The COVID-19 pandemic has upended daily life around the world, forcing individuals and organizations to adapt rapidly to unanticipated circumstances. The changes in universities and research institutions have been dramatic.
With limited notice, academics and researchers have been asked to convert in-person classes to remote learning formats. Research operations have largely been restricted to tasks that can be accomplished working from home, which in many cases will reduce researcher productivity. Many academics and researchers (including research students) are caregivers, who must re-balance work and family responsibilities because of the impact of school closures or the added pressure of looking after relatives who may be ill or at high risk from coronavirus infection.
This is not business as usual, and we need to adjust the expectations placed on faculty and scholars during the pandemic and in the wake of it. Postdocs preparing for the job market and other early career researchers (e.g., pre-tenure faculty) are at the most vulnerable career stages. In these unprecedented times, universities and research institutions should be flexible in their hiring, promotion, and tenure processes. In particular, they will need to account for the disruption caused by COVID-19.
DORA calls on all universities and research institutions to:
- Redefine their expectations for productivity in the wake of the present pandemic.
- Communicate clearly to academics and researchers how they will modify research evaluation procedures for hiring, promotion, and tenure.
We applaud those that have already taken action (e.g. see: here). In a similar vein, DORA calls on research funders to reassure applicants that they will also take account of the productivity impact of the COVID-19 crisis.