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Research information

The following coronavirus (COVID-19) FAQs are for UOW Researchers.

If you are a researcher and have any questions not answered here, please contact the Research Services Office on +61 2 4221 3386 or research-services@uow.edu.au 

Information for HDR students is available. For more general information, please see the UOW COVID-19 response page. 

Frequently asked questions

To continue to meet our work health and safety responsibilities you will be required to complete a UOW COVID-19 Safe Work Plan.  

COVID-19 Return to Campus: Safe Work Plans (Research)

 

 

We encourage our UOW research community to continue preparing contingency plans that address the specific individual needs of their faculty, students and staff, and to identify alternates for critical operations (experiments, cell lines, equipment maintenance).

You can also address potential future research disruption by considering the following:

  • As you pack up atthe end of each day, prepare as if you may have to work from home the next day, should a change occur overnight.
  • Consider how you would work remotely over an extended period - what computing device, software, data etc you will need if you are not in the office/lab.
  • Check your home/mobile internet plan to ensure no nasty surprises. During the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis, many internet service providers are offering free data upgrades. Take advantage of that.
  • Become familiar with UOW’s Webex Teams conferencing system for online collaboration. You can use this system to receive calls to your office phone, video conference, share documents and chat. Do a trial run this week, like the UOW senior executive did on Monday, to ensure all the wrinkles are ironed out before you begin working at home. For information, please visit https://uowedu.service-now.com/imts?id=kb_article_view&sys_id=d07adf96dbabccd01c44cd05149619c9
  • Ensure you can connect from home to UOW and access the resources you need.
  • Plan achievable goals for working at home – these could include analysing that data set you haven't had a chance to get to; writing next year's grant applications; writing papers (primary research as well as reviews); gathering papers for writing a review; identifying prizes and awards you are eligible for and writing applications for them; reviewing papers, grants, award applications for colleagues; planning a future research project; developing new collaborations; updating reference libraries, backing up data. Make sure that your daily plan includes regular breaks and exercise, as appropriate. This BBC article provides ideas that may be helpful for those new to working from home: https://www.bbc.com/news/business-51868894
  • When working from home, schedule a regular check in with your supervisor and team members, so they know you are OK, and you know they are OK. Some overseas research groups are getting together online at the same time every day over coffee/tea for social interactions, as they would if they were all at the office. Some are also planning lab social events – including movie critic nights, watching the same movie at the same time and providing a running commentary on their WhatsApp group, or running trivia quizzes by WhatsApp.

HDR students and supervisors should decide on a preferred method of communication and meetings during this social distancing period. This must include ways of maintaining a reasonable distance from others (the recommended minimum distance is 1.5 metres).

Consider using videoconferencing tools such as Zoom, Webex or Adobe Connect for meetings and collaboration.  All staff members have free access to Zoom, Webex and Adobe Connect. The IT Working and Teaching Remotely FAQs has more information about how to get started with these tools.

Please note: students do not have access to video conferencing scheduling on Webex using their UOW login. Once a meeting is setup, supervisors should share the details with their students. Meeting minutes and work in progress can be stored in a collaborative space such as Google drive or Microsoft OneDrive. Students could also use tools like Trello or OneNote to maintain their notes.

ISLHD COVID 19 restrictions on face-to-face research have been lifted in recognition of changing public health advice. Face-to-face research may now proceed. Should public health advice change again this advice will be updated.

The ARC and NHMRC offers support to any administering organisations and their researchers directly affected by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, including:

Extensions to submit grant applications

ARC

As a result of the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, the ARC has extended the application closing date for the following schemes:

  • Linkage Projects 2020 Assessment Round 1—22 April 2020
  • Linkage Infrastructure, Equipment and Facilities (LIEF) 2021—29 April 2020
  • Special Research Initiative (SRI) for Australian Society, History and Culture—6 May 2020

Announcement: Continued support for the research sector

NHMRC

Similarly, the NHMRC has released the following revised plan for their 2020 grants schemes in response to the effects of the COVID-19 outbreak:

  • Ideas Grant Scheme - deadline extended by 5 weeks, with a new closing date of 10 June 2020.
  • Clinical Trials and Cohort Studies Scheme (CTCS) – delayed; new closing date of 25 November 2020.
  • Synergy Grant Scheme – cancelled for 2020.
  • Investigator Grants 2020 - outcomes from the 2020 Investigator Grant round will be available soon.

Announcement: Changes to NHMRC 2020 Funding Schemes


Extensions to post-award reporting obligations and variations to research projects

ARC

In relation to ARC post-award reporting obligations, Research Office Directors can seek extensions to deadlines where the Administering Organisation or their researchers have been directly affected by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Research Office Directors may also seek ARC assistance with post-award project variation approvals where research projects and researchers have been directly affected by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. ARC Grant Agreements allow for post-award variations to research projects due to changes in circumstances, including scope changes, personnel changes, suspensions and extensions to end dates. The ARC will consider any variation requests on a case-by-case basis. Should you need to vary your research, to either seek an extension or change its scope, we can do that later in the year once the full extent of the impact is known.

To assist both researchers and research administrators with managing reporting obligations, the ARC will be extending the following deadlines:

  • End of Year Reports – deadline extended from 31 March 2020 to 31 May 2020
  • Annual/Progress Reporting (for applicable projects) – deadline extended from 31 March 2020 to 31 May 2020
  • Final Reports – initial three-month extensions will be automatically approved by the ARC on request. Noting that submission dates for final reports vary project by project and that extensions may impact researchers’ eligibility for future applications, it is not practical to provide a blanket extension.

NHMRC

The NHMRC is also being asked to consider extending current grants and providing extra funding to cover the extension. In making such a decision, there are several factors to be considered, including how the provision of extra funding would affect the availability of research funds for future funding rounds, as well as impacts to investigator eligibility limits. The NHMRC is considering all available options and will update the sector once a decision has been made.


Further information

Delays to NHMRC Schemes

The NHMRC is considering changes to some scheme dates for 2020 in light of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

In the meantime, minimum data due date for Synergy Grants will be extended beyond Wednesday 25 March 2020.

The revised due date for minimum data will be communicated in the coming days. The opening of Partnership Projects PRC1 and the Targeted Call for Research into End of Life Care will also be delayed.

NHMRC will advise via Tracker, RAO alerts and scheme documentation on Grantconnect when new dates are finalised

Extensions to post-award reporting obligations and variations to research projects

If you have received a grant and your circumstances have changed - e.g., there has been a delay in your Research Activity because of involvement in the clinical or public health response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) - you can apply to vary your grant. Variation requests are to be certified and submitted by the Administering Institution’s RAO (Research Office). Variations that may be relevant due to the impact of coronavirus (COVID-19) include:

  1. Deferral of commencement date
  2. Deferral of an in-progress grant and extended leave requests
  3. Extended end date
  4. Change to a research plan
  5. Change to chief investigators.

Further information:

Researchers should contact the Research Services Office (research-grants@uow.edu.au), if they have any questions or require assistance with ARC, NHMRC or other research grant applications or post award matters.

Will coronavirus (COVID-19) impact the execution and delivery of research you undertake with partners or for clients? If so, the contracts and agreements between UOW and your partners or clients may need to be formally varied.

Example problems may include delays resulting from:

  • Travel restrictions
  • Difficulties procuring equipment and consumables
  • Resourcing, participant and staff availability
  • Lack of access to facilities and infrastructure

We recognise that some of our business partners will experience financial hardship due to coronavirus (COVID-19) impact. Please contact us if you become aware that your business partner will not be able to make payment or other milestones.  The University is open to discussing how to facilitate continued partnering with business during this period of turmoil.

If you are a lead investigator or are managing the relationship with your partners and clients it is recommended that you:

  • Identify whether there may be any delays or difficulties in delivering project milestones or meeting your partner or client expectations
  • Keep your partners and clients informed and explore alternative options
  • Contact Innovation & Commercial Research (ICR) or Research Grants to let them know of:
    • any issues affecting your partner’s ability to participate
    • that the agreements may need variation

Your first point of contact in ICR or RSO should be icr-enquiry@uow.edu.au or research-grants@uow.edu.au who can then refer your enquiry to the staff member who managed the original agreement.

Otherwise please contact:

Please note that our ICR/Research Grants teams have been operating under significant workloads for some time, and we appreciate your understanding that responses may take longer than usual due to the increased number of queries at this time.

IHMRI is continuing to put in place measures to minimise the impact on staff and researchers during the current coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

IHMRI is considered an essential service and at this stage, there are no plans to close.

We appreciate these are challenging times and sensible measures are continuing to be rolled out in an effort to minimise disruption and ensure safety.

For further information, please contact IHRMI.

Requests for candidature extensions, fee waivers, and scholarship extensions will be assessed consistent with existing policies, and based on exceptional circumstances, when submitted through the usual UOW process. Make sure you have documented the coronavirus (COVID-19) related disruptions in detail, and have developed a suitable, documented contingency plan to minimise the impact together with your supervisors.

These written records will be important evidence should you need to apply for an extension later. Record all details related to your research progress in your Annual Progress Report (APR). The APR is your formal record of progress and will be taken into consideration for any future candidature extension requests.

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