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Brighton & Sussex Medical School

COVID-19 updates for researchers

BSMS > Research > Support and governance > Governance and ethics > COVID-19 updates for researchers

COVID-19 updates for researchers

For the latest information on undergraduate, postgraduate (taught and research degrees) and staff research following the COVID-19 outbreak, please see our dedicated webpage below.

Microscope and student

Online ethics drop in and advice

Each Tuesday morning between 10am-12pm.

Staff or students may wish to discuss amending their research to enable it to take place virtually, have questions relating to the COVID-19 guidance and procedures, or simply want some guidance on submitting a new ethics application to the Research Governance and Ethics Committee (RGEC).  If so, they can book a time to attend a virtual ethics ‘drop-in’ online on Tuesday mornings (between 10.00 – 12.00) by contacting Caroline Brooks on or

Guidance on the use of video conferencing platforms in research 

This document offers recently developed guidance for staff and student researchers considering the use of video conferencing platforms to conduct online research interviews and/or focus groups. It provides clear guidelines on platforms which are GDPR compliant and appropriate for use in research.

Read more >

RNA Bio research group

Applications for COVID-19 research projects

To ensure that COVID-19 research projects can start as quickly as possible, the BSMS RGEC is offering fast-tracked ethical and governance review for all COVID-19 related new studies, as well as amendments to add a COVID-19 component to an existing project. 

These submissions do not need to be booked in for review at a scheduled meeting. The Committee will respond quickly to arrange a fast-tracked review for your project. 

To guarantee swift confirmation of a decision for new COVID-19 studies, the Committee will first discuss the proposal with the PI, working closely with them to agree on the logistical details of the application prior to online submission. Please contact the Research Integrity, Ethics and Governance Administrator, Caroline Brooks, to arrange an initial discussion for your project.

Email Caroline >

Lab students smiling

Guidance for RGEC applicants (COVID-19)

The BSMS Research Governance and Ethics Committee (RGEC) will continue to operate. However, the Committee will now solely conduct its business online with immediate effect. 

While all physical meetings of the Committee and Sub-Panel are now suspended, the RGEC will operate virtually, conducting online review of all applications submitted.In order to continue to offer an ethical review service with the least disruption for applicants, the RGEC will continue to maintain the existing schedule of monthly review. To achieve this: 

  • Scheduled Committee and Sub-Panel meeting dates publicised to applicants will now serve as an operational deadline by which Committee and Sub-Panel review is submitted. 
  • Applicants should continue to book in their applications (and substantial amendments) for review at a specific ‘meeting’ via Sussex Direct and to submit their application by the respective meeting deadline. 
  • It may be possible, to arrange a separate virtual discussion with the Chair, Deputy Chair and Secretary, either for complex re-submissions, or for new applications posing significant logistical concerns which would best be talked through. However, this is by prior agreement and on receipt of a strong justification:   

We hope that this approach offers the least disruption to service for all applicants. Thank you.

oncoloy cell bio

Undergraduate and postgraduate (taught) research

Guidance for students who have previously received ethical approval from RGEC for research projects which involve face-to-face interactions with research participants (such as one-to-one interviews or focus groups):

All face-to-face research activity with participants has now been suspended.

Where a student’s research project is required as part of completion of a module or course, please consider changing the study methods, where possible, rather than discontinuing the project. 

Please submit an Amendment to RGEC via the online ethical review application system in Sussex Direct, to provide the Committee with an audit trail for these changes. The Committee will grant expedited approval for Amendments that meet the following strict criteria: 

Amendments to projects where the sole change will be to halt in-person research interactions and to now conduct these interactions online (for e.g. using Skype, online questionnaires or other University approved online systems). No further changes to the protocol originally approved by the Research Governance and Ethics Committee.  


Follow guidance available on the Governance and Ethics page on the BSMS website in the User Manual regarding submission of Amendments:


This requires completing and uploading a ‘Request for Amendment Form’ that clearly outlines the proposed changes, uploading revised participant facing documents (Participant Information Sheet and Consent Form), and updating the project end date (and start date where necessary) for the application within Sussex Direct.

  • Revised Participant Information Sheets and Consent Forms should be uploaded which reflect that research interactions will now be conducted online. Please include a clause to receive active consent from participants for online data that will be collected, and clarify what personal data, for e.g. contact details, will be needed, and how these data will be stored (i.e. using University approved storage and systems).
  • Please clarify if any recordings of online interactions with participants will be made. These must be stored securely and only within University systems.  
  • A deadline should be provided to participants of when recordings, as well as any other data collected, will be destroyed.  

Supervisors are responsible for ensuring the above criteria are met, especially the security of participant data, and the safety of research students. 


All field trips and international travel are now cancelled for the remainder of the 2019-20 academic year.

Researchers who travel in disregard of University travel guidance for research purposes risk not being insured and also do so without ethical and governance approval from the University.


Pausing studies

For any on-going research projects that Supervisors may wish to ‘place on hold’ in the event they can be completed at a later date, please ensure participants are fully informed.

Submission of an Amendment will required to extend the project ‘end date’ for the study.

computer scans of organs

Postgraduate (research) and staff research

Guidance for staff:

All face-to-face research activity with participants has now been suspended.

The same principles previously outlined also apply to PGR and staff research projects.

The Committee will grant expedited approval for Amendments where the sole change to the study will be to halt in-person research interactions and to now conduct these interactions online, and/or or to extend a project ‘end date’. These Amendments should be submitted via Sussex Direct. (NB if you or your colleagues are involved with grant-funded research you should check with the funders in the first instance to ascertain if they will permit no-cost extensions.) 

More information on Covid-19 and research grant applicants and grant holders can be found below.

Read more >

Thank you and please feel free to contact us via should you require any further information on the above.

Sponsored research

Guidance related to University Sponsored research will be issued shortly.

Please see the HRA’s website for detailed guidance on the process for submission of Amendments to Sponsored studies that wish to continue activity while avoiding exposure to patients and reducing the burden on clinical services, or to temporarily halt and extend the duration of the study in light of COVID-19.

Read more >