COVID-19 I (2020): Personal Impacts

General Overview
Study Date:
5.7.20 - 5.29.20
Geographic Coverage:
United States
68.9% Biology21.7% Civil and Environmental Engineering9.4% Biochemistry
Response Overview
Sample Size:
Valid Responses:
Response rate:
Date initial findings posted:
Most recent update:
Days survey in field:
Average response time:
21 mins
Survey Demographics
Respondent Demographics:
63.5% Male36.5% Female100% Academic0% Industry

SciOPS conducted the initial COVID-19 survey of academic scientists in May 2020 to look at how COVID-19 policies have influenced academic scientists’ home-life, research, and views on policy. 

Since January 1, 2020, have you personally contributed your expertise to help address the COVID-19 pandemic?
Survey: Personal Impacts (3.1)

About 24% of biologists, 24% of the biochemists and 21% of engineers responded that they have personally contributed their expertise to help addressing the COVID-19 pandemic.

How have you contributed your expertise to help address the COVID-19 pandemic? (N=75)
Survey: Personal Impacts (3.2)

Of those that responded that they contributed their expertise to help address the COVID-19 pandemic (N=75), approximately 91% helped disseminating or interpreting relevant research findings to the public and approximately 63% collaborated to conduct experiments or analyses relevant to COVID-19.

Other common contributions include reviewing others’ COVID-19 related research findings (34%) and responding to media requests (17%).

Have social distancing and other COVID-19 related policies had a negative impact on your research vis-à-vis any of the following home-life situations? (N=362)
Survey: Personal Impacts (3.3)

The most important COVID-19 related home-life situations that negatively impacted research are that scientists were unable to concentrate on research activities (35%) and faced unexpected childcare responsibilities (25%).

Personal exposure to COVID-19
Survey: Personal Impacts (3.4)

About 8% of the scientists indicated that either they or someone in their family have been having health symptoms related to COVID-19.

  • Of those, 5% have consulted with doctor or nurses about the symptoms and 3% have been tested for COVID-19.

A more in depth analysis of this study can be found in our recent publication “COVID-19 and the academy: opinions and experiences of university-based scientists in the U.S.”  in Humanities and Social Sciences Communications. 

You can also read policy memos about this study and others on Arizona State University’s Center for Science, Technology and Environmental Policy Studies website.

Results from other sections of the SciOPS COVID-19 (2020) survey:

COVID-19: Policies, Risks, Preparedness

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.