New statement regarding on-campus research and scholarly activities, fieldwork and interaction with research participants from vice-president (research)
I want to welcome all of our researchers to a new academic year at Memorial University. Despite the challenges presented by COVID-19, exciting and important research has continued to be done by our faculty, staff and students over the last six months.
We have put in place a process that has allowed researchers who need to access the campuses or carry out fieldwork to be able to do so, subject to best health and safety practices. The COVID-19 Research Working Group (CRWG) Framework for a Phased Approach to Returning to On-Campus Research Spaces, Fieldwork and Face-to-Face Interactions with Research Participants remains in effect and we are currently operating at Level 2 of the framework. To date approximately 500 requests have been processed through this process.
Recently we have reviewed requests to undertake research activities that have required travel, in some cases outside of the province and in rare cases outside of Canada. Requests for research-related travel must use the updated Fieldwork Request Form available here and be submitted to the appropriate dean or school head (see the CRWG Framework for campus specific procedures).
We have received an increasing number of requests to resume research that requires ethics approval, particularly research involving face-to-face interactions with research participants. In addition, we have had requests related to resumption of Research Impacting Indigenous Groups. I want to take this opportunity to clarify the processes to be followed for research requiring ethics approval or Indigenous consent.
For research – new or ongoing – requiring approval from the Interdisciplinary Committee on Ethics in Human Research (ICEHR), researchers must first receive the necessary approvals as outlined in the CRWG Framework before submitting your ICEHR approval request, along with the CRWG request form and Environmental Health and Safety (EHS) plan, to ICEHR. Please note that ICEHR continues to limit face-to-face interactions with research participants to only that absolutely necessary.
For research – new or ongoing – requiring approval from the Health Research Ethics Authority (HREA), following the HREA approval process described here, prior to resuming their research, researchers must follow the CRWG Framework process and go back to the HREA in the event that there are subsequent changes to the research protocol as a result of the EHS or decanal approval.
In all cases where research impacts on Indigenous groups, the resumption of any on-campus research, fieldwork or research – new or ongoing – involving face-to-face interactions with research participants must, in addition to the required ICEHR or HREA approval, also have permission from the appropriate Indigenous group/s as a condition of approval to resume research, including documentation of consent to resume research activities within already-existing research approvals. Please contact Indigenousresearch@mun.ca to provide documentation of appropriate permissions, or seek advice as needed.
Please note that the request forms related to the CRWG Framework have been updated to reflect the processes noted in this memo (see the Face-to-Face Interactions with Research Participants Request Form here; the Fieldwork Request Form here; and the On-Campus Research Request Form here).
For Level 2 requests, researchers must submit the forms to their dean or school head (see the CRWG Framework for campus specific procedures). For all research requiring ethics clearance or Indigenous group permission, researchers must ensure that such permissions and ethics clearances, or amended protocols/clearances, are linked or uploaded in ROMEO.
While we look forward to the time when our research activities return to ‘normal’, we greatly appreciate your excellent cooperation with the processes we have put in place under the COVID-19 circumstances. Also, we remain impressed with the dedication and determination that you have shown in continuing to advance your important research at this challenging time.
Dr. Neil Bose
Sept 28, 2020