Become A Research Volunteer

Volunteering For Research

The following is some information about the steps involved in volunteering for research at NAL:

  1. The intake appointment
  2. How NAL is different from a hearing centre or audiology clinic
  3. Your rights as a research volunteer
  4. Your responsibilities as a research volunteer
  5. Selection of participants for a research study
  6. How potential participants are contacted
  7. Before starting a study
  8. Location of NAL and how to get there
  9. If you have decided that you would like to participate in research at NAL

 

1. The intake appointment

The intake appointment is a chance for you to get to know the NAL audiologists and for us to learn more about you. During the appointment, we will ask questions about your hearing loss and, if applicable, your hearing aid(s), conduct a full audiological assessment, and answer any questions you may have about volunteering at NAL. If you have had a recent hearing test, you can either bring the results to the appointment or sign a form giving us permission to obtain the results from your hearing centre or clinic. You are also welcome to bring your spouse, partner, or friend to the appointment, but please note that we are unable to supervise young children during the appointment. Please allow one and a half (1½) hours for the intake appointment.

2. How NAL is different from a hearing centre or audiology clinic

NAL may appear similar to your own hearing centre or audiology clinic in many ways. For example, the audiologists at NAL have the same qualifications and training as the audiologists at your hearing centre or clinic. However, NAL audiologists are not able to offer audiological services beyond those that are required for the research study in which you are enrolled, even if you are an Australian Hearing client. These include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • fitting you with new hearing aids
  • providing hearing aid batteries
  • arranging hearing aid repairs, including retubing of earmoulds
  • recommending a specific make or model of hearing aid
  • adjusting the settings of your current hearing aid(s)

Your NAL audiologist will be pleased to discuss any general concerns you may have about your hearing loss and/or your hearing aid(s). However, you will be encouraged to attend your local hearing centre or audiology clinic for the provision of professional services. If you do not have a primary audiologist, please feel free to request a list of audiology clinics in your area from your NAL audiologist.

3. Your rights as a research volunteer

All research conducted by NAL must have the approval of a formally constituted Human Research Ethics Committee. As such, a number of mechanisms are in place to protect the rights of our research volunteers.

Volunteers are free to decide whether to participate in a research study, and may withdraw from a study at any time for any reason. You will be given written information about the procedures involved in the study and your written consent must be obtained before the study commences.

Privacy of your personal information will be strictly observed. Outcomes of research studies are often published in scientific journals and/or presented at professional conferences, but will never include information that would allow you to be identified.

Although service to NAL as a research volunteer is on a voluntary basis, a small gratuity to cover your time and travel costs is paid to you upon completion of the study. You will be informed of your entitlements in writing prior to the commencement of the study.

In some cases, you may be able to retain or purchase the hearing aid(s) that you used during a clinical trial. NAL audiologists will provide details of relevant settings and specifications to your hearing centre or audiology clinic.

Complaints or reservations about any ethical aspect of research may be reported to the secretary of the Ethics Committee, Dr Tim Gainsford, on 9412 6862. All complaints will be treated in confidence.

4. Your responsibilities as a research volunteer

Volunteers should carefully consider the time commitment involved when agreeing to participate in a research study, as withdrawal from a study before its conclusion may affect the progress of the research. The required schedule of appointments will be provided to you in writing prior to the commencement of the study.

Volunteers should try to attend appointments on time. Please advise your NAL audiologist by telephone or email if you are unable to attend a scheduled appointment. Alternatively, if you are unable to reach your NAL audiologist directly, a message may be left with reception on 9412 6800.

When participating in research, volunteers should follow instructions given by NAL audiologists as closely as possible. Please feel free to discuss any doubts or concerns about test procedures with your NAL audiologist as soon as they arise.

In cases where volunteers are able to retain or purchase the hearing aid(s) that were used in a clinical trial, NAL audiologists are unable to take responsibility for ongoing repairs, maintenance, or rehabilitation services. It is your responsibility to make prompt arrangements for follow-up service with your own hearing centre or clinic.

5. Selection of participants for a research study

For each study, we try to select groups of people who have a particular characteristic in common. For example, we may look for people with similar hearing losses, or who all wear the same style of hearing aid. The purpose of this is to reduce the number of factors or variables that will affect the results. The selection criteria we use vary widely from study to study. As a result, you may be contacted to participate in a study shortly after volunteering with us, while others on our database may have to wait a year or more.

If no current studies are suited to your needs at the time of your assessment, we will, with your permission, retain your details on our secure database so that we may contact you with news of future volunteer opportunities.

While we do seek to reduce the number of variables that could affect the outcome of a study, we do not discriminate on the basis of age, gender, or ethnic origin.

6. How potential participants are contacted

Potential participants in a NAL research project are always contacted by post. News of an upcoming study will always contain the following:

  • a letter outlining the purpose of the study, the tasks involved, the required schedule of appointments, the estimated time commitment, and the gratuity that is payable to you upon completion of the study
  • a response form with three choices
    1. yes, I would like to participate
    2. no, I am unable to participate in this study but would like to be considered in the future
    3. no, please remove my details from the database of research volunteers
  • a postage-paid envelope in which you can return the response form to NAL

If you receive a letter from NAL, you are under no obligation to participate in the study.

You are always welcome to telephone or email the audiologist in charge of the study for more information before deciding whether or not to participate.

Additionally, you are always welcome to request that we do not contact you again for future studies. You do not need to supply a reason for this request.

7. Before starting a study

Many of the tasks involved in NAL research studies require that your ear canals are free of wax and/or debris. For example, we may take impressions of your ears, or conduct measurements that involve placing a small probe into your ear canal. If you are prone to a buildup of wax in your ear canals, it would be beneficial to have your GP look into your ears and to remove any wax before attending your first study appointment at NAL.

8. Location of NAL and how to get there

NAL is located in the Australian Hearing Hub, 16 University Avenue, Macquarie University. Click here for a map of our location on the university campus.

Getting there by train
Macquarie University station is approximately 600 m from the Hearing Hub. This station is on the Northern Line. After exiting the turnstiles at the station, turn left and take the lift or escalator up to street level. Walk toward the university campus along University Avenue to reach the Hearing Hub. You will pass the Cochlear building on your left. The Hearing Hub will be just ahead on your right.

The most direct way to enter the building on foot is via the driveway. Cross the car park entrance and walk up the stairs or ramp outside the building. When you enter the building, you are on the Ground level (G). Proceed to the lifts, which are toward the rear of the building on your right.

Getting there by bus
There are three bus stops on the Macquarie University campus, as marked on the enclosed map with blue bus symbols. Some buses do not stop on the campus, but on Herring Road, near the Macquarie Shopping Centre. As there are over 20 bus routes that stop on or near the campus, we advise that you consult the Macquarie University website or your preferred bus company for information about routes and timetables.

Walk toward the university campus along University Avenue to reach the Hearing Hub. The most direct way to enter the building on foot is via the driveway. Cross the car park entrance and walk up the stairs or ramp outside the building. When you enter the building, you are on the Ground level (G). Proceed to the lifts, which are toward the rear of the building on your right.

Getting there by car
From Waterloo Road: Enter University Avenue via the Herring Road entrance, at the intersection of Herring and Waterloo Roads near the Macquarie Shopping Centre. The Hearing Hub is on University Avenue, approximately 600 m from the entrance to the campus, turn right into the driveway.

From Epping Road: After entering the university gate, turn right at the roundabout onto University Avenue. The Hearing Hub will then be on your left. Turn left into the driveway at the far end of the building.

All visitor parking at the Hearing Hub is underground. To access visitor parking, turn right just inside the car park entrance. Proceed down the ramp to the Upper B2 level. If the boom gate is down, press the bell. This will connect you to the building concierge, who will ask you who you are visiting and raise the boom gate for you.

Visitors may park anywhere in the middle section of Upper B2. In the unlikely event these spots are full, please park in the spaces around the perimeter. Please avoid using the tandem parking spaces that are designed to accommodate two cars, as you may be blocked in.

Follow the signs to the lifts, which are located down the ramp on the Lower B2 level.

Disabled parking is available to any visitor whose vehicle displays both an Australian Disability Parking Permit and a Mobility Parking Scheme (MPS) permit.

After entering the Hearing Hub car park, stay on the entry level (B1). Eight (8) clearly marked disabled parking spots are available on the left. The lifts are located on the same level, toward the rear of the car park.

Checking in for an appointment at NAL
When you arrive at the Australian Hearing Hub, take the lift to Level 5. The main reception desk for Australian Hearing and NAL is located on Level 5, not on the ground floor. There is a building concierge on the ground floor opposite the lifts, but they are there to provide general assistance only, not to check in visitors.

When you exit the lift on Level 5, walk directly across the corridor to reception. The glass doors to reception open automatically between 8:30 am and 5:00 pm. Advise the receptionist that you have an appointment at NAL. The receptionist will direct you to sign in and be issued with a visitor’s identity pass and contact your research audiologist to let him or her know you have arrived. Please remain in reception until your audiologist comes up to meet you.

9. If you have decided that you would like to participate in research at NAL

Please contact Vivian Fabricatorian on 9412 6872 or via email at Volunteer@nal.gov.au to schedule your intake appointment. We look forward to seeing you at NAL!