Research with University Ethics Committee approval

The following guidance is provided by the University in response to the circumstances arising from the Covid-19 (coronavirus) pandemic and the advice being provided by the Government and Public Health England.

Frequently asked questions

It is important that researchers (to include staff, students (undergraduate and postgraduate) or visitors) make changes to their research approach to ensure the continued safety of participants and themselves as researchers. The guidance below will continue to be updated as the situation changes.

Updated 16 April 2021

Just as we have planned and implemented the re-opening of campus facilities to enable laboratory research to resume, we now turn to human-facing research paused due to Government restrictions on lockdown/ social distancing etc.

Research which cannot be conducted remotely and which requires face-to-face interaction will be able to re-start in a managed way, subject to conditions to ensure the health and safety of everyone concerned being met. Your health and safety remain our top priority.

Roadmap

An overview of what the roadmap out of lockdown means for face to face research on campus and elsewhere:

  • From 29 March: Continue to work from home where possible. Research that cannot be conducted from home (ie. requires access to facilities, specialist equipment) can continue on-site following the Covid Secure safety measures in place. Face-to-face research involving students already on campus can continue
  • From 12 April: Continue to work from home where possible. Research off campus (non-hosted) may be conducted in public spaces or outdoors, where social distancing measures and limits can be applied to interactions with people outside support or household bubbles, ie following the rule of 6. Face-to-face research involving students already on campus can continue.
  • From 17 May: Continue to work from home where possible. Research off campus (at hosted organisations, eg schools, care homes, clinical settings) may be conducted following the indoor rule of 6, along with a review of the Covid Secure safety measures in place at that organisation. Face-to-face research involving students already on campus can continue.

For more information see the Roadmap to Recovery.

For more information and approvals process see the events pages on SurreyNet.

Guidelines

Working closely with colleagues across the University, guidelines have been provided to help you assess what needs to be done.

  • Step 1: Read the Guidance for restarting face-to-face research.
  • Step 2: Safety measures to accommodate Covid-19 need to be considered via a Health & Safety risk assessment.  The risk assessment and any mitigating actions need to be approved by your Line Manager, Supervisor, or Health & Safety Advisor as appropriate.
  • Step 3: If your research involves travel, be aware of the latest Travel advice for domestic and international travel.
  • Step 4: Consider the ethical approval routes below.

Ethical approval for restarting research involving face-to-face human participation

If research has previously received a Favourable Ethical Opinion (FEO) but was suspended due to Covid-19, and you now wish to restart, you will need to submit an amendment form to the University Ethics Committee (UEC).

Download the Notification of Amendment form (doc).

Ethical approval for restarting research using human participants with no face-to-face interaction

If no face-to-face participation is necessary, and ethical approval was already in place, no amendment needs to be submitted for this change.

  • All Ethics amendments need to be submitted with an approved health and safety risk assessment as per Step 2 above and specified on the amendment form.

Further information

Please bear with us as we work through this together to get your research re-started. If you have any immediate questions or concerns, please note the general COVID-19 FAQs, or for more project specific enquiries, contact ethics@surrey.ac.uk.

This information is also available for students on the MySurrey webpages.

If your project has already received a Favourable Ethical Opinion (FEO), you will have to submit notification of amendment form to the University Ethics Committee (UEC) to assess your proposed changes, before the amendment can be implemented.

To submit an amendment, you must submit a Notification of Amendment form (doc) and any updated research documents (with highlighted text on all proposed changes) to your relevant faculty ethics inbox.

You cannot implement your changes or proceed with your research until you have received FEO on your amendment.

If ethics approval was already in place, no amendment needs to be submitted for this change, provided there is no risk posed to the participant. However, the participant information sheet and the study protocol must be updated, and the latest versions submitted to ethics@surrey.ac.uk for filing.

Any participants already recruited to the study should be informed of the change and provided with the updated participant information sheet. It is important that you make clear to participants that if they no longer wish to participate owing to this change, or for any other reason, that they are free to withdraw at any point.

If any changes to remote interaction are likely to substantially change the study protocol such that the risk to the participant is compromised, an amendment will need to be submitted. For example, it may be difficult to assess the distress of participants responding to sensitive questions. In these cases, an amendment should be submitted to ethics@surrey.ac.uk. If you are unsure, please contact ethics@surrey.ac.uk for advice.

Updated 15 March 2021

Research activities have by and large continued during the Lockdown, with researchers accessing facilities as needed in discussion with their Line Manager, Supervisor and Faculty Operations Teams.