The risk of COVID-19 transmission in a face to face setting remains current. Researchers working with human participants should consider whether it may be possible and preferable to collect data using online/remote research methods, for example to mitigate risks to participants who are judged to be particularly vulnerable.
If your research involves human participants, personal data or human tissue it requires ethics review and a favourable opinion granted by the Human Research Ethics Committee no matter whether it is conducted using entirely remote methods or is intended to take place in a physical setting. Please refer to the Human Research Ethics Review Process page for further information about applying for ethics review.
It is possible to conduct high quality research to stringent ethics standards using online (eg online surveys) or other remote (eg telephone interviews) methods.
Refer to our ‘Conducting online research’ information pack for further guidance.
Where it is judged that data collection using face to face methods is most appropriate, the University expects researchers to carefully consider potential Covid-19 transmission risks and mitigating actions to protect researchers and participants. All research proposing face-to-face methods still requires a risk assessment to be carried out, that includes assessment and mitigation of COVID-19 risks, and this needs to be assessed and signed off by the designated faculty authority. (See Section 5 of the Research Code of Practice for good practice in research project risk assessment). Covid-19 risk assessment like other research project risk assessment should be considered and approved by the designated authority in the relevant Faculty before data collection.
Researchers may find the COVID-19 Face to Face Human Research Health and Safety Risk Assessment Checklist helpful. It is a flexible tool for researchers to identify and prepare for the hazards risks specifically relating to Covid-19 when conducting research with human participants in a physical setting.
There are additional principles for consideration and inclusion in the Human Research Ethics Committee (HREC) project checklist/ethics review application form when undertaking face to face research in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. The principles are outlined in the Guidance on conducting face to face research in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. The HREC project checklist and ethics review application form can be found on the Human Research Ethics Review Process page.