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Protecting Research Participants and Researchers from COVID-19

One South has adopted several protocols to ensure the safety of research participants and researchers. This is in line with our core ethical principles and versions of these protocols have been put in place in data collection activities since March of 2020.

Our detailed COVID-19 Prevention Guidelines include guidance for (1) before data collection (including field team training) (2) during data collection and (3) after data collection.

Protecting research participants and researchers is at the center of what we do.

To support learning in the wider sector, we have put together a list of some of the safety measures included in our COVID-19 Prevention Guidelines for Field Research and Group Activities. These protocols were informed by COVID-19 prevention guidelines set out by the WHO and the CDC.

Selection of relevant protocols

  • Where necessary, research designs have been adapted to rely on remote sessions such as telephonic interviews and virtual online sessions. To support participation in these sessions from diverse stakeholder groups, incentives have been provided. Where necessary and safe, in-person data collection activities have been carried out.

  • Researchers are trained following the guidelines before participating in data collection activities.

  • In-person data collection activities only take place in accordance with relevant government mandates and policies and if transmission risk is low based on data available on test positivity in the region and trend changes in the number of COVID-19 cases.

  • For all in-person data collection activities, data collectors are required to be fully vaccinated, as defined by relevant government guidelines.

  • All in-person data collection activities are carried out with the permission of relevant ethical bodies of research and government authorities in target regions.

  • Researchers are provided with surgical or N95 masks to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

  • Research participants are provided with surgical or N95 masks prior to participating in any interviews or other research activities.

  • All in-person sessions require mask wearing and social distancing (6 feet or more) between participants.

  • All group sessions held in person are capped at a maximum of 5 participants, including the researcher.

  • Where possible, all in-person 1-1 sessions are conducted outside in a well-ventilated space.

  • In-person group sessions take place outside in spaces with a minimum of 3 open sides (1 wall maximum) with social distancing in place.

  • All in-person participants are provided with hand sanitizer prior to participating in the session.

  • Participants and researchers are asked a series of questions prior to participating in research activities to ensure the absence of flu-like or COVID-19 related symptoms.

  • All research participants are informed prior to agreeing to participate in in-person research activities that they are discouraged to participate if they or members of their household have underlying medical conditions (such as conditions affecting the immune system, diabetes, high blood pressure, lung disease, or cancer)

  • Researchers are required to stay at home and self-isolate if they have any symptoms of COVID-19. This includes including mild symptoms such as cough, sore or itchy throat, or headaches. Researchers are required to test negative on a PCR test prior to participating in the research, after exhibiting or reporting symptoms.

  • Where feasible, researchers are tested frequently during research activities with a requirement to test negative for continued participation.

  • Researchers and participants are provided with a COVID-19 information sheet prior to participating in the research. This sheet includes general advice on prevention including advice on handwashing, appropriate mask use, and touching the face or eyes.

  • Rapid tests are not used to confirm the absence of COVID-19 due to the reliability of these tests and the time window between testing negative and being contagious (in the case that the person is COVID-19 positive).

  • Vehicles used to transport researchers for in-person data collection activities include a limited number of participants depending on the vehicle size and to ensure social distancing. Vehicles are required to ensure there is a cross-flow of air between windows when transporting researchers.

  • In-person workshops, where it is safe to hold these, are conducted in well-ventilated spaces which demonstrate they are complaint with relevant COVID-19 prevention approaches, including frequent cleaning, provision of hand sanitizer, and capability for social distancing

  • All in-country partners are required to submit a COVID-19 prevention plan building on the detailed guidance provided in One South’s COVID-19 Prevention Guidelines and accounting for context specific factors.

Prevention guidelines are updated based on continued learning on best practices. This list provides a snapshot of some of the protocols put in place.

One South’s Guidelines for the Prevention of COVID-19 are shared with clients prior to any engagement, are appropriately contextualized, and agreed with all relevant stakeholders.

Our broader guiding principles ensure we deliver research that is ethical & child-friendly, accessible, rigorous, relevant, targeted, and inclusive.


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