Human Subjects Review Board

RWU Human Subjects Review Board COVID-19 Response

Welcome to the Roger Williams University Human Subjects Review Board (HSRB) website.

The RWU Human Subjects Review Board (HSRB) requests your cooperation in modifying research methodologies involving human participants in light of widespread concerns regarding COVID-19. 

The changes in policy reflect the HSRB’s commitment to supporting faculty and student research programs, while minimizing the contact of RWU personnel (principal investigators and research assistants) with human participants.  This approach is consistent with the CDC public health recommendations and those of the RWU Emergency Response Team. 

The RWU HSRB requests that university constituents who currently serve as primary investigators or co-investigators on utilizing human participants consider the following:

For each active HSRB-approved study or study pending review involving human participants, please review your research methodologies to determine whether your study necessitates face-to-face interaction, or can be accomplished via telephone, email, or other electronic, digital, or virtual methodologies. 

  • If your approved/pending HSRB proposal did not specify face-to-face interactions will be utilized and your protocol can be adapted to accomplish data collection via another method, no further action may be required. Questions regarding your ability to adapt your study under the existing HSRB approval can be directed to
  • If your approved/pending HSRB study specifies the use of face-to-face methodologies, but can easily be adapted to implement electronic or virtual methods, please complete this form: HSRB Protocol Change. Reviews of protocol changes will be expedited.
  • If your study requires face to face interactions which cannot be adapted, the HSRB requests that data collection be postponed until RWU has returned to Level 1 operating procedures under the COVID-19 guidelines.  No further action is required at this time.  The RWU HSRB will solicit updates on the status of the research at the end of the spring semester.
  • If, due to the COVID-19 conditions, you wish to terminate your proposed research, withdraw a proposed study, or to modify your study such that it does not involve data collection with human participants, please complete the HSRB Status Report Form.  This form summarizes your research conducted with human participants thus far, and is required for annual reporting under federal guidelines. 

Please be advised that HSRB proposals involving data collection utilizing face-to-face methodologies will not be reviewed until further notice. The review of HSRB proposals involving alternative methodologies will continue as per the standard HSRB policies.

Thank you for your cooperation.  Please feel free to contact us at with questions.


The HSRB at Roger Williams exists to protect individuals who participate in research conducted at RWU or by a member of the RWU community. At RWU, activities that meet the definition of human subjects research may first need to be reviewed by the HSRB. We encourage you to read the policy statement that appears on this site (RWU HSRB Policy) to familiarize yourself with the definition of human subjects research. In most cases, this definition includes any interaction and/or intervention with individuals in the context of original research. This includes interviews, surveys, experiments, and observations of others. As a result, any research that fits this description will require some level of approval from the HSRB. Our role is to evaluate your research protocol to ensure that participants rights are respected.

Research conducted by RWU faculty, staff and students most often requires expedited review, meaning the review process generally takes ten working days. The HSRB will evaluate the level of risk to participants and review your application accordingly. Often in an expedited review, we find minimal risk to participants. In the case of a greater risk, or when confidentiality is an issue, we will require an increased level of review. Regardless of level of review, our primary concern is to ensure participants’ rights are respected. In order to help facilitate our review process, please be sure to include all necessary components to your application, with particular attention to obtaining consent. Don’t forget to complete the appropriate ethical training modules, also detailed in the policy document.

Please review the documents on this site to help determine 1) whether you need to apply for HSRB approval, and 2) if so, what level of review is sought. We are confident your questions can be answered by a proper review of our documents; however, we are here to provide any assistance as you navigate the HSRB process. Please feel free to email the HSRB Chair at