March 17, 2020

Keep Investigating – Undergraduate Research Continuity

Please note that new information and policies are developing rapidly, and we will continue to update our information. Posted below is the most up-to-date information we have on completing undergraduate research for this spring semester. Make sure to check www2.gmu.edu/coronavirus for university updates.

You can find the full research continuity guidelines for all university activities at https://www2.gmu.edu/coronavirus-covid-19/research-continuity-guidelines.

As per University policy no undergraduates, individuals under age 18, or external visitors are allowed in Mason research labs and facilities effective immediately (March 16th, 2020) unless approved by a Dean for critical research activity.


Frequently Asked Questions

 

Students:

You should be proactively reaching out to your mentor to seek guidance about your project, and discuss remote alternatives for completing your work. Please do not come to campus when the university has asked students to remain home. When speaking with your mentor be sure to mention any barriers you may face with completing work online, including time zone differences, access to internet, access to software, etc.

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URSP students are expected to continue to work on their project and will still receive funding for the spring semester. The deadline to use funding has been extended to May 30th to support students who will need extra time to complete their work. We encourage students to speak with their mentors about remote options for completing your project.

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OSCAR Research Assistants are still being paid through Federal Work-Study. Please reach out to your mentor about work that you can complete remotely. Please do not come to campus when the university has asked students to remain home.

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Financial Aid has updated their guidelines to allow us to continuing paying students whose Federal Work-Study was completely dependent on in-person work. Please get in touch with your mentor as soon as possible to discuss how to continue to get paid. You will need to provide your mentor with a word document with your scheduled work hours (the hours they would have been expected to work for the remainder of the semester, NOT an average) with your name and G number. Please let you mentor know to reach out to us (oscar@gmu.edu) or Dorothy Kroll (dkroll@gmu.edu) they as any questions. OSCAR RAs who are NOT working, but have an approved “schedule” from their supervisor will submit their hours under the ‘Public Health Emergency Leave‘ label on their time sheet.

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Mentors:

You should be proactively reaching out to your students to provide guidance and discuss their ability to participate in their research and creative projects remotely. The university is asking that all research and creative work concerning students on campus be reduced by March 20. Please do not require your students to come into lab to work on their projects.

When you reach out to students find out if there is anything preventing them from working on their project, e.g. time zone differences, lack of access to a computer, software, or high-speed internet may prevent students from working, even remotely.

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URSP students should continue working on their project, doing as much remote work as possible, and funds will still be accessible to them for the Spring Semester. We will extend the deadline for their funds until May 30th if students need additional time to conduct their research.

If URSP students are not able to complete their projects, or will not be able to work on their projects directly during the remote instruction period, we encourage mentors to discuss digital options with students. Students could write an extensive literature review or the beginning of a paper, or begin data analysis or a meta-analysis. We want students to get as much out of their URSP experience as possible. It cannot be overstated that students should not be required to work in the lab while the university has sent them home.

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OSCAR Research Assistants are still being paid through Federal Work-Study for any hours that they can work on projects remotely. We want to encourage mentors to work with their students to either make progress on projects or work on skills (including literature reviews, proposal writing, LinkedIn Learning, etc) that will enhance their ability to do their research. Many of the RA’s depend on their work-study as part of their financial aid packages. Students should not be asked to come into the lab to work.

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Financial Aid has updated their guidelines to allow students to continue to be paid if their Federal Work-Study was 100% dependent on in-person work. In order to do this the Financial Aid Office will need a record of your students scheduled work hours (the hours they would have been expected to work for the remainder of the semester). We cannot pay them based on “average” hours they were working per week, but need to document their actual schedule. Example: M, W, F 3:00 to 5:00 and T, TH, 9:00 – 11:00. Please send a copy of each of your students’ schedules as a separate WORD DOCUMENT for each student to Dorothy Kroll (dkroll@gmu.edu) with attached word documents (one for each student) with their Name, G number, and their schedules. OSCAR RAs who are NOT working, but have an approved “schedule” from their supervisor will submit their hours under the ‘Public Health Emergency Leave‘ label on their time sheet.

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Events and Programs:

We have made the difficult decision to cancel the in-person Spring Celebration of Student Scholarship and Impact. We are currently developing a virtual alternative to allow students to share their great research and creative projects. Please continue to check our website and social media for updates on the virtual Spring Celebration of Student Scholarship and Impact.

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We have currently paused funding through USTF. We will be continually assessing the COVID-19 situation and forthcoming GMU policy, and putting updates here about USTF. Currently, we will not be funding any travel for students until the start of the summer semester (June 1st, 2020).

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Yes, we are working to ensure that students will still be able to put their Mason Impact projects on their transcripts. Given the challenges this semester it will be trickier to fulfill the “professionally communicated through a presentation, publication, or performance to an audience beyond the classroom” criteria. We are working on solutions for students to present virtually, such as the virtual Spring Celebration of Student Scholarship and Impact, and we will have flexibility moving forward. Please continue to check our website on updates about presenting your work.

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