Topic

How to Manage Interruptions to Research

red checkbox Please Note

During this time when research is interrupted as a result of COVID-19,  please first check the Research & Innovation Coronavirus (COVID-19) FAQ and Approach for Research Recovery & Adaptation for the most current information.

Who is this for?

  • Principals, Deans, Academic Directors, and Chairs
  • Professor, Faculty Members
  • Research or Financial Administrator

What do I need before I can begin?

When you encounter a major interruption in your funded research at the University of Toronto (U of T), please review the following documents to understand the possible options to manage the interruption.

  • The relevant Funded Research Digest (FReD)
  • Sponsor guidelines or the funding agreement and any other relevant documents

 

Overview

Interruptions in research can occur due to a variety of factors, and they can have a range of implications. While some involve the natural evolution of research that may require a change in plans, other interruptions can involve loss of critical resources and potential loss of funding.

It is important to engage with personnel at the University of Toronto (U of T) who can assist with determining a course of action, including the following.

  • Your Chair and/or Dean
  • Your departmental Business Officer (BO)
  • The 'Authorized By' contact listed on your Funded Research Digest (FReD)

Types of Interruptions to Research

Interruptions in research can occur for a variety of reasons that include, but are not limited to, the following.

  • Changes in participation by co-applicants and collaborators (i.e. someone leaves or is no longer available to be part of the research team) or funding partners
  • Staff changes or departures which may lead to delays in recruiting their replacement
  • Health matters that restrict or prohibit you or your co-applicants from continuing the research for a prolonged period of time
  • You take up an appointment at another University
  • The sponsor stops paying the funding to the University and you therefore do not have sufficient budget to continue your work
  • The sponsor terminates the funding agreement
  • Delays in receipt of necessary equipment
  • Delays or cancellation of travel due to changing conditions or travel advisories in the location where research activities were to occur

When an Interruption Occurs

When an interruption occurs, or you anticipate that one will occur, the following actions are recommended.

  • Reread the terms and conditions of the funding agreement
  • Review the policies and guidelines affecting research at the University
  • Check the relevant Funded Research Digest (FReD)
  • Contact the relevant VPRI funding manager, listed under ‘Authorized By’ in the FRed, to discuss the situation
  • Contact your project manager, if relevant, and BO to avoid potential financial risks (see below)

Potential Financial Risk

It is also recommended that you advise your project manager, if relevant, and your BO in cases where there is a financial risk as a result of the interruption. In such cases, it may be important to avoid incurring any further expenses until a solution to the interruption is identified, and approved by the sponsor if required. This is particularly important for funding agreements where the sponsor must pre-approve all changes to the research plan or budgetary needs; in the worst-case scenario, where a sponsor stops payment or notifies that they wish to terminate funding.

Finding a Solution

A staff member within the Division of the Vice-President, Research & Innovation (VPRI), such as your Research Services Office (RSO) or Innovations and Partnerships Office (IPO) contact, will work with you to refine the terms and conditions of the funding agreement, and can liaise on your behalf, or with you, in corresponding with the Sponsor about major interruptions and possible solutions (e.g. an extension of time, or a budget reallocation, etc.).

Any agreed upon solution may result in a funding agreement amendment. This amendment may or may not impact agreements with your co-applicants. Your RSO or IPO contact will facilitate these impacts, while also ensuring your Department Chair or Faculty Dean and BO are aware of the revisions.

What if a Solution is Not Possible?

In the worst case scenario where an interruption means the research cannot continue, including where the sponsor terminates the funding or is in default of payment, it may be necessary to prevent additional expenditures by freezing the fund with a 'No Post'. A No-Post reduces financial risk to the University.

VPRI Role

  • Assist in interpreting Sponsor and University guidelines and policies governing research funding
  • Participate where appropriate in identifying options to remedy interruptions

VPRI Contact

Find the appropriate VPRI staff member to assist you by checking our staff directory. You may search by discipline area (e.g. Social Sciences, Health & Life Sciences, Natural Sciences or Engineering, etc.) or funding agency name.


 

 

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