Research funders to take “pragmatic” approach to deadlines in light of coronavirus

The IRC, HRB, and SFI have said they will consider deadlines on a case by case basis

Three of Ireland’s largest funders of academic research have said they will take a “pragmatic approach” with regards to penalising researchers for missing deadlines due to the coronavirus pandemic, considering each instance “on a case-by-case basis”.

In a joint statement, the Irish Research Council (IRC), Health Research Board (HRB) and Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) have said they recognise that the coronavirus pandemic is “having a significant impact on the research and innovation community, both in Ireland and internationally”.

They added that “projects may be unavoidably delayed as a result of practical measures taken to contain the virus”.

The organisations have said they will give consideration to adjusting call deadlines, deadlines for progress reporting, no-cost extensions, deadlines for the return of award documentation, and budget reallocations or exceptional charges to grants arising from travel or other restrictions.

“Our agencies are working collaboratively with higher education institutions and are closely monitoring the impact on Ireland’s research community. Fortnightly conference calls will be held between the IRC, HRB, SFI and senior representatives from the universities and institutes of technology,” the statement reads.

Access to Trinity’s campus has been restricted to limited groups following the government’s decision to close schools, universities, and cultural institutions from 6pm on March 12 until March 29.

However, postgraduate students who require access to the campus in order to engage in “critical research projects” are to be admitted if they show they have received permission through email from their supervisors.

Academic and research staff have been advised that they may come into College on “an occasional basis” in order to continue academic activities, including research activities and the preparation of online lectures, tutorial, seminars and labs, but that staff should not congregate in groups and follow social distancing protocols.

Trinity’s libraries will remain closed for the duration of the shut down.

The first case of coronavirus within Trinity was confirmed on March 5 and has since recovered. The second case, a Health Sciences student, was confirmed on Wednesday night, and two more students were confirmed to have tested positive yesterday.

So far, there have been 129 confirmed cases of coronavirus in the Republic of Ireland, with a further 45 confirmed cases in Northern Ireland. The second death due to the coronavirus in Ireland was announced yesterday.

Finn Purdy

Finn Purdy is the current Deputy Editor of Trinity News. He is a Junior Sophister English Studies student, and a former News Editor and Assistant News Editor.