street
Toowoomba, QLD 4350

All human ethics applications (staff and students) are processed centrally through the Office of Research and can be submitted at any time.

Technical jargon

The Human Research Ethics Committee consists of a mixture of lay people and academics from a variety of educational backgrounds. The committee considers whether or not your research, as proposed, will be conducted in an ethical manner. You can help the committee by translating your responses into plain English.

What we want

We want to know, in straightforward terms:

  • what you propose to do
  • how you intend to do it
  • with whom
  • with what safeguards

If there are risks involved, we want to know:

  • what they are and how you intend to deal with them
  • how you intend to recruit your participants
  • how you intend to make sure that their consent is informed
  • what effects your research could have on them, and how you propose to manage those effects.

What we do not want

Every question on the ethics application form is chosen to enable us to answer these queries. We do not want to know what the literature says about your research question, or what the theoretical underpinnings of your chosen methodology are.
Please do not think you have to impress us with your knowledge of the technical jargon of your discipline. In fact, the use of excessive technical terms and acronyms in your ethics application is a potential obstacle to its approval, because rather than facilitate communication with anyone outside your discipline, jargon and acronyms may impede it.

Further information

For queries or further information regarding human ethics and the process for applying for human ethics clearance, please email or telephone + 61 7 4631 2690.