Research ethics

It is obligatory to conduct ethical research. Ethical research includes avoidance of the following:

  1. Plagiarism: Plagiarism is the representation of another’s works or ideas as one’s own; it includes the unacknowledged word for word use or paraphrasing of another person’s work, and the inappropriate unacknowledged use of another person’s ideas.
  2. Fraud: Academic fraud is the falsification and fabrication of research results and dishonesty in reporting research results.
  3. Misrepresentation: Misrepresentation is the giving of false or misleading information in academic matters. It includes falsely claiming credit for past study and falsely stating that thesis material has not been used in another thesis beyond the permitted scope.
  4. Unethical behaviour: Unethical behaviour is behaviour that breaches accepted ethical standards. It includes failing to observe the terms of an ethical approval to conduct research and misuse of confidential information obtained in field education.

Failure to conduct ethical research may result in the candidate being charged with academic misconduct.


Research ethics when involving human subjects

The Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research establishes a framework for responsible research conduct that provides a foundation for high-quality research, credibility and community trust in the research endeavour.  The relevant standards are sent by the National Health and Medical Research Council together with the Australian Research Council.

Anyone undertaking research with human subjects is obliged to ensure that the ethical dimension of the research lies within acceptable bounds. The same standards that govern the ethics of medical or other scientific research apply for studies in the Humanities, including Theology and Ministry. Any project, however basic eg filling out of a questionnaire, must explicitly avoid any kind of harm to the individuals concerned, as well as being worthwhile in itself. All thesis proposals involving the gathering of personal information from people by surveys, interviews or case studies will be dealt with according to the research ethics procedures and policies.

The Sydney College of Divinity ensures that all research involving human subjects is submitted to a careful approval process by its Research Ethics Committee. Its membership and processes are aligned with the Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research.

Sydney College of Divinity faculty and students undertaking a research project or research essay involving human subjects are required to apply to the Research Ethics Committee for approval. A Graduate Research School student will be guided through the process by their supervisor or teacher.  Under no circumstances may those elements of the thesis relying on the gathering of personal information proceed before ethical clearance is granted.

The key policies and forms are: