The NHMRC is pleased to announce that the National Ethics Application Form (NEAF) version 2.1 is now available for public use through the independent NEAF website at www.neaf.gov.au.
NEAF is a dynamic, interactive, web-based tool for researchers of all disciplines to complete research ethics proposals for submission to Human Research Ethics Committees (HRECs). The aim of NEAF is to increase the efficiency and quality of the ethical review process for both HRECs and researchers, by ensuring that HRECs are provided with consistent information to allow them to effectively assess applications for ethical review.
NEAF is co-sponsored by the NHMRC, the Australian Research Council and the Australian Vice Chancellors' Committee.
To access NEAF, please go to the independent NEAF website at www.neaf.gov.au. This website also provides you with a map of the NEAF structure (Quick Reference Map) and information about the development of NEAF.
The development of NEAF
Work commenced in NSW on the development of a form by the University of Sydney, University of NSW and Royal Prince Alfred Hospital. The form has been in use since that time and undergone a number of revisions. It is used by institutions both affiliated and not affiliated with those institutions which developed the form.
Work commenced on a common form in Victoria by a small group of individuals. The project was supported by the Victorian Department of Human Services (DHS) and subsequently a larger working group was established to complete the development of the form. It was officially launched on 1 September 2000 by the Victorian DHS and is used by a number of institutions in Victoria, particularly, although not exclusively, in the health system.
NSW Health and the Victorian Department of Human Services began a collaborative effort to bring about the development of a national form. The project was supported by the Joint States/Commonwealth Research Issues Forum (SCRIF), which is a forum for Research & Development representatives of Australian health departments.
It was agreed that the most appropriate body to take the leadership role in furthering this initiative was the Australian Health Ethics Committee (AHEC). The AHEC project formally commenced in October 2001 with a consultation meeting involving invited representatives from all States and Territories. Approximately 20 people attended. This group, the National Application Form Steering Committee (NAF SC) met again in 2002 to provide advice to the National Application Form Working Party (NAF WP) which was established to undertake the operational work required for the development of the form.
The NAF WP was reappointed for the 2003-05 triennium and met periodically to continue work on the content and organisation of the form.
In February, a paper based draft of NAF was circulated for limited consultation. 21 submissions were received and comments were incorporated into the draft. It was decided that, for the sake of clarity, the form should be renamed as the National Ethics Application Form (NEAF). The IT development process of a pilot version of NEAF was completed in December.
In January, the NEAF development team undertook extensive internal usability testing of the pilot version of NEAF. This pilot version was then launched for external usability testing on 1 February. Close to 300 volunteers registered to undertake the external testing, comprising researchers, sponsors, HREC and research administrators, and HREC members. External testing concluded on 3 March 2006.
- The NEAF Working Party considered the outcomes of the external user testing phase, and changes to the form’s design and function were implemented where appropriate.
- In May, NEAF was made available for public use.
Information session presentation
From late May to July 2006, the NHMRC conducted NEAF information sessions and promotional presentations around Australia.
With the release of the 2007 National Statement on Ethical Conduct in Human Research, the NHMRC commenced a review of NEAF v1.1 to make it consistent with this updated guideline. Initial scoping work and a review of feedback to date identified a number of structural changes that could be implemented in NEAF. An expert Working Committee was formed to assist in the review process with the following membership:
Professor Colin Thomson (Chair)
Dr Gary Allen
Associate Professor Terry Dunbar
Professor Margaret O’Connor
Dr Nikolajs Zeps
The Committee sought further feedback from all registered NEAF users, HREC Chairs, HREC Contact Officers and the original NEAF testers as to what changes they would like to see with NEAF. From the results of the review and feedback, the NHMRC developed the NEAF 2 Beta site. This site was open for testing and feedback from October 2007.
NEAF 2 Beta extended testing closed in March 2008. Tester feedback included a number of further enhancements and areas where clarity would assist in the development and review of applications. The Working Committee considered these and by July had developed the final requirements for NEAF v2.0. This change was implemented and NEAF v2.0 went live on 28 August 2008.
NEAF 2 has the following new features:
- More logical sequence of questions, closely tied to the structure of the 2007 National Statement;
- Reduced number of questions and less repetition;
- A discrete section on questions relating to the Privacy Act;
- Use of tables for some data entry;
- Simple notification of invited users edits to your proposals;
- Limiting the number of decimal places for questions;
- Organisation of the pdf output into Administrative and Ethical review sections;
- Provision of all field data for export – import into third party applications; and
- Visual enhancements.
An overview of NEAF 2.0
This Powerpoint presentation outlines the major changes in NEAF version 2.0.
NEAF Proforma Applications
In response to NEAF user feedback, NEAFAssist has developed four NEAF proforma applications. These have been developed to provide guidance as to the types of questions users may be asked.
As NEAF is an intuitive form, the questions that have been asked in these proforma applications are based on the answers to previous questions and there is no guarantee that these will appear in your application. Please note that wherever applicable, a "Yes" answer has been used, except where that would cause an inconsistency within NEAF.
As every research project is unique, it is impossible to show every possible outcome.
These proforma applications have not been designed to replace individual users’ consideration of the principles in the National Statement. Researchers will still be required to familiarise themselves with the National Statement and tailor their answers in their NEAF application accordingly.
*NEAF proforma applications are for demonstration and information purposes only and are not to be submitted*
- NEAF proforma application - Clinical trials (PDF, 196KB)
- NEAF proforma application - Consent (PDF, 156KB)
- NEAF proforma application - Research involving children (PDF,152KB)
- NEAF proforma application - Research Involving Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander Peoples (PDF, 145KB)
NEAF version 2.1 was released in December 2013 to reflect the revisions to the National Statement on Ethical Conduct in Human Research which were tabled in Parliament during 2013.
- May 2013 – Update to paragraph 4.1.11
- December 2013 – Chapter 3.4: Human biospecimens in laboratory based research
A summary of the changes between version 2.0 and 2.1 is available here (PDF, 226KB).
For more information please contact the Research Help Centre:
Research Help Centre
1800 500 983