Ethics and consent
A number of ethical requirements apply to the management of research data, particularly where the research involves human subjects (e.g. surveys, interviews, and analyses of personal data from government agencies).
Researchers must be aware of their obligations in the following areas, and address these obligations through the existing ethics application process.
Data Protection and Privacy at Monash
The Monash University Research Data Protection and Privacy Collection Statement contains information which must be provided at the time of collecting personal information (or as soon as practicable thereafter) that explains:
- the purpose of collecting the information
- the rights of the individuals participating in research or activities conducted by the University.
- the storage, retention, and safeguarding of the data
The Monash University Data Protection and Privacy Procedure provides a general statement about how personal, sensitive and health information is managed by the University.
Monash researchers must be familiar with the information contained within the Statement and the Procedure to ensure they remain compliant with University’s policy on the management of personal data.
Ethics and research data
Human participation in research is understood broadly, to include the involvement of human beings through:
- taking part in surveys, interviews or focus groups
- undergoing psychological, physiological or medical testing or treatment
- being observed by researchers
- researchers having access to their personal documents or other materials
- the collection and use of their body organs, tissues or fluids (eg skin, blood, urine, saliva, hair,
- bones, tumour and other biopsy specimens) or their exhaled breath
- access to their information (in individually identifiable, re-identifiable or non-identifiable form) as part of an existing published or unpublished source or database
All research involving human participants must be considered by the Monash University Human Research Ethics Committee (MUHREC), whose primary role is to protect the welfare and rights of the research participants. The level of risk of your project determines the review process.
Monash University recognises its responsibility to produce and disseminate knowledge in accordance with its research, teaching, and public service mission. Some activities conducted at Monash University necessitate the use of live animals and Monash University recognises that the use of animals for teaching and research is fundamental to biology, medicine and science.
Recognising the importance of using live animals for these purposes, Monash University, for both ethical and scientific reasons, insists upon the highest standards for the care and use of such animals. Monash University recognises that many species of animals used for scientific purposes are sentient creatures and that the use of any animal is a privilege accompanied by moral and legal obligations for their humane care.
These responsibilities go well beyond the need to avoid cruelty to animals and involve a genuine commitment to their welfare and a respect for their contribution to research and teaching.
All research that includes data taken from animals must be approved by your faculty or school's Animal Ethics Committee (AEC).
Gene technology is any work involving the modification of organisms by the direct incorporation or deletion of one or more genes to introduce or alter specific characteristics.
Organisms created using gene technology techniques are known as Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs). A national regulatory scheme was introduced in Australia in 2001 to monitor all work involving GMOs. This regulatory system is administered by the Office of the Gene Technology Regulator (OGTR). Organisations dealing with GMOs must be accredited and must have an Institutional Biosafety Committee (IBC), or access to an IBC, which reviews research applications and monitors certified facilities.
All research that includes gene technology must be reviewed by the Monash University IBC.
Applying for ethics approval
Applications for research involving humans, animals or gene technology must be reviewed by the appropriate committee. For application procedures, please visit myResearch.
As part of the application you may be asked for the following information:
- How will you store the data: see Storing research data
- An understanding of the types information that must be provided to participants regarding the use of their data.
- Information about how you will either retain or dispose of research data: see Retention and disposal
- If, and how, your research data will be published: see Publishing research data