Research Continuity Approval & Reporting Processes
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The Research Continuity Team (RBCT) approval processes (for obtaining prior approval for research) have been updated (1st Sept 2021) to reflect current national, Public Health and institutional guidance/measures.
The current main guidance for Researchers is
Research is essential - researchers can resume all research activities on campus and can resume/commence research studies, namely non-human based studies off campus (Fieldwork) or human-based studies (Research at Interface with Society/Volunteers-on-Campus studies).
Subsidiarity Model of Approval
- Prior approval for research by the local Head (school/RICU), or in some instances, the Head of Department/equivalent is required. Nationally Covid-19 Restriction Levels (1-5) no longer apply, and in practice permission for most research activities can be obtained from the relevant Head of Unit. In a limited number of cases additional approval may be required from the Head of College (see Flowchart, Figure 1, below).
- Occupancy figures must continue to be recorded and submitted to the Research Business Continuity Team (RBCT) Coordinator, Irene Kavanagh (email@example.com) on a weekly basis. These figures will continue to be forwarded to the University Management Team by the RBCT on a regular and ongoing basis.
- It is important that feedback on issues as they arise are reported back to the RBCT via the appropriate channels, as outlined in the flowchart below (Figure 1).
Approval & Reporting Processes-Flowchart
Figure 1: Flowchart to illustrate the Research Business Continuity Team (RBCT) Approval & Reporting process – revised 23rd Sept 2021: Great Britain travel is now included in the list of countries which may be approved by Head of School/RICU Director (ie not necessarily require additional Head of College approval).
The flowchart below provides guidance on instances where further approval may be required by the Head of College (or at the very least recommendations of instances where the Head of College is consulted with). There is no 'one- size-fits-all' model - Schools/RICUs/Colleges should apply best practice, in line with institutional/national guidelines, as to what is appropriate for their area and the nature of the study/request.
Approval Process Requirements
**For face to face interviews, see Guidelines for Human-Focused Research (Face-to-face interviews), Heads of Schools/RICU Directors should consult with the Head of College to ascertain if College approval is required for the following cases:
1)Face-masks cannot be worn by the interviewee/interviewer during the interview
2)The face-to-face studies are being carried out in other countries, outside the Republic of Ireland.
- Compilation of documentation:
- Research mangers (and PIs) will compile the Covid-19 Response Plan documentation for further approval.
- The Covid-19 Response Plan documentation, for review and approval by the relevant Head, includes:
- COVID-19 RESPONSE PLANS (CRPS);
- Risk Assessments (RAs);
- Lists of research personnel requiring access (Occupancy Logs).
- In some cases the following documents may also be required:
- Approval letter from the relevant ethics committee for human-based studies (CREC or SREC);
- Where further approval is required from the Head of College, the Head of School/RICU Director must forward a Letter of Assurance to the relevant Head of College.
- For all documentation that has been approved previously, this approval still remains, however the documentation should be updated as/if necessary for Head of Unit review and approval.
- Obtaining Approval
- Head of School/RICU/Department Approval: Compiled documents are submitted to the Head of School/RICU, or where delegated, the Head of Department (or equivalent) for approval.
- Additional Head of College Approval: In certain cases, additional approval by the Head of College is required:
- Large-scale studies which involve more than one School/unit;
- Researchers travel to/from abroad involving countries outside the EU + Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Switzerland and Great Britain –see DFA General Covid-19 Travel Advisory in Operation;
- If the approving person (Head of School/RICU/Dept) is directly involved in the study, independent/additional approval is required by the Head of College;
- Any other research activities deemed necessary by the Head of College that require further college approval.
Oversight will be maintained by reporting processes which involve the following:
- University Management Team (UMT)
- Weekly access figures for research areas will continue to be submitted to the Research Business Continuity Team (RBCT) Coordinator, Irene Kavanagh (firstname.lastname@example.org), from Local Research Units on a weekly basis.
- The Vice President for Research & Innovation (VPRI; Prof John Cryan) forwards these figures to the UMT for their weekly/regular meetings and provides feedback on RBCT processes.
- Quality Control and Compliance Checks
- Local Units must, in line with their Covid-19 Response Plan, conduct regular quality control and compliance checks in their area.
- RBCT also conducts periodic quality control and compliance checks in research facilities. These checks are carried out on behalf of the RBCT by UCC’s Biological Safety Officer with, in some instances, the relevant Head of College.
- Feedback to RBCT Monthly Meetings
- VPRI/RBCT Coordinator will continue to provide access figures and updates on research continuity/RBCT processes.
- Feedback on quality control and compliance checks from local units/areas.
- Heads of College feedback on their College RBCT matters.
- Units to feedback to the RBCT group on any issues/research continuity matters.