Research, Scholarship, and Artistry

Research, scholarship and artistry (collectively, scholarly activity) are fundamental to the mission of NIU. Further, the talent and expertise of faculty, staff and students are critical to address the complex challenges faced by society today. The following guidance supports the safe resumption of scholarly activity.

In Brief:

  • All scholarly activities that can be performed remotely should continue remotely through the end of 2020.
  • All faculty, staff and graduate students can continue to participate in scholarly activities with appropriate safety measures.
  • Starting August 16, undergraduates can participate in remote or onsite research activities provided activities are consistent with health and safety guidelines. Until August 15, undergraduates can participate in remote activities only, unless the provost has approved individual exceptions.
  • Travel associated with scholarly activities must follow the guidance given in the Travel section.

Guiding Principles

Scholarly activities must comply with four principles that university personnel must ensure are enforced and respected:

  1. Follow all applicable local, state and federal public health guidance and orders.
  2. Protect the health and safety of employees, students and stakeholders, including research subjects.
  3. Support the career progression of faculty, with special attention paid to those who are early in their careers.
  4. Policies and procedures will be developed collaboratively and transparently.

The multi-phase reopening of scholarly facilities and spaces began in May, and is detailed in the Guidance and Reopening of Facilities and Spaces for Research, Scholarship and Artistry Plan. NIU is currently is in the fourth and final phase. At this time, all facilities and spaces can remain in operation with appropriate precautions and safety requirements as listed below:

  1. Anyone ill or feeling ill should not come to campus. See guidelines for evaluating personal wellness.
  2. Everyone must wear face coveringsat all times while in shared spaces (even if they are the only occupants). The university will provide a face mask, but if alternative face masks are preferred, they should meet university-supplied specifications.
  3. Any facility or space with an established safety plan should review and ensure the plan is up to date with particular attention to the Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) hazard form.
  4. minimum 6 foot distance between people must be maintained unless properly equipped or unless doing so creates a personal safety hazard. If additional equipment is needed, contact the Office of Research, Compliance, Integrity and Safety for guidance on equipment and procedures.
  5. No more than two (2) people per enclosed area at any given time, for example in a single laboratory or studio. Exceptions must be justified as described in the Guidance on Reopening. If necessary, implement a staff rotation that maintains restricted use of the facility to a limited number of persons at any given time.
  6. All non-NIU personnel are prohibited from entering facilities except to make deliveries.
  7. Utilization of other facilitiesor resources, such as libraries or instrument cores, are permitted but should be minimized to the extent possible. 
  8. All program leaders must formally assign a daily sanitation regime that includes decontamination and cleaning of all high-touch spaces. Work assignments must be consistent with job descriptions and expectations.
  9. Appropriate, enhanced safety measuresmust be implemented and maintained to assure safe operations in a reduced-staff environment. Leaders must discuss enhanced safety with staff at every meeting.

Should public health guidance and orders require stricter safety measures, we will revert to earlier phases in the Guidance on Reopening. As a reminder, these phases are:

Scholarship Phase 1: Remote and essential research and scholarly activity.
This phase follows stay-at-home orders. Most research and scholarly activity is conducted remotely; exceptions for essential activity, as defined and approved as required in the coordinated guidance for responding to the Executive Order can proceed. 

Scholarship Phase 2: Preparation of shared facilities for operations.
Facilities such as stock rooms, shops, archives, museums and instrumentation cores will be permitted to prepare to resume operations. These preparations will require full physical distancing and strict hygiene protocols.

Scholarship Phase 3: Operation of individually used facilities.
Research and artistic facilities, such as dedicated laboratories or studios used by single individuals or single groups, can return to operations. These preparations will require full physical distancing and strict hygiene protocols.

Scholarship Phase 4: Operation at NIU field sites or third-party field sites.
In this final phase for return to scholarship, activities will require full physical distancing and strict hygiene protocols; some protocols could be specific to remote sites. Third-party guidance must also be followed. Except for essential exceptions, this work cannot occur if stay-at-home orders are in place.

Fall 2020 Plan (PDF)

Message from President Freeman

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