Directives for Resuming In-Person Research

Current as of August 9, 2021

This document outlines the specific directives for resumption of in-person research on and off campus. It complements the health guidelines, which set out mandatory conditions for on-campus work.

In-person research activities have been resuming since Summer 2020. As we prepare to fully return to campus in the course of Fall 2021, more and more research activities will happen in-person. These directives are in effect until the government removes the requirement for physical distancing.

Individual Faculties may add additional conditions for specific types of research situations.


  • PIs will need to obtain the approval of their Dean to carry out any research carried out in person. Each Faculty has specific procedures to obtain the dean’s approval.
  • A PI may not restart in-person research activities, on or off campus, before obtaining the authorization of the Dean or Dean’s delegate. Such authorization may be accompanied by conditions to ensure compliance with the rules for in-person work.
  • PIs must report to the Dean as soon as possible any situation that changes the conditions or circumstances based on which permission to resume activities was granted.
  • All permissions can be revoked at any time.

PI responsibilities

  • PIs who ramp up their research must be prepared for a sudden shut down following University or government directives or should other circumstances arise that would limit activities (e.g., a reported case of a COVID infection in a lab group).
  • All individuals involved in research activities must be aware of the McGill Internal Responsibility System. Every PI must adhere to safety protocols and also must ensure that all personnel and students under their supervision or guidance adhere to these protocols.
  • All PIs and personnel who are granted permission to pursue research have a duty of care for themselves and others to protect all from the transmission or exposure to the virus.
  • PIs must keep track of the schedule of presence of their research personnel and students onsite.

Off-campus research

  • The above directives also apply to research that is carried out off campus (such as field research).
  • If the research is carried out in a third party host organization, PIs must ensure that any additional constraints imposed by this host organization are adhered to. Such research may not allow for as much coordination as on-campus research, so that an abundance of caution must apply to these projects, including proper consideration of travel limitations and shared equipment use.

As usual, before any field research can be undertaken, it is also mandatory to ensure insurance coverage for all participants.


Appendix 1: Process for reporting non-compliance

All community members involved in in-person research activities must comply with established safety protocols.

Some circumstances can lead to perception of non-compliance, when there is none; an example would be the case of individuals working in close contact, but who happen to live in the same apartment. In many cases, a quick discussion with the individuals involved will help resolve such perceptions.

Process to report and investigate non-compliance

  1. Non-compliance with safety protocol within a lab/research space is reported to the relevant Dean (e.g., via email to the Dean from a lab member). Any other member of the McGill community who is in receipt of a report of non-compliance should forward it promptly to the Dean.
  2. The Dean must investigate the situation without delay, beginning by contacting the PI, then any other lab members, if applicable. The Dean may request advice from Environmental Health and Safety (EHS).
  3. As part of the investigation, the Dean or delegate may do a visual inspection of the lab/research space.
  4. If a claim about safety protocol violation is substantiated, the Dean will consult with Legal Services, the Associate Provost (Equity and Academic Policies), and/or Human Resources as required to determine appropriate measures, which may include:
    • Indefinite suspension of in-person lab/research space activities; or
    • Other measures such as sending some of the staff home until additional measures can be put in place (e.g. PPE). This is preferable to an indefinite suspension of lab/research space activities in cases where that measure would unduly penalize researchers in the lab/research space (especially graduate students and postdoctoral fellows)
  5. The lab/research space can resume activities only when the Dean is assured that safety protocols can and will be followed.
  6. Disciplinary process can be initiated if warranted within a reasonable delay once the lab/research space logistics are settled.
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