2.12 Ethics approval
Any research project conducted at Monash University involving human subjects, animals or biohazards must be approved by the appropriate ethics committee, the Monash University Human Research Ethics Committee (MUHREC), the Animal Ethics Committee (AEC) or the Monash University Biosafety Committee. Students should note that research involving questionnaires, interviews and surveys is subject to human ethics clearance, even where these are deemed to be non-intrusive, non-personal, anonymous or random. Information concerning ethics clearances can be obtained from the appropriate ethics officer (see Chapter 11 for contact details).
Students and their supervisors are reminded that the implications of incorporating culturally sensitive material in the thesis should be carefully and thoroughly considered as early as possible during enrolment and appropriate clearances sought from the ethics committee. The Monash University Human Research Ethics Committee (MUHREC) reminds applicants that:
- the primary ethical principle for researchers must be the ‘welfare, rights, beliefs, perceptions, customs and cultural heritage’, both of the individual and community or collective;
- in some instances, in addition to obtaining agreement from the individuals involved in the research, the consent of the community as a whole or particular members such as elders may also be required.
Examples of culturally sensitive material may include:
- research that draws on cultural material (stories, rituals, practices, etc.) to which only certain members of the cultural group may have access, or to which others may have access only under special circumstances determined by the particular cultural group;
- sacred/sacral music that may only be performed in the presence of a privileged community group. Consequently, inclusion of recordings of such songs, song cycles, music or other culturally sensitive material in the thesis may not be permitted by the community or collective that owns the material.
If there is a late change in the direction of the research or opportunities arise which could not have been anticipated earlier in enrolment, additional or revised ethics clearance may be required.