Collaborative Research in a Virtual World: Implications of COVID-19 for the Co-Production of Environmental Knowledge and Solutions

37 Pages Posted: 26 Dec 2020 Last revised: 21 Jan 2021

See all articles by James Arnott

James Arnott

Aspen Global Change Institute

Patrice Russell

University of Toronto

Sean Bath

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

Angela Bednarek

Pew Charitable Trusts

Chelsea Combest-Friedman

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

Leah Fisher

State of California Strategic Growth Council

Douglas George

National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

Charlotte Hudson

Pew Charitable Trusts

Lisa Maillard

University of Michigan at Ann Arbor - School for Environment and Sustainability

Susanne Moser

Susanne Moser Research & Consulting

Jennifer Read

University of Michigan at Ann Arbor

Sybil Seitzinger

Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions

Nicholas Soberal

University of Michigan at Ann Arbor

Hannah Teicher

Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions

Ariela Zycherman

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

Date Written: December 24, 2020

Abstract

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.

Keywords: COVID-19; collaborative research, knowledge co-production, science funding, science of actionable knowledge

Suggested Citation

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

James Arnott (Contact Author)

Aspen Global Change Institute ( email )

104 Midland Ave UNIT 205, Basalt, CO 816
Basalt, CO 81621
United States

Patrice Russell

University of Toronto ( email )

Toronto, Ontario M5S 3G8
Canada

Sean Bath

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration ( email )

1305 East West Hwy
Silver Spring, MD 20910-3282
United States

Angela Bednarek

Pew Charitable Trusts ( email )

Washington, DC 20004
United States

Chelsea Combest-Friedman

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration ( email )

1305 East West Hwy
Silver Spring, MD 20910-3282
United States

Leah Fisher

State of California Strategic Growth Council ( email )

CA
United States

Douglas George

National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) ( email )

Washington, DC
United States

Charlotte Hudson

Pew Charitable Trusts ( email )

Washington, DC 20004
United States

Lisa Maillard

University of Michigan at Ann Arbor - School for Environment and Sustainability ( email )

440 Church Street
Dana Building
Ann Arbor, MI 48109
United States

Susanne Moser

Susanne Moser Research & Consulting ( email )

500 Irish Ridge Rd
Half Moon Bay, CA 94019
United States

Jennifer Read

University of Michigan at Ann Arbor ( email )

500 S. State Street
Ann Arbor, MI 48109
United States

Sybil Seiztzinger

Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions ( email )

Canada

Nicholas Soberal

University of Michigan at Ann Arbor

500 S. State Street
Ann Arbor, MI 48109
United States

HOME PAGE: nsoberal@umich.edu

Hannah Teicher

Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions ( email )

Canada

Ariela Zycherman

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration ( email )

1305 East West Hwy
Silver Spring, MD 20910-3282
United States

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