Melbourne Dental School Human Ethics Advisory Group (HEAG)
Functions and Responsibility
The primary functions of the Melbourne Dental School HEAG are to provide preliminary assessment, on behalf of the University’s Human Research Ethics Committee (HREC) and its Health Sciences Human Ethics Sub-Committees (HESC), of human research projects submitted by staff and students in the School, and to advise the HREC and HESC on issues pertaining to human research ethics in the School.
For more detailed information on committee membership, function and responsibility, and method of operation, please refer to the Office for Research Ethics and Integrity website: http://www.research.unimelb.edu.au/humanethics/membersadmins
All proposed research involving humans to be conducted by staff and students within the school must obtain ethics approval. Researchers must submit human ethics applications to the HEAG via THEMIS and also via hard copy (see Submitting an Application).
The HEAG conducts an ethical review of the human ethics application looking at adherence to guidelines, clear aims, feasibility, good design, justification, significance, risks and benefits, and clarity of communication.
The approval process varies depending on the level of risk of the proposed research. The University’s HREC has granted the HEAG the authority to approve certain low-risk applications. However, all other applications must be submitted to the HESC (via the HEAG) after recommendation for approval by the HEAG.
Members and Administrators
The Melbourne Dental School HEAG consists of the following members:
- Prof John Clement (Chair)
- Prof Eric Reynolds (Head of School)
- Dr Denise Bailey
- Prof Ivan Darby
- A/Prof Joseph Palamara
- A/Prof Mina Borromeo
- Dr Su-Yan Barrow
- Dr Hanny Calache (DHSV representative)
- Prof David Manton (part-time member)
- Dr John Harcourt (part-time member) (external representative)
- Mr Rowan Story (part-time member) (external representative)
- Dr Liz Nelson (HEAG Administrator – Job share Mon, Tues, Wed)
- Ms Diana Zeppieri (HEAG Administrator – Job share Thurs, Fri)
Roles and Responsibilities of student researchers and supervisors
Preparing a human ethics application whether for a PhD project, other post-graduate project and all graduate research projects is a joint process, in which the supervisor(s) and student work in collaboration. Both play active roles.
For students undertaking research that involves humans, learning how to formulate an ethics application is a fundamental element in learning how to do research. Students should have a significant role in the preparation of the application as a way to take intellectual ownership of their research project.
For supervisors, guiding the student effectively through the ethics application process is a central task of supervision. Both student and supervisor(s) are named researchers on the ethics application. Each takes responsibility for the quality of the application and the conduct of the research. Correspondence from an ethics committee will be directed to both student and supervisor(s) and both are responsible for responding to that correspondence, in collaboration.
The University of Melbourne Central Human Research Ethics Committee expects that, at minimum, supervisors and students take the roles described below when formulating ethics applications. It may be appropriate in some disciplines for the supervisor to play a greater role than described.
Role of Supervisors:
- Advise the student about the ethics review process, timelines, where to find application forms and meeting deadlines etc. Introduce the student to the National Statement on Ethical Conduct in Human Research and other relevant guidelines.
- Discuss with the student the project and study design prior to the ethics application being commenced.
- Jointly decide on the key elements – sample, recruitment strategies, method of data collection and data analysis.
- Jointly identify any potential benefits/risks, advantages/disadvantages to participants, and agree on strategies to manage and minimise potential risks (such as appropriate support for participants).
- Identify and organise any other approvals (e.g. from agencies where research will be conducted, or where recruitment will take place) which may be needed.
- Read drafts of the ethics application prepared by the student, and revise it with the student so that it is of a suitable standard to be submitted.
- Check the final version carefully before signing it as ready for submission. Remember that the supervisor is a named researcher on the application and takes joint responsibility for ensuring that it meets the requirements of the National Statement on Ethical Conduct in Human Research.
- Assist the student to respond to any correspondence from the ethics committee, including answering questions asked by the committee and making any changes that are required.
- Attend an ethics committee meeting with the student, if the committee asks researchers to attend.
Role of Students:
- Prepare for the ethics application by learning about the approval process and ethical considerations relevant to the area of research e.g. by reading relevant parts of the National Statement¸ other published literature and sample ethics applications.
- Write or contribute to writing the ethics application, including
- Lay summary
- Background (including reference to relevant literature and previous studies)
- Plain language statement/s
- Consent form/s
- Provide drafts of the application to the supervisor and revise the application in consultation with the supervisor to ensure that it is properly completed and of suitable standard for submission. Allow enough time to meet submission deadlines.
- Submit the application.
- Respond to any correspondence from the ethics committee, in conjunction with the supervisor, including answering questions asked by the committee and making any changes that are required.
- Attend an ethics committee meeting with the supervisor, if the committee asks researchers to attend.