COVID-19 funding and project management guidance

Guidance from research funders

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The Academy has created a career support space offering resources and signposting support for leading a remote team, stress and overwork, being on the NHS frontline, looking after yourself and more.

The Academy's grant funding rounds are continuing, although timings may change. Please visit individual scheme pages for more details. They have also published a set of FAQs or grant applicants and awardees during COVID-19:

They are helping grant awardees adapt to COVID-19 delays. If you encounter problems that may delay the start of your award, please contact them as soon as possible. If you encounter problems during your award, they encourage you to not request a no-cost extension until the last three months of the award, to allow all factors to be considered and minimise multiple requests for the same award. All requests for extensions should be made before your award end date. They will continue to consider no-cost extension requests on a case-by-case basis, but please be assured requests for no-cost extensions to awards impacted by COVID-19 will be granted.

The Academy's grants support many clinical academics who have paused their research to focus on patient care. Together with the wider research community, they issued guidance in March to reassure awardees of their full support and have since worked with the UK Clinical Academic Training Forum on further advice.

 

Alzheimer's Research UK are looking across their portfolio to delay the start of any new funding or partnerships until the full implications of COVID-19 are better understood. 

They have postponed their response-mode funding programme until the autumn. This means that:

  • The Grant Review Board meeting planned for June will be cancelled
  • All applications currently under review will be discussed at the Grant Review Board meeting in January 2021
  • They will seek to open new rounds for funding in the autumn
  • Any disruptions to research funding activities due to the COVID-19 pandemic will be taken into consideration by their board to make appropriate adjustments when assessing your record of outputs, research achievements, and career progression

Information for grant holders

Alzheimer's Research UK will continue to be flexible across their grant schemes, to help support scientists and minimise the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on the pioneering dementia research that is being conducted across the UK and internationally. They recognise that in these uncertain times there may need to be significant changes to the way in which projects are carried out due to restrictions on travel, work, recruitment etc and you will have their full support should you need to request any of the following measures:

  • They will respond positively to requests for no-cost extensions
  • They will continue to be flexible with budget virements to ensure that any underspend can be fully utilised to cover unexpected additional costs caused by the COVID-19 situation – for major budget rearrangements, please seek further advice from a member of their team
  • They will consider requests to temporarily suspend grants for a period of up to three months in the first instance – this may be applied in cases where all grant activity/spend has been temporarily halted due to the COVID-19 situation

All requests must be sent in writing to research@alzheimersresearchuk.org

If you are a newly-funded grant holder

  • If you are a newly-funded grant holder, they can offer the option to delay the grant start date for a period of up to six months
  • If you have not yet signed your contract and are unable to return a signed contract by the stated deadline due to institution closures, they can offer deadline extensions

If your salary or stipend is paid for by an Alzheimer’s Research UK grant

If a researcher whose salary is paid through an Alzheimer’s Research UK grant is ill, they will defer to the policy of the employing organisation.  

In the event that a researcher whose salary is paid through an Alzheimer’s Research UK grant is in self-isolation due to government advice, they expect them to be able to work from home even if the activities undertaken change.

In the event that a researcher whose salary is paid through an Alzheimer’s Research UK grant is unable to continue the research outlined in their application as a result of government-imposed restrictions relating to the coronavirus, they expect universities to access the Coronavirus Job Retention (Furlough) Scheme that has been made available by the government. Grant-holders may, if they wish, continue to use the grant to top up government support, however Alzheimer's Research UK will ultimately be unable to offer costed salary extensions. In the case that a researcher whose salary is paid through an ARUK grant is furloughed, ARUK must be notified as soon as possible.

If you are a clinical academic who is seconded back to the NHS to support the front-line coronavirus response, they will continue to pay your salary but would anticipate these costs to ultimately be recoverable from the NHS.

Alzheimer’s Research UK funded meetings/conferences

If you are due to receive Alzheimer’s Research UK support towards a meeting or conference that now needs to be postponed due to the government-induced restrictions regarding COVID-19, they will honour these payments provided your event is rescheduled within 12 months of the original date, and the programme remains essentially the same. If this is not possible, or for any other queries, please get in touch with their team for further advice. 

 

Information for grant holders

The Alzheimer's Society is aware that your work may be suspended or delayed and you may not be able to complete your projects within the agreed timescales. They want to support the delivery of the research they have funded and are putting in place contingency plans so your research can be completed.

They are supportive of mitigations you may need to put in place to minimise the impact where possible. For example reordering work packages, delaying recruitment and remote working. They will be flexible with abeyance or no-cost extensions, underspend and virements, but will require notification to formally confirm the agreement. If clinicians are called back to front line services the NHS will cover salary costs for this time. 

They will consider cost extensions resulting from the coronavirus on a case-by-case basis, to review the overall costs with host institutions and minimise the financial impacts of the shut down where they are not covered by insurance. Any requests for cost extensions will be considered at the current end date of the project. This will enable them to assess the actual impact of delays and allow them to review the full costs with you and your host institution. 

As the government is providing support for charity funded researchers salaries through the Job Retention Scheme (Furlough), the Alzheimer's Society will not consider costed extensions to cover salaries. 

Additionally, they will not be able to provide cost extensions to enable institutions to ‘top up’ salaries from the 80% grant or salary cap. 

They will be monitoring the impact of the virus through your progress reports and may seek additional information from you at a later date about any potential impact on your grant.

Their Research Network volunteers are keen to continue monitoring and would like to support you to carry out meetings remotely. They have teleconference lines that you can use.

If you have any specific concerns about your grant you should contact grantenquiries@alzheimers.org.uk

 

The Andrew W Mellon Foundation has introduced a three-month grace period for interim and final reports for all grants.

In addition, grants ending in March, April, and May of 2020 will receive an automatic three-month no-cost extension to June, July, and August respectively. Final reports will be due three months after the new grant end date.

They are also prepared to assist with COVID-19-related budget reallocations: 

  • If the request is for 20% or more of total grant funds to be reallocated, or if significant changes are expected to the deliverables of the grant, please send an email to the SC program staff to initiate a COVID-19-related modification
  • If the request does not meet the above conditions, it does not require program staff approval – instead, please report these budget changes in your next scheduled report

 

The British Academy Flexi-Grant system is accessible from anywhere with an internet connection. The deadlines for currently open calls can be found on the BA website, and applicants should submit their applications through Flexi-Grant in the normal way.

The British Academy encourages award holders to investigate, where necessary, all possible alternative ways of continuing to progress their research. However, they understand that the outbreak may impact on the activities associated with some awards and will treat all requests for no-cost extensions to awards and requests for virement of funding between cost headings sympathetically. These should be requested in the usual way, by contacting the British Academy by email and by completing a change request form in the British Academy/Flexi-Grant system. If you have been unable to recover costs from a travel operator or insurance, costs can be charged to grants. Grants often end with an underspend and they expect award holders to be able to absorb these costs through this and other re-arrangements in their budgets.

Applicants who need assistance should contact grants@thebritishacademy.ac.uk or newtonfund@thebritishacademy.ac.uk or  international@thebritishacademy.ac.uk depending on the scheme.

Award holders can also access the change request forms via the application portal under 'available grants' and should use the same contacts if they need to discuss their cases before submitting the change request.

 

The British Council have advised us that all new contracts are being pushed back to quarter 3 of the financial year. 

Status of open and upcoming Newton Fund calls

Currently, the British Council invites applications to advertised calls on a business-as-usual basis. However, the advertised details may be subject to change. Any updates will be published online. 

Current research grants

The British Heart Foundation's priority is ensuring that the research they are funding is successfully completed and researchers are fully supported.

If research institutions shut down for a period of time the British Heart Foundation (BHF) will continue to pay the salaries of staff funded on grants. Likewise, if clinical studies pause for a period of time, for example due to redeployment of staff or interruption of patient recruitment, the BHF will continue to pay salaries, including those supported in CTUs. 

If clinical research staff funded on grants are asked to support front line NHS staff, please keep a record of any affected staff members, the duration of redeployment (start/end dates) and the salary contributions recoverable from the NHS.

Where appropriate, BHF encourages employing institutions to use the government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme for staff funded on their grants. They will pay the unrecoverable portion of the salary.  Please keep a record and inform them of any affected staff member(s) and the duration of the furlough period (start/end dates).

They are are prepared to support requests for no-cost extensions to grants to cover any delays caused by the suspension of research. 

If a costed extension to an eligible grant is required, they will consider requests on a case by case basis.

Supporting COVID-19 research

The BHF is fully committed to supporting the national research effort to tackle COVID-19. They fully endorse the NIHR initiative to establish a national prioritisation process for COVID-19 research. To advance efforts to better understand the direct and indirect impacts of the virus on people with heart and circulatory diseases and their risk factors as an integral part of this coordinated effort, we will support the following:

  • Clinical researchers whose posts are directly funded by the BHF, including fellows and chairholders, may at their discretion devote their time and the time of any support staff that they fund in their award to COVID-19 related research, until they are able to return to their normal research activity. Please inform the BHF of your plans by email to research@bhf.org.uk.
  • Institutions that hold Research Excellence Awards and Accelerator Awards may at the discretion of the award director allocate currently uncommitted funds from their award to supporting COVID-19 related research. Please inform the BHF of relevant activities and their scope (brief outline of project objective, design, duration and cost) by email to research@bhf.org.uk.
  • The NIHR-BHF Cardiovascular Partnership, supported by the British Cardiovascular Society, has established a framework for rapid set-up and delivery of impactful research projects that address high-priority questions on COVID-19 and cardiovascular health: details of the new framework and guidance on submission of proposals
  • The BHF Data Science Centre is a core partner in a new initiative led by HDR UK to provide a national health data research capability to address urgent COVID-19 health questions, with cardiovascular disease proposed as an exemplar condition. It is expected that relevant questions will first be prioritised and endorsed through the NIHR-BHF Cardiovascular Partnership: information on the initiative

Applying for research grants

The BHF's standard grant schemes remain open for applications and they plan to hold grant committee meetings as scheduled by moving them online, although the timing of making any awards will be determined by how the situation unfolds over the coming weeks. To help sustain this key activity, they are counting on the ongoing support of the BHF research community as reviewers and committee members, in trying circumstances.

They expect applications to be submitted through the normal process, while recognising that there may be challenges in obtaining all supporting documentation (for example sign-off on NHS costs). They are prepared to process applications without such documentation, subject to approval of the application by the head of department and administrative authority in the usual manner, but any decision may be deferred until all documentation is received and reviewed.

Should circumstance dictate that submission and assessment of new research grant applications are suspended, they will provide relevant information through an updated statement.

Current grants for small meetings

The BHF will honour the payment of grants for small meetings which are postponed and rescheduled within one year of the original date due to COVID-19. Details must be provided as soon as a decision is made to delay the meeting.

If meetings need to be cancelled and cannot be rescheduled they recognise that some costs may not be recoverable. In these instances the organisation should cancel the meeting at the earliest opportunity to obtain maximum refunds of any costs already incurred in order to mitigate the cost to the BHF.  Full details must be provided before they will release any funds. 

 

Applications

CRUK is deferring all its panels and committees. All applications submitted for the current funding round will be considered in the autumn. In limited circumstances, where an application has been made for the renewal of an existing grant, bridge-funding will be provided. They will contact you if you are eligible.

Where there are additional considerations that they need to discuss with an applicant, a member of the CRUK research team will be in touch in due course. 

They plan to open for applications to the autumn funding round as normal. They cannot predict the level of funding that will be available at this point, but the autumn budget for each committee will represent the total spend for 20/21. 

Any disruptions to research funding activities due to the COVID-19 pandemic will be taken into consideration by their panels and committees to make appropriate adjustments when assessing your record of outputs, research achievements, and career progression.

Awards

For clinical academics, Clinical Research Training Fellows and Research Nurses

CRUK fully support clinical academics, clinical research training fellows (CRTFs) and research nurses being seconded back to the NHS to support front line service delivery. The urgent patient care comes first and you can return to clinical practice if required. The exceptions would be in those situations where there would be a duty of care for cancer patients on certain clinical trials. Such decisions must be made locally.  

For clinical academics seconded back to the NHS, CRUK's expectation is that the NHS will cover their salary whilst working on the COVID-19 response. Please discuss with your host institution how they intend to manage the salary reimbursement. 

If you’re a CRUK clinical fellow, please send CRUK an email to let them know you’re stopping work on research. For all clinical staff, your institution should keep a record of the duration of the redeployment (start/end dates) and any salary contributions recoverable from the NHS. 

Grant holders can also request a no-cost extension to their grant.

CRUK has signed up to a set of overarching principles and practical actions in response to the disruption to clinical academic training by COVID-19 to be addressed by UK institutions and organisations responsible for supporting and progressing the careers of trainee clinical academics.

For all CRUK grantholders

The latest information on CRUK's predicted income means that they are forced to look for savings across their current portfolio. In addition, they are also cutting the costs of their operations across the charity.

They will be writing to you to inform you how your grant has been affected. They will write to you with your revised grant values in April and May 2020.

They will offer as much flexibility as they can in managing awards, including delaying start date, offering a no cost extension or suspending the grant. 

They will be more flexible with the use of underspend and budget virements to cover exceptional and additional costs due to COVID-19 such as change in staffing costs, downscaling and upscaling of animal colonies, freezer storage costs, or other costs in line with direct research costs allowable under their costs guidance

Their grant conditions usually stipulate you can’t ordinarily vire from a post vacant for 6 months or more. Given the present circumstances, they will waive that stipulation if a post is affected by delays due to COVID-19. They will also allow virement from unused equipment budgets. If you need to repurpose funds from a post vacant for 6 months or more or equipment to use for additional and exceptional costs due to COVID-19, you can do this. 

If you are not able to conduct your research due to COVID-19 you can propose any appropriate, alternative research activities and they will consider requests for no cost extensions.

Salaries funded by the grant can be charged to the grant throughout this period and you can apply for a no cost extension if needed. CRUK are not in a position to fund costed extensions across the board. The Government has announced a range of business continuity measures which are intended to mitigate the economic impact of the pandemic and they encourage us to explore these options fully.

CRUK understand that staffing may need to change due to the disruption in activities and will be supportive and flexible so you can use any underspend on the award to cover additional staffing costs to cover this period of disruption. You can also repurpose funds from a post vacant for 6 months or more.

If the University determines that you/your team are eligible for the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS), CRUK encourage you to take advantage of the scheme. Your CRUK grant funding can be used to cover any shortfall in payments through the CJRS, provided that:

  • Any salary top up for a researcher whose salary is usually funded by CRUK should be in line with University/employer policy (ie CRUK grants aren’t the exception).
  • As with all related policies, CRUK reserve the right to change their position if the Government extends its furlough scheme for a longer period.

You can write to CRUK to request delaying your start date by up to 6 months. Providing they have no concerns from a scientific perspective, they are prepared to waive the rule in their grant conditions that stipulates you must activate the grant within 3 months of the start date. 

CRUK's default position will be to offer a no-cost extension if needed. No-cost extension requests should be made in writing. They are currently prioritising requests for no cost extensions to grants with less than 18 months left on the grant award letter. They are not in a position to offer costed extensions due to the impact of COVID-19 on their fundraising income.

They will consider requests to suspend your grant if you want to pause payments and activities on the grant. Please let them know in writing the proposed suspension dates to your grant.

They'll take any period of inactivity on grants into account when assessing research progress, outputs and career progression. 

For other research staff funded by CRUK

CRUK will follow the policy of the host institution if any staff on a grant are unwell, need to self-isolate or have caring responsibilities for someone affected.

If your salary is grant-funded by CRUK and you need to take a period of sick leave, paid sick leave entitlements can be charged to the grant in accordance with the host institution's usual policy. If your salary is part-funded by the grant, paid sick leave entitlements may be charged to the grant on a pro-rata basis.

If you are a researcher or student funded by CRUK who now cannot travel due to government/official advice, or because it poses a risk to you (due to an underlying medical condition etc) you can use underspend to cover reasonable incurred costs, where it is not covered by insurance. This includes reasonable travel, subsistence, childcare and conference costs where the purpose of the planned travel related to the grant and costs were eligible under their costs guidance.

For students funded by CRUK

CRUK has mandated that current CRUK-funded PhD students in their final and penultimate years are supported, if necessary and fully justified, with costed extensions of up to 6 months. The extensions, which need to be COVID-19 related and will only be provided on a case by case basis, will be financed locally using CRUK awards (Centre Training Accounts, Clinical Academic Training Programme, the Institute or the PI on the grant). These extensions are offered to ensure that students can deliver their PhD studies to completion and shows CRUK’s commitment to protect the next generation of cancer researchers.

If additional students require extensions, or the length of the extensions already provided change, centre managers should let CRUK know so that they can update their records. Similarly, if a training account needs to be extended because the award end date doesn’t cover the length of all the studentships, centre managers should email students@cancer.org.uk with the A Reference of the award, the name of the students and the new required end date of the training account.

If you are a PI on a response-mode award you should have been contacted by CRUK (excluding Grand Challenges, which will be contacted shortly). If you haven’t, that means that CRUK don’t hold information about your student, or that the dates they hold are incorrect. CRUK's expectation is that you flexibly use the funds available on the award to support this extension. Please contact students@cancer.org.uk to discuss further and inform them about your student’s extension.

Whilst CRUK is having to make some tough decisions and cut funding across their portfolio, their aim is to limit the impact on the long-term future of cancer research in the UK. To this end, training accounts for non-clinical PhD students and the clinical academic training programmes for clinical PhD students have been protected as best they can. If your studentship is attached to a parent programme, programme foundation award or fellowship, your studentship may be subject to cuts as part of their overall award, but in all cases your student stipend must be protected. 

They'll follow the policy of the host institution if any staff on a grant are unwell, need to self-isolate or have caring responsibilities for someone affected.

If you’re a non-clinical student funded by CRUK and you need to take a period of sick leave, they will provide funding for paid sick leave entitlements for a duration as determined by CRUK in line with studentship entitlements for long-term leave outlined in their parental or other long-term leave policy.

For Clinical Research Training Fellows, as your salary is grant-funded by CRUK paid sick leave entitlements can be charged to the award in accordance with the host institution's usual policy. 

If you’re based at a training centre, you should discuss a no-cost extension with your centre. If your studentship is attached to a parent programme, programme foundation award or fellowship, the grantholder should request a no-cost extension in writing to CRUK.

They are offering further flexibility to students and training centres in terms of recruitment and start/end dates.

 

Diabetes UK understands the challenge COVID-19 presents to the research community. It may mean that research studies funded by Diabetes UK need to be paused for a number of reasons, including to free up staff to help support the frontline response to COVID-19.

Diabetes UK is keen to support the research community during this difficult time.
 
If you wish to return to clinical practice, or are asked to, you can do so with their full and complete support. In these circumstances the principal investigator should contact Diabetes UK with details of the staff affected, to discuss next steps and the impact on their award.
 
Principal investigators should contact Diabetes UK as soon as possible if it is necessary to suspend a Diabetes UK funded award due to COVID-19, to discuss the impact on the project. Diabetes UK will be supportive of no cost extensions to cover the period of the delay.
 
If COVID-19 results in the prolonged suspension of a Diabetes UK funded project, applications for costed extensions will be considered on a case-by-case basis.
 
Clinical trials should be put on hold if there is a significant risk of COVID-19 to patients taking part in the trial. However, clinical trials or other research studies should continue if discontinuing them would have significant detrimental effects on the ongoing care of individual participants involved in those studies. These are clinical decisions which will need to be made on a case-by-case basis by local decision makers on the basis of local risk and capacity assessments.
 
The detail of how they will extend awards to allow you to return and finish your research will take them time to work out, but you will not be disadvantaged by the current circumstances.

The deadlines for open grant rounds are being examined. For information about grant funding that could potentially be affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, please contact research@diabetes.org.uk

 

Econic Technologies ask that all accounts-related correspondence (invoices, credit notes, statements) be emailed to accounts@econic-technologies.com rather than sent by post. 

General guidance

The European Commission has a COVID-19 FAQ page on the Funding and Tenders portal which they are updating with new questions as these arise. Where collaborative projects are affected by COVID-19 containment measures beneficiaries should discuss issues with their project coordinator who should in turn contact the EC project officer. For ERC projects and for MSCA Individual Fellowships where COVID-19 is having an impact on the implementation of projects, PIs should contact their project officers through the communications tab on their project’s page on the Funding and Tenders portal. Please ensure that the Research Services European & International team is aware of any communications with project officers by emailing ecresearch@admin.ox.ac.uk. Projects are advised to keep full and clear records of the impact of COVID-19. These will be required in due course if projects need to rely on the force majeure condition in the grant agreement to explain either additional costs or changes to the implementation plan. It is also worth noting that the staff of the Commission Services and Agencies are working remotely and that, due to this non-standard way of working, their response time may be longer than normal. 

EC guidance is that where staff cannot work (and cannot telework) on grants due to national or regional COVID-19 lockdown, time lost can be included in calculations of eligible time claimed on EC grants. Their expectation is that only the difference between salary costs and any furlough claimed would be met from the grant.

However, while there are different methods available to EC grant beneficiaries to claim staff costs, COVID-19 lockdown time can only be claimed using one of these and Oxford (in common with most UK universities) cannot use this method for staff time (we are precluded from doing so by the conditions attached to it). Stakeholder groups are lobbying the Commission to extend their provisions for claiming staff time lost to COVID-19 lockdown. In the meantime departments and faculties should be aware that, unless the Commission’s provisions change, they will need to be prepared to carry the cost of the difference between full salary and furlough for any staff furloughed on EC funded projects. 

For more information please contact the Research Services European & International Team by emailing katie.price@admin.ox.ac.uk

European Research Council

The ERC does not envisage any delays with ongoing evaluation timelines. Normal processes are continuing with panel meetings (and interviews where relevant) taking place remotely. More information is available on the ERC website (last updated 2 July).

Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions

Information relating to the impact of the coronavirus on MSCA fellows is maintained on the Coronavirus: information for the MSCA Community page. The Research Executive Agency (REA) will adopt a flexible approach towards projects that fail to meet grant agreement obligations due to the COVID-19 containment measures, and may apply the rules on force majeure, or agree nil-cost extensions for projects. Projects will be assessed on a case-by-case basis and fellows should speak to their REA project officer and to the Research Services European & International team (ecresearch@admin.ox.ac.uk) if they require support. 

Erasmus+

The Commission has released a statement explaining that it will apply maximum flexibility in the implementation of the programme, within the limits of the applicable legal framework. To deal with participants being unable to travel, or return home, due to COVID-19 restrictions, Erasmus+ National Agencies are now permitted to invoke force majeure clauses whereby they may accept additional costs up to a maximum grant amount. Planned activities may also be postponed by up to 12 months per project. Following the Commission's statement, the UK National Agency has published dedicated travel advice for regions affected by the  COVID-19 outbreak.

Furthermore, the UK government has issued its own advice for UK education providers regarding staff and student overseas travel and project participants are advised to speak to their providers about arrangements. Participants under 18 are advised against all overseas education trips, while those over 18 who are due to travel should consult their education institutions on whether the travel should continue as planned. For any UK participants already overseas, they should continue to monitor the latest FCO travel advice and comply with any COVID-19 control measures put in place in their current host nation.

Creative Europe

The Commission has released a statement saying that it understands that containment measures may have consequences for Creative Europe projects, and are adopting a position of maximum flexibility in regards to implementing the programme, while still working within the applicable legal framework. They are also in close communication with the national Creative Europe desks.

COST Actions

The COST Association has recommended that, from 13 March 2020 to 3 April 2020 (minimum), all physical meetings, training schools and short-term scientific missions be suspended or cancelled. They encourage participants to explore video conferencing and remote networking tools as an alternative. Any participants currently attending COST events should follow the instructions of the host country and host institution. 

 

The Ford Foundation will contact grant holders individually to discuss arrangements. They recognise that the kinds of flexibility required may include postponing or cancelling activities, delaying grant deliverables, or delaying submission of proposals or reports.

They are willing to formalise changes to grant agreements, specifically:

  • for grantee partners receiving project support, converting current project grants to general support
  • changing grant payment schedules
  • grant funds will not be rescinded if a programme, conference, or other grant activity is cancelled or postponed due to COVID-19

 

 

The Gates Foundation have indicated that in the case of a member of staff whose salary is funded by one of their grants being furloughed (under the government's Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme), the University can use existing grant resources to pay the balance between the 80% covered by the scheme and their full salary. 

 

Innovate UK advise businesses with concerns about their financial position, particularly cashflow issues, to speak with their investors and their bank. 
 
If you are an Innovate UK award recipient, you should also contact your Innovate UK monitoring officer, who will keep Innovate UK informed and allow them to assess if they can offer support too. The earlier you speak with your monitoring officer, the easier it will be to understand your issues and find potential solutions.

Specialist advisers from the Innovate UK Enterprise Europe Network (EEN) team, located regionally, are also there to help and support you. Please contact your adviser if you need assistance or go to the EEN website to be connected with an adviser. 

Innovate UK will continue to monitor the ongoing impact of coronavirus on the companies they support to ensure they can provide the best support whilst managing public money appropriately.

Project Change Requests (PCRs)

Innovate UK have created a fast track process to facilitate 'no cost' time extension requests of up to three months for reasons relating to COVID-19, subject to a valid business case and normal legal and compliance requirements. This will allow project managers more flexibility to respond to the current difficulties, but still deliver good project outcomes despite the challenging circumstances. Loans clients should contact their credit specialist in the first instance to understand how this change will be implemented. All other project change requests will follow existing processes.

They recognise that some projects are currently not eligible to be considered for extensions, for example Smart programmes and those that have hard budget deadlines, such as the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund (ISCF). These projects will now be able to submit PCRs for extensions of up to three months for reasons relating to COVID-19, in line with all other Innovate UK projects.

Where projects are funded by Innovate UK partners, they are seeking agreement with them on the approach. 

 

IDRC acknowledges that project activities may be delayed, the responsiveness of the project personnel may be impacted by measures taken at their workplace, the preparation of technical and financial reports may be delayed, and that the organisation of meetings, events, and travel plans may be affected.

If events organised through IDRC-funded projects must be cancelled or postponed, they will consider the costs associated with the changes as allowable project expenses, provided they align with IDRC policies. For future events, IDRC suggests that recipients purchase cancellation insurance or travel, accommodation and venue bookings that are at least partially refundable. Additional costs for planning in this way will also be considered acceptable, provided it allows for reimbursement or credit in case of cancellation.

In addition, travel for participation in events directly sponsored by IDRC has been suspended.

IDRC is committed to supporting its recipients and to the successful completion of the projects it supports. They invite recipients to reach out to their IDRC project officer to discuss the impact on their project and the specific areas where difficulties and higher costs may be of concern. 

For applicants under review 

If your proposal is under review, the Foundation's review process will continue as planned, and you are welcome to reach out to the programme team assigned to your proposal with any queries or updates that you might have about start dates and proposed project timelines.

For grantees with approved proposals

If you have an approved proposal but do not have a signed grant agreement, please contact your programme team member if you would like to revise the start date or request a revised project timeline. They are willing to be as flexible as they can in adjusting start dates and timelines. If they do not hear from you, they will continue to process grant agreements in accord with what was requested in the proposal materials. They ask you to think carefully about whether you can begin a project on time and work within the project timeline. Please note that it is easier for the Foundation to make adjustments to projects prior to signing the grant agreement. Once you begin your project activities and spend grant funds, they will have much less flexibility to consider no-cost extensions.

For current grantees 

The Foundation's first priority is to do all that they can to ensure you have the resources you need to complete your work on time or to make adjustments to project timelines and stated outputs for the grant. They are willing to work with you to consider your requests to revise budgets, change outputs and adjust project timelines.

 

If you are applying for a grant, award or fellowship

All funding schemes and calls remain open for applications. Application deadlines, shortlisting, and decision dates will not change.

If your organisation is closed and unable to approve and submit an application, the Trust can do this on their behalf, with their agreement.

If you hold a Leverhulme grant, award or fellowship

If you have paid costs for an event, fieldwork or travel which has been cancelled, and these costs cannot be reimbursed or claimed for under insurance, you can claim these against your grant.

If you will need to rebook an event, fieldwork or travel at a later date, then these costs can be charged to your grant. In the first instance the Trust would expect these costs to be managed within the existing budget.

They will generally allow requests to extend your grant if you don't need additional costs.

You can also opt to delay the start of a new award or suspend a current award, if this would be a better option to manage your research.

They do however, require you to email and request any of the changes: grants@leverhulme.ac.uk 

If there is the potential for research to be lost or severely compromised, then an application for a costed extension may be considered. You should approach the Trust only when you are in a position to be clear about the length of an extension and the cost involved. They will then advise you of the process to follow. Applications will be considered on a case by case basis.

 

 

A regularly updated overview of information for grant applicants and recipients can be found on the NIH website:

Frequently asked questions on proposal submission and award management related to COVID-19 are also available:

 

Supporting the restart of paused NIHR research activities

In March 2020 the NIHR Clinical Research Network decided to temporarily pause site set-up of all new or ongoing studies other than nationally prioritised urgent public health research into COVID-19.

The NIHR has now developed a ‘Framework for restart’ to support local decision making on restarting paused research or starting new studies. 

The framework includes: 

  • the strategic objectives and guiding principles of NIHR restart work
  • the preconditions for restarting paused studies or starting new studies at site level
  • details on how support from the NIHR’s Clinical Research Network and Clinical Research Facilities will be prioritised in localities if that is necessary
  • the overall roles and responsibilities of organisations at local and national level in restarting any paused NIHR activities
  • the establishment of an Implementation Group and an Advisory Group to ensure a coordinated and collaborative approach to recommencement of a diverse portfolio of research
  • a template Restart Assessment Checklist

 

Prioritising funding and support for COVID-19 research across the UK 

Working with partners across the health and care system, NIHR is leading, enabling and delivering world-class COVID-19 research, a key element of the government’s overall response to the pandemic. Given the extraordinary pressures currently being faced by the health and care system, they must also ensure that they are making best use of the limited resources and capacity available to support research.

They have established a UK-wide portal for applying for funding and/or prioritised support for urgent COVID-19 research. Central to the prioritisation process is a UK-wide expert panel, reporting into DHSC and acting on behalf of the Chief Medical Officer/Deputy Chief Medical Officer for England, which designates the COVID-19 studies that hold the most potential for tackling today’s challenges as urgent public health research. This expert panel reviews funded studies, irrespective of whether they are funded by the public sector, industry or charities.

Studies which do not yet have funding are assessed by an independent panel, supported by a college of experts, which makes funding recommendations to DHSC and UKRI.

With regard to HRA approvals, researchers who make an application through the portal are signposted for expedited regulatory review so that this can progress in parallel to the system of assessment potentially leading to urgent public health research designation.

All NHS trusts, health and care providers and universities are expected to prioritise support for urgent public health studies. 

Where studies do not require either funding or NIHR Clinical Research Network support, they do not need to go through the portal and can proceed in accordance with business as usual processes. However, they must not have a negative impact on the system’s ability to recruit participants and/or provide the resources (including staff, samples and data) needed to support urgent public health national priority studies. Organisations will be expected to pause any local studies that impede their ability to contribute to national research efforts.

It is recognised that there are studies which are very important but do not need to take place during the emergency phase of the pandemic. These should not be submitted through the portal for urgent COVID-19 research. The NIHR is exploring alternative ways to process non-urgent but vital COVID-19 studies.

Impact of COVID-19 on research funded or supported by NIHR

All organisations holding NIHR awards that are paused will, in the short term, continue to receive payments from DHSC in line with existing NIHR contractual payment schedules. This will be reviewed and, if necessary, payment schedules will be updated as usual following the annual statement of expenditure. Where necessary, contract deliverables will be rescheduled, allowing staff to concentrate on frontline care and COVID-19 research. 

 

 

The Rockefeller Foundation anticipate that many grant holders will need to extend their grant terms and change the due dates of deliverables and reports due to delays caused by COVID-19. Grant holders may also need to revise their budgets. They encourage grant holders to discuss requirements with their grant officer.

Those with grants currently in the approval process will be contacted by programme teams to incorporate any scheduling changes as necessary.  

If a grant included funding for an event that was cancelled, the Foundation is ready to provide support to work on a refund or credit, donate goods, hold payments and/or extend or amend the contract to reschedule the event later in the year. If an event has not yet been cancelled or finalised, they will work with the grant holder to amend the terms of the grant in order to reschedule it for a future date.

The Rockefeller Foundation will not hold any events in their offices or facilities during this time, but are committed to holding as many of the planned convenings as possible through virtual, online technology, or postponing them.

 

Grants

If you have any concerns about fulfilling the terms of an active grant under the current circumstances, please get in touch with your programme manager. The Academy will accommodate necessary changes to your projects/activities as much as possible and will honour costs that you have incurred in good faith whether plans go ahead or not.

The Academy anticipates that most grants that involve international travel or collaboration will require significant extensions and is working with its funders to put suitable plans in place.

Meetings and travel

All Academy meetings will be hosted virtually rather than in person. Instructions for joining a meeting remotely will be sent out by the meeting organiser.

For all other travel and meetings, please follow the advice of your employer and the government. Where that advice is not yet clear, the Academy strongly recommends precautionary measures and the use of digital tools wherever possible.  

Events at the Academy  

All Academy events are being postponed or cancelled until the end of April. Events between May and August are being assessed on a case by case basis and are mostly unlikely to go ahead in the traditional format.

If you are due to attend an Academy event you will hear from the event organisers if a decision has been taken to postpone it.

Support from Academy staff

Academy staff have been instructed to work from home unless it is essential to the business for them to go into the office. The Academy is well equipped for remote working, and support for grant holders will continue as usual. Your main point of contact will continue to be your programme manager, and they will alert you to an alternative contact if they are unavailable for a period of time. 

 

 

The Royal Society's offices are closed and all staff are working remotely. Grants teams are still contactable via grants@royalsociety.org or +44 (0)20 4751 2666.

Applications

All funding programmes and calls currently remain open for applications in line with advertised dates. The Royal Society will endeavour not to make any changes to application deadlines, interview dates or decision dates.

Some grant committee and panel meetings will take place remotely and they will be in contact with any affected applicants.

If an applicant's institution is closed and unable to approve and submit an application, the Royal Society can do this on their behalf, with agreement from the institution.

Awards

To minimise the impact of the global health situation on award holders, the Royal Society will provide as pragmatic support as possible, recognising the impact of the coronavirus on research is significant and evolving.

The Society is working with award holders and their organisations as well as the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) to ensure that fair and appropriate support is in place.

They will be aiming to minimise the impact of the coronavirus on funded activities as far as possible.

Details of the support available are provided in a set of FAQs:

 

 

The Stroke Association understands that there is currently a lot of uncertainty, and that COVID-19 is likely to cause serious disruption to research studies, particularly as many of its grant holders are working in the clinical environment and directly with vulnerable groups, such as stroke survivors. They want to support Research Award holders and be flexible around the disruption.

The health and well-being of funded researchers and people affected by stroke is a priority. They would not want anyone to be exposed to any unnecessary risk and are aware that many universities and hospital trusts will be issuing guidance regarding suspending ongoing studies. Also, that clinical staff involved in studies may be called to clinical work related to the recent outbreak.

They understand therefore that studies may be suspended and might not be completed within the agreed timescales. They will review any extension requests on a case-by-case basis and will work with grant holders to agree a solution at the appropriate time. Where possible, they ask that you explore alternative solutions, such as remote working, teleconference meeting or re-ordering parts of your study. They realise that budget impact of changes to your study may not be known for some time, but ask that you keep in touch. As a charity funded by voluntary donations, they have limited flexibility in their funding allocation, but ask to be kept informed.

For grants which are in the early stages or have an appropriate stop point, they would be happy for grant holders to delay recruitment of staff or put the award into abeyance for a period. Please contact them to discuss this further.

The Stroke Association Research Team can be contacted at research@stroke.org.uk

 

The decision to pause or close any research will be made by your institution. The Brain Tumour Charity will support any local decision to move staff to frontline healthcare duties and will work with teams after the crisis to explore ways to enable research projects to recover.

Salaries

They expect that local institutions will cover the cost of grant-funded salaries during any period of closure due to COVID-19 and encourage institutions to take advantage of any local or national government schemes to assist with this. However, where this isn’t the case, get in touch with them to discuss further. Where clinical staff are moved to frontline healthcare duties they would expect salaries to be covered by the healthcare system.

Grant timelines

They will support no-cost project extensions required directly due to COVID-19 and will consider requests for costed extensions on a case-by-case basis.

Progress report submission

Deadlines for submission of all progress reports (annual and final) remain unchanged, but where these can’t be met they will be flexible on a case-by-case basis.

Projects which have not yet started

Any project which has been funded but not yet started should be paused. No further start certificates for new projects will be accepted until further notice.

It’s important for the charity to understand how COVID-19 is affecting your research. Therefore, please let them know the impact on your project by emailing research@thebraintumourcharity.org and keep them updated on future developments.

 

 

 

Applications for funding

UKRI funding programmes continue and all their systems are operating as normal.

The deadlines on all open funding opportunities will be extended to give applicants more time to submit their applications. These extensions will be managed on a case-by-case basis. 'No-cost' extension requests to grants impacted by coronavirus will be allowed.

Any extensions or other changes to call details are published with the call information on the relevant council's webpages.

If you are a business applicant or looking for innovation funding, search the Innovation Funding Service and visit Innovate UK for details of support packages available to businesses.

If you have been awarded a responsive-mode grant or fellowship

You can delay starting your project. You now have six months to start, instead of three. An additional clause will be added to newly offered grant letters for all UKRI responsive mode calls.

If you have been awarded other grants

For grants funded through strategic and managed mode funding calls the current starting policy will apply. Any extension requests for these calls will be considered on a case-by-case basis. Requests should be submitted via a Je-S enquiry to be reviewed by the appropriate funder.

If you have any other grant specific queries please feed them back to UKRI using the standard grant enquiry communication route via Je-S. For any other questions please contact UKRI using your normal communication channels.

If you are a student or receiving a training grant

Many students are unable to complete essential tasks or experiments they need to carry out to complete their thesis. For instance, your library or lab may be closed or you may be part of a particularly vulnerable group, or have additional caring duties.

UKRI have produced detailed guidance for doctoral students supported by UKRI research council programmes. The guidance is for training grant holders, research organisations, doctoral students, and co-funding partners.

If you are a researcher or partner working internationally, or need to travel

To ensure the health, safety and wellbeing of research participants and partners, they expect UK and in-country teams to follow the guidance from national and regional governments and adjust to virtual, remote working if possible.

Where travel is impacted, if researchers or students cannot travel due to government/official advice, or it poses a risk to the individual (due to an underlying medical condition etc), this can be charged to the grant in line with any other cost.

If that cost cannot be absorbed by any overall underspend on the grant, then UKRI will cover that small addition.

Further information

UKRI COVID-19 grant extension allocation

UKRI will deploy £180 million of funding for organisations to sustain UKRI grant-funded research and fellowships affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Allocations between institutions will be calculated based on the value of recurrent payments that organisations are profiled to receive between 1 April 2020 and 31 March 2021 for competitively awarded grants with a planned end date during the same period. UKRI has stated that projects with planned end dates on or before 31 March 2021 should be prioritised as beneficiaries of this supplemental funding and that disciplinary balance must be maintained.

The University is developing the internal mechanisms and governance needed for applying for and distribution of the additional funding. Further information will be available on this site and via divisions after these have been established.

Preventing harm (safeguarding) in research and innovation policy

UKRI recognises that now, more than ever, support and guidance is needed to ensure that everyone involved across the global research and innovation chain is safe and protected from harm.

The UKRI Preventing Harm (Safeguarding) in Research and Innovation Policy is a useful framework to support organisations to identify and address any gaps in their policies and procedures to ensure that they are well placed to anticipate, mitigate and address any actual or potential harms in their research and innovation activities.

COVID-19 ethics support for researchers and innovators

UKRI remains committed to supporting ethical research and responsible innovation during the COVID-19 pandemic. The World Health Organisation, UNESCO and the Nuffield Council on Bioethics, for example, have produced bespoke ethics guidance on adapting to emergency contexts. There are also accelerated ethics approval processes for researchers working during emergencies.

See also

Current research

The decision to pause or close-down any research will be a local decision to be made by the chief/principal investigator and the sponsor. They will support any local decision to move personnel to front line duties and will work with teams after the crisis to explore ways for research projects to be reinstated.

They are recommending that any clinical research in particular, that has been recently awarded but not yet started, delay the start date to adjust to the possibility of not being able to recruit.

Where individuals working on research projects become unwell or need to self-isolate, they will follow the employing organisation’s own policy, in line with your conditions of award.

They will be flexible on the use of underspend and budget virements to cover any exceptional and additional cost incurred by the COVID-19 pandemic to keep your research activities going.

Their position is to offer no-cost extensions to your award if needed. Please follow process in Grant Tracker.

Where costed extensions are necessary, these will be considered on a case-by-case basis as required.

New funding activity

Versus Arthritis have paused all open calls and future planned activity, including peer review of active calls. They are currently planning on restarting calls from June 2020. 

 

 

Versus Arthritis have asked that any invoices for research awards sent via post only from 9 March onwards be resent by email to ensure that they are received and can be processed.

All future invoices should be sent by email to accounts@versusarthritis.org.
 
They have also asked institutions to identify where they are behind on quarterly invoicing and send these the them as soon as possible.
 

Approach

The Wellcome Trust wants to support researchers and those employed on their grants through this challenging period.

As an independent charity, they are able to redeploy their resources and make temporary changes to their policies on supplements and extensions to manage the impact of the pandemic.

Applying for a Wellcome grant

Wellcome aims to continue to deliver its funding schemes during the pandemic, but may have to make changes as the situation develops. They will publish any changes to application, shortlisting, interview and decision dates on the affected schemes' webpages.

If your organisation is closed and unable to approve and submit an application, they can do this on their behalf with the organisation's agreement.

Advisory committee meetings will take place remotely and they may need to change the review process. If this affects your application, they will let you know.

Funding for COVID-19 related research

Wellcome's targeted funding call for COVID-19 related research has closed. For any COVID-19 related research enquiries, email epidemics@wellcome.org.

Extending a grant

No-cost extensions for grants that are due to end in 2020 or 2021

Wellcome will extend all grants by up to six months, to allow for any disruption caused by the pandemic.

They will consider longer extensions, but only if your grant includes:

  • clinical trials
  • fieldwork
  • critical animal studies such as rederivation of transgenic lines or long-term disease model

They won't provide further extensions for the wind-up or wind-down of animal colonies during the period of disruption, unless your grant involves non-human primates, cats, dogs or equidae.

What you need to do

If your grant is eligible for a COVID-19 salary and stipend supplement, Wellcome will automatically extend your grant when they award your supplement.

If you're not eligible for this supplement, contact Wellcome to ask for an extension.

No-cost extensions for grants that are due to end 1 January 2022 onwards

They expect grantholders to be flexible in how they manage their programmes of work, to minimise the impact of the disruption. They will only consider requests for extensions where there has been significant disruption to your research that you cannot otherwise manage.

What you need to do

You should follow Wellcome's normal no-cost extension policy and process.

Extensions to PhD submission deadlines

If your studentship is due to end in 2020, you can extend your submission deadline by up to six months.

If your studentship is due to end in 2021, you can extend your submission deadline by up to three months.

What you need to do

You don't need to ask Wellcome to confirm your extension. You must discuss it with your programme director.

Supplementary grant funding

These are the costs Wellcome will pay if your grant is affected by the COVID-19 outbreak.

See support for those directly involved in delivery of the COVID-19 response for information on the costs they will cover if you’re based in a low or middle income country and called away to work on the pandemic.

Sick leave

Wellcome will follow the policy of the employing organisation if any staff employed on a Wellcome grant has:

  • COVID-19
  • COVID-19 symptoms
  • someone in their household with (or the symptoms of) COVID-19
  • been told by a doctor or 111 to self-isolate

​They will supplement your grant for the costs the employing organisation incurs paying their salary while they're away, less any recoverable statutory pay. See Wellcome's sick leave policy for more information.

Costs they will supplement

Wellcome will provide supplementary funding depending on the type of grant you hold:

Separate arrangements apply if:

  • you are directly involved in the delivery of the COVID-19 response
  • your award is to a company through Wellcome's Innovations division – contact the Innovations team at innovations@wellcome.org if this applies to you

They will pay the following costs if your grant is eligible for supplementary funding.

Salaries and stipends

If your grant is due to end 1 March to 31 December 2020, they will provide an additional six months' funding to pay for:

  • your salary if you're the lead applicant and currently receive a salary from Wellcome
  • salaries of staff employed on your grant
  • stipends for PhD studentships

If your grant is due to end in 2021, they will provide an additional three months' funding to pay for:

  • your salary if you're the lead applicant and currently receive a salary from Wellcome
  • salaries of staff employed on your grant
  • stipends for PhD studentships

If your grant is due to end in 2022 or later, they expect you to manage your existing funds to lessen the impact of the pandemic disruption. For example you could:

  • adjust your research programme
  • use your grant funds flexibly (see their policy on transferring costs between budget headings)
  • ask for help from your organisation
  • use the government support available, including the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme , if your employer determines that this is appropriate

They accept that you may not be able to achieve all the aims of your original grant.

They will only consider requests for supplementary grant funding and no-cost extensions in exceptional circumstances. You will need to provide a strong justification.

What you need to do

If your grant finishes in 2020 or 2021, and is eligible for a supplement, Wellcome will calculate the value of the supplement based on the budget awarded for salary and stipend support. They have contacted all grantholders who are eligible for this supplement to confirm the amount they will receive

Animals

If your grant finishes in 2020 or 2021, they will consider requests to cover the costs of animal models that need to be replaced due to the pandemic, for example rederivation of transgenic lines or long-term disease models.

They won't consider requests to pay for animals that are only needed for colony maintenance, unless your grant involves non-human primates, cats, dogs or equidae.

What you need to do

Contact them once the disruption has passed and the impact the pandemic has had on your animal costs is clear.

Clinical trials

They will consider requests for additional research costs for clinical trials that are affected during the period of disruption.

What you need to do

Contact them once the disruption has passed and the impact the pandemic has had on your clinical trial costs is clear.

Costs they will not supplement

Wellcome will not supplement for:

  • materials and consumables
  • additional equipment
  • travel
  • overheads
  • access charges

Grants funded with other organisations

Wellcome is discussing how to manage these grants with its partner funders and the organisations that administer these awards. They will update this page as soon as information is available.

Managing a grant

Starting your grant

Wellcome's usual policy is that you must start your grant within 12 months of the start date set out in your award letter. If you've reached this 12 month limit and you're still unable to start your grant due to the COVID-19 pandemic, you can defer your start date by a further six months. You must contact your grants adviser or email grantenquiries@wellcome.org if you want to do this.

Costs for salaries and stipends on all Wellcome grants

All grantholders must continue to pay the salaries and stipends of all Wellcome PhD studentships, fellows and staff employed on their grants.

Costs paid for cancelled travel or event

If these costs cannot be reimbursed or claimed for under insurance, you can claim these against your grant. Wellcome will not supplement grants for these costs. 

Costs to help people work from home

They will not pay for office furniture costs. They expect these to be covered by the employing organisation.

They will not provide additional funding for laptops or video conferencing activity, but you can use your existing grant funds to cover these costs. If you want to do this, Wellcome's usual policy on transferring costs between budget headings applies.

Transferring grant funds between budget headings

Wellcome's usual policy on transferring costs between budget headings applies if you want to move grant money between budget headings to help manage your grant during the pandemic.

Small-scale transfers can be done without Wellcome's permission, but you must discuss significant transfers with them first. Read more about when you need to contact them.

Support for those directly involved in delivery of the COVID-19 response

Grant extensions and supplementary funding

In the initial stage of the pandemic, Wellcome extended grants and provided supplementary funding to grantholders who were seconded for COVID-19 service and had suspended their current research activity.

From 14 July 2020 they will only consider requests to do this if you work in a low or middle income country where the pandemic is escalating and want to suspend your current research activity to take part in COVID-19 healthcare service delivery.

You must email grantenquiries@wellcome.org if you want to do this.

Changing the activity of your grant to focus on COVID-19 research

Wellcome will consider requests to switch the focus of your research to COVID-19 activity that does not directly help to manage the immediate pandemic. However they will not provide additional funds for this purpose.

You must email grantenquiries@wellcome.org if you want to do this.

 

 

Guidance from Research Services and Research Accounts

APPLYING FOR FUNDING

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University research support is largely still functioning in the online environment. Please do email your departmental research facilitator/support officer and/or Research Services grants contact to discuss your idea and plan for submission at the earliest opportunity, so we can plan your preparation and submission and alert the appropriate approvers.

 

Research Services remains operational, however please allow extra time ahead of the funder submission deadline, and ensure your head of department and/or head of administration and finance are available to approve. Most funders have an online submission portal, and departmental/faculty approval of budgets through X5 is also performed online. If your departmental approvers are not available, please contact your research facilitator/support officer, or your Research Services grants contact as soon as possible so we can assist.

 

Please contact your research facilitator/support officer and Research Services grants contact as soon as possible so that we can fast track your application through approval and submission processes.

 

Most funders are taking a pragmatic approach to dealing with the evolving situation, and we are aware that some deadlines have been extended. However, this is likely to be funder and/or scheme specific so please check the funder website for further information. We will also be keeping our information on this page as up to date as possible.

 

Arrangements are in place to try to ensure contracts are signed in a timely manner. However, we strongly urge you to contact your departmental administration team and Research Services contracts contact at the earliest opportunity if the contract is particularly urgent or is connected with a specific deadline.

 

We are aware some funders are delaying or postponing review panel decisions as a result of impact. Funders will notify applicants about the outcome of applications in due course.

 

Most funders are taking a pragmatic approach to dealing with the evolving situation. This is likely to be funder and/or scheme specific so please check the funder website for further information. We will also be keeping our information on this page as up to date as possible.

 

Online systems continue to be supported with staff working remotely.

X5

Contact the X5 helpdesk as usual. 

We are currently unable to deliver X5 training but are working on online alternatives for new users.

JeS

Please contact Julia Haynes or Sue Douglas as usual, by email rather than phone if possible.

IRAMS

Support arrangements are unchanged. Details can be found on the IRAMS page

 

MANAGING RESEARCH PROJECTS

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Research Services remains operational. Please liaise with your usual Research Services grants contact. If your acceptance requires a ‘wet’ signature we do have procedures in place to make this possible, and will work with you and the funder to ensure this is complete.

 

Where allowable within the funder’s terms and conditions  (and with the exception of essential research relating to COVID-19) we would advise considering delaying the start of your project to ensure there is minimal impact on your research through any delays caused by COVID-19. Please contact your Research Services grants contact for advice where the funder is not clear.

 

Yes, however, please consider delaying the start if possible (see question above on delaying the start of new projects).

 

We are receiving confirmation from some funders that they fully support this direction and will provide no-cost and/or cost extensions to projects where staff have returned to clinical duties to support the coronavirus pandemic. There may be an expectation from some funders that the NHS will ultimately reimburse the project for associated salary costs incurred. 

 

Presuming this is in line with the contract (for example the work has been completed, or advance payments were agreed), please ensure your subcontractor sends the invoice electronically to the email address in the agreement with all the relevant backing documentation and this will be paid. 

No paper invoices, PRFs, expense claims, or advance requests should be sent to Research Accounts at Hythe Bridge Street. All documents should be handled electronically.

Please consult with your departmental administration. Payments are being prioritised by the University. Given the capacity of the payments process, please consider whether a subcontractor payment is urgent.  
 

 

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office have a current notification (posted 17 March 2020) to avoid all non-essential travel, worldwide. We will be in contact with funders on alternative arrangements and possible no-cost extensions to grants where international travel is required, but cannot take place until a safer period.

The Association of British Insurers (ABI) has published information on the travel insurance implications of coronavirus.

Research staff and students are now required to pause or postpone ongoing or planned non-essential University research involving face-to-face interactions with human participants (unless arrangements can be made for the research to be conducted remotely or online).

Students will not be able to undertake fieldwork involving face-to-face interaction with participants that may have been planned for Trinity term. The same may apply to some other types of project, such as those that require access to materials that are only available in hard-copy archives. We recognise that some students may already have started a project that cannot now be completed, and that the scope will need to be dramatically altered. 

Students affected by this change should consult the course director in their department or faculty to postpone or agree an alternative project that can be completed from their desk (such as literature reviews, data analysis, conducting interviews by telephone or via teleconferencing, using online surveys or computer modelling). 

If students have any questions about the above, please contact your college or department/faculty in the first instance. 

If you are considering overseas travel, note that the FCO’s advice is against all but ‘essential’ travel. It is unlikely that research, teaching and other University business will be considered essential, although there may be exceptions such as travel connected with tackling the coronavirus outbreak. 

For further advice about overseas travel and fieldwork (including advice about how the University’s insurance will operate), please see the University Safety Office’s COVID-19 guidance

 

If you live in the UK and are currently travelling abroad, you are strongly advised to return now, where and while there are still commercial routes available.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office guidance covers issues including visa arrangements, travel back to the UK, quarantine while you are abroad, and advice to follow if you cannot return to the UK. 

For further advice about overseas travel and fieldwork (including advice about how the University’s insurance will operate), please see the University Safety Office’s COVID-19 guidance.

 

Please consult the University’s guidance on coronavirus for latest information on access to University buildings and facilities. 

Funders are releasing guidance and many are confirming that no-cost extensions in such circumstances will be allowed. Overall we expect funders will be pragmatic when considering requests to extend projects, although some may wish consider such requests on a case-by-case basis. Please see the Guidance from research funders section at the top of this page.

 

This will vary dependent on the funder and the nature of cost. The University is actively engaging with our major funders and UK government to seek clarity and appropriate measures on this. Some funders (including the Wellcome Trust) have indicated some intention to provide additional funding, however the mechanisms and details for this have not yet been finalised.

 

We anticipate that funders will adopt a pragmatic approach on this, however it is likely to be variable, so please refer to the individual funder’s guidance.

Where travel plans have been cancelled upon government advice, the costs should be recovered from the travel supplier where possible. If you booked travel via Key Travel please contact them directly.

The Insurance team are experiencing an extremely high volume of queries at the moment and are therefore unable to comment on specific and/or hypothetical insurance related queries regarding cover. 

Our advice remains the same for travellers who have taken out the University Travel Insurance. Please ensure that all FCO advice is followed and additionally any advice given by the insurance assistance provider –  AON Protect Assistance. Disregarding advice will likely mean cover will not remain in place. Please follow advice and take reasonable and pragmatic decisions. Any subsequent claims will be looked at in the coming months. 

Please note that AON Protect do not advise on insurance coverage and policy terms but will advise on travellers' individual circumstances and can assess on whether it is sensible to return and if this is in their best interest.

 

Please consult with your departmental administration team. Further University guidance around recruitment during the current period of disruption is expected. 

Specific guidance on the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) for research and research support staff can be found on the HR Support website. Guidance issued by funders on CJRS/furlough can be found under the Guidance from research funders section at the top of this page. The University is engaged urgently with funders and government around the issues of fixed term staff on externally funded projects.

 

 
If your research requires (or has already received) ethical review and approval by the Central University Research Ethics Committee (via one of its subcommittees), please see the guidance on research involving human participants
 

 

Online systems continue to be supported with staff working remotely.

MARS

Support arrangements are unchanged, as detailed on our MARS webpage.

BI

Support arrangements are unchanged. Please email research.services@admin.ox.ac.uk for user access set-up/changes/removal and email x5helpdesk@it.ox.ac.uk for BI queries in the first instance.

Researchfish

Support is by email to the Oxford Researchfish Support Team at rs-oxford.outcomes@admin.ox.ac.uk

Symplectic Elements

Support is by email to symplectic@admin.ox.ac.uk.

Queries will be resolved on the same day if possible. More technical queries may take a little longer to resolve due to staff availability.

 

The COVID-19 pandemic demands an urgent and unprecedented response.

University research and expertise is critical to this effort, and Oxford University Innovation (OUI) is supporting a growing number of projects from Oxford University involving intellectual property and technology that could help address the current pandemic. These include vaccines, rapid diagnostics, ventilators, therapeutics and remote monitoring technology.

OUI has issued guidance for organisations seeking to license or otherwise access University of Oxford IP relevant to the COVID-19 pandemic:

CLINICAL RESEARCH

Last updated on 25 June 2020 with further clarification on restarting studies.

New COVID-19 studies

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As early as possible. If your research will involve OUH patients, staff and/or resources, you should contact covid@admin.ox.ac.uk.

The OUH/OU COVID-19 Clinical Research Review Group chaired by the deputy head of the Medical Sciences Division for research and translation and with representation from the Joint Research Office and the major areas of activity (acute medicine/ITU, respiratory, immunology/inflammation), will triage all proposals for clinical research studies and trials at a very early stage in order to ensure that those that are prioritised can be given the fullest and quickest support by the respective Joint Research Office teams.

A template form will be provided and this form must be submitted for review prior to any funding applications being submitted. For further details please contact covid@admin.ox.ac.uk.

 

Yes. On CTRG advice, obtain an IRAS number. We will review new COVID-19 studies swiftly and will negotiate expedited review of the study by the appropriate regulatory bodies, who now have systems in place for this.

Changes to existing studies due to COVID-19

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If you need to make an urgent change to protect participants against any immediate hazard to their health or safety, these should be handled as an urgent safety measure (USM). Make the change, and then notify the REC & MHRA (if applicable) as soon as you can. The REC requires notification by telephone, and then in writing within 3 days. Notification by email is sufficient for the MHRA – a phone call is not necessary. CTRG should also be informed within 3 days of implementation of the measure. 

A substantial amendment should subsequently be submitted to cover the changes made. Submission to the MHRA can be deferred for 28 days after the measure has been taken and written notification provided by email. Further extensions may be granted on a case by case basis. 

 

This should be treated as an urgent safety measure, following the guidance in question 3. Consider using separate specific information sheets detailing the additional tests, rather than amending the existing participant information sheet. 

 

This requires a substantial amendment which will receive expedited review by CTRG and relevant regulators.

When you submit to CTRG, please note in the subject header that the amendment is COVID-19 related. If the study will involve OUH, CTRG will advise whether the OUH/OU COVID-19 Clinical Research Review Group will need to review the amendment (see question 1). If the study is currently on hold at OUH, confirmation by the group will serve as an exemption, and the study will be able to restart when the amendment has relevant approvals.

Replacing face-to-face study visits with phone calls is acceptable where appropriate. Documentation of the phone call should be kept, as this will constitute source data. This is allowed on a temporary basis, for as long as the outbreak prevents face-to-face visits. 

Participants should not be included in a trial unless you can confirm they meet the inclusion and exclusion criteria. Similarly, if the safety of a participant is at risk because they cannot complete key safety checks, you must consider whether to withdraw that participant. Where necessary, urgent safety measures may be implemented first followed by a subsequent substantial amendment, as outlined in question 3. You should also consider whether it is appropriate to temporarily halt recruitment (see question 14), or the study as a whole (see questions 15, 16, 17).

Handling changes to participant visit methods/frequency should be handled as follows.

Non-CTIMPs where the changes will not impact participant safety

Submit a non-substantial amendment to CTRG for authorisation. CTRG will process it as a Category C minor amendment not requiring HRA/HCRW approval (if relevant) and once authorised you can implement this and send it out immediately to all your sites. 

Non-CTIMPs where the changes will impact participant safety

This requires a substantial amendment, which will receive expedited review by CTRG and relevant regulators. When you submit to CTRG, please note in the subject header that the amendment is COVID-19 related. 

CTIMPs

Changes to visit methods and/or frequency should be risk assessed, notified to CTRG, and documented in the Trial Master File along with a record of any protocol deviations. In the current circumstances, a formal amendment is not required for CTIMPs to implement these changes, and they will not be considered a serious breach of the protocol.  

 

This should be risk assessed and documented in the Study/Trial Master File, and a non-substantial amendment submitted to CTRG for authorisation.

CTRG will process it as a Category C minor amendment not requiring HRA/HCRW approval (if relevant), and once authorised you can implement this and send it out immediately to all your sites.

Verbal agreement that participants are happy with the arrangements should be documented in their notes. 

 

This should be risk assessed and documented in the Study/Trial Master File, and a non-substantial amendment submitted to CTRG for authorisation.

CTRG will process it as a Category C minor amendment not requiring HRA/HCRW approval (if relevant), and once authorised you can implement this and send it out immediately to all your sites.

Verbal agreement that participants are happy with the arrangements should be documented in their notes. 

 

A risk assessment should be undertaken to determine the impact of this, and CTRG should be contacted to further discuss the following possibilities (please note in the subject header that your email is COVID-19 related): 

  • If accountability is not critical, the drug can be destroyed instead of being returned, to minimise exposure to the virus
  • If accountability is important, consider other methods of accountability, such as asking participants to make a count, or submit a photograph
  • If the reconciliation is critical and needs to be done by site or sponsor staff, a risk-based approach should be taken for example conducting in an environment specialised for this or put in quarantine for some time so that possible virus on packaging is no longer viable

Please ensure that all assessments, correspondence, decisions and actions are documented in the Study/Trial Master File.   
 

 

The changes should be risk assessed, and the impact on the study documented in the Study/Trial Master File. If it is appropriate to resort to remote monitoring, use alternative means of oversight such as teleconference or videoconferences where possible. 

If confidential information will be handled in a manner that is not outlined in the participant information sheet, this will require a substantial amendment which will receive expedited review by CTRG and relevant regulators. When you submit to CTRG, please note in the subject header that the amendment is COVID-19 related.

Otherwise, submit a non-substantial amendment to CTRG for authorisation. CTRG will process it as a Category C minor amendment not requiring HRA/HCRW approval (if relevant), and once authorised you can implement this and send it out immediately to all your sites.  

If it is proposed to access electronic health records (EHR) away from sites, please contact CTRG to further discuss. Your department may have developed policies and/or standard operating procedures to manage this.

Please note: 

  • There should be explicit instructions as to what can be accessed where, and an agreement that this will be complied with
  • The device through which EHR is accessed must have adequate security, such as adequate firewalls, secure log-in and passwords etc, and must not be left unattended and accessible
  • The instructions should not allow printing, emailing or downloading of any records, or require that this is disabled by the system
     

 

If this is the case, you may consider the following:  

Assessment of expectedness

If expectedness has been delegated to investigators at clinical sites and this places a burden on front line staff, determine whether this assessment can be made by the coordinating centre upon receipt of the SAE. This may be appropriate because expectedness is not a medical decision, rather it should be based on the approved reference safety information for the trial.  

SAE reporting

The MHRA expects regulatory timelines for safety reporting to continue to be met. However, to reduce administrative burden on sites, it is acceptable in the current situation for SAEs to be reported to the coordinating centre by phone or email, followed by a written report at a later date. Initial contact should include the minimum reportable information. The coordinating site should consider a process to record this initial information, and ensure that this process protects data integrity. 

The above changes do not require prior authorisation by the MHRA, but they should be risk assessed and documented, and CTRG should be informed. 

Other proposed changes to safety reporting procedures should first be discussed with CTRG for further advice, with an outline of the impact on the risk-benefit of the trial and strategies to mitigate any risks introduced by the changes. 

Please include ‘COVID-19 safety recording/reporting’ in the subject header of emails relating to any of the above. 
 

 

Consider alternative methods to demonstrate approval, for example email confirmation. You should document any deviations from your normal processes, but you do not need to submit an amendment to inform CTRG of such a change. 

The MHRA have confirmed that electronic signatures are acceptable for requests for a clinical trial authorisation, and these can be scanned electronic signatures if necessary. Alternatively, if the person authorised to sign has an individual CESP user ID, this can be used in the ‘signature’ field of the application form.

 

Protocol waivers are not acceptable.  

Ensure that any deviations from formal processes are recorded. An increase in deviations related to COVID-19 will not be considered a serious breach (unless participant safety is affected).

The MHRA acknowledge that reporting timelines for SAEs, DSURs and End of Trial notifications may be delayed due to capacity issues. Such temporary deviations from the reporting timelines stated in the protocol do not have to be notified as a substantial amendment. If your DSUR is delayed, please provide a rationale in the cover letter. Normal processes should resume as soon as possible once the capacity issues have been resolved.

Halting study activity due to COVID-19

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You don’t need to seek any approvals for this, but you need to place a file-note in the Study/Trial Master File recording the temporary halt. Once the current emergency is over, you can restart recruitment.

Please notify CTRG of any halts to recruitment and also when recruitment is restarted. If you need to make changes to protect participant safety when restarting, this will need to be handled as a substantial amendment. 

If you also need to make changes to procedures for existing participants, please refer to question 5.
 

 

Submit a non-substantial amendment to CTRG for authorisation. CTRG will process it as a Category C minor amendment not requiring HRA/HCRW approval (if relevant), and once authorised you can implement this and send it out immediately to all your sites.

If the halt will have a direct effect on participant safety, this will require a substantial amendment which will receive expedited review by CTRG and relevant regulators. When you submit to CTRG, please note in the subject header that the amendment is COVID-19 related.   

 

This only requires a substantial amendment if it will have a direct effect on participant safety. In this case, it will receive expedited review by CTRG and relevant regulators. When you submit to CTRG, please note in subject header that the amendment is COVID-19 related. 

Otherwise, you just need to place a file-note in the Trial Master File recording the temporary halt, and notify CTRG of the halt and also when the trial restarts. If you need to make changes to protect participant safety when restarting, this will need to be handled as a substantial amendment.

If you decide not to recommence a halted trial, you will need to submit an End of Trial declaration to the MHRA and CTRG within 15 days of the decision.

 

You should contact the MHRA directly, by phone or email, as they can escalate this to the DHSC. Please also notify CTRG if this situation arises. Submission of an amendment is not required in this instance

If no further treatment would have been provided to participants according to the protocol

You should submit an End of Study declaration to the REC, MHRA (if appropriate) and to CTRG. You need to follow this up with your final report within one year. 

If further treatment would have been provided to participants according to the protocol

This will require a substantial amendment if the post-study care will be different to that set out in the participant information sheet and thus will differ from what participants have consented to. You will need to discuss with CTRG whether expedited review of this amendment will be required.

Resumption of activities

Considerations for restarting studies that have been paused due to COVID-19 are outlined in the NIHR ‘Framework for restart’.

Although this framework has been written specifically for NIHR research activity, the principles are applicable for all clinical research and should be consulted when you are preparing to restart. 

Participant safety remains paramount, and any risks to participants should be assessed. If you need to make changes to protect participant safety when restarting, this will need to be handled as a substantial amendment. 

You should also consider evaluating and confirming the ability of each site to recommence, as well as whether any staff retraining or revalidations are needed. 

Remember to document all assessments, communications, actions and regulatory approvals.  

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It is important to ensure that any plans to restart or resume studies that involve University staff or facilities are consistent with the University’s current position, in addition to any host organisation requirements.

Divisions and departments are currently reviewing all the measures that need to be in place for research to restart or resume within University buildings. Work on studies needs to be considered within the portfolio of risk under review by a department.

In order for a study to restart or resume activities, at the request of the Medical Sciences Division, CTRG requires confirmation from the departmental head of administration and finance (HAF) that full consideration has been given to safety, estates, HR and IT support. This includes confirmation that activities related to this study are not considered to be in conflict with any of the department’s research priorities and are consistent with the current return to onsite working status, including that the building is open, and the risk assessment has included sign-off from the head of department.

Please contact CTRG by emailing ctrg@admin.ox.ac.uk for a HAF confirmation email template.

The same applies for new studies.

 

If the pause was communicated to CTRG  as a non-substantial amendment, submit a non-substantial amendment to CTRG for authorisation. CTRG will process it as a Category C minor amendment not requiring HRA or HCRW approval (if relevant) and once it is authorised you can implement it and send it out immediately to all your sites. 

If restarting requires substantial changes, for example to protect participant safety or data integrity, then you will need to submit a substantial amendment in order for it to restart.

If the study returns to pre-COVID-19 arrangements that were previously approved, this does not need to be approved when reinstated.

If some arrangements revert to previously approved arrangements and other elements remain for an interim or long-term period, this also does not require HRA or HCRW approval but this should be risk-assessed. 

Any assessments and decisions should be documented in the Study Master File. 

 

If a substantial amendment has been approved to halt the trial, then you will need to submit another substantial amendment in order for it to restart.

If the trial was halted without the need for a substantial amendment, but restarting requires substantial changes, for example to protect participant safety or data integrity, then you will need to submit a substantial amendment in order for it to restart.

If the restart of the trial does not involve any substantial changes to the clinical trial authorisation, a substantial amendment is not required. CTRG still needs to confirm support for the trial activity to restart.

If you decide not to recommence a halted trial, you will need to submit an end of trial declaration to the MHRA and CTRG within 15 days of the decision.

COVID-19 and clinical investigations of medical devices

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Devices that will directly impact the COVID-19 emergency will be fast-track reviewed by the regulators. Please refer to question 1 for the initial steps to follow.

Also obtain an IRAS number and contact CTRG as early as possible to give advance notice of your application. Please note in the subject header that the investigation is COVID-19 related.

 

During the current situation, the MHRA is allowing some flexibility for use of CE-marked devices for a different purpose where there is limited change to its intended use, without the requirement of a prior clinical investigation. 

If you feel the change is minor (for example, using the device in a different setting) you should perform a risk assessment and contact your notified body for advice. If the outcome is that a clinical investigation is required, please contact CTRG to discuss further, noting in the subject header that the investigation is COVID-19 related.

 

Yes, in this exceptional situation the MHRA may authorise the supply a non-CE marked device in the interest of the protection of health. 

You will need to apply to the MHRA by emailing devices.exceptionaluse@mhra.gov.uk, providing the information outlined in the government guidance. The MHRA will advise on exemption from the Devices regulations. They will prioritise applications based on the needs of healthcare providers to increase the supply of critical devices and tests. 

CTRG does not need to be informed of your application to the MHRA for exemption, unless the outcome is that the Devices regulations will apply. In this case, please contact CTRG to further discuss.   
 

 

Amendments need to be authorised by CTRG and the relevant regulators as normal, but those that are due to the impact of COVID-19 will receive expedited review. When you submit to CTRG, please note in the subject header if the amendment is COVID-19 related.

Note that the MHRA requires information on any changes made to:

•    the device under investigation
•    study documentation, including the clinical investigation plan
•    investigators or investigating institutions
•    changes requested by an ethics committee

 

You need to notify the MHRA, by emailing devices.regulatory@mhra.gov.uk, and CTRG, as soon as possible.

Before you restart, both bodies will need to be provided with a summary of the actions taken and whether there was any impact on participant safety. It is important that you keep a record of all your actions and correspondence.

 

You should ensure that any deviations from formal processes are recorded. CTRG and the MHRA do not need to be notified of deviations related to COVID-19, unless participant safety is affected.

 

Contact the MHRA as soon as possible at devices.regulatory@mhra.gov.uk. They will review and advise on a case-by-case basis. It would be helpful to note in the subject header that the investigation is COVID-19 related. Please include CTRG in your correspondence with the MHRA. 

 

Carefully document all actions and risk assessments you take in response to COVID-19 to determine the impact. Your main focus should be on the safety of participants in your clinical investigation. Please contact CTRG and/or the MHRA if you need further advice. 

Human tissue governance

 

Contact the Human Tissue Governance Team at hta_help@admin.ox.ac.uk and put 'COVID' in the subject heading.  

If you plan to import material from Scotland or abroad, download the International Collaboration Checklist from the Oxford Global Research website and see section 'I'.  

General FAQs about Human Tissue Authority licensing can be found on the Human tissue governance FAQs page.

REF 2021

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The REF funding bodies have confirmed a revised submission deadline of noon on 31 March 2021.

The exercise is scheduled to resume on 31 July 2020. As previously advised the staff census date of 31 July 2020 remains unchanged.

In recognition of ongoing uncertainty about the effects of COVID-19, the funding bodies have set a review date in November 2020. 

They have also confirmed an extension to the assessment period for impact to 31 December 2020. 

More information:

 

 

REF project managers are all currently able to work from home, so will be able to support you as usual (albeit remotely).

If you are not sure who your usual divisional contact is, or if you need support from Research Services, please email refinfo@admin.ox.ac.uk.

 

Yes, you can still seek feedback on a decision or appeal a decision in the way outlined on our REF webpages

 

If you are unable to deposit a research output because of major disruption to your usual work due to illness, caring responsibilities, or clinical duties, we should be able to apply one of the exceptions to the Open Access policy.

Please deposit into Symplectic Elements when you can and the Open Access team will work on the output as usual.

Information for fixed-term research staff and fellows

FOR FIXED-TERM RESEARCH STAFF

The report on the survey commissioned by the Research Steering Group (RSG) to better understand how the national lock down in response to COVID-19 has impacted the research progress and wellbeing of research staff is now available:

The following questions have been raised by research staff at OxRSS and the Research Staff Consultation Group meetings. The answers seek to signpost staff to guidance on a range of issues which are of particular concern to this group.  

The HR Support website provides resources to support homeworking and wellbeing during the Covid-19 pandemic. Information on the HR site is pertinent to all staff, including research staff:

Remote working and communication with managers

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HR provide guidance to PIs and supervisors on keeping in touch with research staff. It is reasonable for research staff to expect their line manager to follow this guidance insofar as is reasonable in the circumstances of individual projects.

Some key points to consider:

Most staff will usually have regular meetings with their manager to check in with their work and with how they are more generally. This is an opportunity for you to discuss research priorities, the impact of the COVID-19 crisis on your work, and to receive and give feedback.

Check in with your manager or PI on a regular basis. Agree the frequency of contact with your manager, having due regard to both your current needs and your manager’s availability. If there is a mismatch between the two, explore the options with your manager. Consider whether the frequency could be adjusted for a limited time. Consider whether small group meetings might both suit your purposes and increase your manager’s availability. Think about whether you would like an alternative nominated point of contact to discuss the issues of remote working, childcare etc, leaving the time spent with your line manager to focus on progressing your research within the limits arising from the COVID-19 crisis.

The mode of contact is likely to influence the frequency of contact. Email is sufficient for many purposes, but should not be used as the sole method of keeping in touch. Microsoft Teams is the University’s recommended software for meetings. For some discussions, the telephone may be more appropriate.

Maintain a record of the impact of the pandemic on your research and use a log to frame your discussions with your manager on mitigating any negative effects on your research. Invite your manager to input into your log, or record their response based on your meetings. 

Agree core hours of work with your manager. These are the hours when you can be expected to be ‘at work’ and at the end of a phone, Teams invite, or email. Core hours for each individual might be different to their usual hours. Agree some boundaries so that you each know when it is acceptable for you to contact your manager, or be contacted by your manager.  

Consider whether a buddying system would be helpful to your situation. Alternatively, consider whether you could volunteer to pair up with a colleague in need of support.

If you work in a team, offer to set up virtual team coffee time. Maintaining a non-transactional line of communication with colleagues will be valuable to give mutual support and ensure that positive working relationships continue.
 

Funding

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Funders are releasing guidance and many are confirming that extensions to the project duration within the original awarded budget (so called ‘no-cost extensions’) in such circumstances will be allowed. Overall we expect funders will be pragmatic when considering requests to extend projects, although some may wish to consider such requests on a case-by-case basis.

At this stage, the position of the majority of funders with respect to providing supplementary funding to cover periods of extension is unclear. In the meantime, you should discuss with your research supervisor or group head who will be supported by their department or faculty to assess if there is flexibility for extension within the remaining budget on the research grant (subject to funder approval).

The latest guidance from funders is being collated above on this page.

 

It may be possible to extend some posts where there is remaining budget within the award and (where necessary) the funder agrees to the extension of the project duration. As for question 3, you should discuss this with your research supervisor or group head.

The existing budget in a research award may be insufficient to fund an extension of posts. The University, alongside other institutions, is in urgent dialogue with major research funders (including UKRI) and government about the provision of supplementary funding to enable projects impacted by COVID-19 disruption to be extended, including to provide for the extension of some posts to maintain delivery of research and support the careers of research and research support staff. The timing for decisions on these matters by funders in not known at the current time but as decisions are made, individuals and research groups will be informed.
 

 

The University is actively working with funders, in collaboration with the Russell Group as this is a sector-wide request. 

The latest response from major funders is being collated above on this page.

 

At the level of an individual award, the principal investigator of the award is responsible, with the support of their departmental research/finance team and the University’s Research Services team.

In addition, as noted in question 2, the University is in dialogue with major funding bodies about the possibility of additional funding to support institutions to extend projects and contracts of researchers whose research has been impacted by the COVID-19 crisis.

 

This will vary dependent on the funder, what costs have already been incurred on the project, and how much budget remains.

The University is actively engaging with our major funders and UK government to seek clarity and appropriate measures on this.

Please discuss with your local research administrator and PI to check the context for the specific circumstances of your award.

 

There is likely to be significant variety in the responses and funding available from different research funders. Many of the funders' responses have been captured above on this page, and you should review these in the first instance. This is an emerging picture and these pages are updated daily.

While many funders wish to be supportive and pragmatic during the current crisis, funders who ordinarily only pay personnel costs for project-specific activities (for example, those with specific timesheet requirements) may not fund additional administrative work. The exceptions to this are UKRI and Wellcome. If in doubt, please check with your local research administrator and, if necessary, ask the PI to check with the project manager at the funding body. 

 

Please refer to the University’s guidance and FAQs on the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, check your funder’s policy on furlough above on this page, and discuss with your department or faculty. 

 

Research Professional is an online research funding database and news service to which every member of research staff has access.

The database enables you to search across thousands of UK and international opportunities and to receive opportunities by email. In addition, articles highlight early career opportunities, niche funders, and enables you to learn from the experience of other researchers.

For more information see our Research Professional page.

Return to on-site working (RTOSW)

The following questions are those specifically posed by research staff.

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Personal circumstances (including personal risk, risk to other household members and caring responsibilities relating to the current situation) will be taken into account in any discussion with staff about the return to on-site working.

More detailed guidance and support for staff and line managers in this area will be developed during the pilot. No one who is shielding on advice from a medical practitioner or who has substantial caring responsibilities that require them to be at home will be required to return to the workplace.

 

The timing for opening each laboratory will depend on the nature and scale of activity, the outcome of a risk assessment, and the feasibility of implementing changes required to achieve social distancing and other measures.

Given that the overall capacity of buildings will be significantly affected by social distancing requirements, the return to on-site working will be complex and will require careful consideration in every case. Some departments may be faced with difficult choices about the prioritisation of particular activities.

The intention in the medium term is to increase gradually the building occupancy for staff who cannot work remotely, so long as it is safe, and consistent with any further changes in government guidelines.

 

Options for the provision of additional local parking are being explored while the pilot is underway, and discussions are ongoing with the city and county councils. Further information will follow in due course. It is understood that not all staff have a car and that many rely on public transport. Options to minimise the use of public transport for staff at peak times are being explored. 

 

Childcare Services and Bright Horizons are working on a phased reopening of the University's nurseries starting in early June, providing government regulations allow us to do so.

We are committed to providing high quality childcare to our families as soon as possible whilst ensuring the safety of the children, families and staff is our highest priority.

We have written to families to ask what their childcare requirements are and to inform them of the new safety measures that will be introduced. Please note that in order to meet government requirements, we will need to review the number of children who can attend in each room each day, and we may need to request flexibility on attendance. We may also need to operate a priority system to ensure that we can assist those families most in need of childcare.

Impact on my future

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Recruitment freeze and redeployment protocol

A recruitment freeze and redeployment protocol was adopted in April 2020, and revised in June 2020.

The protocol applies to all internally funded posts. It does not apply to posts where 80% or more of the costs are covered from external sources (although some divisions may set a higher threshold for academic posts such as associate professorships and statutory professorships).

This means job vacancies for externally funded postdoctoral research assistants or research associates will be advertised and recruited via the usual procedures.

Job retention and furlough

For staff unable to work because of the nature of their jobs or their caring responsibilities, the University will place them on furlough and apply to the government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) to reclaim 80% of their salary costs (up to a maximum of £2,500 per month) while continuing to keep them employed.  

The University has committed to continuing to pay all furloughed employees 100% of their salary during any period of furlough supported by the current round of the government’s CJRS.

Furloughed staff members will see no changes to their salaries, benefits or pension arrangements. They remain employees of the University on the same terms and conditions, but carry out no work at all for the employer (or any organisation linked or associated with the employer) during the period of their furlough.

If you are unable to work at all and have been furloughed, you may be eligible to apply to the Returning Carers Fund.

 

Research staff are eligible for the full range of Careers Service offer during their contract and for one full calendar year after it expires.

Oxford University’s careers support pages written for all research staff by specialist careers advisers are now being updated with the additional provision, plus tips and advice relevant to COVID-related circumstances, including predicted effects on the job market and wider economy:

Since COVID-19, the Careers Service has increased provision of 30-minute 1:1 appointments bookable online (via CareerConnect) with a careers adviser of your choice, including two who specialise in researcher career progression within and beyond academia. Note that research staff can book a series of appointments (maximum of one per week) to support them through a more challenging period.

For any research staff keen to give their career some focused attention, the Careers Service has created an online version of the highly interactive and increasingly popular career design and development course, inspired by the design-based thinking coming out of Stanford’s Product Design School. This course comprises 3 short workshops with development tasks in between, and is intended to support researchers in learning what has worked so far, exploring and evaluating potential future directions and getting equipped for next steps. 

The Careers Service series of regular seminars 'Insight into academia' continues online, as do sessions to support job applications and how to find or create internships (remote placements included). At this stage, they envisage offering a blend of online and face-to-face researcher-specific events from Michaelmas 2020.

Research staff may gain careers insights, inspiration, connections and advice from the following two initiatives and are invited to come forward to participate with a view to bolstering their career progression:

 

Many researchers are in this situation. Don’t feel pressured to work late into the night to make up lost time. Most universities already have well established processes in place to ensure that periods of family leave are taken into account in recruitment and grant application processes, for example by emphasising the quality of research outputs over quantity. We anticipate that these will be adjusted to reflect the impact of caring during the coronavirus crisis.

If you are unable to work at all and have been furloughed, you may be eligible to apply to the Returning Carers Fund.

We advise all researchers to log the time that they have lost due to caring responsibilities and for other reasons (see question 19 below).
 

 

Yes. Maintaining a record of the impact of the pandemic on your research should frame your discussions with your PI or line manager on mitigating any negative effects on your research.  

The record can also help you in managing the impact on your career, through informing discussions at your personal development review or career development review in 2020/21, as well as in job applications and research funding applications.  

Your PI or line manager may request use of the record to apply for funding from internal or external sources.

Health and wellbeing

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The University’s processes for returning to on-site working will ensure a safe working environment for all staff, as well as consider the needs of vulnerable groups. If you have any concerns you should discuss these with your line manager, supervisor or group leader in the first instance.  

HR are in the process of preparing further guidance and a link will be given here when available. 

 

Research staff are not eligible for University-owned graduate accommodation.

Information on renting housing in Oxford can be found on the website of the Welcome Service:

 

Disabled staff should seek support for making reasonable adjustments in the usual way, through discussing their needs with their manager or supervisor, requesting a management referral to Occupational Health or contacting the University’s Staff Disability Advisor. 

 

There is currently no consistent practice across all departments of the University.

Please check arrangements in your department with your local research administrator.

FOR FELLOWS

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Many funders of fellowships have issued guidance to holders of fellowships. Most are offering flexibility to help fellows affected by COVID-19 restrictions to complete their fellowship projects. Options can include no-cost extensions, moving to part-time working, suspending the fellowship on a temporary basis, and agreeing changes to the science of the fellowship project.  

Fellows should check with their funder and discuss options with their department before taking decisions – note in particular that few funders are in a position to provide additional funding.

For Marie Curie fellowships please contact the Research Services European & International Team for advice on options available (ecresearch@admin.ox.ac.uk). 

Answers to some key questions are given below where the funder view is known. 
 

 

Most funders are happy to agree a no-cost extension to give a fellow additional time in which to complete the activities of their fellowship, and some funders may consider funded extensions. Fellows should check their funder’s policy and discuss their position with their department. No-cost extensions depend on remaining available budget.  

British Academy

The British Academy will treat all requests for no-cost extensions sympathetically. Grant holders should contact the British Academy to discuss their case before completing a change request form in the FlexiGrant system. Depending on the scheme, assistance is at grants@thebritishacademy.ac.uk or newtonfund@thebritishacademy.ac.uk or international@thebritishacademy.ac.uk

British Heart Foundation

The funder is prepared to support requests for no-cost extensions to grants to cover any delays caused by suspension of research. If suspension of research is prolonged and a costed extension is required, they will consider requests on a case by case basis in due course. They are currently developing the process for receiving and considering no-cost and costed extension applications across grant schemes, and expect to be able to announce this in the near future.

Cancer Research UK

CRUK's default position will be to offer a no-cost extension if needed. No-cost extension requests should be made in writing. They are currently prioritising requests for no-cost extensions to grants with less than 18 months left on the grant award letter. If your grant has less than 18 months to run, you can either request a no-cost extension now or wait until your research has resumed and a clearer understanding of disruption is known. They are not in a position to offer costed extensions due to the impact of COVID-19 on their fundraising income.

EC MSCA Individual Fellowships

Because of the way in which the fellowship funding works, to extend a fellowship the grant will first need to be suspended. During a period of suspension no costs can be claimed from the grant and the funding in the grant that covers the costs of employment of the fellow is not paid. The period of time equal to the length of the suspension is added to the end of the fellowship and payments resume when the suspension ends. The total number of funded months of the fellowship remains unchanged but the end date of the fellowship moves.  

Leverhulme Trust

The funder will generally allow requests to extend your grant if you don't need additional costs. They ask that you email grants@leverhulme.ac.uk to request such an extension. 

If there is the potential for research to be lost or severely compromised, then an application for a costed extension may be considered. You should approach the Trust only when you are in a position to be clear about the length of an extension and the cost involved. They will then advise you of the process to follow. Applications will be considered on a case by case basis.

NIHR

You will be able to request an extension to your fellowship to cover any research time lost due to the impact of COVID-19. This may be due to elements of the fellowship having to pause or move to a later date. Once you know the full impact on your research and/or training you should get in touch with the NIHR Academy to discuss the next steps. Any extensions will be agreed on the assumption that the fellowship can still be completed within the originally contracted budget. 
Requests for any additional costs will be considered on a case by case basis where the impact is on personal development. Where you are having to stop or reduce time on your research, for example due to extra clinical days/weeks, they suggest you keep a log of these changes. 

Royal Commission for the Exhibition 1851

No specific guidance available from the funder's webpages

Royal Society

The Royal Society will provide no-cost extensions for any award holder whose research is delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic. Their website states that they are considering their position on additional funding during extensions where grant holders have lost access to research facilities at host institutions due to COVID-19 restrictions. 

UKRI and Research Councils

No-cost extension requests to grants impacted by coronavirus will be allowed.

Versus Arthritis

The funder will agree no-cost extensions to your award if needed. Please follow the process outlined in Grant Tracker. Where costed extensions are necessary, these will be considered on a case by case basis as required.

Wellcome Trust

Wellcome will agree to a no-cost extension of up to six months if your grant is due to end in 2020 or 2021 and your fellowship has been disrupted by the pandemic. They will consider longer extensions but only where your grant includes clinical trials, fieldwork or critical animal studies. The process through which these no cost extensions will be agreed will be advised in due course. 
Depending on your funding stream you may be eligible for six months' additional funding if your fellowship is due to finish in 2020 (three months' funding if your fellowship finishes in 2021). Wellcome will advise you if this is applicable to your fellowship. 

 

Funders may be happy to discuss this option with fellowship holders – particularly if the option to change to part-time working is in any case possible under the terms and conditions of your fellowship funding. You should discuss this with your host department.

British Academy

No specific guidance available from the funder's webpages

British Heart Foundation

No specific guidance available from the funder's webpages

Cancer Research UK

No specific guidance available from the funder's webpages

EC MSCA Individual Fellowships

It is possible to amend your fellowship grant agreement to allow for part-time working. The minimum time on grant allowed is 50% full time equivalent. Because of the way in which the funding works, moving to part time working will automatically extend the duration of your fellowship. For example 2 months full time is the same as 4 months at 50% FTE. It is possible to move temporarily to part-time working then to revert to full time at a later date. 

Leverhulme Trust

No specific guidance available from the funder's webpages

NIHR

No specific guidance available from the funder's webpages

Royal Commission for the Exhibition 1851

No specific guidance available from the funder's webpages

Royal Society

No specific guidance available from the funder's webpages

UKRI and Research Councils

No specific guidance available from the funder's webpages

Versus Arthritis

No specific guidance available from the funder's webpages

Wellcome Trust

No specific guidance available from the funder's webpages

Funders may agree to the temporary suspension of a fellowship. Suspension would usually mean no grant payment during the period of suspension, not even for salary.

British Academy

No specific guidance available from the funder's webpages

British Heart Foundation

If research institutions shut down for a period of time, the current position is that the British Heart Foundation will continue to pay the salaries of staff funded on grants. This is regardless of whether work can continue on the fellowship. 

Cancer Research UK

Cancer Research UK will consider requests to suspend your grant if you want to pause payments and activities on the grant. Please let them know in writing the proposed suspension dates to your grant.

EC MSCA Individual Fellowships

Your fellowship can be suspended and then restarted. During the period of suspension no costs can be claimed on the grant. Funder advice is that unspent budget for research, training and networking could in principle be used to provide funding for salary during a suspension. Please be aware that this must be discussed with departments/faculties and that funding available is likely to be small. 

Leverhulme Trust

This is an option that would be considered by the funder. Please contact grants@leverhulme.ac.uk

NIHR

Your fellowship may be paused to enable you to contribute to the COVID-19 effort. In these circumstances payments will continue in line with existing payment schedules and the funder will also extend awards where necessary. This will be managed at the end of your award. Applications for additional funding to cover additional research costs because the award has been extended will be considered. Once you know the impact on the research time in your award you should contact NIHR Academy to discuss the required extension.

Royal Commission for the Exhibition 1851

No specific guidance available from the funder's webpages

Royal Society

The Royal Society does not expect fellowships to be suspended. 

UKRI and Research Councils

No specific guidance available from the funder's webpages

Versus Arthritis

The funder website guidance states: 'The decision to pause or close down any research will be a local decision to be made by the chief/principal investigator and the sponsor. We will support any local decision to move personnel to front line duties and will work with teams after the crisis to explore ways for research projects to be reinstated'.

Wellcome Trust

Wellcome do not expect grants to be suspended. Salaries are expected to continue to be paid in full (though furlough can be considered if appropriate). Special arrangements apply if grant holders are directly involved in COVID-19 service delivery. 

 

Please refer to the University’s guidance and FAQs on the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and research and research support staff, and discuss with your department/faculty.  

British Academy

The furlough scheme does not allow furlough for employees funded through public funding. 

British Heart Foundation

Where appropriate, the funder is encouraging employing institutions to use the government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme for staff funded on grants. They will fund the unrecoverable portion of the salary. 

Cancer Research UK

If the University determines that you/your team are eligible for the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS), Cancer Research UK (CRUK) encourage you to take advantage of the scheme. Your CRUK grant funding can be used to cover any shortfall in payments through the CJRS.

EC MSCA Individual Fellowships

It is unlikely that furlough would be regarded as appropriate for MSCA fellowships.  

Leverhulme Trust

No specific guidance available from the funder's webpages

NIHR

The furlough scheme does not allow furlough for employees funded through public funding. 

Royal Commission for the Exhibition 1851

No specific guidance available from the funder's webpages

Royal Society

The furlough scheme does not allow furlough for employees paid through public funding. 

UKRI and Research Councils

The furlough scheme does not allow furlough for employees funded through public funding.

Versus Arthritis

The funder supports furlough and unrecoverable costs can be charged to the grant. Evidence of University policy may be requested. 

Wellcome Trust

In principle researchers funded by the Wellcome Trust can be furloughed under the University’s scheme. Please discuss this option with your department if you feel it would be appropriate. Note that if the sponsor deems your fellowship eligible for additional funded months any period covered by CJRS would be deducted from the additional months possible funding. It would be wise to discuss your position with the sponsor before making decisions.  

 

Funders may be open to discussion about how your fellowship has been affected by COVID-19 restrictions and therefore to agreeing changes to the science of your project. 

British Academy

No specific guidance available from the funder's webpages

British Heart Foundation

No specific guidance available from the funder's webpages

Cancer Research UK

Cancer Research UK have committed to offering as much flexibility as possible for ongoing management of your award including the possibility that research activities may have to be adapted in light of COVID-19. 

EC MSCA Individual Fellowships

Funder advice is that if there are no other ways to mitigate for the disruption caused by COVID-19, changes to the science of your fellowship can be discussed. 

Leverhulme Trust

This is not a topic addressed in funder guidance for grant holders affected by COVID-19 issues. If there is the potential for research to be lost or severely compromised, then an application for a costed extension may be considered – see 'Can I extend my fellowship?' above.

NIHR

The funder website states that if, because of the impact of COVID-19, it makes sense for your research and wider fellowship to make significant changes to your original plans (for example, if a part of your research has had to be stopped altogether and is unlikely to restart) then you should get in touch with the NIHR Academy to discuss significant changes that you want to make.

Royal Commission for the Exhibition 1851

No specific guidance available from the funder's webpages

Royal Society

No specific guidance available from the funder's webpages

UKRI and Research Councils

No specific guidance available from the funder's webpages

Versus Arthritis

No specific guidance available from the funder's webpages

Wellcome Trust

No specific guidance available from the funder's webpages

 

Funders are likely to be sympathetic where objectives cannot be met due to COVID-19 related issues. Depending on your funder you might need to talk to them now about this possibility. 

British Academy

No specific guidance available from the funder's webpages

British Heart Foundation

No specific guidance available from the funder's webpages

Cancer Research UK

The funder has committed to take any period of inactivity on grants into account when assessing research progress, outputs and career progression. Cancer Research UK have committed to offering as much flexibility as possible for ongoing management of your award including the possibility that research activities may have to be adapted in light of COVID-19. They expect to work with you to adjust expectations about whether the full research studies can be carried out, what can be delivered and achieved during the programme of work once the impact of the disruption on research can be fully assessed.

EC MSCA Individual Fellowships

At the discretion of the funder force majeure is a legitimate reason for not being able to complete a fellowship as anticipated in Annex 1 of the grant agreement. Please talk to your project officer now (through the communication facility on the funding and tenders portal) if you are likely to need to rely on the force majeure clause when reporting at the end of your project. Records of effects and mitigation action taken need to be kept. 

Leverhulme Trust

If there is the potential for research to be lost or severely compromised, then an application for a costed extension may be considered – see 'Can I extend my fellowship?' above. 

NIHR

No specific guidance available from the funder's webpages, but see 'Can I change the science of my fellowship?' above

Royal Commission for the Exhibition 1851

No specific guidance available from the funder's webpages

Royal Society

No specific guidance available from the funder's webpages

UKRI and Research Councils

No specific guidance available from the funder's webpages

Versus Arthritis

No specific guidance available from the funder's webpages

Wellcome Trust

No specific guidance available from the funder's webpages, although the Trust is operating flexibility on extending grants affected by COVID-19 restrictions

British Heart Foundation

Researchers whose posts are directly funded by the British Heart Foundation (BHF), including fellows, may, at their discretion, devote their time and the time of any support staff funded in their award to COVID-19 research, until they are able to return to their normal research activity. BHF ask that you inform them of your plans by email to research@bhf.org.uk.

Cancer Research UK

Cancer Research UK supports Clinical Research Training Fellows (CRTFs) being seconded back to the NHS to support front line service delivery. They ask that you email them to tell them you are stopping work on research. For clinical academics seconded back to the NHS, their expectation is that the NHS will cover your salary whilst working on the COVID-19 response. Please discuss with your department how they intend to manage the salary reimbursement. You can also request a no-cost extension to your grant or studentship.

NIHR

NIHR understands that clinical professionals may need to focus purely on clinical work in the short term and they will be flexible to support this. They will continue to make payments in line with existing payment schedules and will also extend awards where necessary. This will be managed at the end of your award. Applications for additional funding to cover additional research costs because the award has been extended will be considered. Once you know the impact on the research time in your award you should contact NIHR Academy to discuss the required extension.

Royal Society

If an award holder is recruited to support the coronavirus response, the Royal Society may provide additional funding to extend their fellowship appropriately. Such requests should be made in advance by submitting a change request on Flexi-Grant and will be considered on a case by case basis.

UKRI/Research Councils

It may be possible to apply to change the direction of your research to directly support the COVID-19 effort. UKRI stress that they value all their funded research and that they will assess applications to redirect effort on their merits. More information can be found on the UKRI website.

Versus Arthritis

The funder will support any local decision to move personnel to front line duties and will work with teams after the crisis to explore ways for research projects to be reinstated.

Wellcome Trust

The Wellcome Trust COVID-19 webpage provides details of support available for those directly involved in delivery of the COVID-19 response. Separately, the Trust will consider requests to switch the focus of your research to COVID-19 activity that does not directly help to manage the immediate pandemic. However, they will not provide additional funds for this purpose.

Guidance for researchers working remotely with participant data

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The University’s data protection policy and the GDPR apply irrespective of location. Appropriate measures need to be taken to ensure personal data can be processed in a secure and compliant way. 

The exact measures to be adopted for each research project will need to be considered on a case-by-case basis as projects will be processing different data, collected from different sources and with different funding requirements. Before any changes take place, consideration should be given to the data privacy and security risks associated with home working and how these risks will be mitigated (for example, by training staff, developing standard operating procedures etc.). Where research projects have undertaken data protection impact assessments (DPIAs), these will need to be reviewed before any changes are made. Any research projects that do not have DPIAs should ensure that one is prepared in advance of any changes (for more information see the Information Compliance Team webpages on privacy by design). CTRG/CUREC should also be consulted to ensure any changes are within the ethical requirements of the project or to submit an appropriate amendment. You may find it helpful to review guidance from CUREC and CTRG
You must ensure the agreed data access and sharing protocol is maintained, as failure to do so could invalidate any data sharing agreements and pose a security or data privacy risk.

The University has published general guidance for working remotely and the Information Security Team has guidance on its webpages on how to do so securely.

This guidance assumes that staff are working remotely within the UK. If you are seeking advice about working remotely at a destination outside the UK please contact the Information Compliance Team.  

 

Of significant importance is to review the funders and/or data sharing agreements (where applicable) to identify if minimum security requirements and conditions are set out in contractual T&Cs. For example this may include requirements stating ‘access only permitted on networks that the University manages/owns’. The InfoSec Team have reviewed this particular aspect and deems that access over the MSD IT VPN using a University issued and maintained device provides an equivalent level of security. Deviation from such an approach would require further consideration and approval from the funder and/or data sharing entity as appropriate. 

If you work within a department that has the NHS Data Security and Protection Toolkit (DSPT), or an alternative agreed governance model in place, then you will need to review what access provisions there are for the systems within the scope of these frameworks. It is recommended that you seek advice from your departmental information governance officer. 

In accordance with InfoSec’s information handling rules, and if the data sharing agreement and security protocol permits the use of self-managed (‘personal’) devices to access research data (confidential data classification), then specific authorisation must be sought from the head of department, who owns the risk associated with accessing confidential data on such devices. If self-managed devices are proposed to be used, then you should only access data through the MSD IT VPN (or central IT Services VPN for non-MSD users) and should follow the security guidance for protecting devices on Information Security’s website.

You may need to make some adjustments to your working environment to maintain and protect the privacy and confidentiality of data subjects and shared information, such as:

  • not allowing unauthorised persons to look over your shoulder or listen in to conversations relating to participants and other confidential matters
  • not giving household members access to a University-managed device, or
  • ensuring that all University documents/files are closed on any devices when not in use

However, you should ensure compliance with all principles of GDPR. For example: in terms of transparency, you will also need to consider how any operational activities have been described in any privacy notices or participant information sheets provided to participants and whether the proposed way of working would be in conflict with that. In terms of data minimisation, you can ensure compliance by not downloading and saving copies of data onto mobile, laptop or home devices but instead saving data to the University network. No copies of research data containing personal data should be printed off at home. This may also be a contractual condition on the use of the data.
 

 

You may need to make some adjustments to your working environment to maintain and protect the privacy and confidentiality of data subjects and shared information, such as:

  • phone calls to participants are not undertaken within earshot of unauthorised persons
  • never use speakerphone unless privacy can be guaranteed
  • always use headphones if the phone call is made using computer software

 

University mobile phones

In general terms, University-managed or owned mobiles that have appropriate security settings would be preferred. It is recommended that approval is sought from the appropriate budget holder for any associated billing.   

It is not recommended that personal devices or landlines are used, due to the impracticalities of managing a retention policy when participants’ phone numbers and possibly voicemail messages (if they try to call the researchers) are stored on personal devices. Additionally, consideration should be given to the health and safety safeguards for University staff as a result of the risk of exposing personal phone numbers to participants. 

Chorus

Chorus is not recommended for contacting research participants. The IT Services Chorus soft client and Chorus Web Portal (for managing call forwarding from your work phone to home) are alternative solutions available in the University. However, as Chorus does not encrypt phone calls by default, Chorus does not provide an adequate level of security for data of a confidential classification. 

Microsoft Teams Meetings

As an alternative to a phone call it is possible to use Microsoft Teams to set up a virtual meeting with participants using their email address (if held).

If the participant’s email address is already held, you will need to consider how compatible this use is with the purposes for which it was originally collected and take into consideration the privacy information provided to the data subject. Ethical consent may be required to collect email addresses if not already held. It is recommended that CUREC/CTRG are consulted. 

Microsoft Teams may not be appropriate if there are contractual requirements stipulating that research data is only permitted on networks that the University manages/owns. 

The participant would receive an invitation email from the organiser with a link to join the meeting. If the participant is using a laptop/computer they will be able to join the meeting within their default internet browser. If the participant is using a mobile phone/tablet they will be required to download the Teams app. 

You will need to consider how to manage data privacy risks and such steps to mitigate these risks could be outlined in a standard operating procedure (SOP) for the trial or study. All researchers involved should be trained on the procedures and records of training maintained.

  • Double-check email addresses have been entered correctly prior to sending invitations and take care to ensure that the field has not incorrectly auto-populated – guidance can be found on IT Service’s page on arranging meetings on Teams
  • Make sure that your working environment is set up appropriately before the start of the meeting, to ensure that you can maintain and protect the privacy and confidentiality of data subjects such as having headphones and not allowing unauthorised persons to look over your shoulder.
  • Make use of the ‘lobby’ function, to prevent any uninvited attendees from trying to join the meeting so that individuals joining the meeting need to be ‘let in’ – for help with setting this up IT Services has guidance on arranging meetings on Teams
  • Instruct participants to provide their unique study number/code as their ‘name’ when entering the ‘lobby’ to limit the capture of directly identifiable information 
  • Consider the management of participants’ data in Teams and Outlook. In order to manage destruction/deletion of personal data, the organiser will have to delete the occurrence of the meeting in their Teams calendar once it has taken place in order to remove the history of the meeting (and the participants’ email addresses) from their Teams and Outlook calendar. This action will trigger a cancellation email to the attendees (it is suggested that a reason for the cancellation is provided to avoid confusion such as ‘meeting completed’). The organiser will then need to delete the invitation emails from their sent items in Outlook given that Microsoft Teams and Outlook are linked. 
  • Any other staff attendees, or external collaborators working on the University’s behalf, would have to also take the same steps in order to delete the participant’s data from their calendar and conversely delete the invitation/cancellation emails from their inboxes
  • It is not currently possible to delete chat history from Microsoft Teams, therefore you need to ensure that the participants do not use this function and determine how this risk will be managed (for example a reminder on the invitation email and at the start of the meeting)

For further advice and support on the use of Microsoft Teams, you can contact the IT Services helpdesk at help@it.ox.ac.uk.
 

 

The information below sets out the points of consideration for data protection when remotely recording participants. As outlined above, you should undertake privacy by design for projects proposing to remotely record participants. CTRG/CUREC should also be consulted to ensure any changes are within the ethical requirements of the project or to submit an appropriate amendment. 

Do I need to record? 

With the move to remote working, there is now a demand to be able to hold participant interviews and collect data remotely using video-conferencing tools. However, in the first instance you should consider whether there is a need to remotely record participants if it was not necessary to record them prior to a remote working situation. For research, the University generally relies on ‘public interest task’ as its lawful basis for processing personal data. To rely on this lawful basis, the recording must be necessary for an active research activity and there must be ethical approval in place to conduct that activity.

Video recording in Microsoft Teams

Microsoft Teams is the University’s approved tool for virtual meetings and the only tool approved for confidential subject matter. Microsoft Teams has the functionality to video meetings, but you will still need to consider the risks described in the sections above when setting up a virtual meeting for the purposes of recording. To find out more, visit IT Services’ page on recording meetings.

Necessity and proportionality

Consideration should be given to the necessity and proportionality of the video recording. For example, if a video recording is necessary to capture an assessment of the participant, the video recording should be limited to the assessment only as it may not be necessary to record the entire meeting for the purpose of the research. 
 
It may only be necessary to record the audio feed of the meeting for the purposes of transcription and later analysis. However, Microsoft Teams does not currently have the functionality to isolate audio from a video recording of a virtual meeting. In order to restrict the recording of the meeting to audio only, all attendees must switch off their cameras before starting the recording. This can only be done by each attendee. The onus is therefore on the participant to disable their own camera feed as it cannot be switched off by the meeting organiser. With this approach, there is a risk that participants may accidentally enable their camera during the recording and the researcher may inadvertently capture their video feed. As a safeguard to ensure that only audio is captured, the template invitation email to the invitees could be edited to remind them to ensure their webcams are switched off prior to joining the meeting. You should then remind all attendees in the meeting and check that all cameras are switched off before pressing record.  

Where it is necessary to record the audio feed only but you need to be able to see the individual during the recording, there will be a risk of over-collection of personal data. You will need to consider how to mitigate those risks to avoid processing more personal data than necessary, for example, deleting the video as soon as the transcription is complete, ensuring data security measures are in place to protect the data until it can be destroyed and only using a third party transcription service:

  • that has been subject to a third party security assessment (TPSA) and is assessed as low risk for confidential data
  • whose contract uses the University’s standard template for supply for services or has been approved by the Purchasing Team in accordance with the University’s Financial Regulations

It is possible to create closed captions for recorded videos in Microsoft Stream. Further work to explore this functionality and the potential production of transcripts continues and further guidance will be issued in due course.

Security

Before the meeting starts, you should ensure that your working environment is set up appropriately to maintain and protect the privacy and confidentiality of data subjects, such as using headphones and not allowing unauthorised persons to look over your shoulder. 
Once complete, the recordings are saved on Microsoft Stream. The organiser must ensure that the permissions to the recording are set appropriately whilst the recording is stored by Microsoft and restricted to those with a need to know. For guidance on this, check IT Services’ page on recording meetings. The default permissions for the recording are set with the person who made the recording (the meeting organiser) as the owner of the video and, if applicable, the internal Nexus 365 users who were on the meeting invite are set as viewers. External or guest meeting participants will not have access to the recording.  

Retention 

As the recording will be on an individual organiser’s account as opposed to a shared mailbox, it is recommended that recordings are downloaded and saved to the University IT network (for example restricted access folder, password-protected format) for data availability and business continuity purposes and so the retention policy for that data can be easily managed. The recording will exist in Microsoft Stream as long as the owner keeps it there or for as long as their account exists. Once downloaded, the recordings should be deleted from the organiser’s individual Microsoft Stream account.

Note that when a user deletes a recording, it is sent to the recycle bin and they have 30 days to recover this before it is permanently deleted. Recordings can also be permanently deleted from the recycle bin before the automatic 30 days.

Transparency

It is important that participants are informed about the proposed recording activities or proposed changes to recording activities for projects already in flight through participant information sheets. It is recommended that CTRG/CUREC are consulted on any changes to participant information sheets.

 

Microsoft Teams virtual meetings can be used to facilitate the interviews with participants but the audio of the interview recorded in a separate encrypted dictaphone device (personal mobile phones would not be appropriate).  

Make sure that your working environment is set up appropriately to ensure that you can maintain and protect the privacy and confidentiality of data. This is of greater importance if the interview is being recorded over a dictaphone as this will require the audio to be played over the computer speakers. 

It is recommended that any recordings captured through the device are transferred to the University IT network as soon as possible (for example restricted access folder, password-protected format) and deleted from the device. There are data security risks with this approach, particularly around secure destruction of data held on the device and also the risk of loss of device (and subsequent loss of personal data held on the device) which could result in a confidentiality and an availability personal data breach.

The recording function within Microsoft Teams is switched off by default to discourage the inappropriate use of recording. For information on video recording for other purposes not relating to research participants, please see the Information Compliance pages on general video conference recording.