Research and ethics

Scope is committed to research that leads to practical benefits for the people we support, their carers, volunteers and the community.

Research and approvals

Scope is committed to research that leads to practical benefits for the people we support, their carers, volunteers and the community.

We have recently changed our research approval procedures. Scope’s Human Research Ethics Committee (HREC) will be closing. It will not be accepting any new applications for review from October 2019. The new review and approval process for conducting research at Scope, including requests for assistance with recruitment, is detailed below.

From October 2019, Scope will accept ethics approval from other HRECs that are registered with the National Health and Medical Research Council. From October 2019 – October 2020, the HREC will be in a transition period. During this transition period, the HREC will maintain its monitoring function (including reviewing and approving amendments) for research for which it is the primary HREC and which have not been completed. If you are a researcher whose project falls in this category, you are still required to meet reporting requirements. Click here for additional information.

Researchers who have received ethics approval from Scope’s HREC but have another Committee listed as the primary HREC are not required to report to Scope’s HREC. Reporting should be to the primary HREC.

All research requests will be reviewed and approved by an internal Committee. Due to the large volume of research applications received, Scope is unable to support all research requests.

Applications will be prioritised and assessed against a number of criteria including; alignment with the Strategic Plan and the Research Plan, benefit and relevance of the research to Scope (customers, staff, volunteers etc.), impact, risk, feasibility, and the resourcing required to support the research. Scope will prioritise applications which it has had the opportunity to provide input to during the conceptualisation and design phase.

An application should be made using the Application to Conduct Research at Scope form.  Before submitting your application, you must contact Dr Stella Koritsas (Manager, Strategic Research) to discuss your application (9843 3000).

When submitting your application, a copy of the letter of approval from a HREC should be attached, as well as copies of the information that will be distributed to potential participants (e.g., the participant information sheets, consent forms, brochures, flyers) and all the data collection instruments (e.g., surveys, interview/ focus group questions).

Please note that the Committee may request changes to your application.

Also note that a requirement of approval is that researchers inform Scope of the results of the research by providing a copy of the final report (or publications).

In addition to the criteria outlined above, attention will be given to the following elements of an application:

Complexity of language

It is essential that the information (e.g., participant information sheets/ explanatory statements, consent forms, recruitment advertisements) distributed to potential participants are written in a way that will be understood. Scope expects that researchers avoid the use of technical and academic language, especially when potential participants are children or people with cognitive impairment or intellectual disability. Instead, researchers should use lay language (e.g., plain language).

Obtaining consent from participants

Information about how consent will be sought from participants should be clearly articulated. It is not sufficient to say that consent will be obtained using standard procedures.

Identifying and managing risk/s associated with participation (including adverse reactions and distress)

The risk associated with participating in research is often underestimated. Eliciting information about sensitive topics (e.g., violence, abuse, physical health, mental health, satisfaction with services) could lead to distress in participants. It is expected that researchers provide information about the risk/s associated with participation, and implement strategies to manage these (e.g., access to counselling). Details of risks should be included in any information distributed to potential participants (e.g., participant information sheets/ explanatory statements).

Management of dependent / unequal relationships

Assisting with recruitment often means that a Scope employee (e.g., therapist, support worker, manager) is being asked to pass on information about the research to people who they already have a relationship with (e.g., therapist to client, manager to support worker). In these situations, there is a power relationship and the potential for coercion needs to be acknowledged and addressed to ensure that participation is free and voluntary.

Lack of information about the research

At times, in the information provided to potential participants, there is a lack of information about the aims of the research and what participation involves. Scope expects that the participation requirements are clearly articulated to participants (e.g., interviews, surveys, time commitment required, examples of questions that will be asked).

The Application to Conduct Research at Scope should be submitted to research@scopeaust.org.au.

Applications must be submitted as one single PDF file that includes all clearly labelled attachments.

The outcome of the review will be communicated within four weeks of submission.

Applications with less than three months between commencement and completion will not be accepted.

For more information about organisational approval, please email research@scopeaust.org.au.

Scope will continue to monitor research it has approved and for which it is the primary HREC. Monitoring includes reviewing and approving amendments, reporting and auditing. Researchers must ensure that they comply with the reporting requirements outlined in their letter of approval. The forms can be downloaded below. Out of date or incorrect forms will not be accepted. All reports must be submitted as one single PDF file that includes all attachments.

All reports should be submitted to the HREC Officer at hrec@scopeaust.org.au.

For queries regarding Scope’s HREC during the transition to full closure, please contact the HREC Officer at hrec@scopeaust.org.au.

Annual progress reports:

Final reports:

    • Must be submitted within three months of the project completion date
    • Should include copies of any publications listed in the report
    • Complete the final report

Adverse events:

Request for amendment:

    • Any changes to approved research must be requested. For example, change in procedure or direction of the project, changes to research personnel, time extension, changes in the source or manner of recruitment and changes in the number of participants
    • Minor amendments (e.g. change in sample size and change of timelines) will be reviewed by the HREC Chairperson
    • All other amendments will be reviewed by the HREC
    • Complete the Request for Amendment

Discontinuation of research:

Audits:

Scope’s HREC is registered as a Human Research Ethics Committee with the National Health and Medical Research Council:

HREC Identification Number: EC00428

Organisation Identification Number: ORG0554

The Committee is currently in a transition period and is not accepting any new applications. Please refer to Approval to conduct research at Scope for information about review and approval to conduct research at Scope.

Committee members

Chairperson
Dr Philomena Horsley

Lay people
Amanda Tremellen
Sascha Merlo
Kiel Johns
Bianca Lowe

Person with knowledge of and current experience in the professional care, counselling or treatment of people
Brian Hardy
Susan Palmer

Someone in a pastoral care role
Rev Barry Fernley

Lawyer
Yvette Woodward

People with current knowledge of and current experience in the research that is relevant to the proposals to be considered
Dr Stella Koritsas (Deputy Chair)
Associate Professor Jenny McGinley

People with lived experience
Shane Kelly
Jasmine Ozge

HREC Officer
Emily Garrett

HREC complaints and feedback

Complaints and other feedback should be submitted to the HREC Officer at hrec@scopeaust.org.au.

Complaints about the conduct of a specific research project or matters relating to HREC review will be investigated by the Chair and/or the CEO as appropriate and in accordance with Scope’s organisational processes.

Complaints relating to the rejection of an application by the HREC should be directed to the CEO via the HREC Officer.

Additional resources

Enquiries about research approvals research@scopeaust.org.au
HREC Officer: 03 9843 3000 or hrec@scopeaust.org.au