An ethical review is done by a Human Research Ethics Committee (HREC). A HREC will assess your project against the National Health and Medical Research Council guidelines (NHMRC).

You'll need to be able to show that:

  • your research has scientific merit
  • any benefits outweigh any associated risks
  • the people who work on your project are properly qualified
  • you treat the participants with respect, especially vulnerable groups
  • you considered the ethical issues associated with the methodology you'll use.

Low-risk projects, such as clinical audits or quality assurance activities, may not need a full ethics review.

Read more about quality improvement and clinical audit activities.

Where to get ethics approval

At Sunshine Coast Hospital and Health Service, we don't have our own HREC. You can get ethics reviews and approvals from a HREC at another Queensland hospital and health service.

Single-centre research

If your study is only in Sunshine Coast Hospital and Health Service, we recommend you submit your application to a Metro North Hospital and Health Service HREC.

For some projects it's better to work with a targeted HREC. For example, research involving children must be reviewed by an HREC that's registered or certified to review children’s research.

Check the Queensland Health listing for HRECs for more information.

Multi-centre research

Multi-centre research is any project that involves multiple facilities. This includes projects where a single Queensland Health facility is involved along with one or more external sites.

Some examples of external sites are:

  • private practices
  • universities
  • another state or territory's health services.

The ethics application form (via ERM) includes questions to identify where a project is multi-centre, so that the study can be submitted to an appropriate HREC, that is certified to undertake multi-centre ethical reviews.

Applying for ethics approval

In Queensland Health, you must use the Ethical Review Manager (ERM) platform to apply for ethics approval. This is an online platform that lets you manage the forms and documents for your project. The HREC you work with will be able to tell you what documents they need from you.

Learn more about how to use the ERM at Queensland Health.

For more details on the ethics review and approval process, refer to the Research applications and approval procedure [PDF 106 kB].

After you get approval

Once you have ethics approval for your research project, you are ready to get research governance approval.

Last updated: May 2022