COVID-19: Faculty of Education Updates: Research Considerations

July 10, 2020 | 1:02 pm

Research Funding Statistics

UBC’s Office of Research and Innovation has just published a summary of research funding for 2019–20. I am pleased to note that our Faculty received more than $7M in funding between April 1, 2019 and March 31, 2020, and I extend my appreciation and congratulations to all of you whose work contributes to the academic excellence of our Faculty.


June 19, 2020 | 4:39 pm

Resumption of On-Campus Research

UBC is cautiously moving forward with the phased resumption of on-campus research, adopting a gradual approach over the summer months. Conducting on-campus research and scholarship is limited to those who require on-campus resources and cannot conduct this work remotely. Our KIN colleagues are following the detailed and rigorous guidelines established by the VPRI in developing a plan to resume some in-person research activities. As a reminder, and in keeping with public health guidelines, the majority of our faculty and staff will need to continue working remotely.


June 12, 2020 | 3:19 pm

Resumption of Research

To follow up on recent communications from the UBC Vice President Research and Innovation, please note that most on-campus and in-person research will continue to be curtailed due to COVID-19 concerns. Essential, high-priority research projects (typically in labs) that have been centrally approved must adhere to and demonstrate compliance with the most stringent health and safety protocols to mitigate risk. As the situation develops and more information and safety measures become available, Associate Dean of Research, Dr. Patsy Duff, will send updates via the listserv about possibilities for phased-in research resumption in the Faculty later in the summer or fall (at the earliest).


April 9, 2020 | 5:31 pm

Research Funding Updates

The Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) has announced temporary updates to the peer review process to enable them to continue offering scheduled funding opportunities in as typical a manner as possible.

The Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) has announced an optional, one-year extension for funds for active Discovery Grants.


April 9, 2020 | 1:34 PM

Temporary Changes to Peer Review Processes for SSHRC Funding Opportunities

Dear CARA members,

These last weeks have been a time of unprecedented disruption as we all work to address the implications of the COVID-19 pandemic, both in our professional and personal lives. SSHRC remains committed to serving the social sciences and humanities research community during these exceptional times. We are working to limit the impact of the pandemic on SSHRC funding opportunities and we’d like to give you an update on some of the steps we are taking.

Our priority is to maintain our core programs. We do not want to cancel competitions and plan to continue with the current funding opportunities’ schedule to the greatest extent possible. We also intend to ensure that support for young and emerging researchers continues to be available. Under the Insight Development Grants, for example, approximately 65% of submissions to the 2020 competition came from first time applicants. We are working to ensure that the adjudication of their applications can proceed, although the usual peer review process will need to be adjusted…   read more

Like many of you, SSHRC employees are working remotely from their homes. We also recognize that volunteer peer reviewers―who are a key part of the adjudication process―are also teleworking and managing the impacts of pandemic measures where they live. This presents unique challenges for peer review committees that typically meet in-person or by videoconference, supported by the SSHRC IT systems at our offices.

As we try to deliver programs remotely, we will be implementing temporary changes to peer review adjudication. These changes include reduced feedback for applicants, who will only receive scores on the three merit criteria: Challenge, Feasibility and Capability. No narrative comments will be provided. In addition, committee meetings will be held via teleconference. These changes will be implemented for the following current and upcoming funding opportunities:

  • Insight Development Grants;
  • Partnership Engage Grants;
  • Partnership Grants – Stage 1; and
  • The upcoming Connection Grants.

While we know that this will come as disappointing news, we trust you understand that this is a compromise that allows delivery of the adjudication processes in a timely manner, without the risk of postponing or cancelling any of these funding opportunities.

Thank you for your support and patience as we continue to assess the impact of COVID-19 on our programs. Additional updates about SSHRC programs can be found at:
sshrc-crsh.gc.ca/news_room-salle_de_presse/covid-19-eng.aspx

Sincerely,
Tim Wilson, PhD
Associate vice-president, Research Programs


April 9, 2020 | 12:52 PM

NSERC announces extension with funds for Discovery Grants

To lessen the impact due to COVID-19 and to support all of our researchers and highly qualified personnel, all active Discovery Grants can elect to receive a one-year extension with funds at their current funding level. This includes grants from the recent 2020 competition. The announcement is now featured on the NSERC website and is included in the the NSERC program information in relation to COVID 19 webpage. Frequently Asked Questions are also posted and will be updated as details become available.

We are currently working out important details for this initiative, therefore we may not be able to answer your question at present.

Program Operations Unit
Research Grants and Scholarships
Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC)


April 7, 2020 | 3:40 pm

Office of Research in Education – Internal Grants

A reminder that all ORE’s internal grants (that do not include research that violates current curtailment policies) are proceeding, with the exception of the International Research Visiting Fellowship.

Volunteer Opportunities

The Government of Canada is working with provincial and territorial governments and is seeking volunteers to help in the following areas:

  • Case tracking and contact tracing
  • Health system surge capacity
  • Case data collection and reporting

If you or someone you know are interested in applying to be a National COVID-19 volunteer, more information is available here: emploisfp-psjobs.cfp-psc.gc.ca/psrs-srfp/applicant/page1800?poster=1437722&toggleLanguage=en. Deadline to apply is end of day April 24.


April 3, 2020 | 2:25 pm

Graduate Programs Updates

Research Infrastructure Support Services (RISS) deadline

A reminder that the deadline for the final intake of RISS applications for this academic year is Monday, April 6. Please email your complete application to research.educ@ubc.ca. More information: http://ore.educ.ubc.ca/research/riss-program

Updates about research curtailment

Last week, UBC/VPRI announced a research curtailment of all on-campus research (unless an exemption has been approved for, e.g., critical COVID-19 or clinical trial research) as well as off-campus research involving in-person interaction with (human) research participants (see: COVID-19 Bulletin). Please check the BREB website or e-mail: jean.ruiz@ors.ubc.ca (BREB) for more information.

Graduate student access to data analysis software off campus

During the current period of research curtailment on campus, students may be able to navigate normal site-license restrictions for off-campus software use (e.g., SPSS) and secure data storage by contacting: PopData BC: info@popdata.bc.ca | UBC IT: site-license@it.ubc.ca

Postdoctoral fellows

A message to postdoctoral fellows is available and may be found here: postdocs.ubc.ca/covid-19.


April 1, 2020 | 4:41 pm

UBC Broadcast | Remote Work Arrangements and On-Campus Research Curtailment — Extended

As you know, on March 16, UBC embarked on a three-week pilot for Remote Work Arrangements for faculty, staff, graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, and student employees who are able to work remotely.

On March 19, the university also announced it was curtailing on-campus research activities at UBC Vancouver and UBC Okanagan. This curtailment was initially in effect until April 15. To continue research activities on our campuses, researchers must receive an exemption to be classed as critical research or maintaining critical research resources.

The situation regarding COVID-19 and the need for physical distancing has not yet eased, and is even more important now. In light of this, and continuing to follow guidance from the Provincial Health Officer, we will be extending the Remote Work Arrangements and on-campus research curtailment until the end of April..   read more

This will be reassessed at the end of April, based on information about COVID-19, and in conjunction with our government and health stakeholders.

As a reminder, a series of FAQs have been developed to support you during this time:

Once again, we would like to thank you for your commitment to the university. We understand that COVID-19 is impacting you in many ways, and we appreciate your ongoing flexibility as we continue to navigate this challenging situation.

Marcia Buchholz
Interim Vice-President, Human Resources

Gail Murphy
Vice-President, Research & Innovation


March 26, 2020 | 4:45 pm

Research Office Updates

Please note that, as a result of the current curtailment of on-site research at UBC and of fieldwork involving human subjects, there have been some necessary changes in the Office of Research in Education. While ORE is proceeding with most of its internal funding competitions, the nature of the activities that the International Research Visiting Fellowships typically support (visits, lectures, lab work, etc.) compels them to postpone the competition, likely into the fall. Details about a new deadline will be announced in the coming weeks.

With regard to active programs, applicants should consider carefully their research timelines and methodologies for their proposals in keeping with the aforementioned UBC COVID-19 directive on research curtailment. If applications are funded, applicants should be prepared to adjust the operationalization of their projects in accordance with the current and future University directives on research activity…   read more

We understand that this is a challenging time for the whole research community and we appreciate your patience as we find ways to support your research while attending to the safety and wellbeing of our communities.

More information: ore.educ.ubc.ca/research/funding
FAQs: research.ubc.ca/covid-19-curtailing-research-activities-ubc-campuses


March 26, 2020 | 12:30 pm

COVID-19 Impact on ORE’s Internal Grant Programs

On March 19 UBC President Dr. Santa Ono and VP Research & Innovation Dr. Gail Murphy released a statement on the curtailment of on-site research at UBC and of fieldwork involving human subjects (see message and FAQ: research.ubc.ca/covid-19-curtailing-research-activities-ubc-campuses).

While ORE is proceeding with most of our internal funding competitions, the nature of the activities that the International Research Visiting Fellowships typically support (visits, lectures, lab work, etc.) compels us to postpone the competition, likely into the fall. Details about a new deadline will be announced in the coming weeks.

With regard to our active programs applicants should consider carefully their research timelines and methodologies for their proposals in keeping with the aforementioned UBC COVID-19 directive on research. If applications are funded, applicants should be prepared to adjust the operationalization of their projects in accordance with the current and future University directives on research activity.

We understand that this is a challenging time for the whole research community and we appreciate your patience as we find ways to support your research while attending to the safety and wellbeing of our communities.


March 25, 2020 | 4:55 pm

Research Updates

The Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) has updated its COVID-19 response page to include information about the state of its various funding programs. nserc-crsng.gc.ca/Media-Media/NewsRelease-CommuniqueDePresse_eng.asp?ID=1139

Research curtailment

Please note that, as previously mentioned, off-campus research involving in-person interaction with (human) research participants is curtailed (see: COVID-19 Bulletin). Please check the BREB websites or e-mail jean.ruiz@ors.ubc.ca (BREB) for more information.

Graduate student access to data analysis software off campus

VPRI suggests that, during this COVID-19 research curtailment period on campus, students may be able to navigate normal site-license restrictions for off-campus software use (e.g., SPSS) and secure data storage by contacting: PopData BC: info@popdata.bc.ca or UBC IT: site-license@it.ubc.ca


March 23, 2020 | 5:15 pm

SSHRC Grant Holders

In response to COVID-19, SSHRC has announced that administering universities will have the authority to automatically approve an end date extension of up to 12 months to grants with an end date between February 1, 2020, and March 31, 2021, inclusively. This applies to all grants, including those previously extended for any length or any reason (including, where applicable, automatic extensions). Please visit sshrc-crsh.gc.ca/news_room-salle_de_presse/covid-19-eng.aspx to read SSHRC’s full announcement.

If you are the lead PI on a SSHRC grant with an end date that falls within this period and you require an extension, please send an email to ors@ors.ubc.ca (UBC Vancouver) or researchoffice.ubco@ubc.ca (UBC Okanagan) and include the following information:

  • UBC PG #
  • Number of months extension (up to 12)

If you are a co-applicant on a SSHRC grant administered by another university, that institution will need to authorize the extension of your UBC subgrant. Please contact the lead PI so that he or she can initiate that process.

Note that this extension authorization does not apply to SIG (SSHRC Exchange and Explore Grants), GRF (Fostering Research Partnerships Fund Grants), or Hampton funding.

Sincerely,
Alan Kingstone | UBC Social Sciences & Humanities Research Advisor
Sharon Wu | Managing Director, Research Support Services


March 20, 2020 | 4:15 pm

Curtailing of Research Activities

The VP Research and Innovation has indicated that all non-critical research activities will cease to take place on UBC campuses. Further details are forthcoming: research.ubc.ca/covid-19 and will be posted on the Faculty COVID-19 site.

SSHRC Update

The Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) has launched a new web page to explain the agency’s response to COVID-19, including new provisions for grant extensions, expenses related to travel cancellations, and exceptional expenditures: sshrc-crsh.gc.ca/news_room-salle_de_presse/covid-19-eng.aspx


March 19, 2020 | 7:27 am

UBC Libraries

The UBC Libraries remain digitally available, but physical operations at both campuses will cease at 5 p.m., Friday, March 20. From that time until 9 a.m., Monday, April 6, we will be working remotely.

Included in this message are details about where to go for information and resources, whom to contact and how to reach them. Librarians are available to support your teaching and research through a variety of methods including email, telephone and video consultations through Zoom and other tools. Please reach out to them as the need arises.

We will prioritize access to our online collections, search tools, the catalogue, research and information databases, and publisher resources. For access to print materials, your librarian will work with you to acquire an electronic version of what you are looking for. Through arrangements with other libraries, membership resources like the Internet Archive, and commercial vendors, we expect to be able to deliver most of your needs…   read more

Along with other libraries, including Harvard University Library, we will temporarily cease loaning physical books after Friday, March 20 at 5 p.m. The library community is currently assessing the safety of handling and loaning physical books, as bindings and paper can host viable Coronaviruses for days.

It is a serious measure for us to take the action of closing our physical facilities, but it is one we must take given the danger the pandemic represents. Libraries by definition do not lend themselves well to social distancing, however we try to make that work. The safety of our community, including our students, faculty, researchers, librarians, and library staff, is top of mind. Knowing that we are able to provide the robust library support that our active community requires is reassuring to us, as we hope it is to you.

In moving to close our physical spaces by the end of this week, we are trying to give people as much time as possible to prepare. Other libraries have had to close their spaces with little or no notice. UBC Library is one of the very last major research libraries in North America to move to completely remote services. Please visit library.ubc.ca for the latest updates about the library’s services.

Librarian Consultations
Contact our Subject librarians with expertise in specific areas for consultations. Once you identify a librarian, you can schedule an appointment with them via email.

Not sure which subject librarian to contact? Contact your branch by email and we’ll point you in the right direction:

Vancouver Campus
David Lam Library: lam.ref@ubc.ca
Biomedical Branch Library: bmb.library@ubc.ca
Education Library: ed.lib@ubc.ca
Koerner Library: hssd.library@ubc.ca
Law Library: law.library@ubc.ca
Music, Art and Architecture: maa.library@ubc.ca
Rare Books and Special Collections: rare.books@ubc.ca
Research Commons: research.commons@ubc.ca
Woodward Library: wd.ref@ubc.ca
Xwi7xwa Library:xwi7xwa.library@ubc.ca

Okanagan Campus
Innovation Library: innovation.library@ubc.ca
Okanagan Campus Library: libquestions.ok@ubc.ca
Okanagan Special Collections: osc-contact@lists.ubc.ca

Dr. Susan E Parker
University Librarian, UBC

Heather Berringer
Chief Librarian and Associate Provost, Learning Services, UBCO


March 13, 2020 | 7:05 pm

Research Activities During COVID-19: FAQs from VP Research & Innovation Dear Colleagues

Please see the memos attached and below from Gail Murphy, VP Research & Innovation, with some guidance about how to proceed with research activities during this unusual time of COVID-19 risk management, “social distancing,” and so on. Please ensure that your research-engaged graduate students and postdoctoral fellows also get this message, although I imagine they’ll get something from G+PS as well.

Thank you. Best wishes, Patsy

Dr. Patricia (Patsy) Duff [Associate Dean, Research Faculty of Education]

===

March 13, 2020 | 6:01 pm

Subject: Research Activities During COVID-19: FAQs Dear Associate Deans of Research

While acknowledging that the Public Health Agency of Canada currently assesses the public health risk associated with COVID-19 as low for the general population in Canada, there is currently a great deal of uncertainty relating to COVID-19. The attached document contains FAQs that address some of the key concerns relating to ongoing research. The document also provide contacts (for both campuses) if further information is needed.

The information is also available at: research.ubc.ca/COVID-19-FAQs.

Please distribute widely to researchers in your Faculties. Sincerely, Gail Murphy…   read more

===

UBC Research – FAQs – COVID-19

While acknowledging that the Public Health Agency of Canada currently assesses the public health risk associated with COVID-19 as low for the general population in Canada, there is currently a great deal of uncertainty relating to COVID-19. The following FAQs address some of the key concerns relating to ongoing research activities.

How can I minimize the impact of any disruption on my research program or lab, and the associated academic progress of my graduate students and postdoctoral fellows, caused by COVID-19?

We encourage the UBC research community to consider the following should an escalation in the situation lead to a partial disruption to or closure of their lab or research program:

Key equipment and research materials

  • Can your work continue off campus with access to specific equipment or research materials? Compliance/regulatory
  • Are there compliance or regulatory requirements certifications that may be impacted by a disruption in your program or by changing the location of your work?

Communications Planning

  • Is the contact information for your lab members up-to-date? Backing up data and records
  • Which processes are automated or can be initiated remotely? Which require physical presence on campus?

Alternate location/working from home

  • Are you able to continue the research program by working at another location or at home? Do you have you everything in place to access email/voicemail/network drives/web conferencing remotely and in compliance with information security standards?

Knowledge Skills

  • Would the absence of individual members of your team with specific skills or knowledge result in difficulties in your research program? Would cross-training, documentation or sharing of information mitigate this risk?

Sponsors

  • Do any sponsored research agreements have procedures for requesting exceptions in the event of disruption (deadline adjustments, budget adjustments ?)

Contractual requirements

  • Does your project or lab provide any services to external users that may be impacted? Is this documented in a contract and are there sufficient “out” clauses in the event your lab was not operational?

Monitoring of equipment

  • Does any of your equipment need in-person monitoring (e.g. to ensure constant temperature) or do any of your materials require transference between equipment? Can any monitoring be done remotely?

Supplies

  • Are there important supplies (consumables) that could lead to a disruption in your research program should their stock diminish? Are you able to maintain a greater stock of any important supplies to cover any disruption?

Hazardous Waste

  • Are the appropriately trained members of your team available to handle hazardous waste?

What happens if my research involves human participants?

We are asking researchers to investigate how protocols involving human participants can be adapted to reduce or eliminate in-person contact, especially with vulnerable populations. For clinical trials, it is recommended that they continue as planned with the guidance of the respective institutional research ethics board and the health authority in which they take place.

For both clinical and behavioural studies involving human participants, investigators are advised to consider if their research protocols could be modified or delayed, to limit personal contacts. Specifically, in some research settings in-person participant interactions could be reduced and/or replaced with telephone or online communication. Considerations include the nature of your protocol, the type of participants engaged in the research, and any additional risk that may arise by switching from in-person to virtual communication. Revised participant consents or consent addendums may be required (e.g., to update privacy considerations with use of different communication channels). Where research staff are feeling unwell, care should be taken to stay home to prevent transmission of any illness. If COVID 19 is known or suspected, Health Canada guidelines should be followed.

While TCPS 2 typically requires review and approval of modifications prior to implementation, an exception can be made where the change is necessary to eliminate an immediate risk to participant(s) (Article 6.15). Such changes may be implemented but must be reported to the REB at the earliest opportunity (within 5 business days as a guide).

Similarly, studies that must comply with the US federal regulations require that the REB review any revision to the protocol before they are implemented except in cases, “where necessary to eliminate apparent immediate hazards to the human subjects.” 21 CFR 56.108(a)(4).

Please contact the appropriate REB office for your study whenever possible if you are considering revisions to the approved protocol. However, should you determine that changes in your procedures are

immediately required, you may implement them, without prior notice to or approval from the REB. You will need to ensure that you are not introducing other risks, and you may need to ask participants to sign revised informed consent forms. The changes should be reported to the REB as soon as possible. If a full revised protocol cannot be completed, a document that describes the changes and explains how they will protect participants can be submitted, along with copies of any new or revised subject-facing materials.

Notification to the sponsor of the study where applicable is required. This is the responsibility of the Investigator.

Where in-person participant contact cannot be modified, delayed or eliminated, due to the nature of the study specifically in the clinical setting, we recommend that study-related personnel call each study participant prior to their visit. Specifically, please ask the participant the following:

  • Have they recently travelled outside of Canada?
  • Do they have the following symptoms: cough, sneezing, fever, sore throat and difficulty breathing?
  • Have they been in close contact with a sick person, especially if they had a fever, cough or difficulty breathing?

If they respond with a yes to any of these questions, please consider rescheduling their study visit as above.

A reminder that where the research involves physical assessments and use of equipment (e.g., metabolic carts, facemasks, mouthpieces, noseclips, straps, turbines, valves, tubing, cannula, treadmills, etc.) disinfection according to manufacturer’s standards where applicable is paramount and use of single use accessories is advisable. In the absence of manufacturers’ standards, thorough cleaning between participants is advised.

Please see Health Canada’s website for up-to-date information: canada.ca/en/public-health/services/diseases/2019-novel-coronavirus-infection.html

What should I do if my research involves animals?

All Animal Care and Use Program (ACUP) facilities have a crisis management plan and we are ensuring that these plans are in-line with specific issues that need considering in light of the current situation.

We are stockpiling food and bedding in our Animal Care Services (ACS) facilities to ensure we have six weeks of supplies. We encourage all other facility managers to ensure that they have sufficient food, bedding and supplies.

ACS is considered a crucial services unit and we anticipate being able to maintain current animal colonies with designated staff in the ACS facilities. We encourage all other facility managers to ensure that there are designated staff to maintain animal colonies.

Given the current unpredictability relating to COVID-19, we recommend that researchers consider the following:

  • Avoid initiating any long-term animal
  • Keep animal breeding to a
  • Prioritize any precious/unique animal lines and cryopreserve these

Please contact your facility manager or clinical vet if you have any questions or need assistance. For researchers using alternate animal housing locations:

  • Please ensure that you have a crisis management plan in place and consider stockpiling essential animal care supplies.
  • If you have any questions or need assistance, please contact your clinical

What should I do if my research uses Plant Care Services?

Plant Care Services is a crucial service unit and a continuity plan is ready to be implemented to maintain the current level of services in our facilities. Plant Care Services has stockpiled potting media, fertilizers and other essential inputs.

Given the current unpredictability relating to COVID-19, we do recommend that researchers consider how to mitigate potential impacts (e.g. changing protocols or growing conditions) should access to facilities become restricted in the future.

As an ongoing measure, please remind all trainees and staff entering greenhouses to wash their hands and respect the sanitary instructions posted at each door of the greenhouses.

Who should I contact if I have questions about support for my research?

  Vancouver Campus Okanagan Campus
Human Research Ethics Laurel Evans Lisa Shearer
Animal Care Michelle Tan Naomi Winckler
Plant Care Melina Biron  
Sponsored research agreements Mario Kasapi Derek Gratz
Advanced Research Computing Steve Cundy Steve Cundy
All other questions Helen Burt Paul van Donkelaar



Where can I find information about how UBC is responding to COVID-19?

The UBC community can find information and resources related to the university’s response to COVID- 19 at ubc.ca. The information is updated as frequently as possible.