Research ethics

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– presenting someone else’s work as if it were your own, whether you mean to or not (you must acknowledge published and unpublished work, material on the internet and the work of other students and staff).

Academic misconduct does not include honest errors.

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 review, approve, and monitor projects involving human participants, their data, or tissue.

Certain research and teaching activities require prior HEC approval in order to ensure that human research proceeds ethically and in accordance with the Human Ethics Policy.

Do you need ethics approval for your research?

If your research involves human participants, their data, or tissue, it is subject to the Human Ethics Policy.

You should:

  • read the HEC Guidelines carefully and ensure that you are familiar with the ethical issues, principles and practices that relate to research
  • discuss the ethical implications of your research with your primary supervisor
  • contact the Research Office ethics team for further guidance on the ethics approval process

Read the Human Ethics Policy and download templates for applications on the HEC site.

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.