Updated 9 February, 2021

Advice for researchers and HDR students

Message from the Deputy Vice Chancellor (Research)

In this time of unprecedented upheaval, as we work together to slow the spread of COVID19, it is important to acknowledge how important research is, and to ensure that support for research and researchers remains a key priority at Southern Cross. If you are feeling anxious about your research or need support, in relation to any of the matters following, please contact your supervisor, Research Office or the Graduate School, and they can help.

On and Off Campus Research

For Researchers and Higher Degree Researchers whose work depends on campus facilities and equipment, university laboratories and offices currently remain open and operational. We urge you to consider whether undertaking your laboratory-based research is essential at the current time or might be postponed. If undertaking research in a university laboratory, all researchers should follow precautionary measures including social distancing and maintaining established laboratory hygiene protocols. The well-being of staff and students is our paramount concern.

Systems are also being put in place to ensure the ongoing care and welfare of plants and animals, and the safe management of sensitive equipment”.

Human Research that involves interviews and questionnaires can proceed using technology instead of face to face. Where there is physical testing such as in sports science, this will have to cease as we need protect both our researchers and their subjects.

If you need to change the methodology for your already-approved research (e.g., if you change from face-to-face interviews to phone interviews or from face-to-face focus groups to an on-line format), you will need to lodge a Change of Protocol application, which must be approved before you conduct the revised methodology. The Ethics office is still processing applications etc, so if you have a question about ethics, please email the Ethics Office as usual.  If you need to talk to someone about your ethics application, please email and provide your best contact number.

Change of Protocols can now be processed through SCU’s online research management system (‘IRMA’). Access IRMA here. View the user manual via the Human Ethics Knowledge Base.

External and Internal Grant Funding

Several funding bodies have advised options for the review of deadlines for applications and awarded projects that are directly affected by the COVID19 pandemic, with requests considered on a case by case basis. 

Please contact Grants (pre-award) or Research Services (post-award) if your proposal or project has been directly affected by the COVID19 pandemic.

Working from Home

Staff in the DVCR’s Office, Graduate School Offices and Office of Research are well positioned to support researchers as normal (except for face-to-face enquiries).

All researchers (including. Higher Degree Researchers) should carefully consider strategies to progress your research projects during these periods of unavoidable delay. 

If these strategies require changes in research project plans, budgets or ethics, we can help you manage this via the usual post-award processes (Research Services) or by Change of Protocol processes (Ethics Office).

If your research is delayed by the COVID19 pandemic, please keep a detailed record of the nature and length of issues so we can assist with variations and extension requests going forward.

Higher Degree Research

Higher Degree Researchers without access to the R Drive are encouraged to access files they may need and place these on  One Drive so that they can access this information from anywhere.  Please be reminded that it is your responsibility ensure the safety of your data and it is recommended you use multiple back-up measures to ensure no losses.  

Supervisors of HDR candidates should contact their students and help them plan for the coming weeks and months.

Research involving Human Participants

We have been fielding questions regarding the resumption of research involving human participants with the reopening of campus this week.  As per our earlier advice, human research involving interviews or groups, should continue using methods that were acceptable during lockdown, ie., phone interviews or digital observation. It is critically important that we protect both researchers and their participants, although we are coming back to campus there are still risks around COVID that we need to mitigate against.

If you wish to resume research that involves low risk human contact, i.e., in sports and exercise science, you will need to provide the Ethics Office with a detailed risk assessment which must be approved  before you resume your research. These documents can be located on the COVID-19 Information for staff webpage.

If you need to talk to someone about your ethics application, please email the Ethics Office by emailing ethics.lismore@scu.edu.au and provide your best contact number.

Support Services

All of the University’s services- such as Counselling, Inclusion, Advocacy and Chaplaincy—remain available to you. Please feel free to use them. At the moment, any meetings made by appointment online will be conducted by telephone or a virtual meeting platform. Check out the Toolkit and Help function in MySCU Portal or visit Support, Social and UniLife for links to all services.