OVPRI Human Subject Research Protection Blog

The VCU Human Research Protection Program is dedicated to facilitating ethically and scientifically sound research through robust review of research projects and through effective education and outreach to the VCU research community.

EDIT 4/28/2021: As of April 27, 2021, the Tiering system referenced in this post has been discontinued. Investigators are no longer required to make a Tiering determination for their studies.

The VCU Human Research Protection Program would like to inform the VCU research community about an updated resource on how COVID-19 is impacting human research conducted at VCU. The VCU HRPP recognizes that in the first few weeks of VCU’s COVID-19 response, information came out rapidly and updates were made frequently, and this updated resource is intended to clarify and consolidate the guidance that has been issued regarding human research and COVID-19.

All VCU researchers conducting human research at VCU are strongly encouraged to review the updated resource page, which can be accessed here. This page includes important clarifications and explanations regarding the Tiering system implemented at VCU for human research, as well as links to additional resources, which may be important to review even if you are familiar with the initial guidance.

In brief, the Tiering system developed 4 Tiers into which all human research at VCU can be categorized, based on the potential benefit to participants and the types of interactions involved in a study. Each Tier comes with its own specific requirements for continuation of research projects within that Tier.

Important notes:  

  • You are required to assess your human research projects and determine which Tier is most appropriate for each project under your oversight, and you must adhere to the requirements of that Tier. 
  • The requirements in each Tier may require you to take additional action, such as securing approval through your school/college/center for continuation of your study, submitting an amendment to change aspects of your study to support its continuation, and/or notifying the IRB of your intention to pause your research project.
  • As a reminder, the Tiering system applies to all human research conducted at VCU, regardless of whether the project is reviewed by the VCU IRB or by an external IRB.

Detailed information regarding the Tiering system is found on the updated resource page, which can be accessed here.  For additional information about COVID-19 and its impact on research at VCU more broadly, you can visit the main OVPRI COVID-19 webpage.

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