Critical Research Designation

For selected research, scholarship or creative work to continue on-campus or in the field or community, the activities must be registered and approved by the Office of the Vice-President (Research). 

Please review Guidance for Researchers at

Critical Research Designation

For selected research activities to proceed on campus, in the field, or in the community, they must be registered and approved by the University.

If your work does not meet the criteria outlined below, but you have time-sensitive activities to complete, OR if you have a Critical Research Designation but you now wish to enable additional team members to return who were not identified as Critical, please review the Expanded Research Designation criteria. 

a. All researchers are asked to continue as much of their work as is feasible in a virtual or work-from-home setting. If you are able to do all of your work in this manner, only requiring access to online systems, you do not need to take further action.

b. If your work depends on having individuals work on campus, access to on-campus infrastructure (either in your own on-campus workspace or shared facilities), or in the field or the community, then please carefully read the following sections.

If you have critical research, scholarship or creative work requiring access to on-campus facilities/ infrastructure OR that takes place in the field or in the community, then you must take action so the University can review and provide approval for your activities to continue.

Similarly, if you are reducing or shutting down your work on campus, but must continue the operation of infrastructure, on campus or in the field, that requires maintenance or attention (e.g. sample storage system that requires regular liquid nitrogen refills, or an experimental apparatus that cannot be easily shut down), you must take action to secure approval for your activities to continue.


The University of Calgary currently considers critical research to be research, scholarship, or creative work that satisfies one or more of the following criteria:

A. Research that is part of the Canadian COVID-19 Rapid Response Research Grants Program;

B. Other time-sensitive COVID-19 related research that is vital to dealing with the current COVID-19 pandemic;

C. Clinical Research in which participant health might be put at risk if the program is suspended;

D. Ongoing research in which significant amounts of data would be completely lost or compromised, if the experiment or project was terminated early/suddenly;

E. Research contract work that can be undertaken while meeting COVID-19 safety principles and in which contract deliverables must be met in order to continue funding. Such contracts could be with any external entity, including industry, government or another institution.


The University of Calgary currently considers critical research infrastructure and services to be those that satisfy one or more of the following criteria:

A. Research infrastructure or services identified as required in support of critical research;

B. Research infrastructure or services required to ensure human health and safety;

C. Research infrastructure or services required to ensure animal health and safety;

D. Research infrastructure that cannot be shut down in a timely manner (less than one day) without significant risk of damage or destruction of the infrastructure in question. This includes sample/material storage infrastructure requiring regular maintenance or consumable replenishment.

If you feel that your on-campus or field/community work must continue and it meets the criteria outlined above, then you must complete the following approval process.

Approval from your Associate Dean (Research) (ADR) or Department Head (if applicable) and the Office of the Vice-President (Research) is required to continue your on-campus or field/community work during this time.

Principal Investigator (faculty member) should initiate the following process:

  1. Step 1

    Complete the Critical Research Designation Form below.

    All fields are required. 

  2. Step 2

    Upon submission, your completed Critical Research Designation Form will be sent to your Associate Dean Research AND, if you have one, your Department Head. You will also receive a copy for your reference.

  3. Step 3

    Your ADR (and Dept Head if applicable) will review the Critical Research Designation Form against the criteria above, and either endorse or decline to endorse the designation. 

    Regardless of their decisions, the ADR or Department Head will forward the email to the VPR Office at where the final decision will be made.

  4. Step 4

    If your Critical Research Designation is approved, you will receive a notification from the VPR Office.

    Approval means that your work and the individuals involved will be registered with the University of Calgary. 

Critical Research Designation Form

  • You must submit a new or revised form if the details of your work changes.
  • Critical or Expanded Research Designation is required if you wish to continue working on campus or collecting data in the field/community during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Research studies that occur solely in AHS facilities (i.e. have no physical presence in a University of Calgary facility) do not require a Critical Research Designation or Essential Research Designation from the University. However, they must receive approval from AHS to resume or commence operations. Please read Guidance for Clinical Settings
  • The University of Calgary may withdraw either designation if conditions change. Note that a campus shut-down may occur abruptly, particularly if an order comes from government.
  • You may include multiple students, postdocs, and staff in a single form, but you must include UCIDs and justification for each individual.
  • Postdocs, graduate students, and undergraduate students who are included on accepted Expanded Research Designation requests will be asked to confirm their consent before returning to in-person activities. Read important details about working outside of your home, and ensure that all members of your team are supported.

Please read more about requirements for these groups if they will be included in your application: 

Contact with questions.