Last updated 11 January 2022
The University of Manchester recognises that staff and PGR students may have concerns about the ongoing coronavirus outbreak. This section contains guidance and advice for the University’s research community. Please review this page and your funders’ webpages for regular updates.
- Is research affected by the updated government guidance?
- How can I look after my wellbeing whilst working from home?
- It has been difficult to conduct teaching and research due to remote working and/or caring responsibilities. Will expectations and requirements related to my workload and research/teaching quality and quantity be adjusted to take account of this?
- Who will be able to purchase goods and services relating to re-opening research facilities?
- What can these staff purchase?
- What should I do before making a purchase request?
- The items I need are not available through University Stores – what do I do next?
- Where will the goods be delivered to?
- Where do I send purchasing card requests?
- Can I book any travel related to my research?
- Can I use my Frequent Traveller Credit Card?
- Can I still apply for research funding?
- How will my funding application be approved if staff are working remotely?
- List of main research funder pages
- Will my existing awards continue to run?
- Are EPSRC doctoral prize awardees eligible for an extension?
- What are the rules around no-cost extensions and COVID Allocation (CoA) disruption funding and how do they affect my Fellowship?
- If I am not eligible for the UKRI CoA disruption funding, will my Fellowship be extended to account for any disruption?
- My Fellowship is due to end soon but it has been disrupted, what should I do?
- I am still in my probation period, but I feel my progress has been affected – what can I do?
- What should I tell business partners?
- Who do I contact for more information?
- My Industry funded project has been disrupted. What should I do?
- I have a research contract with an industry partner, what will happen if I can’t continue to conduct the work?
- I have a research contract that needs an authorised signature, will it still be signed?
- I have a subcontractor who requires urgent payment, what should I do?
- I wish to conduct face-to-face research for my study, what do I do now?
- My study has NHS REC approval, is there a different process to obtain approval for face-to-face contact?
- I have already sought and received approval to conduct face-to-face research through the re-start process, do I need to re-apply since the restrictions have changed?
- My colleagues are conducting a similar research study to mine but their approved mitigation checklist/risk assessment has less stringent measures. Does this mean I can follow their measures instead?
- Do I have to seek an amendment to my ethical review if I need to extend the end date of my data collection due to the Coronavirus situation?
- Can I login to the CSF / iCSF / HTCondor from off campus?
- Can I access my files held on Research Data Storage (Isilon) from off campus?
- During this period of working from home - can I process personal data at home that has been obtained for the purposes of research?
- Can I process research data containing personal identifiable information on my own equipment?
- As a last resort, how do I safely store data on my own equipment?
- Which text-messaging, Voice over internet protocol (VoIP) services and video services can be used for data collection?
- What should I tell participants before I start data collection?
- How long may I keep recordings?
- What should I do about storing physical documents containing personal information (ie consent forms)?
- Can I continue to use LabCup?
- The University has temporarily moved to online teaching - do I have to suspend my research?
- What guidance is available on fieldwork, research off campus and research in contact with human participants?
Is research affected by the updated government guidance?
Please note, even though the government has lifted additional restrictions in relation to social distancing, the COVID-19 virus continues to circulate within the community and researchers must continue to be proactive about protecting both themselves as well as any potential research participants.
This includes continuing to adhere to the guidelines as described in the Guidance on Research (in the field and in-person), including (but not limited to):
- wearing of face coverings
- following appropriate disinfection procedures
- limiting travel (including public transport)
- avoiding crowded areas
- avoiding close contact situations with potential participants
- meeting outdoors if at all possible
- avoiding the use of paper forms
- using electronic means to provide payments to participants
It remains the position of the University that researchers should continue to use digital/online methods for data collection if at all possible in order to reduce the possible risk of transmission or contagion.
Researchers wishing to undertake data collection in person (face-to-face)* must ensure they complete the necessary paperwork as described below and retain for their own records in case of query or audit. If the research will take place in people’s homes, you must also ensure there are no clinically vulnerable occupants.
*Please note, these allowances are subject to the advice provided by government, which can change rapidly. Please always consult the research FAQs for the latest information in relation to this.
Please ensure you consult the government’s latest advice regarding travel before booking any arrangements.
How can I look after my wellbeing whilst working from home?
We recognise that during this uncertain time remote working is not easy. There are some excellent ideas about how to manage this and stay well.
If you can, set up a dedicated workspace in your house, it will help to differentiate between 'research' and 'off' time and create a boundary between relaxed, social space and workspace. There is some useful guidance about working from home and from NHS England about how to sit at your desk correctly - try adapting this to your at-home setup.
Maintain a routine, this will look different depending on your circumstances but can include things like getting up and ready as you usually would, taking a morning and afternoon walk instead of your commute, and taking regular breaks away from your workspace.
- If you have caring responsibilities, speak to your line manager about how to manage your research work around these. It is likely that this will be a changing situation and will require ongoing discussion.
- Try and define the hours you will be working and resist the temptation to check-in outside of these hours.
- Even if you are isolating with symptoms, light exercise is recommended, try these at home and at your desk.
- Make use of the many online resources including podcasts and apps on mindfulness and wellbeing.
It has been difficult to conduct teaching and research due to remote working and/or caring responsibilities. Will expectations and requirements related to my workload and research/teaching quality and quantity be adjusted to take account of this?
We appreciate that everyone is doing the best they can in difficult circumstances. If you believe that your ability to meet normal work expectations has been adversely affected due to lockdown and remote working, please discuss this in the first instance with your Head of Department or Division.
However as some research operations begin to re-open, a new purchasing procedure has been put in place to enable staff working in these facilities to purchase essential goods only. The information below outlines how this will work.
Who will be able to purchase goods and services relating to re-opening research facilities?
The phased re-opening of some research facilities and buildings is being managed by the Faculties, with each keeping a register of those staff asked to return to campus (i.e. their University physical location).
These registers will be shared with local Finance operation teams. Purchasing requests will only be accepted from people who appear on the relevant register. Please liaise with the relevant contact to make sure your name is on the register:
- FSE: Sarah Mullholland, Head of School Operations - email@example.com
- FBMH: Annette Barber, Senior Administrator - firstname.lastname@example.org
- FHUM: Philippa Woods, Head of Faculty Finance - email@example.com
What can these staff purchase?
Only essential goods and services directly related to and strictly necessary to the research which is re-starting can be purchased. Any essential non-research related purchases should follow the existing procurement process. Essential research related purchases should be charged to externally-funded grants wherever possible and not core University budgets. Contact your Research Finance Team for further clarification if needed.
What should I do before making a purchase request?
Before making a request, check with the relevant University Stores to see if the item/s you need are already available. Do not visit University Stores in person, instead contact them by phone or email:
The items I need are not available through University Stores – what do I do next?
If you are on the Return to Campus Register, your Oracle purchases no longer require approval from a member of the University’s Senior Leadership Team (SLT).
If you are an existing Oracle Requisitioner:
eMarketplace will now be available to raise requisitions for purchases. If you are not listed on the return to campus register, you will not be able to purchase through eMarketplace.
Non-Catalogue Requests can be raised and will be processed if the requisitions name appears on the return to campus register.
If you are not an existing Oracle Requisitioner, or do not have access to an Oracle Requisitioner:
Fill out a Requisition Request Form and email it to firstname.lastname@example.org. The Procurement Hub will process the forms and raise an Oracle requisition. Accepted requisition request forms will follow the usual Oracle approver route to Requisitioner Approver and then to Higher Value approver if appropriate.
Where will the goods be delivered to?
Currently only three stores are open to receive deliveries. Before raising any requisitions you will need to amend your default delivery address to enable goods to be shipped to one of the these stores.
If you are requesting hazardous goods, you must contact your Health and Safety Advisor before placing the order. You will need to ensure any such goods can be transported and delivered to end users safely.
You must choose one of:
- Quick Select - Location: Stopford Building - Goods Inward
- Quick Select - Location: Chemistry Stores
- Quick Select - Location: MIB Stores
You must also add your contact details in "Notes to Receiver" so the goods can be delivered on to you. For support please contact the Procurement Hub.
Where do I send purchasing card requests?
Purchasing card requests should ONLY be sent to email@example.com. These will need to be pre-approved by the relevant member of SLT or their immediate delegate and their approval should be forwarded with the request, to avoid delays.
Can I book any travel related to my research?
Only essential travel is permitted. This must be booked through Key Travel and have pre-approval from an SLT member or their immediate delegate. Travel to countries for which the UK government advises ‘essential travel only’ has restricted insurance cover and must be authorised by the Vice President and Dean of the Faculty via a completed restart checklist and registered with the Insurance Office.
Can I use my Frequent Traveller Credit Card?
The government currently advises that UK residents should not travel abroad except for essential reasons. If you do need to use your Frequent Traveller Credit Card you must get approval from the relevant member of SLT before using your card.
Can I still apply for research funding?
There are currently no application restrictions in place for UKRI or the Wellcome Trust. Other funders may still be delaying funding rounds, so researchers should consult funders’ web pages for the latest information.
Research Services continue to support the costing and application process but may need to prioritise support for research funding applications to manage the continuing impact of remote working, caring responsibilities and sickness absence. Highest priority will be given to funding applications relating to COVID-19 rapid response calls and those with impending submission deadlines. Researchers are asked to ensure that they provide extra time when requesting costings and submission support for applications and comply with local guidelines on advanced notice requirements.
How will my funding application be approved if staff are working remotely?
All funding applications still require formal approval in line with University policy. The approval of research grant and contract applications is online through the Pure Awards Management Module. Research Services support funding application approvals within Pure with Principal Investigators (PIs) and Approvers.
Will my existing awards continue to run?
University systems will continue to be online. Expenditure will continue to be charged to awards in line with transactions posted to project codes. PI Financial Statements will also continue to be issued.
Researchers should note that transaction postings and statements may take longer to process than usual.
Research Finance will prioritise the invoicing process to ensure income continues to be collected for projects where the funder does not pay on a profile.
What are the rules around no-cost extensions and COVID Allocation (CoA) disruption funding and how do they affect my Fellowship?
The CoA is from UKRI and only applies to UKRI-funded Fellowships. If you are a UKRI-funded Fellow please talk to your line manager and read the details of how this funding will be allocated.
If I am not eligible for the UKRI CoA disruption funding, will my Fellowship be extended to account for any disruption?
The possibility of an extension is dependent on your funder’s terms and conditions. If your Fellowship is funded by the University (for example if you hold a Presidential, Dame Kathleen Ollerenshaw, Simon and Hallsworth Fellowship) it may be possible to extend your Fellowship – cases will be considered individually. Please discuss this with your line manager.
My Fellowship is due to end soon but it has been disrupted, what should I do?
Your funder may allow a no-cost extension to the award. However since staff costs are still incurred by the University during such an extension, you must contact your local Research Services team to establish if the funder will meet these staff costs. Where the funder does not agree to meet these costs, extensions to individual staff contracts are unlikely to be approved. Where the Fellowship is funded by UKRI, please refer to the FAQ relating to the additional UKRI CoA funding.
I am still in my probation period, but I feel my progress has been affected – what can I do?
Research Fellows with a four-year probation period (mainly Presidential Fellows) will have probation extended by 12 months as a matter of course, unless both the probationer and their Head of School are happy that probation has been successfully completed despite COVID-19 disruption. Anyone on a shorter probation period who feels they have been significantly disrupted by COVID-19 should first discuss any concerns with their line manager.
What should I tell business partners?
Continuing relationships with our business partners is extremely important. Faculties are overseeing the ongoing management of research prioritisation and access to facilities. We would encourage staff to maintain regular communication with industry partners, keeping them briefed on the situation on campus and progress with projects. Please could we request that you work closely with your local Business Engagement team to address any requests, issues or concerns that arise.
Who do I contact for more information?
- Faculty of Science and Engineering - Business Engagement Team
- Faculty of Humanities - Business Engagement Team
- Faculty of Biology, Health and Medicine - Research and Business Engagement
My Industry funded project has been disrupted. What should I do?
Your funder may allow an extension to the award, however, staff costs are still incurred by the University during such an extension therefore you must contact your local Business Engagement (BE) team to establish if the funder will meet these staff costs. Please do not discuss any proposals with your funder until you have discussed this internally with your BE team, as they will support you in establishing the best strategy, tailored to your individual circumstances. Where the funder does not agree to meet these additional staff costs, extensions to individual staff contracts are unlikely to be approved.
I have a research contract with an industry partner, what will happen if I can’t continue to conduct the work?
Despite our best efforts at mitigation and putting in place the appropriate remedial measures, the current situation will have a major impact on a significant number of the University’s research activities over the coming months. Most contracts have terms and conditions which deal with the legal position should work be suspended, however, each situation will be unique to the circumstances and will be dependent on how much work can continue to be delivered and the duration of the suspension.
Academic staff, researchers and postgraduate research students should keep clear records of how work planned for the coming months has been affected and the impact on your research productivity, outputs and financial expenditure. If you are concerned about your contracts, please contact the relevant Contracts Officer or Contracts Manager for advice.
I have a research contract that needs an authorised signature, will it still be signed?
Arrangements are in place to ensure contracts are continuing to be signed, please continue to liaise with the relevant Contracts Officer or Contracts Manager for advice.
I have a subcontractor who requires urgent payment, what should I do?
Presuming this is in line with the subcontract (eg. the work has been completed and it is in line with the payment schedule), please ensure your subcontractor sends the invoice electronically to the email address in the agreement with all the relevant supporting documentation and this will be paid as per normal processes.
I wish to conduct face-to-face research for my study, what do I do now?
If your research study is in the process of obtaining ethical approval, please ensure you complete and submit the necessary re-start paperwork with your ethics application. This must include a COVID specific risk assessment and external site agreement form (if required). You must also ensure you have included a COVID addendum to your participant information sheet/script (if using).
If your research study has already obtained ethical approval prior to the 19 July 2021 or is classed as exempt from the requirement to obtain research ethics approval, you must still complete the necessary re-start paperwork. However, you do not need to submit this paperwork as a formal amendment in the ERM system but should retain a copy in case of query or audit.
My study has NHS REC approval, is there a different process to follow to obtain approval for face-to-face contact?
Information on the process to follow for restarting face-to-face research for studies with NHS REC/HRA approval can be found in the restart guidance. Please contact the Faculty Governance Team for further guidance.
I have already sought and received approval to conduct face-to-face research through the re-start process, do I need to re-apply since the restrictions have changed?
As long as the measures as described in your risk mitigation checklist or COVID specific risk assessment are still appropriate and in line with current guidance you do not need to re-apply.
If additional restrictions are imposed in future and this results in your measures no longer being robust enough to adhere to government/University requirements, you must update your risk assessment and obtain re-authorisation from the appropriate individual in your Division/School. You do not need to submit this as a formal amendment, but you must ensure you retain a copy for your records in case of query or audit.
If additional restrictions are imposed again in future, will my research be affected?
Yes, if the government changes the requirements in relation to social distancing and/or travel you may be required to adjust or pause your research. You may also need to obtain re-authorisation of your updated risk assessment. Please ensure you consult the Research FAQs as well as the re-start guidance for up-to-date information on all requirements and expectations.
My colleagues are conducting a similar research study to mine but their approved mitigation checklist/risk assessment has less stringent measures. Does this mean I can follow their measures instead?
No, you must adhere to the measures as described in the risk mitigation checklist or risk assessment that has been approved for your study. If you wish to update these to less stringent measures, you will be required to obtain re-authorisation from the appropriate individual in your Division/School.
Do I have to seek an amendment to my ethical review if I need to extend the end date of my data collection due to the Coronavirus situation?
All studies that were approved through the ERM system with an ‘End Date of Data Collection’ listed as anytime between 15 March 2020 to 15 March 2021 were granted an automatic extension to their end date to the 30 September 2021. If your study is set to continue beyond 30/09/2021 you MUST submit an amendment in the ERM system to further extend this date. Please note, this must be done NO LATER than 3 months past the last approved end date or you will be required to re-apply for ethical approval. More information on amendments can be found on the Research Ethics website.
Studies that have NHS Research Ethics Committee (REC) and /or Health Research Authority (HRA) approval:
An extension of the study end date listed on the IRAS form requires an amendment. For details of submitting an amendment, please refer to the Faculty Research Governance Pack.
Extension of other study timelines that do not affect the overall end date e.g. recruitment timelines, do not need an amendment to the HRA, unless changes to the timelines results in amendments of the study documents e.g. the study protocol. However, even if an amendment is not required, it is important to inform the site(s) of changes to study timelines and the CRN if the study is on the NIHR portfolio.
Can I login to the CSF / iCSF / HTCondor from off campus?
Yes, you will need to run the GlobalProtect VPN software. Please visit Research IT working from home for detailed instructions.
Can I access my files held on Research Data Storage (Isilon) from off campus?
Yes, you can access your storage when the GlobalProtect VPN software is running on your off-campus desktop or laptop, or via the Research IT RDS-SSH gateway. However, please note if there are any restrictions e.g., third parties requirements around data they have provided, please do consult the colleagues from Contracts, Research Governance or Research IT teams involved in the original set-up and transfer.
There are two types of storage areas:
- On your desktop or laptop which will require you to map your storage as you would any drive (eg R:/drive). For each method of access, please follow the step-by-step instructions on the Research IT WFH page; and
- On a central platform such as CSF, iCSE or HTCondor submitter, which are accessed as described in the previous answer.
During this period of working from home - can I process personal data at home that has been obtained for the purposes of research?
You can process personal identifiable research data at home if all of the following conditions apply:
- You have ethical approval to process the personal data for the purposes of research.
- You are based in the EU and the data was acquired in the EU or you are based in the country of origin of the personal data if this is outside the EU.
- Where data is being provided by a third party, there are no clauses within the contract of the data provider/data controller that prevent you from processing the data at home. (You should check contractual arrangements where there is a data provider before you access such data from home.)
- There are no strict requirements guided by the data provider or the nature of the research that means that the physical environment from which the processing is being undertaken is restricted.
- You can ensure that no other member of your household can view any personal data.
- You use a University-managed device/access the data via VPN (Global Protect)/or follow the guidance regarding the use of your own equipment (see below).
- You take appropriate security measures (encryption), and back up your data securely following the advice by IT Services below.
- The information you have provided to the research subjects (Participant Information Sheet and Consent form) which describe the storage and processing environment do not prohibit you from doing this. See the ethics website for more information.
Where the storage or processing of data cannot be undertaken on University infrastructure then contracts/data sharing agreements and other such formal documents (e.g., system level security policies) which state the location of storage and processing, should be updated to reflect the new storage and processing locations. Any contracts would need to be reviewed by the University Contracts Team before being forwarded to the third party data provider. Note that data can only be accessed/viewed within the stated territory of use in such contracts.
Can I process research data containing personal identifiable information on my own equipment?
The University usually requires that personal identifiable data are stored on a University-managed device, not a personal computer, because these devices are encrypted and maintained by IT Services. The data should also be stored on a University server so that it is backed up regularly.
However, if you do not have a University-managed device you can use your personal device provided that you take account of the need for appropriate security, confidentiality and integrity of the data and are confident that your personal device meets the standards set out in the IT Services Bring Your Own Technology and Remote Working standard operating procedure.
As a last resort, how do I safely store data on my own equipment?
Where possible, and especially when you are processing restricted/highly restricted data, you should use VPN to access your University of Manchester staff desktop and storage. You should not save any copies of the data on your personal device. As a last resort, if you need to store research data which includes personal identifiable information on your own device (i.e. laptops / desktops, not USB pens or portable hard drives) this must remain in your home at all times. It should not be transported elsewhere due to the increased risk of theft. Files containing personal identifiable data must be encrypted, and devices password protected to prevent unauthorised access. You should keep the operating system and virus software up to date on your device.
Which text-messaging, Voice over internet protocol (VoIP) services and video services can be used for data collection?
If you are a member of staff:
If data is being recorded using the recording function in the service, University-approved services must be used via a University account:
If you are a student:
Important: The guidelines issued below in relation to the use of personal accounts for the purposes of data collection are only to be used for research conducted during COVID-19 outbreak, while face-to-face data collection is prohibited. Discussions are currently ongoing regarding how to best support students who wish to use digital methods of data collection once the University re-opens and revised guidance on this topic will be circulated in due course.
Personal accounts may be used to record data as long as participants are made aware of the privacy policies of the relevant service, including the fact their data may be transferred to countries outside of the EEA before starting a recording either in a participant information sheet or in another written communication sent to the participants prior to the start of data collection. Participants must be advised that they do not have to take part if they do not wish a recording to be made.
It is strongly advised that Zoom or Teams are used to record video or audio only interviews with participants. Use of other third party apps/add-on apps to record conversations within other VoIP services such as WhatsApp or Telegram must not be used.
What should I tell participants before I start data collection?
The following text must be provided to participants:
Your participation in this research will be recorded in [Teams/Zoom] and your personal data will be processed by [Microsoft/Zoom]. This may mean that your personal data is transferred to a country outside of the European Economic Area, some of which have not yet been determined by the European Commission to have an adequate level of data protection.
Appropriate legal mechanisms to ensure these transfers are compliant with the UK General Data Protection Regulation are in place. The recordings will be removed from the above third party platform and stored on University of Manchester managed file storage as soon as possible following the completion of data collection.
Further privacy information:
How long may I keep recordings?
The recording files must be downloaded, saved to University storage and deleted from the service as soon as possible.
Further information on recording participants for research purposes can be found in the University of Manchester Taking Recordings of Participants for Research Purposes Standard Operating Procedure.
If the recording is on a cloud service, then the cloud service should be based within the EU and the account must be protected by a unique strong passphrase consistent with the University of Manchester IT Services Password Technical Security Standard.
If the recording is stored on a personal device and this is backed up to a personal cloud e.g. Apple device and iCloud the recording must be permanently deleted from all back-ups and moved to University file storage. Backups of University information must NOT be taken, as personal devices never store the master copy of information. The master copy of information should be on University of Manchester storage.
Please contact Information Governance if you have any questions around the use of other tools for data collection.
What should I do about storing physical documents containing personal information (ie consent forms)?
If you have physical documents containing personal identifiable information you should keep these in a secure place within your home, preferably in a locked filing cabinet for which only you have access. When the University re-opens, all such data should be safely returned and stored at the University.
Can I continue to use LabCup?
For security reasons, LabCup cannot be accessed from any computer off campus. Therefore, a remote access has to be set up to a University computer on campus to gain access to LabCup. The IT team has established a detailed procedure on how to connect to a University computer via Remote Desktop connection. Further help with remote access can be sought directly from IT services.
Once remote access has been set up to a University computer on campus, a personal computer can be used from home to connect to the University computer and then to access LabCup from there.
Please contact the University Regulatory Compliance Manager (RCM) if you require any further assistance.
The University has temporarily moved to online teaching - do I have to suspend my research?
Research, including our postgraduate research, is an essential part of our University activity. We expect research to continue where this is feasible, with working arrangements adjusted in line with our guidelines for COVID-19 secure working. Research in labs should continue to follow existing arrangements, working remotely where possible and with approved safety protocols in place for work in labs If your research involves face-to-face data collection, fieldwork or travel please read the FAQ on data collection and the restart guidance.
If a staff member or postgraduate researcher tests positive for COVID-19 or needs to self-isolate, please follow the University's guidance for reporting a case. For more information, please refer to the regularly updated Research FAQs and PGR COVID-19 FAQs.
What guidance is available on fieldwork, research off campus and research in contact with human participants?
For details, please refer to the Guidance on Resuming the Following Types of Research Activity in the COVID-19 Environment.