Return to Research


Dr. Danika van Proosdij conducting research on a marsh.

A protocol and process guide for a phased approach to returning to on-campus and field research activities.

This Protocol and Process Guide provides direction on how on-campus and field research activity can resume in phases, to be implemented when circumstances related to COVID-19 in Nova Scotia will allow the gradual lifting of activity restrictions. The processes outlined here are sufficiently general that they can be followed throughout the coming months, within the evolving stages of lifting activity restrictions by the Provincial Chief Medical Officer of Health (CMOH).

This content is also available as a PDF: Return to Research Protocol [PDF].

Approved Return to Research activities must be restricted further (November 27, 2020)

This information supersedes the prior notices shown below.

Approved Return to Research activities must be restricted further, beyond the Temporary Scale-Back of Return to Research that was announced on November 25, reverting to the Return to Research Phase 1 – COVID-related research only on-campus, and only essential field research off-campus. Special requests for lab or other campus access for non-COVID research to wrap-up research activity, transition research to remote work environment or to sustain experiments to protect data or materials should be directed to Dr. Adam Sarty, AVP Research, and will require the approval of the Vice-President, Academic and Research.

Temporary Scale-Back of Return to Research activities (November 25, 2020)

Given changes to Nova Scotia restrictions announced to start now, the following scale-back of approved Return to Research activities is required for as long as these current Provincial restrictions are in place:

  • For all on-campus research activities: beyond ensuring the gathering limit of five and other public health protocols are followed, the number of people accessing campus should be minimized to only the level required to keep the research activity functioning; scheduling should also ensure overlap of personnel is done only as required.
  • For off-campus field research activities: beyond ensuring the gathering limit of five and other public health protocols are followed, travel to any field site should only be undertaken if absolutely necessary to keep the research activity functioning and avoid loss of data, since travel in/out of HRM is currently restricted to “essential travel” only.
  • All face-to-face meetings with research participants or collaborators should be suspended at this time, with a return to virtual meetings.
  • Any research that can be done remotely, must return to being done remotely.
THIRD/FINAL PHASE of implementing the Return to Research process

In addition to the now-established allowance for full-time faculty members to access their offices on a regular basis utilizing the check-in/out website provided to faculty, the Third (and Final) Phase of the Return to Research process is also now open.

Starting Monday, October 5, applications will be accepted following the process outlined here for research activities falling into this category:

  • research that involves face-to-face interactions with either research participants or research collaborators (or stakeholders)

In addition, applications will continue to be accepted for research activities falling into one of the two categories previously announced for the First Phase on May 25:

  • research related directly to COVID-19 issues
  • field research

As well as applications for research activities associated our Second Phase which was announced on June 19:

  • research that requires specialized facilities available only on the Saint Mary’s University campus

Applications for research activities falling into any of these identified categories will be able to be reviewed at this time.


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