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Impact of COVID-19 on Researchers - Infographic

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posted on 07.08.2020 by Alan Hyndman, Florin Apetrei, Nature Research
The current climate has put a spotlight onto the value and importance of data sharing and curation and good data management for boosting the reproducibility and reliability of research. Its value has never been pulled more sharply into focus as you can see the real life impact of data sharing as we navigate this pandemic. After five years of collaboration on an annual survey of researchers, we can see increasing positive attitudes and behaviours when it comes to data sharing, and yet many researchers and those within the research community still face roadblocks – be this because of challenges in working practices, the lack of tools or services supporting them, or the wider misconception around the role, use and appropriate re-use of data – and this is a problem.

Since 2016 Figshare, Springer Nature and Digital Science have partnered on the State of Open Data report, based on a survey tracking researcher attitudes and behaviours towards open data sharing and research data management. The most recent survey launched in May this year, and with the global pandemic we took the opportunity to ask researchers how Covid-19 was impacting their ability to carry out research, and their views on reuse of data and collaboration. We wanted to get a better understanding of how researcher behaviour was being affected. When the survey was conducted much of the world was under lockdown which has since eased, however, fears of a second wave are growing. We are aware of the time sensitivity of these insights so rather than wait until October we wanted to release a snapshot of the data to the community as soon as we could, to allow stakeholders the time to analyse the data to help inform policy and actions going forward as we enter a new phase of the pandemic. The data published this week was from surveys dating from 24th May to 18th June, n=3,436.

As a snapshot of the full report, key takeaways at this stage indicate that:

Over a third (32%) of academic researchers report that their research has been ‘extremely’ or ‘very’ impacted by the outbreak of COVID-19. This is higher than those working in professional settings (26%).
The disciplines affected most by COVID-19 at this point in time are those working in Chemistry (47%), Biology (39%), Medicine (36%) and Materials Science (36%). The lowest level of impact was reported in Humanities and Social Sciences (20%)
43% of those surveyed have already or are likely to repurpose their grant to some extent for COVID-19 research
Lockdown is seen by half of respondents as ‘extremely’ or ‘somewhat’ likely to result in re-use of open data provided by other labs, and 65% expect to reuse their own data.
More than a third of researchers say they expect to see more collaboration as a result of COVID-19; for those in countries like Brazil and India where the impact of COVID-19 on research appears significant, around half expect collaboration to increase as a result.
Those researching in Medicine and/or working in a clinical setting were more likely to state they expect to see collaborations increasing as a result of COVID-19, compared to the wider sample.

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