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Conducting research with human participants during Covid-19

29 October 2020

The Covid-19 pandemic has resulted in some unprecedented changes across society.

Conducting research during such times can result in increased practical and ethical challenges, not least because the need to rapidly generate evidence must be balanced with the realities of the situation.

This document does not provide a definitive guide for decision making but aims to assist researchers in recognising ethical practice issues during these unique circumstances.

It is intended as an aid to ethical decisions. It should be used alongside the Code of Human Research Ethics and Code of Ethics and Conduct.

Statement on ethics review and independent research with human participants

We recognise that where a researcher is working independently from any organisation that has an established, formal ethics review process it can be difficult to know how to proceed if the researcher is seeking a review for their project.

It is a requirement of many academic journals that an author reporting human research attests to a favourable opinion having been given following a review of the ethics protocol for their research. It is also, more often than not, a requirement in submitting applications for research funding that a review has been carried out or that there is provision for a review if the project is funded.

There is also a moral argument that any human research project that raises ethics issues should be independently reviewed and that the research data collection is not started until a favourable opinion is received.


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