Belltower at Furman

Institutional Review Board


In the context of the rapidly evolving circumstances regarding COVID-19 and to further the efforts of our commitment to keeping the members of our community safe and healthy, effective immediately, Furman is suspending any research involving human subjects that require in-person interaction with participants, including those studies that have participants come to campus, until further notice. To be clear, this does not include human subject research that involves online surveys or questionnaire.

Changes to a study’s protocol to replace in-person research visits with “remote” options must be approved in advance by the IRB as a Modification to the Study. Be sure to submit your modification requests to and put COVID-19/study modification in the subject line, so that we can get your revisions to committee members as quickly as possible.

Currently, the IRB is still accepting new applications for review and will continue to review application revisions. If a new study has face-to-face contact with human subjects, it will be reviewed, but not approved until Furman returns to normal operations and regulations on social distancing removed. Additionally, faculty advisers of student research projects will be expected to disseminate this information to students and ensure that these standards are held in compliance.

Procedures and processes may change with little notice, due to the vigorous nature of the situation.  Please continue to monitor along with additional resources, below, for current information. Our aim is to best protect study participants and faculty/staff/students while continuing research as possible under conditions of the COVID-19 virus outbreak.

Your understanding and flexibility is appreciated.



Should I suspend my research project?

The following will apply to Furman and secondary research sites (e.g. school districts, non-profit centers, counseling centers, corporate environments, etc…):

  • All research activities involving in-person contact are suspended for the duration of campus restrictions. This includes activities on Furman campus or facility and any secondary sites.
  • You do not need to suspend research activities if they only involve surveying, remote observation, or procedures that do not require direct contact with participants or between participants.
  • You do not need to suspend research activities if you can amend the protocol to entail only remote data collection during this time.

Who do I need to notify if I suspend my research project?

Contact the IRB immediately if you are suspending any element of an IRB approved research protocol. If the research is sponsored by an external agency or commercial partner, contact Judy Romano and/or Brianne Pochard in the Grants Office for assistance in communicating this suspension to your funding agency.

Will the IRB provide a blanket Modification approval for any suspension?

The IRB will not require a Modification application if you choose to temporarily suspend your research activities approved by Exempt or Expedited procedure. You will need to communicate this decision with the IRB by emailing

You will need to submit a modification request to your IRB approved application if you choose to revise your protocol to allow for remote recruiting, consent, or data collection.

Do I need to contact participants if I suspend my research?

If you suspend your research, you will need to contact research participants if:

  • You have modified the research protocol to entail remote data collection for the period of suspension.
  • They have an upcoming scheduled visit and the IRB has approved ongoing research activities with these participants.

Can I continue to enroll participants on existing protocols?

If your research requires direct contact with participants for any aspect of the research protocol, including recruiting and consenting subjects, you may not enroll subjects until Furman has returned to regular operations. You may continue enrolling subjects for research activities that do not require direct contact with research subjects.

Can I start a new study involving human subjects?

You may submit new applications for research involving indirect contact with participants, such as:

  • secondary data
  • surveys
  • remote observation or data collection
  • virtual interactions.

Applications submitted that involve direct contact with participants will be reviewed and approval will be granted when Furman University returns to normal operation and social distancing regulations removed.


Furman University is dedicated to the protection of both the rights and welfare of volunteer human subjects engaged in research endeavors under the auspices of the university.  The university has entered into an agreement with the Office for Human Research Protocol (OHRP) termed the IRB Registration and Federal Wide Assurance (FWA) program, pledging compliance with the “Common Rule” for federally supported research.  Furman University will apply this Assurance to all research using human subjects, irrespective of the funds or guidance of the research.  To this end, the university has established an Institutional Review Board for Proposed Research Involving Human Subjects, referred to as the IRB. Guidelines are adopted from those guidelines detailed in the IRB guidebook by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) Office for Human Research Protections.