Logo Utrecht University

Ethics Review Board of the Faculty of Social & Behavioural Sciences

Guidelines research projects i.r.t. Corona

COVID-19 (CORONAVIRUS) GUIDELINES REGARDING RESEARCH INVOLVING HUMAN PARTICIPANTS

In accordance with the guidelines provided by the RIVM and the UU, all (research) activities which requires personal contact (within 1.5 meters) must follow specific Corona protocols which can be found here This is true for all research in the labs in the Martinus J. Langeveld and Sjoerd Groenman buildings, but also for any research affiliated with the UU that occurs at alternative locations. In practice this concerns, for example, the following types of research:

  • Research in which home visits take place
  • Nursery research
  • Research in schools
  • Naturalistic observation in public spaces, if the proximity can be <1.5 m
  • Clinical research
  • Lab research
  • Student research in which students are participants (psychology)
  • Ethnographic research

With regards to all FSS research, the Faculty Ethics Review Board (FERB advises to devise an alternative to planned research that does not involve personal contact (within 1.5m). This guideline also applies to projects that have not been reviewed by the FERB, such as Ba or Ma thesis projects. The FERB is aware of the pressure this puts on ongoing and planned studies, and has therefore established the guidelines described below. In addition, we have provided an overview of the possibilities for replacing physical contact. If you have remaining questions about how to interact digitally with a participant, please use the Tech Support Desk contact form.


Research that requires participant interaction (<1.5m)
If a project previously tested by FETC has to be modified by the Corona measures, the following applies:

  • Change in the design of the research should be submitted to FETC by means of an amendment with the following title: corona – amd – title
  • These changes will be given priority for a first assessment under an accelerated review procedure within 5 working days
  • The FETC can then, where possible, provide an instruction of what can and cannot be done (replace interviews, replace informed consent procedure, but also information security measures; see also instructions below/next page)

Research with existing data
Research with existing data, for which approval has already been given, can continue. This concerns the following situations:

  • Simulation studies
  • Existing dataset
  • Longitudinal data
  • CBS data
  • Open access data
New projects that require interaction with participants will still be reviewed, but approval will be conditional to suspension of the relevant corona measures. These projects can therefore often not start. This restriction does not apply to studies that do not require physical interaction with a participant (e.g. online studies) or projects that use existing data.
Collecting questionnaire data and conducting online experiments
Behavioral data can be collected online via the online Survey packages available to all staff and students at the Faculty of Social and Behavioral Sciences.

  • Qualtrics is the recommended package when collecting questionnaire data. Qualtrics is immediately available for all UU staff and students, offers security with 2FA for access to data, and is very user friendly
  • Gorilla is available for online collection of (experimental) behavioral data. Gorilla is a web-based environment equipped with an intuitive graphical user interface which allows users to build behavioral experiments. They offer extensive documentation, a wide range of pre-built classical experiments and professional support

Many researchers will be unfamiliar with these software packages. To aid researchers, we have set up additional assistance for building experiment in the Qualtrics and Gorilla. To request assistance, you can fill in the form here.

Remote interaction with participants
The UU offers Teams for direct interaction with participants. Within this application, researchers can create a space within which they can interact 1 on 1, or in groups. Setting up a call with other staff or students is easy, and it is also possible to invite people from outside the UU using an e-mail link and the browser app. See this overview for information on how to set up and use the Teams environment.

When moving to online or digital data collection you will also have to change your method for receiving informed consent. The FERB accepts two main digital methods:

  • Digital consent: Set up an online page which includes the information letter, informed consent letter and a way to digitally accept the conditions (i.e. by ticking a box on the page). Researchers can build these forms themselves. However, pre-built templates in Qualtrics are also available.
  • Recorded consent: Storing an audio recording of someone reading the information letter and informed consent letter to the participant and them giving verbal consent.

Alternatively, it is possible to delay the collection for informed consent until after the COVID-19 measures have ended. This method requires explicit approval from the FERB.

Data storage
Following data collection in an online environment we recommend moving your data to a dedicated storage provided by the UU. For more information on options for data storage you can review the information here.

Data storage on personal devices
In some cases research data is (temporally) stored on personal devices. In general, we recommend against this practice. Please use the Tech Support Desk contact form if you need advice on alternative solutions. However, if there are no suitable alternatives, please follow these guidelines:

  • Secure access by implementing a password or access code
  • Encrypt the storage on your device (contact us for advice)
  • Move the data to a UU device or dedicated storage. Remove the data from the original device within 2 weeks from data collection