Project

Effects of pandemic-related disruptions on academic careers

Goal: The aim of this project is to ascertain the impact of pandemic-related disruptions of research on the careers of researchers. The project takes advantage of the fact that pandemic-related disruptions constitute an extreme case of changed conditions of action (a 'quasi-experiment'), as they near-simultaneously disrupted most research and communication practices of scientific communities. Studying the effects of these disruptions will therefore contribute to a deeper understanding of the complex system of conditions for individual knowledge production and of the relationship between knowledge production and academic careers.The empirical strategy of the project is based on comparative case studies of academic careers in which the cases are varied in four dimensions, namely characteristics of research fields, the position of interruptions relative to the sequences of events in research processes, career stage and contractual situation, and gender. A three-stage research design will be applied. In a first step, short interviews with professors will be conducted to ascertain the situation of their work with regard to the first two comparative dimensions. These short interviews will inform the selection of cases for the semi-structured research-biographical interviews that will form the core of the research project. The research-biographical interviews will reconstruct the connection between the interviewees’ research practices, their exposure to pandemic-related disruptions, and immediate and expected consequences for their careers. The research-biographical interviews will be conducted in two waves. The first wave will start in the third quarter of 2021 to assess the immediate consequences of the pandemic-related disruptions as soon as possible. Interviewees will be asked to participate in a follow-up interview the following year. The second wave of interviews can still only cover short-term consequences of pandemic-related disruptions. However, it will additionally provide preliminary information on the permanence of thematic changes triggered by pandemic interruptions, on the necessity, duration and consequences of work to restore research conditions destroyed by pandemic-related disruptions, and on changes in careers such as career breaks, exits from research, or unemployment.

Date: 1 June 2021 - 31 May 2024

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Susanne Wollin-Giering
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The aim of this project is to ascertain the impact of pandemic-related disruptions of research on the careers of researchers. The project takes advantage of the fact that pandemic-related disruptions constitute an extreme case of changed conditions of action (a 'quasi-experiment'), as they near-simultaneously disrupted most research and communication practices of scientific communities. Studying the effects of these disruptions will therefore contribute to a deeper understanding of the complex system of conditions for individual knowledge production and of the relationship between knowledge production and academic careers.The empirical strategy of the project is based on comparative case studies of academic careers in which the cases are varied in four dimensions, namely characteristics of research fields, the position of interruptions relative to the sequences of events in research processes, career stage and contractual situation, and gender. A three-stage research design will be applied. In a first step, short interviews with professors will be conducted to ascertain the situation of their work with regard to the first two comparative dimensions. These short interviews will inform the selection of cases for the semi-structured research-biographical interviews that will form the core of the research project. The research-biographical interviews will reconstruct the connection between the interviewees’ research practices, their exposure to pandemic-related disruptions, and immediate and expected consequences for their careers. The research-biographical interviews will be conducted in two waves. The first wave will start in the third quarter of 2021 to assess the immediate consequences of the pandemic-related disruptions as soon as possible. Interviewees will be asked to participate in a follow-up interview the following year. The second wave of interviews can still only cover short-term consequences of pandemic-related disruptions. However, it will additionally provide preliminary information on the permanence of thematic changes triggered by pandemic interruptions, on the necessity, duration and consequences of work to restore research conditions destroyed by pandemic-related disruptions, and on changes in careers such as career breaks, exits from research, or unemployment.