The COVID-19 pandemic offers a unique opportunity to observe widespread use of virtual interaction and understand its influence on collaboration in different settings. This study investigates the impact of virtual interaction on forms of collaborative research where researchers and users meaningfully interact to co-produce knowledge and solutions. We report results from a survey distributed to grantees performing collaborative research on environmental topics before and during the pandemic. Facilitated in partnership with five funders of environmental collaborative research across North America, survey responses (n=45) depict changes in modes, frequencies, and participation levels in collaborative research after the onset of the pandemic. Nearly all grantees came to rely entirely on virtual modes for engagement, and for them, the process illuminated a wide range of constraints (e.g., building relationships, engaging with some types of partners), benefits (e.g., convenience and efficiency), and possible strategies (e.g., incorporating new technologies, adapting meeting formats and durations). Although difficult to disentangle pandemic-related factors from intrinsic opportunities and limitations of virtual collaboration, lessons learned from this rapid response study can inform future research, evaluation, and development of mechanisms to support collaborative research.
About this article
This article, published in SSRN in December 2020, reports results from a survey distributed to grantees performing collaborative research on environmental topics before and during the pandemic.
Arnott, James and Russell, Patrice and Bath, Sean and Bednarek, Angela and Combest-Friedman, Chelsea and Fisher, Leah and George, Douglas and Hudson, Charlotte and Maillard, Lisa and Moser, Susanne and Read, Jennifer and Seiztzinger, Sybil and Soberal, Nicholas and Teicher, Hannah and Zycherman, Ariela, Collaborative Research in a Virtual World: Implications of COVID-19 for the Co-Production of Environmental Knowledge and Solutions (December 24, 2020). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3755008 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3755008