While challenging, the nationwide lockdown presents researchers at the University of Cape Town (UCT) with an opportunity to focus on a range of research aspects not necessarily prioritised on an ordinarily busy day.
The executive is encouraged that many researchers are taking advantage of this time; it is evident from the activity on UCT’s electronic research administration system. However, a number of areas have been highlighted and are said to be causing researchers a fair amount of anxiety, and the university needs to address these.
This is UCT’s response to researchers’ concerns:
- The Research Contracts and Innovation Office (RCI) has been engaging with sponsors and funding agencies. Funding officers have acknowledged the impact of COVID-19 on research and committed to supporting researchers through this time. Details of funders’ approaches are provided on the RCI website.
- UCT has established a Research Task Team to support its researchers.
- The country’s university sector has joined forces to deal with many aspects of the COVID-19 pandemic. There has also been sectoral engagement on the provision of critical resources and the zero-rating of academic websites. UCT has also made 30 GB of data available to all students currently in South Africa.
- The NRF has extended the submission deadline for grant proposals from 30 April to 15 May 2020. The current extension applies to all grant categories. Details can be found on the research support hub.
- Libraries continue to operate as virtual libraries and continue to maximise open access resources by engaging with counterparts worldwide and entering agreements that extend UCT’s online access resource.
- Postgraduates also receive regular communication that addresses a range of issues.
- The NRF funding call for 2021 is now open. There are several amendments to this call when compared to 2019, including the need for all postgraduate applicants to apply.
Researchers are encouraged to keep an eye out for the research announcements for funding opportunities and new research support activities.
The COVID-19 pandemic represents a sea-change in the way researchers function and presents opportunities for researchers to use this experience to stimulate change towards a new future normal. The executive wishes everyone good health and strength during this period.
Read the DVC’s Desk.