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 physical distancing measures. Because this situation is unprecedented and rapidly changing, this website will be updated regularly.

Last updated: Aug. 28, 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

Research Continuity Form: Part I
Research Continuity Form: Part II

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 28. 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
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  • 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

We are asking that preliminary Research Continuity Plans be forwarded by Monday, March 23, 2020 to your Chair, Dean and copy to the Research Office Please use the template provided.

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
 Tri-Agency Canada Research Continuity Emergency Fund (CRCEF)

On May 15, the Prime Minister announced $450 million in funding to help Canada's academic research community during the COVID-19 pandemic. The investment is designed to:

  1. Provide wage supports to universities and health research institutes so they can retain research staff who are funded from industry or philanthropic sources and are unable to access some of the government's existing COVID-19 support measures. The government will provide up to 75 per cent of the eligible portion of eligible research personnel's wages, with a maximum of $847 per week for up to 12 weeks per individual, within the eligibility period of March 15 to Aug. 29, 2020.
  2. Support universities and health research institutes to maintain essential research-related activities during the crisis, and to ramp back up to full research operations once physical distancing measures are eased. This will cover up to 75 per cent of total eligible costs and will support activities, such as the safe storage of dangerous substances and restarting data sets that were interrupted during the pandemic.

The Canada Research Continuity Emergency Fund (CRCEF was launched by the Tri-Agency Institutional Programs Secretariat (TIPS) a few weeks later on June 23.

Methods of Distribution

Stages 1 and 2

TRU's Stage 1 allocation of $25,756 to the CRCEF was based on:

  • the CAUBO research income report;
  • the annual average over three years (2015-16 to 2017-18) of the total of research income from all non-government sources;
  • scaled to a period of 12 weeks (12/52); and
  • will assume that 60 per cent of funding is allocated on average to personnel costs (60 per cent of total).

Stage 2 Allocation will be based on the same above point, and on the research income data provided and a demonstration of needs.

Stage 3 Allocation will include costs associated with research maintenance and ramp-up incurred to Nov. 15, 2020.

Affiliated research institutions/hospitals: Not applicable

Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) in decision-making on CRCEF funding

In July 2020, the Research Office undertook an analysis to collect and determine those eligible research personnel. To support the allocation of the funds, a committee will be struck that will have representation from individuals from equity-seeking groups, such as women, racialized minorities, Indigenous peoples, persons with disabilities, and persons from LGBTQ2+ communities. All committee members will have received training in unconscious bias, which includes the agencies' online training module. Further, the Research Office produced a report of all PI’s with eligible non-governmental funding. Eligible PIs were contacted directly, and provided with information about the program. The Research Office requested that PIs indicate their intention to apply for eligible personnel expenses that met the CRCEF eligibility. All PIs responded to the email, but only two met the eligibility criteria for CRCEF funding. Each provided an attestation to the Research Office and the data was validated by research accounting.

More information: Dr. Will Garrett-Petts, Associate Vice-President, Research and Graduate Studies

 Travel Awards
  • 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
 Internal Grants

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.

 Lab/Research Experiments
  • 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
  • Please Refer to CCAC for updates.
  • Please also connect with Dean and Chair, and Debbie Krebs to determine plans.
 Research Materials/Supplies
  • 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.

 Research Funding Opportunities

Several new funding opportunities have become available in response to the global COVID-19 pandemic response. Comprehensive information can be found on our Funding Calendar. For more information about applying for these individual opportunities, please reach out to Anita Sharma, or Megan Prins.

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