July 1, 2021
Note: This guidance will be updated in light of the University’s recent announcements on public health policies. Please refer to the University’s current guidance on travel, face coverings, social distancing, visitors and gatherings.
April 28, 2021
These guidelines are to be used in conjunction with the Plan for Phased Resumption of On-Campus Research for Princeton University. While the Plan focuses on on-campus research, field researchers are encouraged to become familiar with it, as it provides general safety and precautionary information that may be practicable for field research being performed during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Plan describes four levels of on-campus operation, which include 1 (normal operations), 2 (phased resumption), 3 (essential operations), and 4 (operations suspended). Princeton is currently in level 2. These guidelines will be revised in accordance with major changes to guidance issued by Princeton University, or any other relevant major changes to the current understanding of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Scope: These guidelines apply to all field research faculty, students, researchers, staff and postdoctoral researchers who may be considered part of the research team, regardless of whether the research occurs domestically or internationally. These guidelines apply to all forms of field research whether they arise from the humanities, social sciences, natural sciences, or engineering and applied sciences. Field research is any form of research conducted outside of a laboratory, academic building or library. Human subjects research guidelines are handled separately from field research.
As described in more detail below, each Principal Investigator (PI) is required to submit a Field Research Plan (FRP) to their department chair or institute director for approval. Once approved, the PI then submits the plan to the Dean for Research (DFR) for review and approval prior to conducting any field research. A template of this plan is provided in the FRP link above for your convenience. You may choose to use a different format, but the information included in the template must be provided in order for DFR to make a complete assessment of risks and proposed mitigation strategies. The plan should be submitted to firstname.lastname@example.org. DFR, working with Environmental Health and Safety (EHS), will manage the review process and communicate the determination(s) to the PI and to the department chair and manager. The PI is responsible for securing any additional approvals, including those required by the department, for travel, funding, local permits/permissions, as well as research compliance-related approvals such as from the IACUC, IBC, and export control.
For the purposes of this guideline, field research is divided into three categories, based upon the ability to maintain social distancing. Specific considerations, which are to be addressed in the FRP, are listed for each category.
Category #1: Field researchers who are acting alone, live locally, have no need to travel or can travel alone using their own personal vehicle, and whose research does not bring them into contact with others.
Category #2: Field researchers working alone or as part of a team where social distancing is easily maintained.
Category #3: Field researchers working alone or as part of a team where social distancing guidelines cannot be easily maintained.
Category #1: This category of research presents low risk of exposure. Researchers should follow social distancing and face covering guidelines established by the University as well as the CDC guidelines on how to protect yourself and what to do if you are sick. Any travel involved must comply with University travel guidelinesThis research may proceed once the FRP is submitted and approved by the DFR.
Category #2: This category of research presents minimal risk to participants if the research is designed to minimize travel and contact with other individuals. This research may proceed once the FRP is submitted and approved by the DFR. In addition to the conditions outlined above for category #1, the following additional restrictions apply to category #2:
Category #3: This category of research presents greater than minimal risk to the researcher and those they may come in contact with in order to meet the goals of the research. This research may proceed once the FRP is submitted and approved by the DFR. Any travel involved must comply with University travel guidelinesIn addition to the conditions outlined above for category #2, the following additional restrictions apply to category #3: