Technology & Remote Research

Technology & Remote Research

How to Access Research Files and Essential Research Materials Remotely

In the interest of protecting both participants and researchers, the Teachers College (TC) campus is currently closed to all non-essential personnel. Faculty who have important digital files on campus can work with TC IT to gain remote access. Physical files on campus are not currently accessible. TC IT provides the following resources for researchers:

We strongly recommend that TC researchers find ways to proceed with electronic files that can be remotely accessed. Researchers may email if their inability to access physical files on campus disrupts an IRB protocol submission or review. TC IRB will work with researchers on a case-by-case basis on how to proceed.

Requirements for Remote Study Activities

Study-related activities that do not require face-to-face interaction, such as data analysis, write up of results, grant preparation, or planning for future research, may continue off-campus if the following requirements are met:

  • All identifiers must be removed from any digital data (such as computer files, recordings) or physical data (such as paper records) prior to being taken off-campus;
  • All data must be securely stored at the remote location, such as in a locked file cabinet, or in a secure digital location such as TC's password-protected Google Drive;
  • AND digital data protection procedures outlined in the approved study IRB protocol must be maintained.

Any researchers wishing to move their face-to-face research to an online format should submit an COVID-19 specific IRB modification through Mentor (for a walkthrough guide, please download How to Submit COVID-19 Modification Online Activities).

Suggestions for Maintaining Communication and Cross-Training Staff

As New York City is currently under a shelter-at-home mandate, consider holding regular meetings with research personnel via telephone or conferencing calls (e.g., Zoom). For a guide on how to use Zoom, visit TC IT’s Knowledge Base or TC's Canvas Zoom Tutorial.

Research staff, consultants, and assistants should be updated on changes to research compliance, especially if protocols have been moved to online services or modifications have been made to research methods.

Additionally, staff should be cross-trained to perform all duties and continue research protocols, in case a vital member of the team cannot complete their duties for any reason. All staff should visit TC IT’s website for training modules and precautions when using online software. Be aware of security risks inherent in the use of these platforms (e.g., the recent phenomenon of Zoom bombing) and take precautions where possible.

HIPAA Regulations

Please note that while the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) has temporarily relaxed regulations regarding patient privacy and disclosure, the HIPAA waiver only applies to hospitals covered by a public health emergency.All TC researchers should continue to follow regular HIPAA regulations.

Additionally, HIPAA has temporarily allowed for the use of telehealth medical services via non-public-facing remote third-party services. If a researcher is planning to utilize telehealth medical services in this manner, please submit these plans in a minor modification to TC IRB.

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