These Standards are set out in the form of content headings, introductions, standards and commentary. Numbered paragraphs are the standards themselves (eg, 6.7). Commentary that expands on particular standards is identified by a letter corresponding to the relevant standard number (eg, 6.7a).

How to find further information

You can click on any underlined blue words to go directly to further information.


These Standards are published online only; NEAC will update them as required to ensure they remain relevant and accurate. Check NEAC’s website to be sure you are using the current version. The website will outline any recent changes to the document, and any older versions will be archived.

Primary responsibility for meeting the standards

These standards set out the ethical requirements that:

  • researchers must meet or exceed when undertaking health and disability research and
  • health service providers and disability service providers[1] must meet or exceed when conducting quality improvement activities.

The Standards apply whether or not research or quality improvement activities require review by an ethics committee.

Researchers have the primary responsibility for identifying and addressing ethical issues in their research. When more than one researcher is involved, the coordinating researcher has the overall responsibility for the ethics of the research.

Increasingly, health research and quality improvement involve responsibilities that are broader, extending to institutions and organisations. The Standards primarily use the term ‘Researcher’ throughout when referring to corresponding responsibilities, however these Standards use the term Researcher broadly, intending to address all those responsible for the conduct of health and disability research, quality improvement activities, data and tissue governance, and any other activity described in the Standards.

Research conducted overseas having human or animal involvement will require appropriate ethics approval from an ethics committee (or equivalent body) in the country concerned, where such a body exists.

Any international collaborative research project that involves researchers in New Zealand or its territories is subject to these standards.

Relationship between these standards and local review procedures

Ethics committees or research offices considering a study will have their own procedures relating to ethical and or local review. These Standards take precedence over any such procedures where the two sources of guidance conflict. In addition, Māori organisations such as iwi may have additional tikanga processes.


If you wish to comment on your experience with using these Standards, please contact


See individual chapters for definitions of terms relevant to specific topics, or the Glossary for a fuller list of terms.

[1] Health service providers include health service workers, nurses, clinicians and any person involved in quality improvement.

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