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Researchers and Funding

[Update: 04/05]

Below you will find the latest information from our key research funders as well responses to Frequently Asked Questions regarding the impact of Covid-19 on Researchers and Funding.

Please note, the answers provided are general advice for reference purposes and should not be taken as specific advice based on your individual circumstances.

If you have queries that are not answered below, please contact the team on 

  • UKRI open call for research and innovation ideas to address COVID-19

Proposals are invited for short term projects (max 18 months) addressing and mitigating the health, social, economic and environmental impacts of the COVID-19 outbreak: More Information

  • COVID-19 Outbreak Expert Database

If you feel you have any expertise relating to the COVID-19 outbreak or its impacts, Parliament’s Knowledge Exchange Unit would be very grateful if you would sign up to the database.

Sign up to COVID-19 Outbreak Expert Database here

Information From Funders [Update 04/05]

Medical Charities [update 04/05]

The Association of Medical Research Charities (AMRC) have collated information from a number of their member organisations into one webpage which also includes medical advice and other useful infomation related to Covid-19:

In light of updated government advice regarding the eligibility for, and applicability of, the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) a number of charitable funders are now advising that staff unable to work on funded research projects should be placed on 'furlough'.

People and Culture are exploring the implications of this for Quen's sfatt and will provide advice to those affected

Additional detail is provided below for key funders, as well as links to other funders' statements.

Research Grant Applications - Frequently Asked Questions

  • I am preparing an application; should I continue to do so, or should I wait?

    Our advice is that you should continue to work on grant applications as *normal*.  

    However, some funders have indicated that there may be extensions to submission deadlines, delays to call opening dates or in some limited cases, the suspension of particular funding schemes.  

    UKRI have published details of delays or amendments to current open funding calls here:

    Please contact your respective Faculty Research Development support staff if you have specific queries or see the links elsewhere on this page.

  • I am waiting on a specific funding scheme to come out, is it going to go ahead?

    The situation is evolving on an almost daily basis. Most funders have indicated that they will be continuing to operate their funding schemes, although some of them may be delayed or have altered submission/decision deadline.  

    UKRI have published details of delays or amendments to current open funding calls here:

    Please contact your respective Faculty Research Development liaison if you have specific queries or see the links elsewhere on this page.

  • How can I access support for Research Development/Faculty Finance?

    The Research Development team is available to support applications as usual. We can all be contacted by email and are making use of MS Teams to engage directly with researchers.

    The starting point for engagement with faculty finance teams is to complete an entry on the Research Application System (RAS). Please see this page for more information.

    It is essential that you engage with RAS as early as possible in the application planning stage – due to the additional pressures associated with remote working we cannot guarantee that last minute requests will be processed in time for submission.

    If you have specific queries or would like to discuss an application, please contact your respective Faculty Research Development support staff.

  • I have submitted an application but have not had a response, when will I hear? [update 08/04]

    Due to changes in working practices currently being employed by funders, we are seeing some delays to the processing and/or starting of research grants. In addition, decision making panels will now be meeting virtually and this is likely increase the time it takes to communicate outcomes on submitted proposals. 

    Please note the UKRI specific information below:

    If there is to be a delay to a Call that will exceed three weeks, UKRI will write to applicants to advise accordingly and will also use this distribution group to advise Research Organisations as well.

    Reviewers have been advised to review grant applications without reference to the current coronavirus lockdown, i.e. applications should be reviewed in normal conditions. It will be for Research Organisations to declare any problems should they arise later down the line. PI Responses should also not refer to the coronavirus situation unless it makes a material difference to the award. If the lockdown starts affecting proposed awards, this will be addressed in line with UKRI guidelines.

    Consequently, we will expect reviewer comments to say things like ‘notwithstanding the current coronavirus crisis’ and ‘providing the coronavirus crisis eases’, should they wish to reference this within comments.

    Panel meetings will be conducted virtually for the foreseeable future. AHRC have put in place contingency plans to allow this to happen. In line with the above, if panel meetings have to be pushed back for a prolonged period, AHRC will inform applicants.

  • My project has been awarded but I don’t know what to do next?

    We are operating according to our standard procedures and the Faculty Finance teams will be processing awards as usual – however there may be some delay to this process.  

    If you have not yet confirmed your start date with the funder we advise that you liaise with the Research Finance team to identify a suitable start date in the future and seek agreement from the funder that this is acceptable. 

    Please note that the Research Contracts team are working carefully to understand the implications of the current pandemic on individual contracts. An assessment will need to be made on a case-by-case basis for contracts awarded since the outbreak, to determine whether these can be delivered as originally planned.  Please bear with us, while we prioritise Covid-19 related research.

  • I have a research idea around the Covid-19 pandemic – are there any specific funds or schemes that I can apply to? [update 24/04]

    Yes - UKRI have now launched an open, fast-track funding scheme for Covid-19 research. In addition, current UKRI award holders may submit propsoals to repurpose their exisiting funding to address Covid-19 related topics.

    Details of this, and other initiatives can be found here:

    In the meantime, the majority of funders continue to operate standard, responsive mode funding calls to which you can apply at any time. If you would like to discuss your idea with us please contact your respective Faculty Research Development liaison.

    Staff are encouraged to speak to their respective Faculty Communications Officers to discuss highlighting their work on the university website.

    Please see the question below as well

  • [New] I wish to apply to the new UKRI Covid-19 research initiative - is there anything I need to know?

    Yes, the university has put in place a 'Consent to Proceed' process to maintain oversight of applications that are being submitted for Covid-19 related research. This includes applications to the new UKRI scheme but also to other fast track/urgent funding inititiatives (see here for details)

    All applications for Covid-19 related funding must receive consent to proceed via this process - it is essential that we balance the research plans of staff with our duty to protect employees at this time and to comply with government regulations on essential work.

    In addition, we must remain mindful that some proposed research projects will make use of essential resources and material that may be better employed by the NHS in healthcare settings. Furthermore we are keen to maximse the potential of the limited resources that Queen's has (in terms of facilities, equipment and resources) and hence we may only be able to implement one of a range of proposed projects at any one time.

    Applicants should complete the form found here: Consent to Proceed [Word] and must send it to prior to submission of an application. 

    All applications will be fast-tracked for consideration by a dedicated panel of senior staff and responses will be sent as soon as possible.

    We strongly advise that you gain Consent to Proceed before requesting detailed costs from your Faculty Finance Team

  • I want to set up a new research study that is relevant to COVID-19 – how do I make this happen quickly?

    Given the public health emergency that has been developing regarding COVID-19, an expedited review process is available to the Research Ethics Service and a proportionate approach can be adopted to the ethical review. 

    We strongly recommend that you begin early conversations with your Research Sponsor, whilst the Director of Approvals Services/REC Operational Manager will be able to advise and support as required.

  • I have received a research contract for review. Who should I contact?

    Please complete a Contracts Request Form via QOL [Services>Research] and your contract will be allocated to a member of the team to progress.

    Please add notes to the form to explain the impact (if any) of the pandemic on delivery of the project, or any other pertinent issues affecting the contract. The more information you provide, the better, for example, if you have any (recent) communications from your funder, please include these.

  • I have a research contract that needs an authorised signature. Will it still be signed?

    Arrangements are in place to ensure contracts are signed on schedule, as far as possible. We are moving to e-signatures, but can still arrange a wet-ink signature if the Funder requires this.

    If the delivery of your project could be affected by the current situation, the signing of the contract may be delayed until there is more clarity on how and when the project can be delivered.

    Please contact the Research Contracts team at

Current Awards/Ongoing Projects

UKRI have funded a survey seeking to collect information on the impacts of Covid-19 on researchers and doctoral students. Please take some time to complete it here:

  • I am currently undertaking fieldwork and am unable to complete it – what should I do?

    If you are out of the country and wish to return home we advise that you should make efforts to travel home safely and at your earliest convenience. Please follow appropriate local and UK government advice for travel and remain in contact with your line manager and the university to keep us updated on your situation. 

    Please see the University Travel Advice FAQs for additional information

    If you are undertaking fieldwork locally (e.g. UK/ROI) and it is no longer viable, then our advice is to make efforts to undertake as much of the work from home as is feasible.  

    Award holders should avoid making plans to undertaken new fieldwork at this time in line with government advice 

    If you are likely to incur additional costs due to rearrangement of travel plans on a UKRI-funded project, we have been advised that you should try to absorb these within the overall budget initially but that UKRI will provide additional small scale funding as required, on a case by case basis. 

  • My project is due to end shortly but I cannot access the facilities or undertake my planned activities to complete my work, can I delay the end of my project?

    Yes, the majority of funders have indicated that they will accept extension requests due to the Covid-19 pandemic.  

    You should liaise directly with the funder and your Research Finance contact (if you do not know who this, is please contact As we do not know how long the current situation will continue for our advice is that you request the longest permissible extension to avoid having to make multiple requests.  

    Note: Some funders are requesting that you do not ask for an extension until you can be clear of the expected duration of the delay.


  • I have staff employed on my project whose salary comes from the grant – what happens to them if I delay the project?

    This is a difficult situation and the university, along with our Russell Group Partners, is working closely with funders and government to find a solution. Some funders (e.g. Dunhill Medical Trust) have indicated they will continue to pay contracted research staff throughout the grant period.  

    At the moment, all contract researchers employed on research grants should continue to be paid as normal unless otherwise advised by the funder. In all cases our priority is to ensure individual research team members are not disadvantaged. Keeping a log of the impact of the situation is strongly advised. A number of funders have indicated that they will accept requests for costed extensions or supplementary funding in due course. 

    As funders make their position clear on this we will keep you up to date. 

  • I, and my team, need access to facilities to deliver my research project. As the campus is now closed for all non-essential research and I can’t do my research remotely, should I seek to stop my grant?

    The University is considering advice from different funding bodies on this matter. The University is communicating with funders on behalf of PIs and their research teams, and is working to ensure that any negative consequences are minimised. Where possible researchers should continue such activity as is feasible.

    This is an evolving situation and we would ask for your patience.

  • I need to access the lab to complete my work but have been told to work from home, what should I do?

    In line with government advice, Queen’s has now instituted a complete closure of all non-essential facilities across the campus and advise all staff to work from home where possible. If you require access to Queen’s facilities to complete essential work or to make arrangements to ‘pause’ any experiments please contact your line manager and head of school to discuss access.

    Note that access to all Queen's buildings is strictly limited to prearranged times with the Estates Directorate and staff cards will no longer provide routine entry. 

    Only research activity that cannot be safely discontinued or that is directly related to Covid-19 should remain active, all other work should be paused until further notification.

  • I am an EC MSCA fellow, how does this affect my fellowship?

    At present, MSCA Individual Fellowships cannot be extended in duration through budget increases, the only way one can extend the duration of their project is by suspending it either full-time or part-time basis.

    So if a fellow wishes to suspend the fellowship for the next few months for example during COVID-19 lock down, the suspended months can be added on at the end.

    In order for this part-time arrangement to take place, the university will need to launch an amendment for suspension. There you will need to indicate the suspension arrangement, the exact dates during which this arrangement will take place and a justification in the justification box. Before submitting the request, MSCA advise hitting the ‘consult officer button’, which will enable the project officer to have a look at the amendment request before it is officially submitted for any possible errors.  It is usually a quick turnaround for the amendment to be signed.

    Any MSCA-IF holders with sepcific questions are advised to contact their appropriate Research Development NICP via the EU team inbox 

  • I was to undertake focus groups/interviews with participants, given the social distancing requirements how do I complete my research?

    In line with government advice that individuals must practice social distancing, therefore you must consider your research and identify if there are alternative methods that can be used to complete your research.  For example, telephone interviews, conducting focus groups using an on-line meeting tool, undertaking a postal or on-line survey.  

    Please note that any amendment to the study protocol will require ethical consideration either from your Faculty/School REC. For those studies involving an NHS/HSC REC, please contact your Sponsor in the first instance regarding any proposed changes.

  • How do I collect consent from my participants if I am using an on-line forum?

    This depends on whether you are undertaking an on-line survey or whether you plan to hold a telephone interview/on-line focus group.

    • For surveys, the consent process can be captured as part of the response. Build a consent statement into the preamble at the start of your survey and make sure that it is explained that the participant can withdraw and exit at any time, however, data already collected may well be retained and used.
    • For a telephone interview/on-line focus group consider asking participants to put an electronic signature onto the consent forms or to return the consent from via email with a confirmation that they consent in the email.
  • I have been recruiting patients/clients from the local health and social care Trust – should I continue?

    This is very much dependent on the capacity of individual Trusts. Given the pressures being faced by health and social care organisations, it is important that you carefully consider whether your current research may be adding an additional strain. Studies can be temporarily suspended or halted and this can be discussed with the study Sponsor.

  • My target population are health and social care professionals is it possible to still involve them in my research?

    Again, this is dependent on capacity and the pressures being faced by health and social care professionals. A noted in the previous question it is important that you carefully consider whether your current research may be adding an additional, unnecessary strain given current circumstances.

  • [New] Is there anything I should be doing for my project during the lockdown period?

    Over the next few weeks and months, we would strongly encourage you, and your wider team/colleagues to keep clear records of any effects on your planned work (e.g. experiments or activities that have been postponed/altered) as well as details of any expenditure incurred which will not acheive its original purpose (e.g. costs incurred in preparatory work for research activity which has been cancelled.)  

    Such records will be essential when we resume normal working practices and will also assist with planning and preparation for any future situations.

    UKRI have funded a survey to collect details of the impact of Covid-19 on researchers and doctoral students, we advise that staff contribute to this as appropriate:

  • I have a US Ireland / Research Challenge Fund award where funding is from DAERA. There are going to be delays to the work, what do I need to do?

    DAERA is aware that due to restrictions and safety measures Covid-19 may have implications for DAERA funded research projects that could result in unavoidable delays. Where necessary, DAERA will work together with Project Coordinators and Principal Investigators, on a case-by-case basis, to facilitate practical solutions.  

    Make contact with DAERA should you require any of the following:

    • Extensions to deadlines for Financial/Scientific reporting of annual PPRs,
    • Modification requests relating to quarterly returns, extensions, proposed budget reallocations and review of tasks and deliverable dates.
  • I have a DAERA funded award and have submitted my Q4 report and claim, will this be processed by DAERA?

    DAERA is aware that due to restrictions and safety measures Covid-19 may have implications for DAERA funded research projects that could result in unavoidable delays. Where necessary, DAERA will work together with Project Coordinators and Principal Investigators, on a case-by-case basis, to facilitate practical solutions.  

    DAERA will continue to evaluate the Q4 DAFM/DAERA claims when submitted.

    Ballykelly House will be closed for a period of time and staff will be working from home which could delay some payments but we are endeavouring to keep any such delays to a minimum.

    Should you have any queries please do not hesitate to contact DAERA on

  • The two US Ireland 2020 Programme Priority Areas have a deadline date of 02/04/20, will the application be evaluated?

    DAERA will continue to evaluate the applications for the final two US Ireland 2020 Programme Priority Areas that have a deadline date of 02/04/20.

    Ballykelly House will be closed for a period of time and staff will be working from home which could delay some payments but we are endeavouring to keep any such delays to a minimum.

    Should you have any queries please do not hesitate to contact DAERA on

  • Will funders pay for extensions or will they continue to pay staff whilst projects are suspended/paused?

    Things are continually evolving with funders and we are seeking further clarity around the potential cost implications for staff funded on various projects.

    It does appear that requests for costed extensions may be considered by UKRI in certain circumstances - but we are awaiting additional guidance before we can say more.


    At this stage it seems that it is not possible to make use of the government back furlough scheme for contracted research staff on most funded projects. 

    However we have been advised by at least one charity that they will not continue to pay research staff whilst projects have been susupended and that any staff affected will be eligible for support via the furlough scheme.

    As this situation evolves Research & Enterprise as well as the Finance Directorate will keep staff informed.

  • Research England - REF2021

    How does Covid-19 affect REF 2021?

    Research England has announced that REF 2021 will be delayed in light of Covid-19.  The original submission date of 27 November 2020 will no longer apply, and a new submission date will be announced, following consultation with the sector, with eight months’ notice.  This is not an eight month delay, and the new submission date could be any time from January 2021 onwards.  Research England does not plan to cancel the REF exercise.


    Internal REF preparations at Queen’s are continuing as planned, with appropriate delays to deadlines to allow those involved in REF planning to adapt to the new working environment.  Your primary point of contact for any REF queries should be your ‘REF Champion’.  Contact details can be accessed here.  In particular, REF Champions are currently working to update selected ‘outputs’ and develop further drafts of ‘environment statements’ ahead of summer 2020.


    Particular challenges have emerged around REF 2021 impact case study development in some areas as a result of Covid-19.  If you are a case study author who has been affected, and have not done so already, please contact your REF Champion and the relevant Faculty Impact Officer to discuss.  The Impact Team will try to mitigate these challenges and support you in whatever way they can.  If you are engaged in the frontline response to Covid-19, you do not need to get in contact – the Faculty Impact Officer(s) will manage case studies until it is appropriate for you to become involved again.


    This guidance, and ongoing REF planning deadlines, does not apply to any individuals or UoAs directly involved in the response to Covid-19, whether that is as part of the medical response or otherwise. Clearly, those activities must be prioritised.  Equally, there will be those who are directly affected by Covid-19 in other ways.  While we are attempting to ensure we maintain momentum in our REF preparations, we are conscious and sensitive to the fact that there are more urgent personal and professional priorities at this time.

Collaborative and Contract Research 

Post-Doctoral Researchers

  • As a postdoc, is there anything specific I should do?

    If you haven’t discussed it already, you should arrange a meeting with your PI to talk about:

    - What you can actually do from home; agree on what you should focus on and set clear expectations that are reasonable considering your current personal situation (e.g. caring duties etc.)

    - Contingencies to complete the research: find alternative ways to answer your research question when it is clear that “plan A” can’t be carried out

    - The grant you are employed on and its potential eligibility for a no-cost or funded extension. Ask if your PI is planning to apply for one

    - The possibility for your contract to be extended if the grant benefits from an extension (e.g. your funder allows applications for funded extensions and your PI intends to apply, your PI has access to additional funds that they will use to extend your contract if the grant gets a no-cost extension etc.)

    In addition, you should:

    - Expect your contract to end as planned and engage with job searches and applications in a timely manner (it is usually thought that finding a job takes about 6 months)

    - Review the FAQs for postdoctoral researchers but also wider FAQ pages (for researchers, all staff, regarding travel etc.). Links are on the right-hand side of this page

  • I am afraid that I will not be able to complete my research because I can’t travel/recruit patients/access laboratory equipment etc.

    Making the best out of the situation involves:

    - Focusing on what can be done now (literature search, analysis of available data, drafting of papers and funding applications, planning for contingencies and what you will do when access to relevant resources resumes…). This will allow you to be more efficient in the future and catch up with your project’s timeline

    - Find contingencies to carry out the research or answer the research question in a different way. That could involve virtual meetings instead of traveling to meet partners, carrying out patient’s interviews online or using surveys, analysing data from repositories etc. Note that this may involve changes in your ethics study protocol (the amendment form is available here).

  • I feel guilty as I struggle to work, because of caring responsibilities or difficulty to focus on tasks.

    Working from home during a pandemic has many challenges and nobody expects you to deliver “as normal”. Have a talk with your PI to make them aware of your own situation and challenges, and agree on expectations and priorities.

    Do your best considering, don’t compare yourself to others and don’t be too hard on yourself.

    Don’t hesitate to take some annual leave and have clear breaks from work.

  • My project involves fieldwork, international travel and/or working with hospitals, clinics or healthcare systems and I am worried about my own safety.

    At the time of writing, field work and travel are not allowed. Up-to-date information on travelling for your research is provided on this FAQ page.

    With regard to your own safety, once travelling and working with healthcare systems is possible again, talk to your PI and carry out a risk assessment relative to the situation at that time. Depending on the project’s timescale, it may be wise to delay travelling as much as possible.

  • I am worried of our grant running out before we can complete the work.

    Up-to-date information on the positions of various funders can be found higher on this page (Current Awards/Ongoing Projects).

    In a nutshell, at the time of writing:

    Many major funders have announced that they would allow no-cost extensions for grants. This means that PIs will be able to request more time to complete the work and use the allocated budget; it basically moves the end-date of the grant (this won’t be automatic; PIs have to formally apply). This will not be associated with more funding though and as such, wouldn’t result in increasing the length of the contract of staff employed on the grant, like postdocs. This means that your salary payment would end as planned at the time when you accepted the position.

  • I am worried about my visa, which expires soon, and its potential renewal.

    Information on visas can be found higher on this page (Research Grants Frequently Asked Questions). It includes current government policy regarding visa extensions, which will likely evolve as the situation unfolds. For specific queries, please contact the HR Hub (

  • Can postdocs be furloughed?

    For most postdocs the answer will be no, however, this will depend on source of the funding for an individual's salary. 

    The “Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme” announced by the Government cannot be used to cover the salaries of postdocs who are already secured and provided by public funding, through grants (“Where employers receive public funding for staff costs, and that funding is continuing, we expect employers to use that money to continue to pay staff in the usual fashion – and correspondingly not ‘furlough’ them. This also applies to non-public sector employers who receive public funding for staff costs.”).

    A number of charities - particularly those in the medical field are now advising the university that staff employed on a grant should make use of the furlough scheme if they cannot carry out their proposed research activity.

    It may apply to some who are funded by alternative sources but would require demonstrating that none of the work could be done remotely and may not be the right approach. This is constantly being reviewed by relevant Queen’s departments and may be used in the future if deemed suitable.

  • Will my contract be paused or terminated prematurely if my work can’t be done?


    Queen's will honour the terms of all employment contracts which will continue as planned, none will be terminated before the date agreed at the time you accepted the position.

  • Can my contract be extended?

    This will depend and, for most cases, there currently is no clear answer available to this question.

    Some funders may allocate funding for wages when extending grants (e.g. Wellcome Trust) under defined circumstances. If your funder is one of them and your project meets the criteria (e.g. end date of the grant), you may be offered a contract extension.

    Some PIs may have other sources of funding they could use to extend your salary payments or redirect some funds from the grant towards staffing, but this is not guaranteed. Talk to your PI to see if it is the case for you.

    Relevant staff at Queen’s, other Universities, the Russel Group and funders are gathering sector data and internal data to help find ways to support all contract research staff at this difficult time. All options will likely be considered and QUB is committed to minimizing any impact the lock-down might have on individuals, students, contract researchers and other staff.

    We expect that more clarity on this issue will emerge in the weeks to come. In the meantime, you are advised to consider that your contract will end as currently planned.

  • Is Queen’s still recruiting and is the redeployment portal functioning?

    Recruitment (including via the redeployment system) was temporarily paused in April 2020 in order to assess the impact of lockdown on recruitment priorities and procedures.

    Recruitment of research positions for funded grants are expected to resume mid-May 2020. The volume of advertised posts may not be as high as before but will gradually build up.

    Depending on the position, successful candidates may start working from home or be offered a starting date after the summer (other may apply or be negotiated on a case-by-case basis).

    Candidates who had applied for positions that then got taken off the system should be contacted by People and Culture and may in some instances have to re-submit their applications. All are however advised to keep an eye on the recruitment website to avoid missing out on relevant opportunities.

  • When my contract ends, will I receive any financial help?

    To avoid being in this situation, we remind you that all postdoctoral contracts are meant to end and that it is your responsibility to find future employment. It is generally agreed that finding a new job can take about 6 months and all eligible postdocs receive weekly emails in the last 6 months of their contract to direct them to the redeployment system (information on the redeployment system). Please do not wait until the last minute to search for jobs and do not limit yourself to academic positions.

    If alternative employment has not been secured by the end of their fixed-term contract, postdocs may be entitled to a redundancy payment. Eligibility for a redundancy payment is set out in the Redundancy Procedure (contact People & Culture for more information). This procedure remains unchanged in the context of the pandemic.

    When unemployed, ex-postdocs may be eligible to benefits from the government, like the Job Seeker Allowance.

  • I’m worried about the long-term impact of the pandemic and lock-down on my career, considering its effect on outputs etc. and potential periods of unemployment.

    It is unlikely that the pandemic will have any significant impact on your CV and career progression, considering that almost all researchers in the world are experiencing the same disturbances. Recruitment panels etc. will all be aware of the challenges the research community faced during 2020 and will not hold “gaps” against candidates. Those working directly on COVID-19 may actually see benefits to their career!

    In the long run, it is possible that researchers will actually all benefit from indirect consequences of the pandemic, such as more flexible working, better interest and trust in research from the public, more collaborative and open research environment etc.