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University of Wisconsin–Madison

Updated guidance for face-to-face human subjects research (effective March 12, 2022)

With the recent change in UW–Madison’s face covering policy, we have updated our policy for the use of face coverings in face-to-face human subjects research interactions.

For studies conducted in a health care setting, including UW-Health and the Clinical Research Unit, face coverings are still required, unless study procedures or participant characteristics contraindicate the use of face coverings.

Beginning March 12, 2022, the use of face coverings in other UW–Madison campus settings is an individual option, at the discretion for each member of the study team and individual study participants.

Remote methods of data collection for human subjects research remain an option, but are not required. There is no maximum duration of contact for face-to-face research encounters, and no required square footage per person, as stipulated in prior guidance.

Study team members cannot be required by the university or its university representatives to provide information about their vaccination status and job duties cannot be assigned based on vaccination status, absent further guidance from the university. It is not appropriate to ask study participants, or potential study participants, about their vaccination status, unless COVID-19 vaccination is an inclusion or exclusion criterion approved by the IRB for a particular study. Furthermore, it is not appropriate to consider vaccination status as a criterion for participating in the study, unless this criterion is approved by the IRB for a particular study.

Please reschedule study visits if a research participant or necessary accompanying person has had a recent COVID-19 diagnosis, screens positive on a COVID-19 screening test, or has symptoms associated with COVID-19, except for IRB-approved studies related to COVID.

This guidance applies to research involving human subjects that occurs on or off campus. For some off-campus settings, face-covering requirements may still be in place. As such, please be aware of policies in place within your particular research settings and abide by those policies.

As public health conditions change, we will provide updated guidance to study teams.


Nadine P. Connor, PhD

Professor, Communication Sciences & Disorders; Surgery

Associate Vice Chancellor for Research Policy and Compliance

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Pronouns: She/Her/Hers