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Criteria for permitting in-person research during covid-19

March 1, 2021

The Freedom Fund is committed to using data and evidence to drive more effective actions to identify vulnerable individuals and protect victims of modern slavery. People who are most at risk are also least likely to be reachable by remote data collection efforts, and therefore in-person data collection is sometimes necessary to ensure that marginalised voices are reflected in vital programming and policy decisions.

At the same time, however, we need to carefully balance the potential ‘benefit’ of in-person data collection versus the ‘risk’ of gathering it. In contrast with program participants, research participants receive almost no direct benefit from engaging in our studies (bar a modest ‘thank you gift’) and therefore the consideration of benefits vs. risks for this group is more intricate.

To help determine if and when in-person research can be carried out during covid-19, the Freedom Fund has set forth a methodical, fact-based approach to guide our research projects around the world. The approach draws heavily on the guidance from other credible organisations, including, Johns Hopkins University and the U.S. Centre for Disease Control.  Altogether, the criteria and procedures are designed to minimise risks to project team members and research participants, by taking into account the best-available national- and project-level information, as well as the latest public health recommendations.

Criteria for determining if in-person fieldwork can be carried out

  1. Is the data collection likely to violate the restrictions put in place by national or local governments?
  2. Is the data collection likely to violate the organisational guidance issued by the relevant project stakeholders? (such as the Freedom Fund, in-country research partners and donors)
  3. Is the data collection taking place in a high-risk environment based on the latest covid information?

If the answer to the above questions is no, then in-person fieldwork can proceed, as long as health and safety guidelines are followed.

Read the full criteria and mitigating procedures here.

Photo credit: Sachin Kumar, Freedom Fund 

Written by
The Freedom Fund