Safe + Inclusive Fieldwork Frequently Asked Questions

Expand the accordions below for answers to frequently asked questions related to KU's initiative to foster safe and inclusive fieldwork by providing resources and strongly encouraging the development of SAIF Plans.

FAQs will be updated when new information becomes available.

At its core, the initiative encouraging Safe + Inclusive Fieldwork Plans is about keeping people safe and healthy.

This commitment aligns with priorities and emerging requirements of the National Science Foundation, National Institutes of Health, NASA and other funding agencies and professional organizations — as well as the Jayhawks Rising priority to build and support healthy and vibrant communities.

Fieldwork activities involving isolated or remote locations, hazardous terrain, extreme weather, dangerous wildlife or lack of ready access to emergency services can pose serious risks to the health and/or safety of participants. A different set of risks may arise for participants in K-12 schools and off-campus community settings. In all off-campus research locations, we must consider and prepare for those physical risks while simultaneously ensuring that participant experiences are free from harassment, discrimination and bullying. Developing a Safe & Inclusive Fieldwork Plan will help to anticipate physical and psychological hazards associated with work proposed away from KU’s campuses, and plan precautions and actions that will be taken to address and mitigate those hazards.

Safe + Inclusive Fieldwork Plans are currently required for certain National Science Foundation BIO and GEO solicitations. The new NSF Proposal & Award Policies & Procedures Guide (24-1), which goes into effect May 20, 2024, states the following for all proposals:

It is NSF policy ... to foster safe and harassment-free environments wherever science is conducted. NSF’s policy recognizes that a community effort is essential to eliminate sexual and other forms of harassment in science and to build inclusive scientific climates where people can learn, grow and thrive. Accordingly, for each proposal that proposes to conduct research off-campus or off site, the AOR must complete a certification that the organization has a plan in place for that proposal that describes how the following types of behavior will be addressed:
  1. Abuse of any person, including, but not limited to, harassment, stalking, bullying, or hazing of any kind, whether the behavior is carried out verbally, physically, electronically or in written form; or
  2. Conduct that is unwelcome, offensive, indecent, obscene or disorderly.

This plan should also identify steps the proposing organization will take to nurture an inclusive off-campus or off-site working environment, e.g., trainings; processes to establish shared team definitions of roles, responsibilities, and culture, e.g., codes of conduct; and field support, such as mentor/mentee support mechanisms, regular check-ins, and/or developmental events.

If the funding agency does not require a SAIF Plan, KU PIs will be able to submit their proposal without a SAIF Plan. However, PIs are strongly encouraged to develop SAIF Plans. Other funding agencies have indicated a commitment and future requirements underway. To help researchers, KU is asking PIs to develop SAIF Plans proactively and is providing support to create them.

Effective May 1, 2024, principal investigators on all new proposals for sponsored activity that involves fieldwork are strongly encouraged to submit a Safe + Inclusive Fieldwork Plan using the KU SAIF Checklist as a template or guide.

Fieldwork refers to any situation where KU researchers will be collecting data, information or samples off-campus or off-site. This includes work performed in traditional outdoor field settings both near (e.g., KU Field Station) and far (e.g., Antarctica), as well as K-12 schools, clinics, archives, vessels and aircraft — any place where research teams will be away from the immediate network of campus resources available to support safety and inclusion or respond quickly to emergencies.

Fieldwork does not include:

  • Travel for conferences, seminars, meetings or visits to other institutions.
  • Supervised study or work placements at the campus, buildings or leased offices of other institutions.

No. Solo travel for routine research or collaboration at other institutions does not count as fieldwork and does not require creation of a Safe + Inclusive Fieldwork Plan.

No. Creation of a SAIF Plan is only requested at time of proposal submission. However, it is recommended that you develop a separate plan for different off-site work locations that present different hazards and/or degree of communication access (phone and internet). In addition, you should attempt to account for the physical, cultural and political characteristics of all potential field sites, trip durations and team compositions when identifying hazards, and outline the precautions and actions that will be taken to address and mitigate those hazards. The KU SAIF Checklist is a comprehensive resource that combines standard field safety with identity-based considerations to help you create an optimally inclusive plan to guide your team’s field experience.

Yes, the Office of Research is working with the Office of Faculty Affairs to identify PIs with potentially overlapping fieldwork considerations and facilitate opportunities for groups to meet and generate ideas for safe and inclusive fieldwork. Information will be available soon.

The Office of Research is working to collect examples of completed Safe & Inclusive Fieldwork Plans from KU investigators in various disciplines and will share them with KU investigators via this web portal soon.