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Appendix D:  Guidance for Research Spaces

The University of North Georgia has committed to enhancing student learning outcomes through research activity that exists in three broad categories.

Categories of Scholarship

First, faculty-led scholarship that has creative and empirical components that might require dedicated space in the pursuit of success. This type of scholarship is critical to the advancement of tenure-track and tenured faculty, and it is acknowledged that during the return to work period, junior faculty (tenure track and tenured assistant professors) will be given priority in each phase of the return to work plan.

The second category of scholarship is one that covers student/faculty joint research that serves to advance scholarship while providing mentoring opportunities for students to participate in completing scholarship.

Third, faculty-supervised student research that is is required in fulfillment of degree plans at the graduate level or special programs at the undergraduate level (e.g., McNair Scholars Program) or is encouraged as a high-impact practice for students who wish to engage further in areas of scholarly interest.

Through the phased return to on-campus operations, faculty, staff and students engaged in research and scholarly activities will be expected to follow all university guidelines related to the safe return to campus. Additional practices in support of research will be implemented as necessary to ensure that specific types of scholarly and creative activities are not detrimentally affected by those procedures.

For example, experimental bench science that would be adversely affected by enhanced cleaning will be identified and the lab coordinator will work with facilities to ensure that hygiene is maintained without adversely affecting the results gathered from longitudinal studies.

Research Spaces on Campus

An important consideration of UNG’s support for research activity is that UNG has a limited amount of dedicated research space on its campuses. For purposes of this document, primary research spaces are defined as that those that are used primarily for research, even though these may also be used for research instruction with graduate and/or undergraduate students. These spaces are not part of the “classroom pool,” and classes would not normally be scheduled to be held in these spaces.

Primary research spaces that are used or controlled by a single faculty member or research lab group (e.g., P.T. lab spaces in HNS) will be referred to as dedicated research spaces.

Primary research spaces that are used by multiple faculty members or research groups (e.g., the Psychological Science lab in the Strickland building) will be referred to as shared research spaces.

In addition to work done in primary research spaces, a great deal of on-campus research activities take place in secondary research spaces – i.e., facilities that are primarily used for instruction (e.g., computer labs, biology labs, and chemistry labs) or general use (e.g., conference rooms) but that may also be used for research when they are available.

It may be difficult to restrict access to these spaces, and special precautions will be needed to ensure that a) routine cleaning and disinfecting protocols as well as social-distancing measures do not unduly interfere with the research and b) any special cleaning and disinfecting protocols or social distancing protocols are enforced.

In addition to primary and secondary research spaces, UNG’s mission as a community engaged institution requires that research work done within our institution, either through an established center or with individual faculty, staff and students, involves active participation with members of the external community.

This involvement includes joint work, some of which is carried out on UNG campuses (i.e., clinics and labs facilitated by colleagues in the College of Health Science Professions), some through online collaborative facilitation, and some which is carried out on sites controlled by the external partner.

Acknowledging that different institutions are planning return to work activities at different paces, UNG faculty/staff/students participating in joint research will seek to conform to their external partner’s required processes when they do not conflict with UNG requirements.

Conflicts will be disclosed to the researcher’s supervisor as they arise, and additional direction will be sought. At no time will either UNG or the external partners participating in the joint activity be expected to violate rules related to the pandemic that their institution has set forth.

Information Gathering Process

To facilitate an orderly return to work related to research, the Office of Research and Engagement, in coordination with Academic Affairs, will initiate a process for gathering information related to scholarly and creative activities that require and/or utilize one or more of the following:

  1. Primary research space, either dedicated or shared, with other faculty and staff (not just other researchers).
  2. Secondary research space shared with faculty/staff/students engaged in instructional activities.
  3. Collaboration with partners external to UNG.
  4. Research under the monitoring of the Institutional Review Board (excluding exempt).
  5. Part of the research team is considered junior faculty as defined above.
  6. The research is considered time-sensitive:
    1. FUSE / Presidential Summer Incentive Award
    2. Externally funded with specific due dates that cannot be moved.
    3. Graduate student thesis/dissertation implications
    4. Research that involves COVID-19 “at-risk” populations.
    5. Research involving biologics – plants / live creatures.

This list will provide information in support of department chairs, deans, and members of the academic affairs leadership in deciding on allocation of resources as necessary and appropriate to ensure that UNG returns to research work through each phase in a manner that is safe. It will also support planning access to necessary shared services related to research during all phases of the return to work process.

Shared resources include access to library volumes, the writing center, the IRB, the Office of Research Integrity, the Office of Grants and Contracts and other research related services.

Coordination of activities between the researcher and facilities is required throughout this process to ensure correct hygiene protocols are followed and that longitudinal research is not disrupted.

In addition to standard lab safety and research protocols, hygiene, mitigation and monitoring requirements will follow UNG COVID-19 return to work standards at each phase.

Phase 1

Staffing

During Phase 1, faculty and staff requiring access to primary laboratory research space will be allowed access, with permission, to approved space. Students who are required by faculty/staff for the successful completion of approved work (E.g., FUSE, funded projects, etc.) will be allowed to assist under the direct supervision of the faculty researcher. In the case of multiple requests for the same shared research space, priority will be given to junior faculty.

Innovation

Faculty involved with research requiring specialized protective gear are encouraged to consider the use of novel methods that protect the integrity of both the researcher and the research that can be further developed for use beyond the current COVID-19 event.

Phase 2

Staffing

In addition to those brought back for Phase 1, Phase 2 staffing will include support for faculty/staff tasked with the development, stocking, and setup of secondary research spaces that will be used for instructional purposes in Phase 3. Second, students who are required to complete research as part of their graduate degree plan and are working under the supervision of a major advisor, will be allowed back with the permission of their department chair.

Innovation

Develop and promulgate standardized protocols for interacting with human subjects through electronic media, including the ability to obtain and document informed consent electronically, to use online tools for data collection, and to use remote communication tools for conducting interviews and focus groups.

Phase 3

Staffing

In addition to those brought back for Phase 1/2, Phase 3 staffing will include support for faculty/staff tasked with mentoring students who are completing research as part of their university experience and are working under the supervision of a major advisor, will be allowed back with the permission of their department chair.

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