Phase 1 – Research Approval Process

Research applicants should allow a minimum of 6 weeks for Phase 1 of the approval process for their application to conduct research to be processed and reviewed by the department.

Additional time should be allowed for complex projects and for research proposals not approved by an ethics committee registered with the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC).

Processing applications

An application will only be considered by the department after the following information has been provided with all relevant documentation attached. Incomplete applications will not be processed:

  • a fully completed application form (signed by the responsible researcher)
  • a copy of the full ethics application form (submitted to an Ethics Committee or process)
  • evidence of ethical approval (usually an official letter)
  • copies of all data collection/research instruments as attachments to the application
  • copies of all information statements and consent forms to be provided to each category of participant
  • copies of sufficient insurance cover (where appropriate).

Reviewing applications

The department may contact the responsible researcher or designated person for additional information to support the application, to check compliance with ethics, and to clarify aspects of the intended research.

When reviewing an application, the department will consider the following:

  • fit of the research project with the department’s Strategic Plan and national education priorities
  • potential benefits of the research project in relation to education
  • likely impact on participants (e.g. students, teachers, principals and other staff)
  • extent to which the selected schools are participating in other research or under other forms of pressure
  • suitability of the research and data collection instruments for the participants and intended research objectives
  • the way the research instruments and data collection process are managed to protect participants in relation to privacy, safety and confidentiality
  • possible risks associated with the research, including those connected with data

Applications and attachments may be circulated to other persons/divisions within the department as part of the review process.

Approving applications

In general, research is more likely to be approved where educational benefits justify the time and effort required of staff and students, and where the risks associated with data are minimised. Research that supports positive educational outcomes and the work of NT schools is encouraged.

Once the application has been approved, a letter of approval to conduct research will be provided to the researcher. Before commencing Phase 2, the letter of approval must be provided to each school principal, relevant divisions, and/or data custodians.

After consent has been obtained in Phase 2 (from each school principal or the department’s Performance and Data Management (PaDM) team or executive directors), the researcher can then invite students, parents/carers and staff to participate in the research, using the approach described in the application.

Participation in research is voluntary. The decision to participate in any research is at the discretion of the school principal or the department’s PaDM team.

All participants must be provided with information about the research and informed consent gained before conducting research.

The department’s letter of approval to conduct research is not an endorsement of the project, its research instruments, its findings and interpretations, or its recommendations.

Variations to approved applications

Permission should be sought for variations to approved projects, before deviations from the approved plan occur. Variations include changes to schools, participants, instruments or methods, and extensions of time.

Researchers should notify the department that they are seeking approval to modify the research project, including complete descriptions of changes (and their rationale) by emailing

Researchers should allow sufficient time, depending on the scale of the changes, for the department to assess the modified research project.

More information about research

For more information read about research and the overview of research approval process

Last updated: 10 July 2019


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