Survey reveals effects of COVID-19 pandemic on researchers’ mental health and career prospects

09 Aug 2021

A survey funded by UKRI and carried out by the Careers Research and Advisory Centre has revealed the impacts of COVID-19 on researchers.

The survey which was conducted in March and April was responded to by staff who had returned to pre-COVID-19 working hours. Despite this working change, the results reveal that the pandemic was still having a major impact on research, mental health and future career prospects.

61% of researchers reported lockdown or shielding had negatively impacted their time for research with more than half reporting that COVID-19 restrictions also impacted other work-related activities, such as teaching and admin, which in turn reduced the amount of time for research.

88% of respondents with child caring responsibilities reported that associated responsibilities had a negative impact on time for research. This was gender balanced.

However, 56% reported that less commuting and 43% that less work-related travel had positive impacts on their time for research.

76% of researchers reported that they had probable or possible depression. It was not possible to draw conclusions about the causes of the respondents’ mental distress. 11% of researchers had experienced bullying and harassment over the last year, with two thirds of these reporting this was higher than before COVID-19 restrictions.

24% predicted a very negative impact of COVID-19 on their career prospects, this rises to 34% of postgraduate researchers and 28% of research staff

60% predicted a negative impact or a very negative impact on their career prospects. This rises to 65% for those with child-caring responsibilities and 62% for female researchers.

UKRI Chief Executive, Professor Dame Ottoline Leyser commented on the survey’s results, “This is invaluable as we continue to work to mitigate the impacts of the pandemic and to address the inequalities in the system, which the pandemic has amplified.” (UKRI News, 6th August 2021).



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