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Research FAQ

COVID-19 FAQ (Updated: March 27, 2020)


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Am I allowed to start any new research at this time?

No new activities should be started during this time that involve repeated access to campus or the use of human subjects or animals in research.

Am I able to continue on-campus research?

At present, Faculty are permitted on campus for research and other purposes but are asked to take care and check in with security upon arrival.  Faculty with ongoing campus research should be assuming the majority of duties necessary to maintain their research during this period of reduced access.

Student Researchers are not permitted on campus to support faculty work. The Tri-Council greatly supports faculty finding alternative opportunities for students to remain engaged in research while off-campus.

Non-Student Research staff working with Faculty on campus must be limited to absolutely essential personnel only, such as Post-Doctoral Fellows whose own research may be impacted. Other non-essential personnel, such as (but not limited to) Research Associates/Assistants, Visiting Scholars and Technicians, should not be on campus for activities related to Faculty research.

What do I need to do to plan for research interruptions?

Please develop an individual research plan in preparation for anticipated changes to access to campus as well as the need to maintain social distancing and other protocols for slowing the spread of COVID-19 while conducting research activities.

Researchers should continue their work remotely, if possible and suspend all activities that are not in keeping with social distancing and cannot ensure the health and safety of research personnel and participants.

We must recognize that there will be short term disruptions to research activities both on campus and in the field that will require mitigation efforts. Faculty should also be aware that there is the possibility of a full stop to activities should the situation escalate.

What should my research plan address?

Faculty research plans should address both short term disruption, and the potential impact of a full closure of their research activities. If your research will be significantly impacted, please forward a research plan to your chair and dean with a copy to the Research Office, via Bea Spearing

How can I support my research support staff on current projects?

Faculty are asked to communicate with research staff (undergraduate students, graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, research associates, and research technicians in labs, etc.) of any changes to workload, both short and long term. Communicate with research staff about work that can be done remotely, and set up a plan to support this. Advise the Research Office if there are any potential financial implications of changes to work with respect to grants, contracts and  payroll.

How do I access research support services?

Research support is available by email, phone, and video conferencing. Please reach out as needed. We are here to help with questions and to provide ongoing support. All research office staff are working remotely to ensure that faculty have resources to assist with current projects and for applying for new grants.

We will be using the Research website to provide faculty with updates. We also ask that you frequently visit the Tri-Council website pages relevant to your research.

What changes should I consider in my labs, facilities, and experiments?

Determine what can be shut down, what work needs to be monitored , and by whom. Any ongoing tests, procedures etc. that can be interrupted should be considered. Consider the use of virtual meetings for research teams. 

Review protocols for disinfecting surfaces to reduce the risk of surface transmission; this would include, but is not limited to, lab benches, fume hoods, instrumentation panels, taps, etc.

For remote fieldwork or attending to work at off site research facilities, special considerations may be needed. Please connect with your Chair, Dean and the Research Office to assist with any arrangements/support for off-site activities. Work with host institutions on procedures they may have in place.

What changes should I consider regarding research involving human subjects?

If it is possible to postpone in-person interviews, focus groups or gatherings this is to be strongly considered.

Interviews to be conducted online or over the phone can proceed or be postponed depending on the circumstances.

Faculty should connect with the Research Office if they expect delays, especially for non Tri-Council research.

Faculty should also consult the Tri-Council for ongoing updates to grants and funding.

For human ethics related questions, please contact Heather Mowat.  

What changes should I consider regarding research involving animals?

Please Refer to CCAC for updates. Please also connect with your Dean and Chair to determine plans.

For any offsite or fieldwork, again please ensure that your Dean and Chair are aware if fieldwork cannot be interrupted.

The Director of the Vivarium, Dr. Jens Franck, Department of Biology, should also be contacted for work related to this facility.

For animal ethics-related questions, please contact Heather Mowat

Will I still have access to research materials and supplies?

Shipping and receiving functions will remain open. Please ensure you connect with suppliers or others if there is to be interruptions.

Please also notify shipping/receiving if there are any special circumstances with respect to shipments and delivery locations.

If any purchases or orders can be delayed that should be explored should campus functions close.

What do I need to consider when using equipment?

Where the research involves physical assessments and use of equipment (e.g., metabolic carts, facemasks, mouthpieces, nose clips, straps, turbines, valves, tubing, cannula, treadmills, etc.), disinfection according to manufacturer’s standards where applicable is paramount and use of single use accessories is advisable. In the absence of manufacturer standards, thorough cleaning between participants is advised.

What do I need to know about funding sources, deadlines, and deliverables?

If you are undertaking contract based work and have deadlines or pending deliverables that may be interrupted, please connect with the Research Office or the funder directly to request an extension.

It is important to note that some changes may require Contract Amendments, so notify the Research Office as soon as possible.

Based on type of funding, what and needs to be done or moved forward, faculty are encouraged to work with external funders.

What do I need to know about internal grants and travel awards?

All travel has been suspended, including for research purposes. The pending travel grant awards competition is also being postponed until further notice.

Any internal grant or travel funding awarded for an interrupted conference can be held if the event is rescheduled.

Use of TPDA funds for travel canceled within this fiscal year can be deferred if the event is being rescheduled. If you need to defer travel, please discuss with Dr. James Currie, Vice-President, Administration.

I may need to cancel tri-council funded travel related to my research, what should I do?

If you decide to cancel your trip as a result of cancelled conferences, travel advisories (including those from Health Canada and Global Affairs Canada), or personal choice due to health or other concerns, the tri-council agencies have released a statement confirming that “the reimbursement of non-refundable travel fees from agency funds is acceptable considering the impacts of COVID-19. This applies to the travel of both principal investigators and research personnel.”

If you are travelling for agency-funded research, you should consider purchasing either cancellation insurance, or tickets that are at least partially refundable. In this specific situation, some additional cost could still be viewed as economical if it allows for partial or full reimbursement/credit in the event of cancellation.

Please refer to the Tri-agency message on COVID-19 for more information.

I may need to cancel non-tri-council funded travel related to my research, what should I do?

There may be internal funds available to offset non-refundable travel fees. This will be looked at on a case by case basis. Please contact the Research Office for more information or questions related to non-tri-council funding.

I'd like to review the research guidelines, where can I find past memos?

Important updates regarding research activities are outlined in the following memos:

Where do I go for more information?

For general research Inquiries, please contact Bea Spearing.

Please connect with your dean, chair, and the Research Office for questions during this time. We will work to provide as much information as we can by email and online.