COVID-19 Research Impacts
The following information is provided in order to facilitate the continuation of faculty and student research during this global pandemic and resulting campus closure. Because this situation is unprecedented and rapidly changing, this website will be updated regularly.
- SSHRC COVID-19 Impacts on SSHRC's Policies and Programs
- NSERC Program Information in Relation to COVID-19
- CIHR: Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19)
- TRU: COVID-19 updates
Last updated: April 2, 2020
Research Continuity Planning & Processes
Guidelines for Research Continuity Planning
The following is intended to provide researchers with considerations for conducting research activities and for ensuring continuity of research.
All Active Research Projects
Principal Investigators and Faculty Supervisors should evaluate each active research project they are leading/supervising and develop project-specific plans for continuity of the research. These plans should take into account the necessity of continuing the research (direct benefit to participants and/or risks of discontinuing the research) and any necessary modifications to research project procedures. If the research does not offer participants direct benefit or if the project interactions place the research team and/or participants at risk of viral exposure, consider whether changes in procedures to limit the risk or a pause in the research is prudent. The external Sponsor (for sponsored/contract research) and the Research Office should be contacted as appropriate. The Research Ethics Board is available for consultation, but researchers should evaluate their specific research project circumstances before contacting the REB. General questions of an informational nature may be directed to Debbie Krebs, Ethics and Compliance Officer.
In an effort to minimize the risk of contracting or spreading COVID-19 in human participant research interactions and to preserve personal protective equipment for clinical care, the University is advising restrictions on human subjects research effective Friday, March 20 and continuing through May 1. We will continue to re-evaluate this timeframe.
Research Continuity Planning
Research project-specific plans should adhere to any changes in access to campus as they develop, and the need to maintain “social distancing” (keeping a distance of at least two meters apart) and other protocols for slowing the spread of COVID-19. These changes will include some disruption to research activities both on campus and in the field.
The following considerations should be used to develop an individual research continuation/slowdown plan for each research project:
Guidelines for individual Research Continuity Plans:
- Consider the need for continuity of the research activities during the study period based on the requirements of the TRU disruption
- Make every effort to change from on-site visits to home visits or telephone/virtual visits
- Consider facility availability appropriate for social distancing
- Consider the impact of limited or paused access to research space, equipment, and university facilities
- Consider study team and staff availability
- Consideration of social distancing when moving between locations
- Ability to conduct research interventions in current locations per TRU advisory and REB policies
- Project team and staff availability
- Orderly withdrawal of subjects if indicated or necessary
- Substantive delays in the ability of the team or participant to complete study procedures
- Maintaining communication with sponsors
- Restrictions or accommodations associated with community recruitment of participants (in the event the study remains open for recruitment)
- Contact the Director of Partnership Development, Engagement, and Enterprise Creation; the Research Office Grants Development Officer; and Manager of Research Services for cost/charge/effort considerations on sponsored projects
The template for a more detailed Research Continuity Plan required by Community Safety and Emergency Management will be distributed during the week of March 23, 2020, with completion requested by Monday, April 27: Attention Stacey Jyrkkanen
For any other questions, please connect with the Research Office, Deans, and other internal departments. The above is intended to help support research interruptions and provide general guidelines.
Please continue to prepare and submit grant applications and any necessary Research Ethics Board applications via Romeo, including amendments, continuing reviews.
Guidelines for research teams
- Identify emergency contacts within the research team
- Develop a communication plan with the research team and participants (i.e., assure participants are kept informed if site visits or administration of research interventions are cancelled or delayed)
- In the case of student research develop a communication plan between the faculty supervisor and the student researcher or student research team
- Prioritize work
- Do not start new research projects if there is no possibility for participant enrollment at this time
- Where necessary, student research projects (including internally funded projects) may be revised and made feasible in consultation with the faculty supervisor
Research Support Staff
- Research staff, including students, need to be advised of any changes to work (where appropriate, HR should be contacted)
- Reduce physical interaction between students, postdocs, research associates, and research technicians in labs, and work to ensure a minimum spacing between researchers of no less than two meters
- Assess whether work can be done remotely: this should be communicated as early as possible to all parties
- If there are any potential financial implications for changes in research activities or protocols, please advise the Research Office
- All international travel for research purposes has been suspended until further notice
- Any Internal Grant or travel support awarded for an interrupted conference can be held if the event is rescheduled
- Use of research funding for travel cancelled within this fiscal year can be deferred if the event is being rescheduled
The award period for TRU internal grants, funded by the Office of Research and Graduate Studies, held with an end date from Feb. 1, 2020 to March 31, 2021 will be extended by six months to accommodate research interruptions. These extensions are automatic and the emails confirming extensions will be sent out through Romeo to all relevant faculty members with in the next week. Please contact Megan Prins for more information.
The following programs are included: Internal Research Fund, Health Research Clusters, ongoing Research Apprenticeship, Interdisciplinary Knowledge Synthesis, ongoing Research Accelerate.
- Where ongoing tests, procedures, etc., can be interrupted, this should be considered
- Faculty and students are asked to not start new lab experiments or artistic projects requiring lab/studio space until they have submitted a Research Plan
- Faculty working on current projects are asked to determine what aspects can be slowed or paused, what needs to be monitored (and by whom), and to communicate with the Chair and Dean regarding their plans, with a copy to the Research Office
- Faculty should consider the use of virtual meetings for research and project teams
- Faculty and Facilities should work with Chairs and Deans to 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, art supplies, art equipment, 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 for off-site activities
- You will also need to work with host institutions and any procedures they may have in place
- The object in all of the above is to limit access and reduce unnecessary activities
- For any work that cannot be delayed, please talk with your Chair and Dean, and consult with Troy Fuller in the Research Office to develop a plan for any ongoing access to labs and research space
Research Involving Human Subjects
- In-person interviews, focus groups or gatherings must be postponed
- Interviews to be conducted online or over the phone can proceed
- Faculty should connect with the Research Office if they expect delays, especially for non-Tri-Agency research
- Faculty should also consult the Tri-Agency websites listed at the top of this page for ongoing updates to grants and funding
Research Involving Animals
- Shipping and receiving functions will remain open. Please ensure you connect with suppliers or others if you anticipate interruptions
- Please also notify shipping/receiving if there are any special circumstances with respect to shipments and delivery locations
- All efforts should be made to limit deliveries
Funding Sources, Deadlines and Deliverables
Many major funders have evolving updates on application deadlines. For more information on these changes, please contact the Research Office.
If you are undertaking contract-based work and have deadlines or pending deliverables that may be interrupted, please connect first with Lincoln Smith or Troy Fuller in the Research Office. It is important to note that some changes may require Contract Amendments, so notify the Research Office as soon as possible. For any support regarding all other sponsors (Tri-Agency, CFI, CRC, MSFHR, etc.), please continue to contact Megan Prins and/or Anita Sharma. Based on type of funding, what is outstanding, and what needs to be done or moved forward, faculty are encouraged to develop revised work plans for external funders.
Research Space, Equipment and Facilities
Consider the impact that limited or paused access to research space, equipment and facilities may have on your project, and plan where possible for appropriate mitigation.
Undergraduate Research Implications
During this time, the goal is to allow for students to continue their research projects. Comprehensive information on the impacts of COVID-19 on student research projects can be found here.