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Policy Changes for the Times

As many research labs have paused their operations during the COVID-19 pandemic, agencies funding that work are altering their policies to account for the consequences of labs being closed, Nature News reports.

Nature News has compiled a list of policy changes made by some major funders. For instance, it notes that researchers funded through the European Union's Horizon 2020 program can extend their budget for six months and may use funds intended for research, training, and networking to instead go toward the costs of working remotely or the salaries of researchers who cannot go into the lab to work. Likewise, researchers funded by the US National Science Foundation can get extensions to project report due dates and apply for grant extensions, and National Institutes of Health-funded researchers can pay stipends to fellows and trainees who cannot work because of the pandemic.

The Australian Research Council tells Nature News that its guidelines already contained allowances for late application submissions in 'exceptional circumstances' as well as for changes to research projects. "Should you need to vary your research, to either seek an extension or change its scope, we can do that later in the year when there is a more complete understanding of the impact,"ARC's chief executive officer Sue Thomas wrote in an open letter to researchers in March. "Researchers will be affected in different ways by the ongoing events and we wish to assure you that we will approach any extensions with understanding."