Academic FAQ: Research Continuity
Last Updated: March 27, 2020


Please see the university’s main resource page for all information relevant to our response to the novel coronavirus.  Any specific questions should be directed to the Office of Sponsored Programs at

Is the Campus open?

The University administration is open and operating with normal business hours. Employees should continue to report to work as usual while taking the responsible precautions to maintain a healthy environment.

Supervisors are asked to explore models that take advantage of Social Distancing for their employees for activities that are best performed on campus. At this time, there are no plans to restrict access to University research spaces, but it is wise for every research group to plan ahead in the event that full access is not possible for some period of time, or in the event that there are health concerns in specific laboratories or research spaces.

Can research operations continue?

In further response to the coronavirus Covid-19 situation, the university has revised our guidance regarding research operations.

At this time, the university is suspending all data collection activities related to research, except in those situations deemed by the Provost to be “essential”.  We are not suspending research.  Data analysis and writing should continue to the extent possible, but in-lab production of data should be shut down.  

It would be wise for any operations that continue under the “essential” label to prepare for the possibility that campus access could be restricted in the future, or for the possibility of health-related issues within a laboratory.

Any questions regarding research operations should be directed to David Long, Assistant Provost, at, or the Office of Sponsored Programs at 202-319-5218 or

What about communications with Research Assistants?

Supervisors should maintain regular appointments/meetings with graduate student employees. These meetings should be regular, not long in duration, and can easily be done via Google Meet if needed.

Is the Library providing any help/resources for researchers during this time?

The limited staff of the University Libraries will continue libraries’ long-running online services as well as offer a few new services to help with the transition to online research, including:

  • Arranging research consultations
  • Asking reference questions
  • Scanning and uploading materials
  • Finding online articles and ebooks

In order to focus more of their efforts on online support, access to the print collections within Mullen Library will be limited to faculty and graduate students (with the approval of their advisors) and only by appointment at this time. To arrange an appointment, please contact your program’s liaison librarian or submit a request online.

Where can I find additional information about the Library?

Please consult the Library’s COVID-19 website.

Can research with human subjects continue?

All in-person contact with human subjects in IRB-approved protocols is also suspended.  Work with pre-existing data, and protocols that only rely on on-line collection of data can continue.

The university IRB will continue to review and approve human subject research protocols, but these protocols will not be able to begin recruitment of subjects until further notice.

What should I do about my research reports?

Progress and technical reports continue to be due to research sponsors unless you are notified otherwise. These reports should be submitted on time.

What about research related travel?

  • We have canceled all University-related international travel until further notice.
  • Anyone returning from a CDC Level 3 Travel Health Notice designated country should follow 14-day self-isolation guidelines upon their return.
  • University-related domestic travel is discouraged and must be approved in advance by supervisors, as provided in the University's travel policy.

If you choose to travel internationally for personal reasons, please monitor the CDC website and use good judgment, because the situation is changing rapidly and you may face restrictions on your travel or upon your return to the United States. If you experience symptoms of COVID-19 upon your return, contact your health care provider or local board of health, and do not come to campus. 

  • We recommend you consider postponing or canceling any international travel to countries at level 2 or higher and minimize travel in general. 
  • Whenever you travel outside the United States, you are to fill out the travel registry and comply with the international travel policy

As we learn more, we might need to restrict University-related travel to specific cities, states, or regions. If you plan to travel domestically for personal reasons, please use common sense and consider the impact of COVID-19 on your destination when deciding whether to travel. If you do travel domestically for personal reasons, you should self-monitor for symptoms of COVID-19 upon your return.

What about reimbursement for travel that is cancelled?

If a trip is cancelled for reasons beyond the traveler's control (e.g. conference cancellation, or weather or emergency closings), the University will reimburse the costs expended to date which are not returned to the traveler in the form of a credit. The traveler must disclose any credits or concessions provided by lodging or transportation vendors as [a] result of any such cancellations. The traveler is responsible for the cancellation of reservations for lodging and transportation and for requesting a refund or application of the unused ticket or accommodation to the next business trip. Any penalty for failure to cancel reservations will be the personal responsibility of the traveler unless for reasons beyond the traveler's control. Unused tickets or accommodations that were purchased for official University business cannot be used for the traveler's personal benefit. The individual school or department is responsible for seeing that the value of all unused tickets is refunded to the University.

Travel advances for cancelled travel must be returned to the University within three (3) business days after the cancellation.

Will the university continue to support proposal submission? 

In general, we expect that the Office of Sponsored Programs will be able to submit proposals, even if personnel are working remotely.  Our experience is that federal agencies are more flexible about deadlines under difficult circumstances beyond our control, but extensions are not automatic.  Faculty should prepare proposals per usual guidelines, and submit them to OSP at least one week prior to the deadline.

Guidance from individual agencies is posted below, and more information will be posted as it becomes available: