COVID-19 – Current guidance from Research Funders

Please refer to the main University COVID-19 page for updated advice about COVID-19 and our response.

For information about the status and activities of teams within Research Services, please see our COVID-19 update.

Research Services is now operating remotely, with all core services supported. Please continue to work with your usual research support teams (Research Services or faculty personnel) either by email or Google Hangouts.

Faculty

Cross-faculty support

Funders guidance and advice

For information on other funders including the British Heart Foundation, Alzheimer's Research UK and other smaller funders please contact your faculty contact or RSResearchGrowth@sheffield.ac.uk as we are collating this information as we receive it.

Our team will continue to contact funders with regard to current advice and will update the information on this page as and when this changes, so please continue to review this page regularly.

If you receive information from funders that is not captured here please do let us know via RSResearchGrowth@sheffield.ac.uk and we will endeavour to update the page.

FAQs

Applying for new funding

I am planning to apply for one of the UKRI Covid-19 rapid response calls. Where can I get support?

Please contact your Research Hub or Faculty Research Support Officer in the first instance for advice and support. A FAQ document has also been produced for applicants to the current UKRI Covid-19 funding calls, including those being run in partnership with the NIHR and Newton Fund.

Update: UKRI have announced that from 31st July 2020 submission of grants to this call will revert back to applications via Je-S/IUK and only projects deemed very urgent will undergo rapid review. In addition the UKRI GCRF/Newton Fund Covid-19 call will close on the 31st of July.

Frequently Asked Questions UKRI Covid-19 Funding Calls

Will I still be able to submit grants during the disruption?

Research Services remains operational, and all teams are now remote working. However, given the current situation and the possibility of increased staff absence, please allow extra time ahead of the funder submission deadline, and ensure your Head of Department is available to approve. The agreed minimum time you should allow from the time it reaches Research Services is three working days. Although steps have been made to ensure smooth running of application processes, issues that arise can take longer to resolve in the current circumstances thus increasing the very real risk of missing deadlines for last minute applications. If your departmental approver is not available, please contact your research support team as soon as possible.

Will funders be extending submission deadlines for funding calls?

Most funders have provided guidance with respect to this and are taking a pragmatic approach to dealing with the evolving situation. Changes to submission deadlines for a large number of funding calls have been announced and can be found in the bulletins section of this page. Please note that this list may not be comprehensive as it is updated weekly and if you are unsure, or would like further clarification, you should check with the funder or contact RSResearchGrowth@sheffield.ac.uk.

I have a research contract that requires an authorised signature. Will it be signed?

Arrangements are in place to ensure contracts are signed on schedule. The Research Services Contracts Team which review and advise on agreements currently has a very high volume of agreements to manage with reduced resources. To help the team please follow the following advice:

  • Complete the research agreement request form before sending a new enquiry. One thing which will substantially help the team to work more quickly is having most of the information they need at the outset. The team will ask you to complete the form if you do not send it in. It is available via myResearch on MUSE.

  • Consider how urgent the agreement you need is. If there is a genuine external deadline to secure funding, for example, do let the team know. Otherwise, they will prioritise work taking into account who the partners are, the nature of the funding and the project start date.

  • Do not chase the team immediately, you can track the progress of contracts via myResearch on MUSE.

Colleagues in research hubs will support contracting by following up with partners and other Universities for updates where this is appropriate. This will leave the Contracts Team to focus on their area of expertise.

Will there be delays in funders notifying of grant decisions?

Some funders are delaying or postponing review panel decisions. Funders will notify applicants about the success or otherwise in due course. If you have any queries please contact RSResearchGrowth@sheffield.ac.uk and we will endeavour to get clarification for you.

Do I still need to obtain research ethics and governance approvals?

Yes - your proposed research will need to comply with the usual requirements of the University's Ethics Policy Governing Research Involving Human Participants, Personal Data and Human Tissue, and if it involves the NHS or publicly-funded social care services, it will need to follow the University's Research Governance Procedure and relevant NHS/HRA approvals will need to be sought. The HRA has issued information about a fast-track approval process for Covid-19 studies.

Existing projects

Can I currently order consumables and/or equipment from active grants?

All IT related equipment must be verified as appropriate with IT Services before any purchase is made and delivery agreed. Any office related equipment or low value consumables must be absolutely essential and only for facilitating safe working. If colleagues require clarification, please refer them to your departmental safety officer, departmental IT support or IT Services.

In addition, please note that office and IT-related equipment are the only University purchased items that are authorised for delivery to a home address. No research related equipment or consumables should be purchased and delivered to a home address, even just for temporary storage. Health and Safety legislation forbids staff members to conduct non-office based research at their home addresses. Risk assessments cannot be conducted covering such home-based activity and University insurance does not extend to covering any accidents or losses relating to non-office based activity. The storage of such research equipment or consumables at a home address may also invalidate home insurance cover.

I have been awarded a new project I need to accept by a fixed deadline. Who should I contact?

Research Services remains operational. Please liaise with your usual team.

Do I need to delay the start of my new research project?

Where permitted within the funder's terms and conditions it may be worth considering delaying the start of your project to ensure there is minimal impact on your research, and some funders have provided specific guidance on this. Please contact RSResearchGrowth@sheffield.ac.uk for advice if the Funder guidance is not clear.

I need to return to clinical duties but this will impact my research project, what is the guidance on this?

We are receiving confirmation from some funders that they fully support this direction and will provide extensions to projects where staff have returned to clinical duties to support the COVID-19 pandemic. There may be an expectation from charities that the NHS will ultimately reimburse the project for associated salary costs incurred. Please check funder guidance in the links provided or contact RSResearchGrowth@sheffield.ac.uk and we will endeavour to seek further clarification where we can. Clinical PhD fellows who are returning to clinical work should contact their Primary Supervisor in the first instance.

I have a subcontractor who requires urgent payment?

Presuming this is in line with the contract (e.g. the work has been completed, or that advance payments were agreed), please ensure your subcontractor sends the invoice electronically to the email address in the agreement with all the relevant backing documentation and this will be paid as per normal processes. If you receive the invoice directly please forward to invoices@sheffield.ac.uk.

My research has been deemed as non-essential and I cannot do my research remotely. Can I get an extension?

Some funders have already provided guidance on this and have communicated this directly to their grantholders. Most funders, to our knowledge, are approving applications for no-cost extensions.

UKRI have announced that they will be providing funding for HEIs to sustain UKRI grant-funded research and fellowships affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. The funding we receive will be calculated based on the value of UKRI grants we hold whose funding finishes between 1 April 2020 and 31 March 2021. The University has recently received confirmation of our grant allocation extension from UKRI and guidance on how this scheme will be managed at an institutional level will be circulated shortly.

If I get an extension my project will incur additional costs. Who will cover these costs?

This will vary depending on the funder and the nature of cost. If you have a query relating to this please liaise with your funder directly in the first instance, copying in your faculty research growth officer. Alternatively contact RSResearchGrowth@sheffield.ac.uk who can then contact the funder on your behalf.

My confirmed activities or travel plans have had to be cancelled and my project has lost money. Will the project be reimbursed?

We anticipate that funders will adopt a pragmatic approach on this, however it is likely to be variable, as such please refer to the individual funder's guidance. Where travel plans have been cancelled upon government advice, the costs should be recovered from the travel supplier where possible, or University of Sheffield insurance, full guidance on this can be found here.

Can I proceed with any PhD studentships starting from September 2020?

The current advice is that these studentships can start, but with a revised start date of 26 October 2020. Further details can be found here.

Is REF 2021 going ahead as planned?

Research England have postponed REF 2021 due to the current COVID-19 emergency. The submission date (for all elements) will be the 31st March 2021, the staff census date remains 31 July. The census period for impact has been extended until 31 December 2021. The purpose of the extension is to enable case studies affected by of focusing on the current response to, COVID-19 to be assessed in REF 2021. There has been no further announcement to any extension to the census period for outputs to have been published, any further revisions are expected to be issued by 21 July 2020. View our REF website for the latest information.

Can qualitative research involving in person contact with participants continue?

The University has recently issued guidance for researchers in response to the current outbreak of coronavirus, stating that qualitative research which requires face-to-face contact with participants must not continue. See here. Please note that this applies to research carried out both in the UK and in partner countries. This guidance will be reviewed on a monthly basis.