Faculty of Graduate Research

Research Ethics

On this page:

As a PhD student, you have important ethical responsibilities towards your discipline, your research subjects and the University.

Academic Integrity

You are expected to conduct all research in an honest, responsible and ethical manner. You must adhere to relevant governmental, institutional and professional guidelines. Any work you submit must be your own, and your data must be valid.

Academic Misconduct

Misconduct in research is unacceptable and will be treated very seriously. Cases of academic misconduct include:

  • the fabrication of data, including claiming results where none have been obtained
  • the falsification of data, including fraudulent changing of records
  • infringements of the University’s ethical guidelines or of other relevant codes of ethics
  • misleading ascription of authorship
  • plagiarism – presenting someone else’s work as if it were your own, whether you mean to or not (you must acknowledge published and unpublished work, material on the internet and the work of other students and staff).

Note: Academic misconduct does not include honest errors.

Document File size File type
icon-pdf Student Conduct Statute 256 KB PDF

Back to top ^

Human Ethics

The University has a responsibility to protect the privacy, safety, health, cultural sensitivities and welfare of human subjects.

Human Ethics Committee

The role of the University Human Ethics Committee (HEC) is to ensure that staff and students are aware of the ethical issues involved in teaching and research.

Certain research and teaching activities require prior HEC approval in order to protect both the interests of potential subjects and those of the researcher or teacher.

Do You Need Ethics Approval for Your Research?

If your research involves human subjects or human tissue or affects people’s privacy, rights and freedoms, it is subject to Human Ethics Committee Guidelines.

You should:

  • read the HEC Guidelines carefully and ensure that you are familiar with basic ethical issues, principles and practices
  • discuss the ethical implications of your research with your primary supervisor to determine whether HEC approval is required.

If there is any doubt about the need for HEC approval, you must seek advice from your Head of School (HoS) or the convener of the HEC.

Applying for Approval

Responsibility for applying for HEC approval rests with you, but the application must be approved and countersigned by the primary supervisor and the HoS.

Applications for ethics approval should be made online through Research Master: https://rme.vuw.ac.nz/rmenet/ . Please login to Research Master using your usual VUW username and password. Guidelines for making an online application are available here. Note that printed applications are no longer accepted.

Applications should be directed to the central Human Ethics Committee unless you are a student in one of the following faculties or schools: School of Psychology, School of Information Management, Faculties of Law and Commerce (“Pipitea”). These faculties and schools have a Human Ethics Subcommittee with approval powers delegated from the University Human Ethics Committee. Please ensure you select the relevant subcommittee when making your online application.

If you do not have access to Research Master, please download this form, complete the details and send to Louise Grenside, the Ethics Administrator at ethicsadmin@vuw.ac.nz.

The approval process will take around three weeks.

Document File size File type
icon-pdf Human Ethics Committee Guidelines 108 KB PDF
icon-pdf Human Ethics Policy 264 KB PDF

Ethics Application Deadlines

Applications to the Human Ethics Committee and subcommittees (apart from the School of Information Management Sub-committee) that are received before 1 December each year will be reviewed, and applicants notified, before the Christmas break.

Applications received after 1 December will not be reviewed until February the following year. Any urgent issues arising during January should be referred to the convener of the relevant committee.

Back to top ^

Animal Ethics

If PhD research involves animal subjects, it must be approved by the University’s Animal Ethics Committee.

Please read the Animal Ethics Policy carefully and ensure that you are familiar with basic ethical issues, principles and practices.

Applications to the Animal Ethics Committee should be made online through Research Master: https://rme.vuw.ac.nz/rmenet/. Please see information above under ‘Applying for Approval’ if you need assistance accessing Research Master.

Document File size File type
icon-pdf Animal Ethics Policy 430 KB PDF