Research Australia is a national alliance of health and medical research stakeholders. In May, 2020, all members on Research Australia’s contact list were invited to participate in, and share with colleagues, a 10 min online survey. The questionnaire contained 52 questions about research and employment and perceptions of the effect of the pandemic on researchers’ activities (Deakin Human Research Ethics Committee project number HEAG-H-71_2020). Data were analysed with the use of descriptive statistics and logistic regression.
Perceived new developments in response to the pandemic included improvements in collaboration within their own organisation (31·5%), their own organisation pivoting existing research (33·2%), and improvements in ethics committee procedures (30·0%).
Respondents from the university sector were less likely to have received extra funding related to COVID-19 from their institution (odds ratio [OR] 0·32, 95% CI 0·20–0·53) and more likely to have noticed an effect on higher degree research students (OR 2·19, 1·61–2·99). Relative to clinical researchers, public health researchers were less likely (OR 0·76, 0·53–1·09) and basic science researchers more likely (OR 1·75, 1·18–2·60) to expect their research outcomes to be affected after 2020, including any effects on higher degree research students (public health OR 0·51, 0·36–0·73; basic science OR 3·09, 2·04–4·67). Relative to early career researchers, mid-career researchers, but not established researchers, were more likely to expect their research outcomes to be affected after 2020 (OR 1·73, 1·25–2·40).
This first Australian national health and medical research sector survey has highlighted that without an injection of funds from the government, this pandemic will have substantial short-term and long-term repercussions on research outcomes. These include a lower capacity to generate new products for industry, health services, and the community, and ensuring a workforce capable of responding to future pandemics with innovation and agility.
AP reports grants from the National Health and Medical Research Council, unrelated to this Correspondence. All other authors declare no competing interests.
COVID-19: what have we learned about rapid response?.
Published: 15 August 2020
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