The National Statement on Ethical Conduct in Human Research (2023) in section 4.3.1 states:

"Being in a dependent or unequal relationship may influence a person's decision to participate in research. While this influence does not necessarily invalidate the decision, it always constitutes a reason to pay particular attention to the process through which consent is negotiated."

Due to the unequal relationship that exists between students and teachers, researchers should ensure that sufficient mechanisms are in place to minimise the risk of the potential impact for students to experience pressure or coercion to participate; especially if the research is conducted by the course lecturer, tutor, or Course convenor.

Students may perceive that non-participation may impact, or potentially impact on their grades, assessments, or future relationship with ACU, and as a result, may provide their consent due to this perceived pressure to participate. To help mitigate this risk, students should be invited to take part in research, and the design of the research should implement a consent process that is conducted by a person independent of the researcher.

For further information, please refer to sections 2.2.9, 3.1.17 & 3.1.20 & 4.3, in the National Statement on Ethical Conduct in Human Research (2023).

Approval to conduct research on ACU student participants

Surveys, interviews, and focus groups are an important tool for students to provide feedback on their studies, for conducting research and for the University to collect information to satisfy compliance and national benchmarking needs. As Australian Catholic University (ACU) has grown, and digital technology has improved, these data collection methods have become increasingly prevalent as means of gathering data from large cohorts of students. Research with students can pose several risks for the University, which include:

  • students becoming disengaged due to survey and research fatigue;
  • disrupting communications channels with invitations and reminders;
  • lowered response rates which compromise data quality due to over-surveying students; and
  • lack of institutional understanding/clarity in engaging students in a research project.

All research involving students as participants, needs to be approved by the Centre for Educations and Innovation (CEI). Approval applies to ACU researchers and external researchers from other institutions. Approval from CEI to survey or conduct an interview or Focus Group on ACU students must be sought prior to ethical approval. A copy of the approval should be included in the Ethics application in Orion. The process can take up to 2 weeks. See the below application form and links to seek approval.

If you are an ACU staff member doing a PhD at another University, and have an ACU supervisor, and are seeking to recruit ACU students, an ACU Registration form needs to be completed. The ACU staff member or supervisor can submit the original application form from the other institution and the Chair will review and approve out of session. However, the Participant Information Letter and Consent Form (PICF) will need:

  • A reference/explanation of the ACU connection/involvement/potential COI in the study (explanation of both institutions and joint nature should be briefly explained)
  • A recruitment strategy that minimises the risk of the potential impact for students to experience pressure or coercion to participate.
  • If the ACU staff member is involved, then provide their contact detail.
  • If you are planning on recruiting ACU students, see information above for requirements.
External researchers

If you have no affiliation with ACU and have ethics approval from another institution and wish to recruit ACU staff or students you will require ACU approval from the Head of School or other authorised person. You will need to provide evidence of the approval from the external institution. You will also need to gain approval from the Centre for Education and Innovation to survey or conduct an interview or Focus Group at ACU. See above information for students' participation in research.

Recruitment during lectures, tutorials, presentations or Canvas

Please use the ACU student recruitment email template when recruiting students via email, Canvas, during lectures, Tutorial, in classroom settings or via mail lists.

When emailing potential participants, it is preferable for a school administrator to be asked to distribute an invitation email on behalf of the Research team, with a copy of the Participant Information Letter and Consent Form attached. The below statement should also be used to help alleviate the potential for students to perceive the act of non-participation as having an impact on their course results.

"Your decision to participate, or not, will have no impact on your relationship with ACU, the researchers, or assessments and course grades."

Advertisements for the Research study may be placed in Canvas. Ensure the ACU student recruitment strategy includes the text from the ACU student Recruitment Email Script Template.

Name Purpose Format Link
Recruitment Email Script Template (ACU Students) Use this as a template for recruiting ACU students. Can be adapted for emails, letters or advertisements. .docx Download
Page last updated on 07/05/2024

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