Ethics Review of Proposals Involving Human Participants Policy


This policy applies to all members of the University.


To ensure that all research involving human participants conducted by members of the University conforms to the highest ethical standards.


UAHPEC and AHREC are ethics committees that review and approve the adequacy of protection for human participants in research studies at the University of Auckland.

Membership of UAHPEC and AHREC is based on current Health Research Council Ethics Committee (HRC EC) requirements, and additionally, University Council and AHREC Governance Board requirements, which ensure a balance of representatives from within the University and lay members.


1. All research involving human participants that is carried out by members of the University, including research within teaching sessions, must obtain approval from the appropriate ethics committee, except those activities classified as exempt in the University’s Guiding Principles for Conducting Research with Human Participants.

2. Failure to obtain ethics approval when it is required, failure to adhere to an approved research protocol, or failure to comply with the policies established by the University for ethical oversight, may constitute research misconduct and may occasion disciplinary action following standard University procedures.

3. Health and disability research that falls within the scope of a Health and Disability Ethics Committee (HDEC) review must be approved by an HDEC.

4. Health research that falls outside the scope for HDEC review must be reviewed by AHREC.

5. Research that falls outside the scope for review by an HDEC or AHREC must obtain approval from UAHPEC for research involving human participants.

6. Researchers are responsible for the ethical conduct of research in keeping with widely accepted ethical principles for research involving human participants.

Note - these principles and their application are explained in the Guiding Principles for Conducting Research with Human Participants.

7. Researchers have a duty of care to approach all research involving human participants in a culturally sensitive way.

Note - The University recognises that all members of its community are encompassed by Te Tiriti o Waitangi with mutual rights and obligations, and that the principles of partnership, participation and protection underpin the relationship between the University and Māori under Te Tiriti o Waitangi. The spirit of Te Tiriti o Waitangi and respect for the implicit principles of relationship and sharing must be incorporated in research proposals.When research focuses on Māori, or if there are areas of interest and potential implications for Māori, the researcher is required to show that these have been considered and consultation has taken place where appropriate, such as discussing any issues relating to Māori cultural and ethical values with the whānau, hapū or iwi concerned.


The following definitions apply to this document:

AHRECAuckland Health Research Ethics Committee

HDECHealth and Disability Ethics Committee

Human participant - a person with whom there is some intervention or interaction that would not be occurring, or would be occurring in some other fashion, but for the research, or as a result of the research.

Member of the University, includes:

  • anyone employed under a University, or Auckland UniServices Limited employment agreement, or as an independent contractor, and
  • any student enrolled at the University and
  • anyone else who is undertaking, piloting or supporting research in association or affiliation with the University, including anyone subject to the Honorary and Adjunct Appointment Policy and Procedures or holding a University title such as Emeritus Professor.

Research - an original, independent investigation undertaken to contribute to knowledge and understanding and, in the case of some disciplines, cultural innovation or aesthetic refinement. Such an independent investigation does not exclude collaborative research and is understood to include supervised student research.

UAHPEC - The University of Auckland Human Participants Ethics Committee

University means the University of Auckland and includes all subsidiaries.

Key relevant documents

Document management and control

Owned by: DVC (Research)
Content manager: Ethics and Integrity Manager
Approved by: Vice-Chancellor
Date approved: July 2021
Review date: July 2026