College of Liberal Arts

Phased Reopening of Research Activities On and Off Campus

The Office of the Vice President for Research (OVPR) and the College of Liberal Arts (COLA) will be overseeing a research phased plan to reopen in the coming months various categories of research activities that cannot be conducted remotely during the pandemic. The five research phases of this plan are structured by changes in the public health environment. Once the University decides that it is safe and prudent to enter a new research phase, new categories of lab-based and human subjects research can be unpaused.

For more information, please go to the OVPR Research Restart website and the UT Research Restart Plan and Phases.

CURRENT RESEARCH PHASE: 4 (Transition to Research Phase 3 beginning June 1, 2020)

This research phase allows a maximum team capacity of 30-40% of the total size of your team of researchers/investigators (with exceptions for smaller team size), which can be spread over two-week cohorts.  For more on cohorts, allowable lab hours, and other information about workforce management, as well as information about the procurement of PPE, see the Research Restart Toolkit and the Research Restart FAQs.

DUE DATE FOR APPLICATIONS TO REOPEN DURING RESEARCH PHASE 3: June 5, 2020

(see link to application portal below)

Importantly, the opening of a new category of research does not mean that all projects and investigators within this category can be allowed to resume activities. That is because social distancing guidelines, other safety-related guidelines, and the availability of testing and PPE limit how much research can occur at any one time.

As a result, some research activities will need to be given priority independent of the quality and merit of the research.  In line with the principles for phased research reopening adopted by the OVPR, COLA will take into account the following factors in prioritizing research activities within a category to open when the University enters a new research phase. These factors include:

  • Size of team and location on campus in relation to density (most important factor)
  • Location of off-campus research
  • Time-sensitivity of research
  • Involvement of early career scholars (including students) with tight timelines
  • Relevance of research to COVID
  • Careful consideration of COVID effects on the quality of data collection
  • Completion of ongoing research (vs. starting new research)
  • Safety and social distancing plan (see Research Restart Toolkit)
  • Adherence to other University policies on travel and use of institutional resources (e.g., libraries)

When the University enters a new research phase, COLA will begin receiving applications to unpause research activities. Please note:

  • Applications are project-specific, meaning that there will be no blanket approvals for all of an investigator’s or lab’s various activities. Each project requires a separate proposal.
  • To give investigators time to propose and receive equal consideration, these applications will be due by a specific date for each new research phase, and all applications will be reviewed together.
  • Approval will be for a specific time period rather than open-ended, and, for the sake of equity in the face of space, density, testing, and PPE constraints, some approvals granted in earlier research phases may need to be reconsidered or shortened as the University enters each new research phase.
  • Approval will require regular updating, as requested by OVPR and COLA, of the number of personnel working in each space.
  • Faculty with active exemptions still need to supply the information in the application to allow the University to track capacity across buildings. They can note that the project has already been exempted and use their previously approved materials. Any new project or significant additions to their exempted project, however, will require a new application.
  • No personnel should be pressured to work if they are uncomfortable doing so, and there should be no disciplinary or retaliatory action taken against anyone who prefers not to return to work due to concerns about infection.

To apply for approval to reopen research during the current research phase, please fill out this application.

Note that the application for Research Phase 3 was designed to cover the necessary information for the specific kinds of research that will be allowed during this research phase, particularly on-campus in labs and other spaces that will need to be monitored for density.  This application will have multiple forms in future research phases to be more inclusive of the diverse kinds of research conducted by COLA on- and off-campus.

If you have any questions, please email laresearch@austin.utexas.edu or email Associate Dean Crosnoe at crosnoe@austin.utexas.edu.