COVID-19: Impacts on Scientific Research

General Overview
Study Date:
5.7.20 - 5.29.20
Geographic Coverage:
United States
Expertise:
68.9% Biology21.7% Civil and Environmental Engineering9.4% Biochemistry
Response Overview
Sample Size:
1,968
Valid Responses:
373
Response rate:
21%
Date initial findings posted:
6.6.20
Most recent update:
6.6.20
Days survey in field:
22
Average response time:
21 mins
Survey Demographics
Respondent Demographics:
63.5% Male36.5% Female100% Academic0% Industry
Language(s):
English
Question
Have social distancing and other COVID-19 related policies had a negative impact on your research in any of the following ways? (N=360)
Survey: impact on research (1.1)
Finding

The majority of scientists responded that they faced substantial negative research impacts as a result of COVID-19 policies with the most disruptive being university shutdowns (93%) and lab work disruptions (88%).

Question
Have social distancing and other COVID-19 related policies had a positive impact on your research in any of the following ways? (N=362)
Survey: impact on research (1.2)
Finding

Scientists responded that the greatest positive research impacts as a result of COVID-19 policies are the development of new research topics (37%) and new collaborations (22%).

Question
Have social distancing and other COVID-19 related policies had a negative impact on your research vis-à-vis any of the following work-life situations? (N=362)
Survey: impact on research (1.3)
Finding

Large number of scientists responded that COVID-19 related work-life situations negatively impacted their research with the most common being conference cancelations (87%) and travel restrictions (86%).

Question
In which of the following ways have social distancing and other COVID-19 related policies had a positive impact on your research? (N=360)
Survey: impact on research (1.4)
Finding

Scientists responded that the most positive ways in which their research was impacted by COVID-19 policies are fewer distractions (38%) and fewer meetings (38%).

Question
Do you currently have one or more research grants that are facing financial problems that are directly caused by the COVID-19 pandemic?
Survey: impact on research (1.5)
Finding

About 30% of biologists, 24% of the biochemists and 31% of engineers responded that they have at least one research grant that is facing financial problems related to the pandemic.

Question
Have you taken any of the following actions in response to these financial problems? (N=108)
Survey: impact on research (1.6)
Finding

Of those facing grant financial problems (N=108), approximately 67% delayed the start of their data collection and about half applied for an extension as a result of financial problems.

How scientists are involved in and seek funding for COVID-19 research.
  • About 5% of the scientists responded that they are either indirectly or directly involved in COVID-19 vaccine research.
    • Of those, 59% believe that the data are being shared openly with no strings attached and 35% believe that some of the data are being held back due to potential economic value.
  • Approximately 7% of biologists, 9% in the biochemists, and 10% of engineering field have applied for research support intended to help address the COVID-19 pandemic since January 1, 2020.
    • Among those who applied for funding, 34% targeted private foundations, 28% applied to the National Institutes of Health, 17% applied to the National Science Foundation and 7% sought funding from an international or national agency outside of the US.
Survey Description

This national survey of scientists and engineers on the impacts of COVID-19 on academic research was conducted by the Center for Science, Technology and Environmental Policy Studies at Arizona State University. The project seeks to understand how COVID-19 and related policies impact academic research and funding, issues related to COVID-19 science communication, and regulation of COVID-19 research. The survey collected data on individual background and perceptions of impacts, behavior and expectations due to COVID-19. The population of the survey included tenured and tenure-track academic scientists from three fields (biology, civil and environmental engineering, and biochemistry) at 21 randomly selected universities classified as Carnegie designated research extensive (R1) universities in the United States.

The online survey was administered in English using Sawtooth Software®. 1,968 individuals were invited to participate in the survey via email with a series of personalized email follow-ups. The survey was opened on May 7 and closed on May 29, 2020. It resulted in 373 usable responses, with a response rate of 21% (AAPOR RR4). Responses are mostly from male respondents (63.5%), which is only slightly lower than the gender distribution in the population. The distribution of field also reflects the sampling frame, with 68.9% of respondents working in biology and genetics departments, 9.4% working in biochemistry departments and 21.7% working in civil and environmental engineering departments. The survey sample was weighted by gender and academic field. The measure of sampling error for questions answered by the full sample is plus or minus 5 percentage points.