Resuming in-person human research activities
Concordia University has developed a process to support the resumption of research requiring in-person contact with human participants.
In this return, our main guiding principle remains the health and safety of our community and of those communities with whom, and within which, we conduct research.
Given the current situation related to the COVID-19 pandemic, we strongly recommend that researchers conducting research involving human participants amend their methodology, if possible, towards an online format. Researchers who have already submitted an amendment request to their ethics protocols and received approval are encouraged to continue their research using remote participation methods.
Faculty, post-doctoral fellows and graduate students, who believe it is absolutely necessary to resume in-person human research activities, should complete a Request to Resume In-Person Human Research Form (see Instructions below), regardless of whether the research is conducted on- or off-campus.
If you anticipate resuming in-person research activities, you must ensure compliance with COVID-19 health and safety requirements (see Resources below). Additional procedures that are standard to the COVID-19 situation would rarely be considered changes to the actual research methodology.
For example, COVID-19 related cleaning, PPE procedures, or asking a focus group to sit further apart would not require an ethics amendment, in that the implementation of these procedures would not normally change the research methodology.
However, should implementation of COVID-19 procedures impact such aspects as:
- how or what data is collected;
- how a research question is phrased; or
- the target population;
then these changes would warrant an ethics amendment.
If an amendment to your ethics protocol is required, please submit your amendment request prior to submitting the request form. This requirement applies if your research is approved by an alternate Research Ethics Board (REB). For research projects using the imaging suite at the PERFORM Centre, the same parameters apply with the amendment being submitted to the Comité Central d’Éthique de la Recherche (CCER) for review prior to resuming the project. Note: Approval of requests to resume in-person research will be conditional upon the approval of the amendment.
To request a resumption of in-person human research activities, please follow these steps:
- Fill out a Request to Resume In-Person Human Research Form. Forms should be completed and signed by the Principal Investigator (faculty, post-doctoral fellow or graduate student). In the case of graduate students or post-doctoral fellows, the form should also be signed by their faculty supervisor, as a confirmation of their support.
- Submit the completed form to the Department Chair for preliminary review. For research taking place at the PERFORM Centre, the form should be submitted to the Scientific Director and the Assistant Director, Research Development Initiatives, for preliminary review.
- Once the preliminary review is completed, the form should be transmitted to Ms. Sabine Xia, Assistant to Associate Vice-Presidents, Office of the Vice-President Research & Graduate Studies, via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- The request will be assessed by a central committee composed of representatives from the Faculties, the PERFORM Centre, Environmental Health and Safety, the Research Ethics unit and the Office of Vice-President, Research and Graduate Studies.
The committee will meet weekly and as such, you may expect the decision of the committee to be transmitted to the faculty member within 10 working days of submitting the request. The decision of the committee will also include further instructions (e.g., self-assessment procedures for participants) and documentation related to access to campus for you and your research participants.
While we recognize the serious and long-lasting impact restrictions may have on research projects and personnel, our priority is the health and safety of our researchers, staff, and students as well as that of the research participants with whom we work. We appreciate the creativity, perseverance and cooperation of faculty, post-doctoral fellows and graduate students as we seek ways to transform research activities so that productivity and forward progress is maintained.
Please note any approval may be revoked, depending the evolution of local health and safety contexts, with regards to COVID-19 as well as other issues.
Please consult the following resources before submitting your Request to Resume In-Person Human Research Form, and ensure that your research is compliant with current guidelines:
- Environmental Health and COVID-19 Workplace Safety Guidelines (on Cspace)