Assessments of research impact typically assume that researchers continuously and predictably produce measurable scholarly outputs over time. However, in practice, scholarly work doesn’t take place in a vacuum. Researchers have lives outside of their academic work. As such, researchers’ ability to conduct their research, teach, and participate in the scholarly conversation may be unavoidably interrupted, delayed, or otherwise redirected during times of crisis and other major life changes. These include outbreaks of disease, natural disasters, and personal life changes such as births, deaths, relocations, or other changes. This page provides resources for researchers to consult when preparing to face these types of challenges. This guide was first developed during the COVID-19 global pandemic that began to significantly affect the United States in 2020 and, as such, may point to many resources specific to COVID-19. However, it is our hope that the information will be applicable across all sorts of situations and life events.
In times of crisis or unpredictability, it is very likely that each of us will have less capacity (time, energy, access to usable workspace and equipment, mental focus, etc.) to do our usual work, as well as an onslaught of new tasks and responsibilities. The following list in many ways feels deeply unsatisfactory, because it reads as just another list of tasks to do--the last thing anyone needs at such a time. Not every item on this list will apply to every person--rather, it is meant to offer suggestions and reminders about how crisis may affect different aspects of your work, and your interactions with different people and institutions.
This may all feel like too much. In short, the suggestion is to keep records--at least save emails!--that pertain to the way an event affects your work, until you know you won't need it. When expectations and requirements are changing day-to-day, it is difficult to predict what you might be asked to account for in the future. Leaving a trail for yourself may help you to advocate for yourself and your work in the future, when the initial feeling of urgency around the crisis has passed.