Applying for ethics approval through the DME HEAG

In the field of medical education, research generally involves “Gathering information about human beings (and organisations) through interviewing, surveying, questionnaires, observation of human behaviour, audio/video taping, administering tests or stimuli,”

Research involving human participants requires appropriate ethics review and approval. Necessary approval must be granted before the research study can commence.

Ethics applications from Department of Medical Education (DME) staff and students are reviewed by the DME Human Ethics Advisory Group (HEAG) before either being approved or referred to the Human Ethics Sub Committee (HESC)

The purpose of DME HEAG

The role of the HEAG is to:

  • conduct technical and ethical reviews of ALL ethics applications from the DME
  • provide feedback to researchers on their application
  • approve Minimal Risk applications
  • refer Standard Project applications to the Health Sciences HESC
  • provide advice to the HESC

The application process

Al human ethics applications are submitted online via Themis

The Office for Research Ethics and Integrity’s Step- by –Step approval guide for Human Ethics applications gives an overview of the steps involved in the submission and approval process.


DME HEAG Meeting Dates 2018

DME HEAG Submission Deadline

DME HEAG Meeting Date

HESC Submission Deadline

HESC Meeting Date

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  1. Quality assurance or research? Evaluation studies of curriculum interventions that involve collecting student data through interviews, surveys, observation etc will generally require ethics approval.
  2. Do I need written consent? In general yes; however, it will also depend on who will be participating in your research and whether they are able to give informed consent. If your participants are identifiable (e.g. via student number, name), written consent will generally be required. Verbal, audio-recorded consent is possible in some settings. See the National Statement on Ethical Conduct in Human Research for more information about consent.
  3. Hospital Ethics or University of Melbourne ethics approval? If your research involves patients, you will need hospital ethics approval. This approval is communicated to the DME HEAG via an ethics registration lodged by the researchers in Themis. For student projects, hospital ethics must be registered with the HEAG. Research carried out in the clinical schools can be approved by the DME HEAG in most instances.
  4. Who is responsible for submitting an ethics application – a student or a supervisor? Supervisors are responsible for the submission of ethics applications, and must always be the Principal Researcher. Students should be involved in the process, but must discuss the application with their supervisor.

Relevant Links

Navigating the application process:

National Statement on Ethical Conduct in Human Research

Human Research Ethics Handbook