Ethical Consent

If you're planning a study that involves human participants at the University of Waikato you need approval from a committee delegated from the University Human Research Ethics Committee.

In the HECS Division we have such a delegated committee and you should apply for approval of your study via this committee.

If you have any questions, please contact one of the SCMS members of the HECS Committee:

COVID-19 and Research Ethics

Given the current situation  world-wide regarding the COVID-19 pandemic, and the steps being taken in New Zealand to stem transmission of the virus, the Human Research Ethics Committee proposes the following in relation to all active research which has had prior ethics approval, and new research which will be seeking ethical approval.

  1. If your research involves interviewing subjects, you may now prefer to conduct those interviews via video or telephone, to minimise personal contact, and to quell any concerns that your interviewees may have. For research already approved, you should not be required to ask for an amendment to the approval in order to switch from face-to-face to remote interviews, but you will need to ensure that Participant Information Sheets and Consent Forms are adequately and appropriately modified and dealt with under this revised approach.
  2. If your research involves physical interaction with participants (for example sports and health related research), then you should consider carefully the risks of virus transmission, and what facilities you might provide to minimise those risks. In some cases it may be appropriate to delay your study until the situation improves.
  3. Your research may not necessarily involve direct physical interaction with participants, but there may be increased risk of virus transmission, for example through handling of objects that are part of the research. Again, you should ensure that all steps are taken to minimise any risk of virus transmission, or delay or modify the procedure.
  4. If your research involves gatherings of people, or sports events, then again, you should seriously consider postponing or significantly amending your research approach.
  5. You should be aware that many parts of the University have instituted visitor registers, and that if you have participants visiting the University, their identities will be being recorded, and this may need to be mentioned in your Participant Information Sheet, given that people outside of the research team will now be aware of their visit.
  6. It may be that in recruiting participants, or in engaging with participants who have already consented, there may now be some reluctance to participate or to continue in participation, because of the virus threat. This may mean that your research will take longer to complete, and you may need to consider extending the period of your study.
  7. If your research includes an international element, you should be very aware of the University’s current position on overseas travel, including existing and future arrangements.
  8. If changes to your protocols are needed which alter the way your research will be conducted, beyond the exceptions mentioned above, you should check with your Divisional Ethics Committee to see if a formal amendment will be required. Student researchers should discuss these matters with their supervisors.
  9. If your research activity is associated with a qualification, it may become necessary to negotiate an extension to the timeframe of your research project. Please discuss this with your academic supervisor who will provide advice on this and/or direct you to appropriate people for advice.

Requirements for an Application Within the School of Computing & Mathematical Sciences

The School has instituted a short-form preliminary application process, which for standard procedures will often be sufficient to gain ethical approval. The Preliminary Ethics Application Form is a fillable PDF, which should be downloaded and then completed using appropriate PDF-handling software. This form should then be emailed to:

In almost all cases it will be appropriate to include the Research Consent/Participant information Form with this preliminary application. You should expect an initial response to your on-line pre-application within 7 days.

The response to your application will be either (a) approval to proceed, (b) a request for additional information, or (c) a requirement to complete a full application as follows.

Your full application should have these components:

Your application should be clear about how participants give informed consent for their participation in your study. Any proposed incentives for participants should be clearly described and justified; in practice most studies can be performed without explicit incentives.

Application Procedures

Submitting Applications

Please ensure that all paperwork is securely held together or in a folder, and submit it to the Division of Health, Engineering, Computing and Science office (FG.G.04). The office will record the date on which applications are received. Applications should only be in printed form, electronic submissions are not acceptable. (If electronic resources are to be used, such as an on-line questionnaire, please provide printed copies as well as the location of the on-line material).

For PhD students moving from Conditional to Full Enrolment you should submit your Research Proposal instead of a Project Details form.

Getting a Response

If possible, the Committee will respond to applications within two working weeks. This turnaround time should not be taken for granted, and a reasonable amount of time should be left between submission of the application and the planned start of the study. Please be aware that the Committee may request further information, or require changes to be made to the experimental procedures and materials before approval can be given. You will receive a written response to your application, giving approval or detailing further steps that are required before the application is resubmitted.

If your study includes aspects which are included on the Red Flags list you should allow additional time:

External locations
Where the research is located in an external location, such as a school or office, then the application should include explicit agreement to the study by an appropriate person in the organisation, e.g. school principal, office manager etc. We encourage supplying a letter of agreement/support from a school principal (or other similar authority) along with the application.

Scope of Feedback
The Committee is not intended to provide feedback on the quality of the research and experimental methodology that is described in applications. Any response will focus on the ethical considerations involved in the application.

Pilot Studies
Pilot studies require ethical approval before they can be carried out. The Committee considers a pilot study to be an investigation into the efficacy of the experimental design, where individuals who have not been involved in designing the experiment are subjected to the experimental procedures and conditions.

Re-application for Approval
If the experimental procedures or materials change at any time after approval has been given, experimentation must stop and a further application must be submitted, describing the changes. The Committee expects and requires that approved applications held on file are an accurate description of the experimentation that took place.

Multi-experiment Applications
Applications that only generally describe one or more experiments in a series, or integrate multiple experiments such that the procedures and materials for each experiment are not individually distinguishable will not be approved. 'Blanket' approval for a number of loosely-defined experiments on a topic will not be given.

Data Archiving

In your application you should be clear about what will happen to any data you collect. You can deposit material in the SCMS Data Archive as a secure form of storage. In your application for approval of your research you can also specify a destruction date for the data. You can choose to archive data and materials for a specified period (along with a destruction request) or indefinitely.

Several journals (e.g. The Lancet) include a guidelines of five years for supporting data. Material based around teaching related activity that has no external audience and does not contribute to research usually does not require to be archived for such periods. Such material could be archived until the completion of the course, plus some time to allow to finalisation of grades (and any appeals).
To deposit material in the SCMS Data Archive: