Research Ethics

This Guide provides information and resources to help you find information about your responsibilities to obtain appropriate ethics approvals for your research and to comply with legislation relating to biosecurity and defence trade controls.

JCU Connect assists JCU researchers to obtain appropriate ethics approvals for your research and to meet other legislative requirements.

Research Code of Conduct

The Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research guides institutions and researchers in responsible research practices. The code promotes integrity in research for researchers and shows how to:

  • Manage breaches of the Code and allegations of research misconduct
  • Manage research data and materials
  • Publish and disseminate research findings, including proper attribution of authorship
  • Conduct effective peer review
  • Manage conflicts of interest

JCU has adopted the principles set out in the Code incorporating JCU-specific policy; see the Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research. The University has appointed Research Integrity Advisers in each Division to assist with explanations of the Code in relation to research misconduct.

Animal Welfare and Ethics approval is required for all scientific activities involving animals. Activities involving animals must only be conducted in compliance with university policy, relevant legislation and after approval by JCU’s Animal Ethics Committee (AEC).

Anyone employed by James Cook University or studying at the University who intends to undertake a research or 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.

JCU’s Human Research Ethics Committee (HREC) reviews all research and teaching applications in accordance with the National Statement on Ethical Conduct in Human Research, 2007.

An Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Research Ethics Application must be submitted:

  • If the research project involves or will be conducted in an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community;
  • If the target participants of the study are Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples;
  • If the recruitment population of the study is likely to include a significant number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, i.e. health population studies, certain school populations.

The Human Research Ethics Committee (HREC) reviews all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Research Ethics applications.

A clinical trial is a form of human research designed to find out the effects of an intervention, including a treatment or diagnostic procedure.

Clinical trials in Australia must be conducted in accordance with the National Statement on Ethical Conduct in Human Research, 2007 and the current Australian Government Therapeutic Goods Administration legislation. Depending on the nature of the trial, ethics review is conducted by JCU or Health Service Districts Human Research Ethics Committees. Clinical trials must be registered in the publicly accessible database Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry.

Biodiscovery involves collecting samples of native biological materials to test for compounds that may have commercial applications. In Queensland, biodiscovery activities conducted on state land or waters are regulated under the Biodiscovery Act 2004. If native biological materials are to be taken from state land or waters for biodiscovery, a special permit is required.

The Defence Trade Controls Act regulates the intangible export of items and technologies that are related to military or defence activities or are considered dual-use in a non-physical form from Australia to a person outside of Australia. It contains broad exemptions that apply to basic scientific research, technologies that are already in the public domain, and certain activities associated with research.

Contact Us

You can contact JCU Connect for support and assistance with any of these matters.

Once you have obtained research ethics approval, your next step is Setting Up Your Research Project.