FAQ for Researchers

Status: 14 January 2021

Research Operations:

Can research projects be conducted on UZH premises?

All research activities that do not require a physical presence must be carried out from home. Research activities requiring a physical presence on the premises of UZH are possible to a limited extent. The research project leader must have a specific safety concept for preventing the spread of coronavirus. Furthermore, the provisions for staff and for researchers must be respected.
Safety Concept for the University of Zurich
Information for Staff
Information for Researchers

What restrictions apply when planning research projects?

In principle and in addition to the safety concepts and provisions for staff and researchers, the following points must be considered when planning research activities:

  • Should the pandemic situation worsen further, additional restrictions might be imposed. In this case it cannot be guaranteed that there would be time to complete time series or long experiments in a controlled manner. This must be taken into account, in particular when planning new animal experiments.
  • If the research project depends services provided by third parties, they must give an assurance that they can provide the necessary services. Examples include the LASC and the technology platforms. They must also ensure that they do not endanger the health of their employees and that they do not promote the spread of the coronavirus. The LASC and the technology platforms will assess the situation and decide to what extent they can provide which services and allow researchers to work on their premises. 
  • Researchers have to protect themselves during numerous laboratory activities. Personal protective equipment such as disposable gloves, protective clothing, face masks may become scarce due to increased medical needs and interrupted supply chains. However, the prescribed industrial hygiene measures for laboratory activities must be guaranteed at all times. Otherwise the activity must not be carried out.

How can I best restrict the number of people in my research spaces?

In order to prevent the spread of coronavirus as far as possible, it will be necessary to avoid having all members of a research group present in a labs or office at the same time. There are many possibilities to limit occupancy, e.g. through WhatsApp groups or by setting up calendars for each room. For this purpose, UZH is extending the use of the reservation system for shared equipment for this period. You can find instructions on how to use the system and register rooms here:
Instructions booking system room occupancy (PDF, 498 KB)

Junior Researchers:

How does UZH support researchers in junior academic positions who were unable to carry out their research projects as planned due to the corona situation?

The Executive Board of the University is aware that the temporary shutdown of research and the restrictions imposed by the Covid-19 pandemic may pose major challenges, especially for researchers in junior academic positions. On 19 May 2020, the UZH Executive Board therefore approved the option of applying for additional funds for hardship cases for a maximum of two months.
Application Form Hardship Cases and information sheet (DOCX, 61 KB)
Information for Junior Researchers

Under what conditions can my supervisor file a hardship application?

The research project was significantly affected by the restrictions imposed by the Covid-19 pandemic from mid-March 2020 onwards and could therefore not be completed as planned. There was neither an alternative procedure to avoid delays in the project, nor could measures be taken that would have allowed the junior researcher to obtain the relevant qualification. The employment ends no later than 31 March 2022 and within four months of making the hardship application, and is funded by central UZH research funding or by third-party funds for which the third-party donor does not allow additional funding. Other funding options at the level of the research unit, institute/department and faculty have been verifiably examined, but are not or only partially possible.

What evidence and justifications must be provided for the application?

Applications can be submitted at the earliest four months before the end of an employment or funding, and pandemic-related restrictions must be documented in as much detail as possible. It should be explained to what extent the completion of the project and gaining the relevant qualification was endangered. It is therefore important that affected researchers in junior academic positions and their supervisors document the restrictions well, so that they are also able to submit the application at a later date. Reasons should be given as to why no alternative pathway was possible and evidence should be provided as to why other funding options are not or only partially possible.

My employment is funded by the regular budget of my supervisor. Do I also fall under the hardship clause?

For cantonal-funded junior academic positions (excluding central UZH research funding), there is the possibility of extending the employment via the regular budget. For this purpose, the employment can also be extended beyond the maximum duration of six or nine years upon justified request (according to PVO-UZH § 15 para. 4). For this purpose, please contact your supervisor and your HR representative.

I am employed on an SNSF project. Can my supervisor submit a hardship application?

If the hardship criteria are met and the SNSF does not provide additional funding, an application may be submitted under certain circumstances. However, please note that – based on Article 36 of the SNSF Funding Regulations – it is possible to apply for additional funding to complete the project.
FAQ SNSF: Research delay because of the Corona-Virus


What funding opportunities are available for research projects specifically on coronavirus (Covid-19)?

At the beginning of March, the SNSF launched a special call for coronavirus research with a planned budget of CHF 5 million. 284 applications were submitted and 36 have been approved.

To complement this, the SNSF has launched the National Research Program (NRP) "Covid-19" on behalf of the Federal Council. The aim of NRP 78 is to provide health care recommendations and innovative solutions to fight Covid-19. 190 applications were submitted and 28 have been approved.

What measures are in place for third-party funded projects which could not be carried out as planned due to the pandemic?

In the current situation, the SNSF provides flexible solutions for grant holders and applicants. Information on the current measures can be found on the "Coronavirus: SNSF update" website, which is updated regularly:
Coronavirus: SNSF update

An overview of the measures taken by Innosuisse can be found here:
Overview measures Innosuisse

EU GrantsAccess supports researchers in all aspects of international public research funding. Information on coronavirus and Horizon 2020 projects can be found on the EU Grants Access website and directly on the European Research Area (ERA) Corona Platform:
EU Grants Access
European Research Area (ERA) Corona Platform

Travelling Abroad:

I have to go abroad for a research project. Can I still go?

Business and research trips on behalf of UZH are possible if the necessary safety measures are respected and the trip is approved by the relevant dean or head of Central Services unit.
Approval form for work-related travel abroad (PDF, 124 KB)

I was invited to talk at an international symposium. Do I have to cancel?

International trips on behalf of UZH are possible if the necessary safety measures are respected and the trip is approved by the relevant dean or head of Central Services unit.
Approval form for work-related travel abroad (PDF, 174 KB)