ethics, integrity and policies

ethics, integrity and policies

covid-19 updates

as of 03/11/2020

coronavirus (covid-19) infection: latest information click here.

for research integrity issues:

business as usual. if you are having difficulty reaching the team via phone you can email research.integrity@mq.edu.au. alternatively you can contact a research integrity advisor, go here for contact details.

for the animal ethics committee:

business as usual: please submit all animal ethics new applications, annual reports (progress/final) and amendments via the normal online process.

Amendments (urgent/personnel) & Responses

these will be reviewed by the executive/chair of the aec via the online system. these will be sent out for review on a rolling basis as soon as they are received in the animal ethics online system. please contact the animal ethics email for any further queries: animal.ethics@mq.edu.au.

for both the hass and mds human research ethics committees:

will the ethical review of new human research ethics submissions continue?

the macquarie university hrecs will continue to review human ethics submissions via its regular schedule of meetings, please see here for dates. researchers have been directed to contact the associate dean of research within their faculty or their head of department if they would like to resume face-to-face data collection. if however, this is still not feasible potential methods to replace face-to-face data collection include:

  • delivery of interviews, focus groups or online intervention training via microsoft teams, zoom or skype and/or via telephone (*) see information below.
  • administration of interview questions via electronic data capture platforms such as limesurvey, redcap or qualtrics (although please note data stored on qualtrics is stored offshore, this needs to be made clear to all participants) (**) see information below.
  • employ virtual visits, telehealth, electronic consent or otherwise implement teletrials
  • changes in the way participants are supplied with any materials or devices;
  • change the ‘site’ to a location outside of a hospital or clinic or permit referral to another hospital or clinic
  • extend protocol timeframes for visits, procedures, trial medication delivery or follow-up to accommodate isolation periods or other disruptions

all proposed modifications to the human research protocols must be reviewed before implementation.

before submitting an amendment for modified research procedures, research teams should pay particular attention to whether the revisions may result in: participants experiencing difficulties using technologies, personal information such as names or email addresses being inadvertently disclosed via the platforms being used, inappropriate protocols for responding to those that show signs of distress. to justify the delivery of research using a modified method, research teams must provide appropriate strategies for minimising the risk of the above events.

can i return to face - 2 - face delivery with human participants?

in accordance with the university covidsafe plan, the covid taskforce has delegated to the mq health clinical research executive to review and approve the commencement of clinical research, clinical trials, and human participant research. this includes accessing and approving the requests for commencement of new projects and recommencement of face-to-face data collection or contact with human participants on campus. off campus research activities are currently able to commence under certain conditions.

for further information about this process, please the mq health clinical governance webpage.

how to submit an amendment in response to covid-19

any and all amendments submitted in response to covid-19 will be considered urgent and be sent for expedited review.

  1. please submit as normal via the system and notify us of the urgency with justification for expedition via the ethics secretariat email address, ethics.secretariat@mq.edu.au.
  2. these urgent amendment requests will be sent out for review on a rolling basis as soon as the amendment is submitted and an email is received by the ethics secretariat.
  3. if the amendment is approved, an interim approval will be granted.
  4. the interim approval will then be sent to the hrec for ratification at the normal scheduled meetings.

please note: that expedited review is only for urgent covid-19 amendments and needs to be clearly justified in the email the secretariat. anything else will be reviewed by the executive or the hrec at the next available meeting.

are there specific review considerations for new covid-19 human research?

new research relating to covid-19 can be reviewed by the macquarie university hrec via an expedited process, where meetings will be held virtually and on a rolling basis. all current human ethics review procedures, guidelines and requirements still apply when submitting applications for review. researchers should contact the office via  ethics.secretariat@mq.edu.au for further information.

please note: for any new covid-19 related applications you must include a full/detailed justification for expediting the covid-19 review, otherwise the applications will be sent to the next available hrec meeting.

how can i proceed with an approved human research project?

researchers should consider postponing research, delaying physical recruitment, travel or revising research procedures/data collection activities that involve person to person contact until the covid-19 situation has improved. any modifications to the human research protocols must be reviewed before implementation. the review and any approval will be interim for later ratification at an hrec or executive. both the mds and hass hrecs will continue to review human ethics submissions via its regular schedule of meetings.

to protect yourself and others, research occurring within health services, aged care facilities or hospitals should be postponed and must follow the recommendations released by these services in response to the covid-19 situation.

what if i am conducting research in other countries and employ research assistants/personnel living in these countries to assist in recruiting and data collection?

following the deputy vice chancellor of research’s directive; that researchers must pause face-to-face data collection methods until further notice, researchers are also requested to pause face-to-face research activities that are conducted by overseas-based research personnel.

face-to-face research activities could place overseas participants and research personnel at risk and investigators are requested to revise their projects so that research activities are conducted using non face-to-face methods.

how do i report a deviation from an approved project?

deviations can be reported to hrecs in the usual manner or collected and submitted in bulk form at the end of the crisis.

(*) zoom – real-time online communication and collaboration

macquarie university has taken steps to provide unlimited zoom access for all macquarie staff. students have the “basic” or 40-minute license. with staff access you can hold meetings, presentations, and seminars (“webinars”) with up to 300 people with no time limitations for meetings.

to use zoom, log in using your mq oneid. if you are a muh staff, your mq oneid is what you use to login to hronline. more information about how to use zoom, please visit the university’s zoom website.

we strongly recommend downloading the latest meetings client instead of using your browser, as the client has more features and better security defaults. make sure to choose the “sign in with sso” option on the meetings client. the domain is: “macquarie.zoom.us.”

zoom is permitted, with appropriate ethics approval, for general and sensitive research use, with the following notes.

recording on zoom and privacy

  1. if you need to record and save your interviews, then save locally only. make sure you turn off cloud saving. currently all cloud saves are being saved to the us or china which is in breach of the australian privacy act. the university is working towards migrating us back to cloudstor in australia, we will let you know when that happens. please check back here for updates regularly.
  2. there is also the threat of "zoombombing" where someone shows up unexpectedly. to ensure this does not happen:
    1. enable waiting room (and for an interview, it must be for everyone, not just external guests)
    2. enable meeting passwords
    3. don’t share your zoom link or code on social media or any public website.
    4. set screen sharing to “host” only. (you can promote participants to ‘co-host’ if you would like them specifically to share their screen)
    5. turn off the annotation feature if not needed.
    6. restrict other features as needed in host controls.
  3. the critical component is to make sure the zoom client is the latest version and that all of the security options specified above are on by default in advanced profile are checked.
  4. for highly sensitive data please note because zoom does not have end-to-end encryption it is not considered secure or private enough. please discuss with ethics and your it team for project specific solutions.
  5. it is important that you are aware of all security and privacy settings of any chat service or online communication platform before using, if in doubt contact ethics or your it team.
  6. your specific protocol for managing zoom and its recordings will need to be approved by ethics before you can use zoom for human research. please submit an amendment for expedited review as outlined above.

(**) what online survey platform is acceptable for my data?

currently best practice for online surveys at macquarie university is limesurvey (//limesurvey.mq.edu.au) or for highly sensitive data, redcap (access is via the australian access federation (aaf) //redcap.mq.edu.au ).

what kind of data do you have? please see this attachment for an interim data standards advice (link to the attached pdf).

use of qualtrics by researchers

please note: macquarie university has extended their contract with qualtrics until march 2021.

new projects

  • strong recommendation that new projects use either limesurvey[1],[2] or redcap[1] for clinical data
    • if qualtrics is considered more suitable than redcap or limesurvey, then the project must use macquarie's qualtrics server in australia.
    • be aware that mqu’s contract with qualtrics may not be extended beyond march 2021).

projects at transition points

projects that are at a transition point should consider

  • exporting all existing qualtrics data and storing in on sharepoint or cloudstor (depending on data sensitivity and researcher needs) for collaboration and analysis, and
  • migrating future research to redcap1 or limesurvey1 as viable long-term platforms. beginning in september, additional eresearch staff will be available to assist with export and transition.

existing projects

  • all existing surveys are located in an offshore server (canada):  so there may be data residency issues depending on the sensitivity of data.
    • for existing projects that are still recruiting please include this statement “responses for this survey are stored in north america and not in australia” in the participant information and consent form (picf). (please note: it is in breach of the australian privacy act if you do not notify participants of this and obtain their consent)
    • for research that is no longer recruiting nothing needs to be done.
  • investigators can migrate current qualtrics projects and surveys to redcap, limesurvey, or the australian qualtrics server
  • it is strongly recommended that qualtrics surveys with highly sensitive data either be moved to: limesurvey, redcap or the australian qualtrics server
    • surveys cannot be “automatically” migrated and need to be moved manually.
    • qualtrics has provided a guide on how to perform the migration once macquarie is ready. refer to:
    • //www.qualtrics.com/support/survey-platform/managing-your-account/user-moves/

    • qualtrics recommends moving surveys that are inactive or closed, because emailed surveys will lose distribution names, history, and ability to send thank you and reminder emails.
    • until surveys are moved, consent forms must indicate that the data is stored in the us.
    • longer-term, if mq continues to use qualtrics, overseas servers will be discontinued in favour of australian servers.

[1] eresearch offers training for these systems on a regular basis, please contact via  eresearch@mq.edu.au additional eresearch staff will be available from september to assist with setup in these systems.

[2] acspri offers responsive support for limesurvey

how do i get advice or support from the human ethics team?

the human ethics team continues to work remotely. please contact them as below via phone or email.

email: ethics.secretariat@mq.edu.au

  • t: +61 2 9850 4459 (administration)
  • t: +61 2 9850 7850 (hrec: humanities and social sciences)
  • t: +61 2 9850 4194 (hrec: medical sciences)

this hrec advice represents current thinking and best practice at the government level. it reflects the shared views of all state and territory departments of health, the therapeutic goods administration (tga), national health and medical research council (nhmrc) and the clinical trials project reference group (ctprg).

if you have concerns or queries about the conduct of research by macquarie university during this period, you might find a useful contact here.

macquarie university is committed to maintaining the highest standards of research ethics and integrity, and has thus embedded a culture of professional and responsible research practice across all disciplines and faculties.  the research ethics and integrity teams support and promote responsible research practices through the provision of resources, guidance and education.

research ethics and integrity

  • research integrity

    at macquarie, we aim to promote and support responsible research practices by providing resources and guidance to our researchers.

  • human research ethics

    all research with human participants must adhere to the national statement on ethical conduct in human research (2007).

  • animal ethics

    we are strongly committed to supporting the care and welfare of animals; and the ethical conduct of people who work with animals for scientific research purposes.

  • policy

    if you are intending to conduct any research at macquarie, you must comply with a series of policies and guidelines.

  • biosafety, biosecurity and gene technology

    making bold discoveries means researchers need to work with hazardous materials. read how we ensure these materials are minimised, managed and disposed of correctly.

  • chemical

    chemicals and substances that have the potential to harm human health, property and the environment. find out about our induction on hazardous chemical safety.

  • laser

    lasers produce a high-intensity beam which can cause damage to eyes and the skin. learn about our commitment to the safe use of laser products both on and off campus.

  • radiation

    the ultimate aim when working with any source of radiation is to minimise the doses that staff and students receive. read about the actions we are taking.

  • controlled goods and technology

    the defence trade controls act 2012 protects the national interest by preventing sensitive goods and technologies from falling into the wrong hands. learn how we are compliant.

  • autonomous sanction act

    find out how we take reasonable precautions and exercise due diligence to avoid breaching the autonomous sanctions act 2011 where applicable.

content owner: research integrity last updated: 04 nov 2020 3:05pm

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