Low Risk Research

The UNSW Australia Human Research Ethics Advisory Panels consists of eight discipline-based panels concerned with research which has low risk ethical impact. Please send completed forms and necessary copies directly to the relevant panel.

What is Low Risk Research?

The expression ‘low risk research’ describes research in which the only foreseeable risk is one of discomfort. Where the risk, even if unlikely, is more than discomfort, the research is not low risk (Section 2.1.6 National Statement).

Although some research activities may appear to be low risk in nature, for example non-sensitive and non-contentious interviews, if the recruitment targets a vulnerable population, then the level of risk the research poses is considered to be 'more than low risk'.

Populations that may be considered vulnerable (as outlined in sections 4.1-4.8 of the National Statement) include, but are not limited to:

  • Women who are pregnant and the human fetus;
  • People highly dependent on medical care who may be unable to give consent;
  • People with cognitive impairment, an intellectual disability, or a mental illness;
  • People who may be involved in illegal activities; and
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples.
What Is Discomfort?

Discomfort is a negative accompaniment or effect of research, less serious than harm.

Examples of discomfort from research may include involvement in a focus group or interview.

What if my research is more than Low Risk Research?

If you are conducting more than low risk research you will be required to obtain ethical approval from UNSW Human Research Ethics Committee (HREC) in accordance with the requirements of the National Statement. 

If you are unsure of the level of risk relevant to your project, please contact the Human Ethics Team for guidance and advice.

Submission requirements

To submit the application form you need to complete the following steps:

  1. Attach your completed UNSW Ethics Application Form (and all corresponding documents) to an email.
  2. Attach an email or letter of support for the project from Head of School.
  3. In the cc section of the email, copy in any named student investigator and co-investigators listed on the application.
  4. The person listed as the Chief Investigator must send the application using their work email address.
  5. Ensure your submission is made by the closing date relevant to the HREA Panel that is responsible for reviewing applications from your school or faculty. 

The individual submission email address and closing dates can be found on the HREA Panel page that you will be submitting to.  Please click on the panel link below.