The Young Academy launches report on the impact of the pandemic on scientists

The Young Academy and the National Network of Women Professors, in collaboration with the Universities of the Netherlands (VSNU | UNL), investigated the impact of the first lockdown period on the work and well-being of scientists in the Netherlands and make recommendations to limit the possible consequences of this impact.

Loss of research time

Scientists from all job categories saw a significant decrease in the time they could spend on research during the first lockdown period. 40 percent of all academics reported a loss of research time. More than half of the PhD students, postdocs and scientists in a tenure track reported COVID-19-related delays, as a result of which they expect to not be able to complete their projects on time or meet the requirements of the tenure track.

Scientists with young children living at home

Scientists with care tasks saw the largest drop in research time. The loss of research time reported by scientists with young children living at home is twice that of scientists without children living at home. Scientists with (young) children are much more likely to report a conflict between work and family during the lockdown than scientists without children in the household. Scientists with children living at home who are in the early stages of their career also indicate that they have had considerably less opportunity to apply for research grants.

Women with young children more vulnerable

Female scientists with young children experienced the greatest conflict in reconciling work and care obligations. They report the highest levels of stress related to the progress of their research and concerns about their future in the academy. It is striking that these women are in more vulnerable positions – slightly earlier in their careers and more often in temporary positions – than their male colleagues with young children.

High degree of stress and fatigue

A quarter of scientists report experiencing high levels of stress and fatigue and feeling tired and exhausted in relation to their work in the early months of the pandemic. The highest scores can be found among scientists with a non-Dutch nationality and scientists at the start of their career. The latter group also indicates that they experience increased stress about their future in science.


62 percent of scientists in leadership positions indicate that they experienced their leadership task as more difficult during the first lockdown period. And although managers indicate that they have received some handles and support for their task from their organization, a substantial group clearly sees room for improvement.

Recommendations to the sector

Based on the results of the questionnaire and the analyzes in this study, De Jonge Akademie and the National Network of Women Professors make recommendations to the sector to deal with the consequences of the pandemic. The recommendations can be summarized as follows: 1. Prevent brain drain: invest in talent retention, especially among vulnerable groups; 2. Adjust and reconsider promotion and career development criteria in line with recognition and appreciation developments. Avoid one-size-fits-all approaches, opt for customization and clear communication; 3. Support leadership development and make leadership a more explicitly recognized and valued part of a scientist’s work; 4. Continue to systematically monitor and investigate the consequences of the pandemic, taking into account differences in nature and impact, especially for vulnerable groups.

Consequences of the pandemic

For this research, a questionnaire was sent out to all academic staff at Dutch universities. Nearly 6,000 scientists completed the questionnaire. This makes it the first sector-wide study into the impact of the pandemic. The results of this study relate to the first lockdown period (March – June 2020). However, the pandemic is far from over. The Young Academy and the National Network of Women Professors will continue to draw attention to the results of this research in the coming period and will urge follow-up research, the results of which are public, in order to work together with all stakeholders to limit the consequences of the pandemic. for science and scientists and addressing inequalities exacerbated by the pandemic.

By: National Education Guide

The Young Academy launches report on the impact of the pandemic on scientists
Source link The Young Academy launches report on the impact of the pandemic on scientists

Back to top button