Researchers apply with SERAP Online to receive approval to conduct research in NSW public schools or using departmental data. This is an online process that is initiated by the principal researcher. The Department assesses all applications according to the criteria identified in the SERAP Guidelines.
If you submitted a SERAP application prior to 2015, your information has been transferred to the new SERAP Online website.
Principal researchers register with SERAP Online by going to the Researcher Login page. You will be required to provide your email address. An email will be sent to you containing a link to activate your account.
If you submitted a SERAP application prior to 2015, your researcher account is partially complete based on the information provided during your submission. Contact the SERAP team for information on activating your account.
Principal researchers are required to complete a profile after registering for SERAP Online. The researcher profile contains basic information about the applicant. Once your researcher profile is complete you will be able to see your dashboard, allowing you to create new SERAP applications and browse existing applications.
Researchers log in to SERAP Online using the password they used to register for their researcher account to create a SERAP application. The application consists of a series of questions relating the reasons and plans for conducting your research. If your research involves contact with children, you will be required to provide evidence of your Working With Children Check. Further information can be found at www.newcheck.kids.nsw.gov.au
You will also be required to upload research instruments, participant consent forms, information sheets and ethics approval.
SERAP approval in all but exceptional cases is contingent on ethics approval, although you may submit your SERAP application before receiving ethics approval and provide it later during the assessment period.
SERAP applications are assigned to assessors within the Department after they have been submitted by the researcher. Assessors are selected based on the research focus of each SERAP and are asked to give consideration to:
benefit – the potential benefit of the research
feasibility/methodology – the likelihood that these benefits will be realised
cost/impact – the time, effort and impact required by the Department’s staff and students as participants and co-investors
ethics – that the participants are accorded the respect and protection that is due to them.
Likely benefits (benefits and feasibility) are considered in relation to likely risks (impact and ethics).
Assessors are asked to assess applications within 10 working days. Once assessments are submitted, the SERAP team consolidates all feedback and emails the researcher either with a decision or with a modification request, if required.
During the course of assessment you may be asked to provide further information or address issues raised by assessors. This could include modification of the proposal before approval can be considered. If modification to a SERAP application is required, researchers will receive an email with a link to access SERAP Online. For help with this process, please see our Technical FAQ page. Your proposed modifications will be considered by assessors for their recommendation.
Generally, a decision to approve or reject a SERAP application takes within 4 - 6 weeks from the date of submission. Once a decision has been made, you will receive an email notifying you of the result of your application.
Researchers download the approval letter attached in their notifying email to present to schools being invited to participate in the research. Approval letters serve as proof of SERAP approval. Principals have the right, in all cases, to decline requests for the conduct of research in their schools. Having SERAP approval does not override the Principal's right.
Approval will normally be granted for a twelve-month period but will not extend beyond the duration of the ethics committee’s approval or the completion date for the project if this is sooner.
You are required to update the information for any researchers who are working with children as part of your research. You may do this by logging in to update the Researchers section of your SERAP. Please contact the SERAP team after recording any changes to your research team so that you can be emailed an updated approval letter.
Proposals which have been rejected may be revised and submitted as a new SERAP application. Applicants who are re-submitting proposals should first contact the officer named in rejection letter to discuss the concerns with the original proposal. The progress of your re-submission will be facilitated if you directly address those issues identified as the cause of the previous rejection.
SERAP applications are approved for a period of 12 months at a time. For research projects longer than 12 months in duration, you must apply for an extension. Permission must also be sought for variations to already approved research projects. As a guide, if you have had to submit a revision to your ethics approval, you will also be required to apply for a variation to your SERAP.
Extensions are generally granted for up to 12 months at a time. Significant variations may require input from assessors, similar to the initial approval process. In both cases, ethics approval covering the period of the requested extension or variation is required.
You can apply for an extension or variation via SERAP Online. For help with this process, please see our Technical FAQ page. If you are uncertain about whether your particular situation requires formal approval, please contact the SERAP team.