Research Community

Fighting COVID-19

Ulster University experts are tackling the Covid-19 pandemic from every angle, and leveraging global partnership networks to support the local, national and international response.

Find out more

All Researchers are reminded that there may be a delay in accessing the emergency services in the event of an accident at work. As such, essential research must be of a low risk basis.

As it is possible that issues relating to Covid-19 could cause setbacks to research, this section is intended to highlight specific factors that occur more frequently in a research context and to aid planning as an individual researcher or as the leader of a research team.

Setbacks could range from minor delays through to the irrecoverable loss of significant work. It is recommended to proactively consider the likely impacts and develop contingency plans.

COVID 19 Outbreak Expert Database

The UK Government is seeking prompt access to researchers who can provide expert insights relating to both Coronavirus, and its impacts across a diverse and comprehensive range of sectors.

Ulster University researchers with expertise in these fields are invited to sign up to Parliament’s Knowledge Exchange Unit (KEU) COVID-19 Outbreak Expert Database.

Details of the research expertise that may be needed are found on the sign-up page. Signing up does not commit you to contributing; but will enable Parliament to contact you promptly.

In these extraordinary times, Ulster University’s research community may deliver valuable insights and progress in responding to COVID19 and its impacts.

Sign up now

Research Recovery Guidance

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These FAQs for our research community will be kept up to date as far as possible in line with this rapidly evolving situation. Please ensure that you continue to follow general University, PHA and other guidance in the meantime.

We will continue to closely monitor this fast-moving situation as it relates to research activity; with regular updates on these web pages, on Twitter and through our usual communications channels.

Supervisory arrangements for PhD Researchers

Frequently Asked Question section for PhD Research is available

Fighting COVID-19

Ulster University experts are tackling the Covid-19 pandemic from every angle, and leveraging global partnership networks to support the local, national and international response.

Find out more

Research Excellence Framework 2021

Arising from the UK’s response to Coronavirus (COVID19) and the emerging priorities for universities and their skilled research communities, here you will find the latest updates on the UK’s planning for REF 2021, including adjusted deadlines.

The REF team has advised (24th March) that full contingency arrangements for the REF 2021 exercise are underway as a matter of urgency. It is recognised that institutions are needing to divert staff resource to other critical areas, including for those working in clinical and health-related fields.

Such activities should be prioritised without concern for the effect on REF preparations. The REF exercise has been put on hold until further notice to enable this, and adapted details of the framework are being developed.

The submission deadline on 27 November 2020 will no longer apply, and a new submission deadline will be announced no later than eight months prior to the deadline. Full allowance will be made for the impact of coronavirus across affected areas of submissions.

The UK research funding bodies recognise the significant effort that has been invested so far by institutions in preparations for the current REF cycle. In view of this, and following the Minister’s advice to universities on supporting their staff, the REF staff census date (31 July 2020) remains unchanged.

The full impact on universities as they respond to calls to support the national effort in the face of COVID-19 is yet to be fully understood. As greater clarity about the period of serious disruption to universities emerges, REF will undertake a light touch consultation on the adapted details of the framework, in view of these challenging times.

The 3 April deadline for nominations to the expert panels has been lifted and nominations may continue to be made until further notice; an appropriate notice period will be given once a new deadline is in place

Research Suspensions

  • What action do we take in relation to human research studies that involve direct contact?

    All face-to-face research involving human participants in the community must be conducted in line with current government regulations and guidelines on social interaction/distancing and any travel restrictions in force at the time. Visits to multiple locations for data collection are discouraged.

    Where research is being undertaken within another organisation (e.g. school, workplace), researchers should adhere to the host organisation’s guidelines and requirements.

    Community research involving face-to-face contact with participants who have pre-existing health conditions and who are shielding or physically vulnerable should not resume at this point.  Alternative methods of contact should be considered.

    Research involving data collection or similar activities in health and social care settings must be conducted in line with guidance issued by DoH/HSCNI/NIHR and the NI HSC trusts and other appropriate bodies.

    Wherever possible, in line with current advice and new restrictions, alternative methods for the collection of data should be considered and used.

  • What action do we take in relation to participation in research on campus?

    Research involving participants on campus is currently permitted subject to appropriate arrangements having been made through the research reboarding process and the observation and maintenance of a safe environment for researchers and visitors.

    For interventional treatment/trials and similar studies, there will be further considerations that CIs/PIs should take into account, and these should be addressed on a case-by-case basis.

  • Can other forms of research survey continue?

    Studies involving online, postal or telephone surveys can continue for the time being; however, colleagues are asked to ensure that all relevant advice and guidance is kept under review and to check the University’s COVID-19 webpages regularly for updates.

    For the latest information from the HRA on studies in the HSC and NHS, please go to

Continuation of Research

Advice on COVD-19 from research funders

Access to research data and systems

Researchers are encouraged to use Sharepoint or onedrive while working with research data to ensure data is secure and accessible to all members of the research team.

Researchers who require access to the University’s secure servers to access data or applications twill need to complete the Secure Remote Access Service (SRAS) application form.

This form is to be approved by your line manager by using the SRAS Staff Application Form

In regards to hard copy data, researchers are encouraged to bring only non-identifiable, replaceable and/or backed-up data home.

Other recommendations from ISD in regards data access and systems should be followed as per the Handbook on Protecting Ulster University Information.

Ethical approvals for research projects

Arrangements for collaborative research

Travel associated with research

Events for Ulster University’s Research Community


Please check back on this site regularly for updates to this advice.

We encourage all Ulster University staff to remain in touch with their colleagues using email, Skype and other social media networks and to keep up to date on Twitter via @UlsterUni