Research Administration FAQs

The following frequently asked questions address the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak on the conduct of research, research operations, and sponsored projects at MIT. This webpage will be updated as new information is received. The FAQs are organized by major category and can be accessed by clicking the links below:

Availability of Services

What RAS services are available?

All VPR and RAS services remain operational until further notice. Continue to contact your RAS Contract Administrator for most matters. If there are changes, communications will be sent via email and posted on the COVID-19 Impact on Sponsored Programs page.

What services will be available on campus for deliveries, parking, cleaning, etc. during COVID-19?

The Department of Facilities will remain available to campus during COVID-19 and will coordinate all essential services with consideration for the health and safety of the entire MIT community. See their Facilities Service Updates COVID-19 page for the latest updates regarding campus services.

Allowable Costs / Charges / Effort on Sponsored Projects

I was planning to travel to a conference to present my research work supported by my grant, but the conference was cancelled due to precautions regarding COVID-19. May I still charge the travel-related costs to the grant?

The Office of Management and Budget issued a memorandum to the heads of executive departments and agencies providing them with the flexibility to grant administrative relief to recipients of federal funding on March 19. Agency guidance is evolving and in many cases pre-dates the expanded flexibility detailed in the March 19 memo. 

Please continue to follow the MIT Travel Policies and general cost principles described in the Uniform Guidance.

I’m a PI or researcher working remotely from home during the COVID-19 crisis. Can my effort still be charged to the grant? What if I am not sick and cannot work remotely?

MIT is open for business, and pay and benefits will continue uninterrupted during this period of social distancing when MIT is open but all non-essential staff are working remotely, as per Massachusetts COVID-19 Order No. 13

Agency guidance is evolving. At this time, all salaries should continue to be charged to the appropriate sponsored project. See updated pay policies in response to COVID-19.

What if I am home sick and can't work on my project? Can my salary still be charged to the grant?

Staff who are not able to work because they are sick will be paid consistent with MIT’s sick leave policy. Individuals should record their sick time using the sick time tracking tool. (requires Touchstone)

Can I charge trip cancellation insurance to my grant?

Trip cancellation insurance is typically unallowable on sponsored awards. We are monitoring guidance the federal government may issue related to travel. If you need to travel in the coming months to conduct business for a sponsored project, and you want to purchase trip cancellation insurance, you should reach out to your assigned Contract Administrator to request prior approval from the sponsor.

I am a PI/researcher and I am required to work from home as a result of the coronavirus. Would I be able to charge supplies relating to telework (i.e., such as a laptop, printer, office supplies, etc.) to my grant?

These types of expenses are not allowable as a direct cost unless specifically approved by the sponsor. You may wish to talk with your supervisor about your needs in order to work from home.

Research-related Travel

I was planning to visit a lab to conduct work/I was planning to meet with a collaborator/I was planning to attend a conference, but cannot because of travel restrictions relating to COVID-19. What should I do?

MIT’s policy on travel restrictions related to COVID-19 can be found here. These policies will be updated as the situation evolves. The Vice President for Finance has also developed a COVID-19 FAQs resource on canceling and expensing travel and events. (requires Touchstone)

Proposal Deadlines

I am self-isolated, quarantined, and/or at home caring for a sick family member and am unable to submit my proposal by the stated deadline. May I request an extension?

Most federal agencies do not typically grant prior approval for late submissions but have policies to address extenuating circumstances.  

See also:

Where can I get more information on sponsor-specific policies concerning disasters and emergencies?

Known federal agency specific information can be found on the COVID-19 Impact on Sponsored Programs. This page will be updated as additional is made available.

Research-related Questions

I'm experiencing delayed subject recruitment and/or cancellations of scheduled follow up visits with my study participants and it is negatively affecting the progress of my grant. What should I do?

For programmatic issues affecting your study, we recommend you speak with your agency program officer or other sponsor contact. If delays persist, they may need to be reported in future progress reports, or you may need a no cost extension to complete your study. Please coordinate any such requests with your Contract Administrator.

What is the contingency plan for animal care?

The Division of Comparative Medicine (DCM) has a pandemic response as part of our overall disaster plan. Our veterinarians and veterinary and animal technicians are considered essential employees and will be expected to come in during a disaster. Whenever there is a possibility that there will be a significant loss of staff or limited access to animals, the DCM identifies staff who would be willing and able to come to or stay in the facility, and work is limited to life supporting procedures only; changeouts and other husbandry procedures that are deemed non-essential to the support of life are delayed as determined by the DCM. Additional DCM FAQs (requires Touchstone) are also available on the DCM website.

What do I do if my research involves human subjects?

MIT’s Committee on the Use of Humans as Experimental Subjects has created a detailed FAQ resource for research involving human subjects.

In addition, on 3/16/20, NIH released Guidance for NIH-funded Clinical Trials and Human Subjects Studies Affected by COVID-19.

Environmental Health and Safety (EHS)

I have questions about the lab scale back, safety and operations during COVID-19. Where can I get answers and stay abreast of any changes during this period?

MIT Environment, Health, and Safety Office will continue to provide support for services on campus and for individuals working remotely. Please see the EHS COVID-19 FAQs for specific guidance, or contact EHS, environment@mit.edu or 617-452-3477, for additional questions or concerns.