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Research is adapting to COVID-19 restrictions

May 4, 2020
Guylaine Spencer


Research is an important contribution of the School of Nursing. Now, however, faculty and student researchers are being forced to change the ways they are working to adapt to the environment created by the COVID-19 crisis.

To provide some guidance, Dr. Michael McGillion, assistant dean of research for the School of Nursing, and Dr. Nancy Carter, assistant dean of the graduate nursing programs, conducted online meetings with faculty and graduate students recently to address some of the challenges they are facing.

One challenge is data collection. Since in-person meetings are not permitted, researchers need to change to virtual methods like telephone, on-line or written documents. All of these options present challenges for research participants including cost, virtual access and ensuring privacy requirements are being met through the use of virtual methods. Some solutions may involve providing participants with technology support like phone cards or computer tablets. The graduate nursing program may be able to help with some of these expenses. Changes to study methods will also require amendments to researchers’ original research plans to HiREB.

Timelines for activities are being affected. Report submission dates will probably need to change, given the crisis. Also, graduate students who are RNs are facing pressure to return to full time work in hospitals, Dr. Carter noted. The school will be looking at extending timelines for degree completion, if needed. Students need to keep in close contact with their supervisors and the graduate offices during this period.

As for recruitment of new research participants such as patients, there is currently a “hold” on this. More guidance on this should be coming shortly.

Travel is at a standstill, of course. That means that conferences where researchers present their work to their colleagues are cancelled. While airlines aren’t reimbursing, travellers are urged to track their costs so they can be reimbursed from their research funders.

Applications for research projects continue, as usual, and researchers should carry on with submitting their applications to the research office for review. 

McGillion and Carter will continue to update everyone as new information arises. Researchers can reach out to them for any questions regarding their individual projects.


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