The effects of the pandemic COVID-19 are still being felt and will be for generations. The impact was detrimental to the entire world economically, but even more so, it was a societal, cultural, and individual shift as to how safe we are from forces we can’t see or predict. As people struggle to find their new normals within their own lives, researchers are tasked with the challenge of solving the problems created by the virus, predicting future issues, and doing so on a field where every aspect of the academic world has been affected.
It’s more important now than ever that research must continue, but the implementation of research agendas in a post-COVID world is uncertain. These agendas must be rethought out so that they are able to adapt to the new requirements of health and safety precautions, but these policies and procedures are also ever-evolving. Scholars must learn how to move forward with their work while being flexible and applying foresight to the new academic landscape.
Adapting to New Normals in Academics
Every aspect of research, including clinical trials and social experiments, has been disrupted because of COVID-19. Planned research that was intended to find solutions to some of the most difficult and deadly diseases was put on hold. Pharmaceutical companies with people in the middle of experimenting with a potential new drug were thrown off course, with those participating in the trial left fumbling as to how to move forward. All of these urgent matters had to be delayed because of the pandemic, but now adaptations are being put in place to allow the world of research to move forward.
The new normals in academics are still in flux, but they contain restrictions from the federal, state, and local governments that must be adhered to. These restrictions aren’t always consistent, making it difficult for researchers to know which policies to follow.
As the academic field reopens slowly, clinical trials are able to continue, but no new ones have been started unless they pertain to COVID-19 itself. Gradually, researchers are allowed back on campus, but with strict policies and procedures in place.
Campus Policies and Procedures Post-COVID-19
Implementing new policies and procedures into your research agenda is essential in order to get it approved for the go-ahead to begin your project anymore. This is likely to be an ongoing part of designing research for the foreseeable future.
Most campuses have similar policies and procedures you can expect. Knowing what is typical of higher-education institutional expectations helps you to be proactive and insert these preventative measures into your research agenda prior to applying for grants or approaching administration on your campus for permission to begin your work.
Currently, most campuses have measures in place for health and safety preventions such as:
● Developing a COVID-19 plan and response committee who would be instrumental in staying up-to-date with any changes directly from the federal and state governments and ensuring training to all faculty and staff on the campus. This committee would be integral for you to discuss your research with to make sure all health and safety precautions are included in your design.
● Preparing your research area on campus in strict accordance with the protocols as directed by administration. This requires learning those protocols in advance and including a section in your research agenda that explains how you will be implementing every requirement and documenting your follow-up measures.
● Including a detailed plan as to how you intend to communicate with those connected to your research. This includes your collaborative research partners, the pool of participants in your target study group, any stakeholders with a say in your work, funders, and your campus administration. All communication must follow the campus plan of preparation, and it may need to be adjusted as these policies and procedures change, too.
With these failsafe mechanisms in place ahead of time in your research agenda, it’s more likely that you will be fast-tracked to approval when your field of study is able to move forward as higher education institutions begin the phased process of reopening.