COVID-19 Guidance and links for Researchers and Award holders / Project PIs
Research grant applications
Currently research funders are continuing to run their grant schemes and their grant application systems are operating as normal. However please check individual funder websites for scheme specific details in case they amend deadlines (as in the case of Horizon2020, see below). Funder links are included below.
Contact your RDO/EDO as usual for any funding related support, direct to the RDO/EDO staff member via email or firstname.lastname@example.org. Although we are working remotely, we are able to offer the usual grant application support and all grant submission processes can be completed via email and online.
We do stress however that in the current situation it is more important than ever to follow our grant submission guidance and have all grant application paperwork ready 5 working days before the deadline. The Research Grant Application Toolkit contains links to the grant application process, the paperwork required (FEC costing, RG1 and Ethics) and general support guidance - https://www.aber.ac.uk/en/rbi/staff-students/toolkit/
If you are experiencing an impact on the delivery of your project as a result of COVID19 please contact your funding body or lead partner to notify them. Some of our main funding bodies have published guidance (see links below) please follow this where appropriate. COVID19 is a worldwide issue and funders have indicated that they will give consideration to consequences beyond the beneficiary’s control. As PI, please contact your funder asap, as soon as a situation arises with your project. Funders will be examining applications on a case-by-case basis and it is the responsibility of the PI/award holder to notify funders under force majeure. In your funder communications please state project reference/project title and cc Research Grants (email@example.com).
Main Funders websites
See the following main funders websites for their updates on COVID-19 see:
The Leverhulme Trust: https://www.leverhulme.ac.uk/news/covid-19-information-applicants-and-grant-holders
The European Commission has announced that deadlines for many open and forthcoming calls will be extended.
UK Research Office guidance on Horizon2020 – Full details on latest guidance for all H2020 schemes
NB this link is open to all AU staff if you have registered on the UKRO website using your aber.ac.uk e-mail - https://www.ukro.ac.uk/aboutukro/Pages/register.aspx
Welsh European Funding Office (WEFO)
Guidance for ESF and ERDF: https://gov.wales/eu-structural-funds-programme-faqs-impact-coronavirus
REF & Research Monitoring
All members of the team are able to work remotely. We will endeavour to provide the same level of service but by different means. The main channel of communication would be by e-mail but we are happy to set-up virtual meetings. PURE is web-based and apart from scheduled maintenance for an upgrade, is still available along with support.
On 24/03/20, the UK Director of the REF announced the postponement of the submission deadline for REF2021: https://www.ref.ac.uk/publications/further-update-on-coronavirus-covid-19-and-ref-timetable/
Four points to note from the statement:
1) The submission date has been postponed until further notice. We will have 8 months’ notice of the new deadline. This is the only deadline that has changed.
2) The census date for employed research active staff remains the same (31/07/20).
3) It did not mention the postponement of the deadlines for research impact (31/07/20) nor publication of outputs (31/12/20).
4) Research England will undertake a light-touch survey to assess the problem.
At present, the windows for publications, impact and environment remain unchanged. Research England will update institutions as soon as any decisions about a revised timetable have been taken and have discussed widely with the sector.
We will therefore have to work to the original timescale, as we cannot assume any changes. The Research Monitoring round in May 2020 will take pace as planned though possibly via MS Teams.
Authors of REF impact case studies and environment statements should use this period of homeworking to update them. Where activities were planned for impact case studies (ICS) but are no longer likely to occur, researchers should contact their Impact Officer to discuss this and the rescheduling of activities.
Staff who have outputs accepted for publication that have not yet been published, should not be concerned at the moment over delays in publication. Please contact the REF & Research Monitoring Team (firstname.lastname@example.org) to flag up possible delays.
COVID-19 Outbreak Database
The UK Parliament’s database of research expertise
Research Ethics Guidance for Covid19
Important update in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, relating to research projects involving face-to-face participant interaction granted ethical clearance by Aberystwyth University.
Given the exceptional nature of the situation arising as a result of the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, Aberystwyth University requires all ongoing research to make changes to how participant interactions are conducted. Researchers must consider if they can adapt their research to conduct participant interactions remotely. If this isn’t possible the research must be paused.
In addition, Aberystwyth University has temporarily suspended the requirement for approval of modifications that relate only to changes to participant interactions from face-to-face to remote, unless there is a substantial change to the protocol* as a result of the change. Please note that such changes would normally require a modification and will again when this situation has passed. Any other changes to your research project will still require additional approval.
Students - If you are unsure if it will be appropriate to change to remote interaction for your research projects, you should discuss this with your supervisor as soon as possible. Once the appropriate way forward has been agreed with your supervisor or department, please follow the guidance below to adapt your research.
Guidance for those who need to pause their research:
You must inform your participants that the research has been paused. In whatever communication you send to participants, it is important that you describe how any actively enrolled participants will be managed, particularly concerning any safety monitoring/follow-up etc where applicable.
Unless the changes made to pause the study result in a substantial change to protocol*, the pausing of a research study and issue of an update to participants will not need to be considered as a modification at the present time.
Guidance for those who will conduct their research remotely:
Scenario A. I have not yet begun data collection but have ethical clearance to do so. I will amend my recruitment plan to recruit and interact remotely.
Unless the changes made to the way in which you interact with participants result in a substantial change to protocol*, you will not need to submit a modification request. Simply update your recruitment documents to outline how you will remotely interact and then proceed.
Scenario B. I have already begun data collection and will now change to remote participant interaction.
Unless the changes made to the way in which you interact with participants result in a substantial change to protocol*, you will not need to submit a modification request. Simply update your recruitment documents to outline how you will remotely interact with participants and use this version moving forward. Any already active participants must be informed of the switch to remote interaction and be provided with the updated participant information sheet. It is important that you make clear to participants that if they no longer wish to participate owing to this change, or for any other reason, that they are free to withdraw at any point.
New submissions for ethical clearance
Researchers may continue to submit applications via the online ethics assessment form and to the Research Ethics Panel and reviews will continue to be conducted. However, you are not permitted to begin data collection which requires any face-to-face interactions with participants in person until further notice. The following options are possible/appropriate:
- Obtain ethical clearance for a project involving face-to-face interactions with participants in person.
- If you wish to commence data collection immediately you must amend these interactions to be conducted remotely as outlined above.
- If it is not possible to conduct your participant interactions remotely then you must wait until you are advised by the University that face-to-face interactions can recommence before you begin any data collection in person.
- If you are a student with time constraints around conducting your research and cannot conduct remote participant interactions, it is recommended that you discuss this with your supervisor as soon as possible. It may be possible to change your research to involve secondary data analysis only (i.e. data which has already been collected) so that no primary data collection is required, or it may be necessary to change the focus of your research project.
New studies relating to COVID-19
Any new studies relating to COVID-19 will require a full ethical review. An expedited review process will be considered for any new studies relating to COVID-19 where there are proven public health grounds to commence. To request an expedited review please contact email@example.com for advice. You will need to address the following questions:
1. What are public health grounds for the study to be conducted?
2. What is the rationale for the study to be conducted at this time?
3. Why can it not be conducted at a later time?
Researchers should send the answers to these questions with a completed approved risk assessment form to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please title the email “New Study relating to COVID-19” and your email will be prioritised.
For international research, both UK and in-country researchers should act in accordance with guidance on COVID19 from national and regional governments, for the health, safety and wellbeing of participants and partners. AU PIs should liaise with their overseas research teams and collaborators to ensure that they are complying with their in-country Government advice in relation to COVID19. For any queries or concerns, please contact email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org, or for CIDRA funded projects contact CIDRA@aber.c.uk
For any other ethics queries relating to new or existing research that is impacted by the current COVID-19 situation, please contact: email@example.com
Online (Internet - mediated) Research
As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic there is an understandable move to conduct more research using on-line methods. An obvious example is interviews or focus groups which would normally be conducted in-person being moved to on-line platforms, or internet based surveys. However online or ‘internet mediated’ research can raise ethical and governance considerations that may be different from conducting research in-person and need to be considered carefully.
In order to maintain research excellence within the University, we need to ensure that all online research is undertaken both ethically and professionally. If you are unsure of how to conduct your research online or if you would like some more guidance, we provided links below to several documents which offer more information in this area.
Please be aware that there are numerous considerations which you should consider when undertaking research online and these will be different for individual projects. These links are intended to advise you about ‘good practice’, however if you have any specific queries or concerns then please seek further advice from either firstname.lastname@example.org or your department.
UK Research Integrity Office – Good Practice in Internet-Mediated Research
Association of Internet Researchers – Guidance Documents