Human Ethics

All human interaction, including the interaction involved in human research, has ethical dimensions. However, "ethical conduct" is more than simply doing the right thing. It involves acting in the right spirit, out of an abiding respect and concern for one’s fellow creatures.

The James Cook University Human Research Ethics Committee (HREC) reviews all research and teaching applications in accordance with the National Statement on Ethical Conduct in Human Research (2007) - Updated 2018.

JCU staff or students intending to undertake a research or a teaching project involving any form of human participation (including observation of human activity), access to personal documents or other materials, and access to databases must submit a human ethics application.

Undergraduate projects: If undergraduate students are involved in small research projects involving human participants as part of their assessment, then ethics approval must be sought. Usually the lecturer in charge of the subject would submit an ethics application for the course to cover this assessment requirement, or if appropriate, individual or groups of students may also apply for ethics approval.

Teaching activities: Teaching activities that involve physiological or psychosocial experiments, taking of tissue or blood samples, administration of any substances, any stressful activities, recording of any personal information and administration of surveys require ethics approval to be obtained.

Quality assurance activities: Activities conducted inside the University for quality assurance purposes may not require ethics approval. Please email if you are conducting these types of activities. (Note: Quality assurance here means any activity where the primary purpose is to monitor or improve the quality of service delivered by an individual or organisation.)

Click here for the full list of Human Ethics Advisors at JCU.

Human Ethics Advisors are academic employees of James Cook University who review ethics applications for teaching and research involving human participants in accordance with the National Health and Medical Research Council National Statement on Ethical Conduct in Human Research, 2007. The Advisors are nominated for appointment by the Dean of College and review ethics applications in broad discipline areas and provide advice to academic staff and students on ethics matters.

The Advisor’s role is to offer advice on a draft of your application in relation to the National Statement and assist you to understand what is required before your application is submitted to the Human Research Ethics Committee (HREC) for review. The Advisor provides a recommendation to the HREC on the application. Advisors also review amendments to ethics applications for approval by the HREC.

Click here for the closing dates for Human Ethics Applications for 2020.

Any ethics application received after the closing date to Human Ethics Advisors will be held over to the next meeting of the Human Research Ethics Committee (HREC). Meetings are held on the last Wednesday of each month, except for December. There is no January HREC meeting.

HREC decisions will be released seven to ten working days after the meeting date. Most applications are approved at the meeting, but the HREC may request further details or amendments from applicants or a resubmission of an application to the next meeting. In planning your research project, please allow a maximum of two months for passage of your application from submission to approval.

Low/Negligible risk ethics applications can be submitted at any time as they are reviewed on a continual basis.

Contact the JCU Connect Human Ethics team

Photo of Helen Griffiths

Helen Griffiths

Human Ethics Officer