Where do I find information about how to restart research?
Guidance on the process is available here:
What are the requirements for approving on-campus research with human participants?
The first step is to ensure you are familiar with the University guidelines for the latest phase of the return to research. Once you have read the guidelines, follow the instructions on the ethics system login page for the amendment process. Be sure to become familiar with all the information provided. Templates and sample materials are available to assist with submitting ethics amendments.
When can I start my in-person research?
The latest updates for Return to Research can be found here:
Phase 3, Stage 1 begins August 19th, 2020. Return to Research applications for on-campus studies that were paused on March 20 can be submitted.
Phase 3, Stage 2 begins September 8th, 2020. Return to Research applications can be submitted for on-campus studies.
Phase 3, Stage 3 begins October 5th, 2020. Return to Research applications can be submitted for off-campus studies.
I have many research projects that have been put on-hold. Can I submit one request to resume all these studies?
A request to resume all studies should not be submitted at once. We are expecting a high volume of amendments and new study submissions in the coming weeks and months. We are asking that a collegial and consultative priority setting exercise be conducted. This exercise is to determine which studies should be priority to resume. If the PI manages multiple studies, then the PI should submit requests over several weeks in order of priority. Use the aid of the Risk Analysis Chart and Decision-Making Matrix in the Capacity Evaluation document for priority setting.
If my research is not going to be allowed to proceed in-person for this phase should I do an ethics amendment anyway?
Not currently. The resumption of in-person research is focused on Stage 1, 2, and 3 only at this time. Do not submit amendments for projects that fit into later stages. The timeline for stage 4, research with vulnerable populations and COVID-19, is yet to be determined
Can I still submit new ethics applications?
Yes. Research Ethics continues to review all new ethics applications including those that will be in-person and in a later stage of resuming research activities. However, do not submit a Safety Plan and Request Form to email@example.com until it is appropriate for the current Stage and your study’s priority level. Consider reviewing the current stage safety documents and ethics guidance for ideas of how your procedures can be modified to meet the safety and ethics requirements. For example, if you have portions of your study that could be done virtually or remotely this can be built into your application and may minimize changes needed in a future amendment.
I do in-person research with participants who may be more vulnerable to COVID-19 that is high priority. Can I resume this research?
In-person studies with participants who are vulnerable to COVID-19 will not be approved in stage 1- 3. Greater vulnerability to COVID-19 is described in this document by Public Health Agency of Canada.
If my research does not currently require direct interaction with participants, do I need to apply for permission to conduct in-person research?
Studies where the Waterloo researchers’ role or activities are pre- or post-data collection only (e.g., instrument development, data analysis) and have no interactions with study participants is not considered off-campus in-person/face-to-face research.
What do I do if a researcher or participant reports a COVID-19 symptom?
Researchers and study participants are asked to perform a COVID-19 symptom screening before their study visit and before they enter a campus building or the off-campus study site.
If a researcher is experiencing symptoms then they should stay home, perform the COVID-19 Checkup (https://covid19checkup.ca/) and follow instructions based on their answers. Guidance for students, employees, and their supervisors is provided on this site: https://uwaterloo.ca/coronavirus/return-campus/workplace-health-and-safety-guidance/health-protocols
If a participant is experiencing symptoms then they should stay home, perform the COVID-19 Checkup (https://covid19checkup.ca/) and follow instructions based on their answers. Study participants are asked to contact the researcher to cancel the study visit if they are experiencing symptoms. Participants do not need to share health information with the researchers.
What do I do if I begin to feel ill with COVID-19-like symptoms during a visit with a study participant?
Stop the study procedures and inform everyone in the room why. Ask all participating people to watch for symptoms. Anyone with COVID-19-like symptoms should complete the COVID-19 online assessment and follow the instructions within.
All relevant instructions from Health and Safety should be followed based on whether the ill researcher is a student or employee: https://uwaterloo.ca/coronavirus/return-campus/workplace-health-and-safety-guidance/health-protocols
Disinfecting the research space must be done before any other participants or researchers enter the space (by custodial services, if possible). This may require rescheduling participants booked for that day or the days following. If the ill researcher had been coughing, especially when not wearing a mask, more precautions may be appropriate to protect researchers.
What do I tell a study participant exhibiting COVID-19-like symptoms during a visit?
Stop the study procedures and inform everyone in the room why. The researcher should carefully escort the participant from the building and confirm whether they can drive home or would need assistance Recommend that they complete the COVID-19 online assessment and follow the instructions within. The researcher can remind the participant to report their campus visit to public health if they test positive for COVID-19. The researcher does not need to follow-up with the participant to confirm their COVID-19 status. Public health will perform contact tracing on individuals that test positive in a manner that protects privacy.
Inform your team that this matter is confidential and they should watch for symptoms and follow relevant instructions regarding workplace health and safety (https://uwaterloo.ca/coronavirus/return-campus/workplace-health-and-safety-guidance/health-protocols). If they experience COVID-19-like symptoms they should complete the COVID-19 online assessment and follow the instructions within.
The PI and/or faculty supervisor should oversee the process of reporting the incident based on the protocol for reporting employee COVID-19 exposure even without confirmation of a diagnosis (https://uwaterloo.ca/coronavirus/return-campus/workplace-health-and-safety-guidance/health-protocols/employee-protocols-covid-19-cases-and-exposures ). The procedures will be reviewed based on the level of exposure faced by the researchers.
Disinfecting the research space must be done before any other participants or researchers enter the space (by custodial services, if possible). This may require rescheduling participants booked for that day or the days following. If the ill participant had been coughing, especially when not wearing a mask, more precautions may be appropriate to protect researchers. If the participant chooses to tell the researchers that they have tested positive for COVID-19 after their visit, then this should be treated as confidential health information and managed in the same way as an employee’s disclosure.
If researchers are informed by the participant or by public health that a participant has contracted COVID-19 then an Adverse Event should be reported to the Director of Research Ethics as soon as possible. Details can be found here: https://uwaterloo.ca/research/office-research-ethics/research-human-participants/report-problems
Who can I contact if I have questions about the requirements for Return to Research?
If I mail or deliver study materials to a participant, is this considered in-person, face-to-face research?
Third-party delivery of equipment or materials to study participants (e.g., mail or courier) is not considered off-campus in-person/face-to-face research. However, there are safety protocols that should be followed for sanitizing the equipment or materials before and after delivery. Contact the Safety Office for guidance.
Can I begin research off-campus, studies in other parts of Canada, or work abroad?
Off-campus human participant studies may submit Return to Research applications beginning October 5, 2020. Detailed information regarding the off-campus/field location is required. Guidance on the process is available here:
Research abroad is not allowed at this point. Travel advice can be found here: uwaterloo.ca/coronavirus/travel
Researchers are encouraged to find remote/virtual methods that respect local public health requirements.
If your research team has unique circumstances for conducting research off-campus or abroad then please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.