Research Continuity: Human Subjects Research Guidance – Social Science Division (March 16, 2020)

To: FAS Social Science Faculty
Cc: FAS Department and Program Chairs; FAS Dean’s Office; FAS Steering; Graduate and Professional School Deans

Dear Colleagues,

The university has taken many steps aimed at reducing our community’s exposure to infection and our risk of spreading COVID-19. Consistent with this objective, we are now requesting a pause in all in-person non-clinical human subjects research in the FAS, whether on or off campus, at least through the end of April. Human subjects research that is conducted on-line or by phone can continue, as long as it does not require staff to come to campus to support the research. Human subjects research conducted within clinical settings at the medical school is governed by the policies described here .

Some protocols that involve in-person contact with human subjects can be modified to on-line or phone based contacts. We are in conversation with the IRB and they are considering granting general permission for modifications in this spirit. For now, please use the IRB process for protocol modifications and your request will receive a rapid review. In the modification summary, specifically note that the modification is related to COVID-19 and designed to eliminate in person contact.

Our human subjects policies will be reviewed as the public health circumstances evolve. Given the pace at which things are changing, there may be further changes in university guidance on research continuity in this area.

We recognize that this policy will cause disruption to research plans and to achieving research objectives for external funding and degrees. As the length of the pause becomes clearer, we will work with individual faculty and students to determine next steps. For now, thank you for your patience and understanding as we work through these difficult times together.

Very best,

Alan and Tamar  

Alan Gerber
FAS Dean of Social Science

Tamar Szabó Gendler
Dean, Faculty of Arts and Sciences