Mitigating the Differential Impact of COVID-19 on Research

COVID-19 has had, and continues to have, a negative impact on the ability of all staff to work productively. However, it is important to recognise that this impact has been and is differential, in that it affects some colleagues more than others.

Differential impact might arise from personal circumstances as well as from project specific issues such as a lack of access to facilities, and/or differential increases in teaching and administrative responsibilities.

Failure to mitigate this differential impact risks exacerbating existing inequalities and lead to uneven detriment to future career progression.

The University of Glasgow is using funds provided by Scottish Funding Council (SFC) to support several schemes to mitigate the differential impact of COVID-19 on research. These are based on a project carried out by the University’s Lab for Academic Culture and details are outlined below.   Get in touch with any questions

Schemes 1 and 2 are now closed to applications.  Over 140 applications were received and ~£700k of funding was awarded. We will share a report on our findings and lessons learned on these webpages. We appreciate not everyone was able to apply or to mitigate the impacts in these timescales. Impacts will be long lasting and we will continue to monitor, understand & seek ways to support. Proposals for scheme 4 are being developed. 

Scheme 1: Learning and Teaching Resource to Support Research

This call is closed. 

This scheme provides additional funding for Schools/RIs to appoint short-term teaching support posts. These should assist staff whose research activities are identified as having been differentially impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

This budget is additional to the existing School/RI budget and could be used to support, e.g. graduate teaching assistants from your PGR or Research-only community, adjunct members of staff who might also be recently retired, or learning and teaching technology support. However, the scheme is flexible and Heads of School/DoIs can propose other options specific to disciplinary and staff needs.

This support is available to assist R&T staff or independent research fellows.

Limitations

Funds need to be committed by the end of March 2021 and spent by the end of July 2021. 

The scheme cannot be used to fund:

  • Contract extensions (please consider Furlough, where applicable)
  • Laptops, desks, chairs or Internet packages. Please see existing UofG procedure and information about accessing equipment

NB. This is not a hardship fund. Applications falling into hardship categories may be redirected to other forms of support internal and external to UofG.

Application Process

Applications should be made by Heads of School/DoRIs to Heads of College Finance. Cases for support should briefly detail the amount of funding requested, whom will be supported and how, and how the intervention will address the detriment to research.

Proposals will be reviewed at UofG level by a panel comprising members of the Lab for Academic Culture, the Finance Office, and the Vice Principal for Learning & Teaching.  The fund will be allocated in order to maximise the mitigation of detriment to researchers.

Example cases

Example 1:   Increased caring responsibilities have affected the opportunities for Dr X to work productively since Y. This has resulted in a significant reduction in research output compared to peers. Relief from some fraction of marking obligations during this semester would allow them to catch up *to some extent/mostly/fully* on key activities required to maintain their research portfolio.

Example 2:  For XX months, Dr Y took on ZZ additional teaching duties in order to support the School’s online teaching provision, at the expense of their research activities. Teaching support for X months would allow Dr Y to complete a grant application/output/impact generating activity, thus mitigating the detriment *to some extent/mostly/fully*.

Timeline

Application deadline to Heads of College Finance:  28 February 2021
Notification of outcome:  12 March 2021


Scheme 2: COVID-19 Researcher Support Scheme

This call is closed. 

The scheme offers short-term financial support for research that will reduce detriments that may otherwise cause longer-term career harm. It is open to Research-Only and Research and Teaching (R&T) staff who have experienced significant disruption to their research related to COVID-19. Funding will be assigned based on the greatest need.

The scheme is open to staff on all contract types, including fixed-term and open-ended with funding-end-date whose contract end date is after 31 July 2021.

Eligible staff may apply for up to £10K to support their ability to conduct research between March and July 2021.

Funds may be used for a broad range of purposes. Examples include:

  • Additional childcare costs[1],
  • Graduate Teaching Assistant (GTA) support
  • Research and administrative assistance
  • Archive assistance (e.g. where archives cannot be visited due to travel restrictions or other limitations)
  • Participation in conferences (virtual or face-to-ace, if permissible under Scottish Government restriction-level guidelines)
  • Purchase of small research equipment/consumables
  • Work-related training
  • Planned teaching cover
  • Funds to support writing retreats/collaborative visits, if permissible under Scottish Government restriction-level guidelines
  • Non-salary costs incurred during lockdown (e.g. replacement of expired reagents, animal maintenance)

Exclusions/Limitations

Funds need to be committed by the end of March 2021 and spent by the end of July 2021.

The scheme cannot be used to fund:

  • Contract extensions (please contact your line manager regarding Furlough options, if applicable)
  • Laptops, desks, chairs or Internet packages. Please see existing UofG procedure and information about accessing equipment

NB. This is not a hardship fund. Applications falling into hardship categories may be redirected to other forms of support internal and external to UofG.

Application Process

Applicants must submit a COVID-Researcher Support Scheme Application Form. We have made the application procedure as simple and as flexible as possible.

The application form asks for detail about the impact of COVID-19 on research productivity; an outline of funds required to support the mitigation of these impacts; and how they will be used to recover from the impact.

The application also requires confirmation that funds can be spent by end July 2021, along with the support of Head of School/Director of Research Institute, via co-signature.

In outlining the impacts of COVID-19 on their ability to work productively, applicants should provide relevant contextual information. This will help the panel to determine who is in greatest need of the funds. 

Use of funds to mitigate differential impacts may include, but is not limited, to: caring and/or parenting responsibilities; bereavement; periods of sickness absence connected to COVID-19; shielding or living with a person who is shielding; restricted access to labs/facilities/research sites; loss or destruction of research materials; and impact of increased responsibilities for teaching, administration, and/or research management.

Applicants were asked to provide equality and diversity information that will be used for equality monitoring and reporting purposes only.  

Applications were reviewed by a panel comprising the members of the COVID-DI Lab for Academic Culture Project and the Vice Principal for Research.

Full details of the questions in the form to support drafting and preparation can be accessed here: COVID research support application form (PDF)

To support accessibility, a Word version of the application form is available from Katie Farrell (Gender Equality Officer).

Timelines

Application deadline:  28 February 2021
Notification of outcome:  12 March 2021

 

[1] Childcare must be provided by a registered provider and be required outwith your normal childcare requirements. E.g. assuming restrictions allow, this could include a contribution towards a summer club placement in July to enable staff to undertake research, following the end of semester 2 teaching. It could provide for wrap-round and out-of-hours childcare to support research and writing time.


Scheme 3: Supporting the Furlough Scheme

Research-funded staff whose research productivity has been materially affected by the lockdown restrictions effective from 5 January 2021 should discuss with their line managers the option of being furloughed. 


Scheme 4: Academic Leave

The University Senior Management Group understands that, given the ongoing lockdown restrictions, most staff undertaking research are not be able to take advantage of academic leave at this time. However, it is clear that blocks of leave will be required in the future to support longer-term career impact of COVID-19. This intervention will be reviewed across the University, with communications to follow.

NB. Colleagues who have secured academic leave (also often referred to as ‘study’ or ‘research’ leave) that will commence this semester and who are eligible, may apply to the COVID-19 Researcher Support Scheme for funds to support their research during this period of leave.