UOW HREC applications

All research involving UOW researchers must be submitted to a UOW HREC for approval or, if the research is being approved by an external HREC, for acceptance of approval by an external HREC.  All UOW ethics applications are submitted via the University’s online ethics portal, IRMA.  Please note that, as of 1 July 2023, the University of Wollongong and Illawarra Shoalhaven Local Health District have agreed to end the operation of its joint Human Research Ethics Committee (HREC).  For further information, please see the Applications Involving NSW Health page.

Access IRMA

IRMA is a web-based research management program for ethics. It is used for submitting, processing and reviewing ethics applications.

Log in to IRMA*

*Important note: Remote access to IRMA

NB: IRMA has moved behind the UOW firewall. If you are working remotely you will need to log in to the UOW VPN before you can access it.

All new applications should include the following documentation:

You can find the UOW Application Forms at our Forms, guidelines & policies page, and examples/checklists for participant information sheets and consent forms at our Examples & guides page.

Please note that all information about your project should be communicated in the UOW Ethics Application forms.  Please do not attach entire PhD proposal documents, grant application documents, or separate protocol documents with your ethics submission; these documents will not be sent to the HREC for review and will not be considered a part of your application.  If these documents contain relevant information about your project, then that information must be included in the UOW Ethics Application forms.

CLINICAL TRIALS
If you are conducting a Clinical Trial your application should also include:

  • Protocol
  • Investigator's Brochure
  • Insurance Certificate
  • Indemnity Forms
  • Study Budget
  • Details of who should be invoiced

Applications for sponsored clinical trials should include Indemnity Forms for the study and for HREC review.  The forms can be downloaded from the Medicines Australia website.

APPLICATIONS FROM EXTERNAL RESEARCHERS
The UOW HRECs review applications for external parties if the research project falls within the expertise of one of the HRECs.

Fees apply to the review of most external research (as per the fee schedule), and a Memorandum of Understanding outlining the responsibilities of all parties must be completed.  Investigators are required to have completed relevant training in research ethics in the last five years.  If necessary, access to online training through UOW can be arranged.

External researchers wishing to submit their research through a UOW HREC should contact the Human Ethics team at uow-humanethics@uow.edu.au, or call 02 4239 2191.

ALLOCATING APPLICATIONS FOR REVIEW
Applications are allocated for review by the Ethics Office, taking into account the nature and risk profile of the research, as well as the current workload of each HREC.  In light of the UOW-ISLHD HREC separation, the Ethics Office anticipates that the majority of higher risk research (i.e. research that requires Full HREC review) relating to mental health, interactions with healthcare, health knowledge, dementia and nutrition will be allocated to the Health and Medical HREC for review.

It is recommended that researchers consult the Full HREC meeting dates and agenda deadlines well in advance of submission.

At UOW, the submission and ‘sign off’ of ethics applications takes place online via IRMA – UOW’s ethics application portal.  Once the application is submitted, all researchers are notified that the application is awaiting signoff.  As the final sign off, the Head of School/Unit is notified when all researchers have signed off.

IRMA allows you to follow the progress of the sign off process, as well as the ethics review.  The system also holds key information for the research team to refer back to, such as: the due date for annual progress reports, all research documentation, and any correspondence from the HREC. 

ACCESSING IRMA
UOW staff and some students will have access to IRMA automatically using their UOW account number. Otherwise you will need to apply for access. Requests should be processed within two working days.

PLEASE NOTE: UOW accounts are linked to UOW email addresses and all correspondence is sent to this address.

SUBMITTING IN IRMA
Submissions in IRMA have three components:

  1. Information entered directly into IRMA. For new applications and annual reports this involves limited details to identify the project, plus information required for government reporting.
  2. Attachments with project details. This includes the application form or research protocol, research tools, advertising material and informed consent documentation.  To allow identification of documents in the online system it is important that each document is named using the format specified. (DocumentName VersionNumber Date (DDMMYYYY) e.g. PIS Children V1 01052015).
  3. An Attachment Listing

Please note, when pressing ‘submit’ in the system, this is submitting the application for the electronic sign-off process.  It is only once all signatures required have been actioned that the application is received by the Ethics team for processing, and only at this stage is the application considered ‘submitted’.  For this reason, please ensure you allow enough time for this to be completed before the agenda deadline.

TRAINING ON IRMA
Training is provided on request for individuals or groups, please email uow-humanethics@uow.edu.au to discuss arranging a session for you or your work area.

WRITTEN GUIDES

VIDEO GUIDES 

IRMA HELP
If you are having difficulties with the system please contact irma-support@uow.edu.au.

For any other questions, please contact the Human Ethics team at uow-humanethics@uow.edu.au, or on 02 4221 3773 (Monday to Wednesday) or 02 4221 5504 (Wednesday to Friday).

Once you have obtained ethics approval you are required to submit annual progress reports to the HREC, as well as a final report on completion of your project.  Physical monitoring of research records/activities by the Human Ethics team may also occur.  As evidence of continuing compliance, the HREC also requires that researchers immediately report:

  • Proposed changes to the protocol including changes to investigators involved
  • Serious or unexpected adverse effects on participants
  • Unforeseen events that might affect continued ethical acceptability of the project

AMENDMENTS
Changes to the methods, recruitment procedures or information documents or research team need to be approved by the HREC before being implemented.

Most amendments are reviewed by the HREC Executive committees and can be submitted at any time. Substantial changes to projects that are more than low risk may need to be reviewed by a Full committee and will need to be submitted for the appropriate agenda deadline.  Please contact the Ethics Unit if you would like advice on this.

Requests for changes to methods or documentation should be submitted through IRMA. When doing so, make sure you:

  • Attach copies of any revised documents with the changes highlighted or tracked, and an updated version number and date in the footer of the document.
  • If there are extensive changes please provide a clean copy as well as one showing the changes.

For UOW applications, requests for changes to investigators should be submitted using the ‘Amend Investigators’ online form in IRMA.  If the amendment involves additional researchers, an additional researcher declaration form for each new investigator must be completed and uploaded with the request.  All new investigators must also have completed relevant human ethics training in the last five years, and evidence of the training must also be uploaded.

PROGRESS REPORTS & MONITORING
Once you have obtained ethics approval you are required to submit annual progress reports to the HREC, as well as a final report on completion of your project.  Physical monitoring of research records/activities by the Human Ethics team may also occur.

If the study does not go ahead or is terminated prior to completion, you are still required to submit a report explaining what has occurred.

All reports are lodged through the online system, IRMA.  Reports for ongoing and completed projects require specific forms in addition to the online questions; these forms are available on the Forms, guidelines & policies page.

HREC approval is granted for up to 12 months at a time, renewable on receipt of a progress report.  Long term projects (greater than four years) and projects which undergo substantial modification following the initial approval may be required to submit a new application.

ADVERSE EVENTS
All adverse events occurring during or as a result of participation in research should be reported to the HREC as soon as practicable. Serious events must be reported with 72 hours.

For Clinical Trials the UOW HREC follows the NHMRC 2016 guideline on the monitoring of clinical trials, Safety monitoring and reporting in clinical trials involving therapeutic goods.

Urgent safety issues requiring implementation of a safety measure should be reported to the HREC within 72 hours.

See a summary of NSW Health reporting requirements

COMPLAINTS
Any person who has a concern or complaint about the way a research project has been conducted should contact the Ethics Officer on (02) 4239 2191 or email uow-humanethics@uow.edu.au.

 

In the following situations, researchers are required to submit an 'Acceptance of Approval by an External HREC' request to the University of Wollongong Ethics Office:

  • When UOW researchers are involved in a project that has been approved by an external HREC; or 
  • When an external research project (i.e. where no UOW researchers are involved) with existing HREC approval proposes to recruit UOW staff or students.

For UOW researchers who wish to submit an 'Acceptance of Approval by an External HREC' request, log into IRMA, create an 'Acceptance of Approval by an External HREC' coversheet, and attach copies of all HREC-approved research documentation (including the formal letter of approval) and ethics training certificates for all involved UOW researchers.

For non-UOW researchers who wish to submit an 'Acceptance of Approval by an External HREC' request, please email the UOW Human Ethics team at uow-humanethics@uow.edu.au and attach copies of all HREC-approved research documentation (including the formal letter of approval).

This process enables the UOW Ethics Office to keep accurate records of all UOW-related human research.  Once the 'Acceptance of Approval by an External HREC' request has been received,  the application will receive an administrative check to ensure that the approval is by an NHMRC certified HREC, and that it covers the work that will involve UOW.  The ethical oversight of the project will remain with the approving HREC.

If you are bringing a project to UOW from another institution, you may wish to transfer the ethics approval so that the ongoing approval and monitoring is managed by a UOW HREC.  To do this you will need to submit the approved documentation, including the approval notification, through IRMA as a new application.  It is important to include a brief explanation of the reason for the transfer.  If any documentation (e.g. information sheets and consent forms) will need to change to reflect this move, please submit the revised documents with the already approved ones.  You should also notify the HREC that you are transferring from of this change.

Please note that transferring an application into the UOW HREC means that the UOW HREC becomes the new monitoring HREC.  If you are a UOW researcher and have had an application approved by another HREC and are seeking only to notify the UOW HREC of this approval, please consult the information on ‘Applying for acceptance of approval by an external HREC’.

If you are moving a significant part of an approved project to another institution you should consider transferring the ethics approval to the new institution.  You should contact the Ethics Office of the new institution to obtain advice about their processes. Once approval has been obtained at the new institution, you will need to lodge a transfer out notification in IRMA. This will ensure that no future requests for monitoring reports are sent to you.