Research and coronavirus
In line with government advice and restrictions, and to protect the health and wellbeing of all of its staff, the University has had to limit operations in support of the efforts to delay transmission of coronavirus (Covid-19). We recognise that this has had a substantial impact in our ability to conduct research and is a period of great uncertainty for many of our community. The situation around the Covid-19 continues to change, and it is important that the University and its staff and students consult the general coronavirus information and frequently asked questions. Postgraduate research students should pay particular attention to the PGR section on the coronavirus information page for current students.
Professor Tom Brown, Vice Principal Research & Innovation, would like to reassure the research community that "although this ongoing situation is seriously impacting our research, impact and innovation community at St Andrews, we are committed to ensuring you get the information you need as soon as it is available. There will be questions and concerns for which we do not yet have answers but we are working with colleagues in the sector and our funders to get further advice and will provide ongoing updates."
This page briefly summarises, and links to further information regarding the management of research and research-related activities during the Covid-19 outbreak. Information is grouped thematically below. If you are unsure of which sub-heading to look under, click 'open all' at the top right of all the sub-headings.
For general (not research specific) information about our response to coronavirus, please see the coronavirus information web page. For specific research-related questions contact email@example.com.
Last updated: 30 March 2020
The Research Business Development and Contracts (RBDC) team will continue to provide research funding opportunities, application and contract support via e-mail, Microsoft Teams and Skype. RBDC have developed a webpage listing updates from research funders regarding Covid-19. Please contact your Business Development Manager or your FAS team should you have issues relating to research projects affected. In addition, there are Covid-19 specific funding opportunities which we will keep up to date and can be accessed via the following Microsoft Teams link: Covid-19 Research Funding Opportunities. Please contact your Business Development Manager should you be interested in obtaining research funding for a COVID-19 project.
Last updated: 26 March 2020
The Finance Advice and Support (FAS) team will continue to provide support via e-mail, Microsoft Teams and Skype. Please continue to liaise with your FAS team with regards any costings for new applications, and please continue to copy your FAS team in when liaising with funders regarding any project changes e.g. project extensions, extensions to reporting deadlines so we can ensure that our records are accurate.
Last updated: 24 March 2020
Nothing has changed here – the policies outlining the principles of good research conduct, our desire for individuals to ask questions and raise concerns, and our procedures for handling allegations of research misconduct are unaffected. For further information about research integrity, and contact points, please go the research integrity web page.
Last updated: 24 August 2020
All research governance functions are operational, i.e. processes for obtaining the specific approvals that are required for all research involving the NHS, and for some
international research. The latter may require due diligence of overseas partner organisations (when the University transfers the partner funds that they then control), or obtaining approvals related to export control laws (the physical or electronic transfer of 'controlled' goods, software or information over national borders) or the Nagoya protocol laws (the removal of non-human genetic material from its country of origin for subsequent research).
For further information on the above, and contact points, please follow the guidance and links on the research governance web page.
Regarding all such research
Last updated: 15 January 2021
At the current time, researchers are strongly encouraged to use online or remote methods for research involving humans. If this is not possible, research involving in-person face-to-face contact with participants can only take place if it is permissible, safe and ethical - if these conditions cannot be satisfied the research must continue to be postponed. This includes research which has been given ethical approval in principle.
Due to the current circumstances and restrictions in Scotland and the rest of the UK, and in line with Scottish Government guidance, research should only continue if it is essential and must be approved as essential the researcher's Head of School. Research involving in-person contact with human participants will only meet this criterion in very limited situations:
- The research relates directly Covid-19.
- The research must continue to prevent harm to participants.
It is expected that these exceptions will mostly apply to certain research involving the NHS.
In-person research with human participants outside of the UK
Researchers who are already outside of the UK and at the site of their research should consider if the current circumstances in their location impact whether their research can meet the criteria of being permissible, safe and ethical. In line with the University’s guidance on all research and fieldwork, any such research must be approved by the Head of School as an essential activity.
Researchers must check:
- Local and national laws, restrictions and guidance
- Their fieldwork and travel risk assessments, to determine whether these need to be updated or amended
- If continuing the research would present a health and safety or ethical risk to participants
With the global nature of the pandemic, we would expect that for some researchers this will mean they have to pause their research or consider use of remote or online methods.
Researchers yet to travel abroad, or who are considering local travel while abroad, should consult the guidance on travel during the pandemic.
Ethical review of in-person research involving humans
When restrictions allow such research to continue, the interim guidance page for research involving humans describes what is required. Briefly, researchers must:
- Obtain or update risk assessments in line with current travel and fieldwork guidance or that relating to incoming visitors
- Ensure that any travel or fieldwork is covered, or still covered, by University insurance
- Use the most up to date versions of the participant information sheet (PIS) (Word) and consent form (Word) as these contain information and instructions regarding the NHS Scotland track and trace scheme
- Submit an ethical application, or amendment application form to your School ethics committee (they will only accept this if the prior steps have been completed and evidenced).
This page also details the risk proportionate review process, which has been temporarily introduced to mitigate the impact on review timescales and School ethics committee workloads, and the enhanced ethical issues to consider when conducting research during the coronavirus pandemic.
Guidance on ethical issues for research involving humans
The core guidance on ethical issues for research involving humans was reviewed in light of the current circumstances. Existing topics such as Consent have been updated and new topics such as Online interviews and focus groups have been added to reflect the increased focus on online and remote methods. These guidance topics describe best practice plus some of the practical and ethical issues researchers may need to consider when making an ethical review application for research involving these methods
COVID-19 Ethics Forum
The University Teaching and Research Ethics Committee (UTREC) has instated a weekly Covid-19 Ethics Forum to allow for more communication and knowledge-sharing between School ethics committees(SECs). This forum gives SECs the opportunity to discuss new or challenging ethical issues they may encounter. It also provides a mechanism for SECs to regularly feedback to UTREC any issues, such as where there may be a need for additional guidance or adaptations as circumstances evolve.
Regarding all such research that involves engagement of fieldworkers and working with collaborators
If another person is undertaking work on a St Andrews researcher’s behalf it is important that:
- the activity is permissible under local requirements (i.e. that of the fieldworker or collaborators institution or employer and local laws or guidance), safe, ethical, and culturally appropriate
- the fieldworker or collaborator is not subjected to pressure or coercion from those in St Andrews to undertake this work, or assume risks, such as through threat of financial or other disadvantage
- the relationship between the St Andrews researcher and the fieldworker or collaborator must be in line with pre-COVID norms as appropriate to the situation. For example, paying individuals to collect certain types of data might be an established pre-COVID norm in some situations, but where participatory collaboration is the norm this may be unethical.
Last updated:15 January 2021
NHS resources continue to be under pressure and researchers wishing to conduct research involving the NHS should consult the research involving the NHS webpage and contact firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss this.
Due to the current circumstances research involving in-person contact with participants can only continue if it directly relates to Covid-19 or is required to prevent harm to participants.
Last updated: 16 December 2020
During the ongoing pandemic, we have been resuming some of our research activities involving animals, as restrictions permit. Named Animal Care and Welfare Officers (NACWOs) are working with researchers to produce a careful schedule of when work can take place, with the goal of maximising physical distancing. NACWOs will also be responsible for deciding which activities remain permissible. This response has been considered in consultation with the Home Office and is in line with the approach being taken by other Universities. Please be assured that additional guidance and processes have been developed to ensure the safety of researchers and technicians, as well as the welfare of the animals. This message will be updated as further developments occur.
Last updated: 25 August 2020
The Research Impact Team continues to support ongoing work with regards to research impact. Please refer to the Impact Funding page .
All funding decisions must consider the guidance set out in "Research involving human participants, their samples or data" above. Please contact us via impact@st-
andrews.ac.ukwith any queries that require our attention.
Last updated: 25 Aug 2020
The St Andrews Global Challenges Forum continues to support ongoing SFC GCRF funded projects. In response to the COVID-19 disruptions, BEIS/SFC granted an extension for the
FY 2019-20 spend deadline to the end December 2020 (formerly 31 July 2020). The annual reporting deadline has also been extended and we will contact PIs with a new reporting deadline soon - potentially mid-November. We continue to accept ODA compliant Rapid Response and COVID-19 related applications. For further information on these or updates on the FY 2020-21 funding, please check the GCRF webpages. Please contact email@example.com with any queries you may have.
Last updated: 24 March 2020
The Technology Transfer Centre (TTC) will continue to support academic colleagues in the protection and management of intellectual property, and where possible will continue to support commercialisation activity.
TTC staff will contact inventors in advance of any patent deadlines, and where new disclosures arise please send a copy of draft manuscripts to firstname.lastname@example.org and a member of the TTC team will contact you to discuss further. To support compliance with the terms and conditions of funding we will continue to protect new intellectual property as it arises. When required, meetings can be arranged via Microsoft Teams.
Last updated: 29 June 2020
The RIS team are continuing work on our institutional REF preparations in line with the published schedule from the UK REF team. The official response from the UK REF team on Covid-19 can be found on the REF website.
A new submission date of 31 March 2021 has been announced along with an extension to the assessment period for impact to 31 December 2020. The impact assessment extension has been put in place to enable case studies affected by, or focusing on the current response to, COVID-19 to be assessed in REF 2021. The significant effort that has been invested so far by institutions in preparations for the current REF cycle has been recognised and in view of this, the REF staff census date (31 July 2020) currently remains unchanged. The funding bodies plan a review in November 2020 to consider whether further contingency arrangements for the REF may be necessary. We will keep you informed as we hear more from the national level.
We are here to support you with any questions you may have regarding REF. Please feel free to get in touch via the usual email channels, as detailed on the REF 2021 web page.
Last updated: 24 August 2020
Online publishing activities are continuing, and the Open Access (OA) team are available remotely to answer your queries about open access options. We aim to provide the support you need to make your publications openly available where possible. Contact email@example.com in the first instance and we can arrange virtual meetings via Teams or Skype if you wish to discuss your query.
Pure remains available for deposit of accepted manuscripts and we have guidance on how to deposit in Pure. We can arrange APC payments and open access with publishers according to the current criteria for OA funding. New agreements are being put in place with several publishers – check the Publisher OA memberships page for details.
We recommend following funder and REF2021 OA policies, bearing in mind all the benefits of making as much research publicly available as possible. See Essential information about Open Access.
Last updated: 24 August 2020
The research data management team are available remotely to support key activities for managing and sharing your research data. We continue to review data management plans, provide DOIs and accept data deposits in Pure where you choose to do so. We recommend you continue to follow all existing guidance and funder policies on sharing research data where possible. The processes for data underpinning theses will also continue as normal. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Last updated: 20 August 2020
Some travel and fieldwork may be possible if restrictions allow and if it is deemed safe. For guidance on this and the requirements for risk assessments relating to research travel and fieldwork, visit the Travel and fieldwork in the context of the pandemic page.