FAQ for Researchers

Which research projects can be conducted on UZH premises from 27 April 2020?

UZH must comply with the instructions and regulations of the FOPH. All activities that can be completed remotely must be done from home. This also applies to research activities.

From 27 April onwards, the performance of research activities on the premises of UZH will be possible under certain conditions. The research project leader must be able to present a specific safety concept for preventing the spread of coronavirus that has been approved by the faculty.
Safety Concept for the University of Zurich

What restrictions apply when resuming research projects?

In principle, the scope of resumed research projects is limited by three factors:

  • If coronavirus infection rates increase again, the Federal Council might again restrict freedom of movement in Switzerland, possibly tighter than before 27 April 2020. Research projects would then have to be suspended again. 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 before the project is resumed 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 is UZH supporting junior researchers in temporary academic positions who were unable to carry out their research projects as planned due to the corona pandemic?

The Executive Board of the University is aware that the temporary shutdown of research and the restrictions that continue to apply from 27 April onwards may pose major challenges, particularly for junior researchers. On 19 May the Executive Board of the University therefore approved the option of applying for additional funding for hardship cases.

  • Primarily, junior researchers are encouraged to discuss with their supervisors the possibilities of adapting the research project to the current situation, if necessary, or defining alternative procedures and tasks.
  • It is also important to document in detail the effects of the corona pandemic on the research project: Which work could/could not be carried out? How long was the research interrupted/reduced? Why were there no alternatives? etc.
  • The extension of employment is permissible for junior academic positions beyond the maximum durations defined in the UZH employment ordinance ( PVO § 15) upon justified request. For SNSF Eccellenza Professorial Fellowships, SNSF Professorships and other persons employed on SNSF-funded projects, please note the deadlines and conditions of the SNSF for project extensions and additional funding:              Coronavirus: SNSF update
  • Persons whose employment is funded by central UZH research funding sources or by other third-party funds can apply for additional funding support, provided they meet the hardship criteria. Please refer to the following application form and the information sheet therein:
    Application Form Hardship Cases and Information Sheet (DOCX, 66 KB)

Do I need a permit from the Vice President Research for my resumed research project?

In contrast to the lockdown phase from 26 March to 26. April 2020, you do not need the approval of the Vice President Research or the triage team of his office for your research project. You must, however, present an approved safety concept for compliance with the FOPH guidelines and the requirements of the Fact Sheet on Conduct in UZH Work Spaces. You can obtain approval from your dean.
Safety Concept for the University of Zurich

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 often 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)

What measures are in place for third-party funded projects?

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

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, much more than the SNSF had expected. The decisions will be communicated by mid-May.

To complement this, the SNSF is launching 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. Proposals must be submitted by 25 May 2020.

Further calls for proposals (no claim to completeness, will be updated continuously):

I have submitted an application for UZH internal research funding (Forschungskredit Candoc/Postdoc, URPP). Will the applications be evaluated?

Yes, all applications will be evaluated as in normal operation and decisions will be communicated at the scheduled time.

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

Travel for work or research of UZH members is not permitted. Exceptions require the approval of the relevant dean or member of the Executive Board of the University.

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

Travel for work or research of UZH members is not permitted. Exceptions require the approval of the relevant dean or member of the Executive Board of the University.