Interim guidance for research involving humans
Research involving humans - response to COVID-19
17 April 2020
Until further notice, all research activity involving travel or face-to-face interaction with participants must now stop. See the announcement in full here: Urgent announcement regarding research involving humans (PDF) . This is in line with the approach being taken by the NHS and other institutions. See also the information regarding researchers and fieldworkers abroad.
Research at this time must be conducted using online or remote methods. If that is not possible, it must be postponed.
For more information, see the interim guidance for research involving humans. The guidance includes the types of research that can continue, ethical considerations, making a new ethical review application or amending an existing ethical approval in the current circumstances.
Due to the current situation, research involving travel or face-to-face contact must stop, and no new projects involving either of these can begin.
This means that researchers must either:
- conduct their research remotely or online or
- postpone their research until face-to-face interaction is again allowed.
Researchers should also consider whether the quality and integrity of the data will be compromised by moving to remote methods or if this would bring additional (or different) ethical considerations.
Researchers should consider also the ethical issues around conducting any kind of research during a period of crisis.
How long will this guidance be in place?
This guidance must be followed until further notice. In the first instance, it is intended that it will be in place until the end of the 2019-2020 academic year.
At the end of this period, the University will review this guidance to decide if it is still appropriate. The University may review the guidance sooner if the situation substantially changes, the University or Government amends its guidance, or significant operational issues are identified.
Alternative data collection methods
There are several alternatives to face-to-face research. The most common include:
- using online or remote methods to conduct interviews or focus groups
- using online surveys or questionnaires
- collecting data from social media
- using secondary data sources.
Use the links above to visit the guidance page before making an application for research using these methods.
Alternativel methods for collecting data from participants can include:
- diaries (including video or audio)
- self-report measures
- art or creative activities.
For these and other less-common methods, researchers should consult discipline or method-specific resources.
Researchers must also remember that although data and participants are easily accessible online, there are still ethical or legal issues that need to be considered.