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On-Campus and Field Research Restart

McCombs School of Business McCombs School of Business


The McCombs School of Business is following guidance by the Vice President for Research (VPR) to restart on-campus research that has been shut down due to COVID. UT’s current policy remains that all research that can be done remotely should continue to do so.

The VPR’s Research Restart policy primarily applies to research which requires researchers to be onsite in a lab or field setting for human subjects and other research or access a shared use facility (e.g., secure database and computational facilities). The VPR worked with the Associate Deans for Research to develop a multi-level phased approach to safely resume research. For a description of each Research Phase, please download the Resuming Research Operations at UT-Austin PDF from the VPR's COVID-19 site. For additional information about restarting research, you should download the PI Research Restart Toolkit on the VPR website.

We are currently in Research Level 3, which allows for limited non-human subjects, non-contact research to be conducted on campus, subject to density constraints. Beginning September 23, 2020, principal investigators may apply to resume certain types of human subjects research that have been paused due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Efforts to resume human subjects research will follow the principles outlined in UT’s Research Restart plan but also require attention to new issues, including informed consent of participants, required processes for COVID-19 screening and positive test notification, and assessment of COVID-19 transmission risk as well as potential benefits to study participants. Please download the Human Subjects Research Restart Plan.

On-Campus and Field Research Restart Application

Researchers who wish to restart on-campus research MUST complete the following form.

NOTE: All research that can be conducted remotely should continue to be conducted remotely and all research meetings should be conducted remotely.

Complete the Research Restart Form

McCombs School of Business Research Restart

To keep everyone safe, while increasing research activity in a phased approach as safety becomes easier to maintain.

Principle 1: Follow public health guidelines from authorities.

Principle 2: Resume research activities in alignment with the executive UT campus response to COVID-19.

Principle 3: Protect the overall health and safety of our human research subjects and our UT community.

Principle 6: Comply with ethical and legal requirements, as well as guidelines imposed by the sponsors of funded research.

Principle 7: Protect the careers of early-stage researchers, including assistant professors and PhD students nearing completion of their degrees.

Principle 8: Ensure as rapid a research restart as public health and logistical conditions permit, while remaining agile in anticipation of a resurgence of COVID-19.

Principle 9: All research and research meetings that can be conducted remotely should be conducted remotely until the campus is 100% open.

You must do the following in preparation to reactivate or begin face-to-face human participant interactions.

  1. Carefully review UTs Human Subjects Research Restart Plan and Research FAQs at VPR Human Subjects Restart website.
  2. Submit a McCombs Research Restart application. All in-person human-subjects research must have ADR approval before resuming.
    • Each application will need to address why research cannot be conducted remotely.
    • Each application will need to identify Benefit and Risk levels per defined categories in Human Subjects Restart Plan.
    • Each application will need to include a Risk Mitigation Plan. Specifically, you will need to specify a plan for how you will mitigate virus transmission risk if performing face-to-face human subjects research.
    • Ensure necessary PPE (Level 2 medical grade masks or greater) and social distancing for all human participant interactions.
  3. Note that Undergraduate Research Assistants (URAs) are not currently allowed to engage in in-person research. The University anticipates allowing URAs to resume participating in in-person research sometime in October following installation of required testing procedures for URAs. The McCombs Behavioral Lab will open after URAs are able to resume in-person lab activities.

During the Research Phases, there will be limits on the number of occupants or workforce density in research spaces. The purpose of workforce density/occupancy limits is to assure that proper social distancing is maintained within all research spaces/laboratories, and also throughout McCombs buildings.

Currently, 50% of a researcher or lab’s personnel (i.e., graduate students, URAs, and other researchers) can resume on-campus activities. However, there are also social distancing requirements. Individual researchers may, therefore, need to prioritize the research projects they will resume and the research personnel who are working on-campus in their research spaces. The college may also have to prioritize the projects that resume on-campus activity in cases where there are applications for more research projects to be resumed than we can accommodate given the occupancy limit in the Behavioral Lab and across each of the buildings.

The following criteria will be used by McCombs to prioritize projects:

  • Research by assistant professors
  • Research by PhD students nearing completion of a degree.
  • Externally funded research that is time-sensitive (e.g., must collect post-intervention data, subsequent wave of data in a longitudinal study, or COVID-19-related data collection, etc.).
  • Non-funded research that is time-sensitive (e.g., must collect post-intervention data or subsequent wave of data in a longitudinal study, or COVID-19-related data collection, etc.).
  • Research continuation for existing projects