Document Type

Journal Article


Pacific Medai Centre Teamokura


Faculty of Education and Arts


School of Communication and Arts




Davies, K. (2011). Journalism and HRECs: From square pegs to squeaky wheels. Pacific Journalism Review, 17(1), 157-174. Available here


This article follows on from a discussion by Richards (2010) about ethics committees and journalism researchers being ‘uneasy bedfellows’. It argues that there is scope for research using journalism as a methodology to be approved by Human Research Ethics Committees (HRECs), while acknowledging that work needs to be done in familiarising journalism academics with the National Statement on Ethical Conduct in Human Research (2007) and HRECs with journalism as a research methodology. The issues that arise as journalism academics and HRECs meet tend to focus on the requirement of informed consent and timing problems, but these are not insurmountable and there are clauses in Australia’s National Statement that provide scope for exemptions from these requirements. This article includes input from an interview with Professor Colin Thomson, one of the members of the NHMRC/ARC/UA working party that drafted the 2007 revision of the National Statement, clarifying the intentions of the authors with regard to Fourth Estate research, by journalists, as well as by researchers from the fields of business, law and politics. It also highlights the points of contention and common confusions that frequently arise and suggests ways that journalism academics can act collaboratively to change the current status quo.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.