COVID-19 Research Info Sessions

This page contains details from Info Sessions and Town Halls related to research operations. 

Please refer to the COVID-19 Response: Guidelines for Researchers page for more info.

This page will be updated with materials following Information Sessions and Town Halls. 

Please contact vprcomms@ucalgary.ca with questions. 

Clinical Research: Planning for a phased return

On May 25, 2020, the Office of the Vice-President (Research) and Alberta Health Services held a Town Hall to discuss considerations for a phased return to clinical research activities. 

Researcher Outreach Sessions

The Office of the Vice-President (Research) held three information sessions for early and mid-career researchers in spring 2020. Each session focused on a different area of the academy: Science and Engineering (April 30), Social Sciences and Humanities (May 4) and Health (May 7).  In these sessions, we discussed:

  • Critical Research Designation
  • Collaboration opportunities
  • Tri-agency updates
  • Research Services supports
  • HR updates

Each session also included Q&A, which we have summarized below. If you would like to view recordings of the sessions, please contact vprcomms@ucalgary.ca to request access.

  • Decisions for how and when faculty, staff, and students begin to return to campus will be overseen by the university’s Crisis Management Team, which includes the VPR. All facilities (buildings, libraries, labs, research data centres) will be addressed in this planning.
  • If you have concerns regarding returning to campus that are specific to your lab that you believe should be considered by the VPR in regards to returning to campus, please contact avpr@ucalgary.ca.
  • All labs must adhere to the university’s recommendations for workplace safety upon reopening, which will be created in accordance with the municipal and provincial requirements under a state of emergency.
  • The schedule for opening will be announced when it is possible to do so.
  • As these decisions are made, the campus community will be informed via the COVID-19 Update that is distributed to all faculty and staff. Updates can be found at any time on the Risk Management website.
  • The university recognizes the significant and potentially long-term impact that COVID-19 will have on productivity, and that additional responsibilities at home, such as caregiving for children and family members, will increase that impact.
  • There is awareness of how this interruption is variably challenging, based on many factors. The university will be taking a very understanding view of this situation, and we encourage you to seek support when you need it.
  • The VPR team is here to support you as you navigate issues that may arise in regards to research activities, funding, contracts, or members of your research team including grad students, postdocs, and staff. We encourage you to speak with your ADR first, and then contact avpr@ucalgary.ca when you have determined what assistance is needed.
  • All academic staff currently holding tenure track appointments will receive an automatic one-year deferral of the tenure and promotion application process, resulting in a one-year extension to their tenure track appointment.
  • The decision to take a tenure extension will not be viewed negatively by the University of Calgary. This is being offered to mitigate the impacts of the COVID-19 interruption and will not be of detriment in the future.
  • However, any academic staff member currently holding a tenure track appointment who does not wish to defer the application process for tenure may apply for tenure in the normal course.
  • There is not an automatic one-year extension to the time period for renewal of tenure, but that there are many ways to receive renewal and if needed it should be requested. If you need an extension on the renewal cycle, you will have to request it.
  • Any academic staff member who has been granted an RSL starting July 1, 2020 and whose RSL will likely be substantially impacted by reasons related to the COVID-19 pandemic (such as travel restrictions or public health guidelines) may request a deferral of their RSL. Approved deferrals will be rescheduled for the year following the deferred period, unless otherwise agreed. 
  • Approval of deferral requests is at the discretion of the Dean, and will not be unreasonably withheld. Denials may be appealed to the Provost. Please note that all requests by academic staff members in the Cumming School of Medicine or the Faculty of Nursing who wish to defer their RSL because they have been called on to assist the healthcare system during the pandemic will be granted.
  • Academic staff members in the Cumming School of Medicine or the Faculty of Nursing who are currently on RSL but who have been called on to assist the healthcare system during the pandemic will be permitted to defer their RSL from January 1, 2020 forward to a later date. The scheduling of the credited RSL period will be at the discretion of the Dean.
  • Other academic staff currently on RSL may request a deferral of their remaining RSL period. Approval of these requests is at the discretion of the Dean; however, approval will not be unreasonably withheld where a substantial disruption due to the COVID-19 pandemic is established.
  • The VPR is not part of reviewing annual performance reviews. We encourage you to reach out to your Department Heads and Deans with questions regarding APRs.
  • There have been no official announcements from the tri-agencies about postdoc funding extensions. We will provide updates to supervisors and postdocs as we receive them.
  • The 5-year limit for postdocs in each lab is under discussion in light of the COVID-19 interruption, but there have been no announcements made.
  • If postdocs need to reduce their working schedule to part-time as a result of increased care-giving or domestic responsibilities, extensions may be requested.
  • Postdoc extensions are managed by the Postdoctoral Office. They can be reached at postdoc@ucalgary.ca.
  • Research Services continues to provide support to the research community while working remotely.
  • Information sessions for tri-agency outreach, Test Your Concept, and SUPPORT will be held virtually.
  • If you have requests or suggestions for these sessions, please provide them to your ADR.
  • Tri-agency outreach session schedule will be announced in June 2020.
  • The Research Management System implementation will continue as planned.
  • Each tri-agency has an FAQ on their website that details the process for renewing or deferring grants:
  • Many researchers have been or will contacted directly by their tri-agency in regards to extensions or deferrals.
  • If your questions are not answered in the agency FAQ, please contact rsogrants@ucalgary.ca.
  • The decision to defer, extend or continue lies with the individual researcher. We encourage you to assess your research program thoroughly and take into consideration all of the relevant factors including staffing, lab access, travel restrictions, study recruitment, etc. before choosing to continue, defer, or extend your grants.
  • If you have applied to a program that has had a deadline extended, you may have the opportunity to rescind your initial application and reapply for the new deadline. This is a strategic decision that we recommend you take into consideration, based on how you may be able to improve your application with the additional time available to you.
  • The deferral and cancellation of major funding programs, such as the CIHR Spring 2020 Project Grants, has led to questions about a potential “wave” of applicants for the next round of the competition.
  • We cannot speculate whether or not future funding opportunities will have a higher number of applications and will therefore be more competitive for applicants.
  • However, we recommend that you continue to look at funding as a long game, plan for rejections, look for institutional grant opportunities and special competitions
  • Each tri-agency has addressed questions about reallocation of funds from cancelled competitions and how they will be managed on their websites:
  • We have not received an update from the tri-council on how or if they will adjust assessment of publications and CVs, early career investigator years of eligibility, or other measures as a result of COVID-19.
  • We have been told that the tri-agencies are taking all of these concerns into consideration and will address them.
  • Tri-council updates will continue to be distributed to academic staff as they arise. Each tri-agency also has FAQs regarding COVID that are updated regularly:
  • Extensions for internal grants will be considered, but we are not currently at the point where we can say how long the extensions will be.
  • We are assessing the length of extensions, and will communicate the decisions as they are made.
  • If you have questions in the interim, please contact the internal granting body.
  • Communication with your staff, postdocs and graduate students at this time is key.
  • As we being to return to campus, guidelines will be issued by the university regarding safe working conditions. Communicating how your lab will adhere to these guidelines will be very important.
  • If issues arise that require HR or union involvement, we encourage you to maintain open lines of communication with your ADRs and HR partners, or the Faculty of Graduate Studies or Postdoctoral Office if appropriate.
  • Communication is ongoing with external private sector funders of clinical research trials, addressing the financial burden and delays that will result from the COVID-19 interruption.
  • As your individual trials are affected, we recommend keeping lines of communication open with your funders and ADR to manage issues as they arise.
  • Access to AHS facilities is a joint conversation between AHS and the university.
  • AHS is looking at the complex steps required to re-open, and they will advise as those decisions are being made.
  • If you are having issues with external funders or contracts who you believe are not being adequately flexible in response to COVID-19, please contact rsolegal@ucalgary.ca.