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Researchers report fall in institutional support in 2020


Survey finds researchers feel less supported than before Covid-19 as institutions focus on operational needs

Researchers have reported feeling less supported by their institutions in 2020 and under increased pressure to secure funding, according to an international survey.

Only 52 per cent of 314 researchers surveyed said they were satisfied with support from their research office in 2020, compared with 81 per cent in 2019. Researchers also reported lower levels of support from their libraries.

The survey, published on 3 September, was carried out by Ex Libris, an academic software company and the parent company of Research Professional News.

As well as researchers, the survey polled 101 senior members of research offices in the United States, the UK and Australia. One US-based director of research laid the blame for a fall in research office support on the Covid-19 pandemic.

“We have always been one of the most short-staffed divisions in our universities. Now with Covid-19, we have laid off four people already and managers are being reassigned duties,” they commented. “This will definitely halt research productivity.”

The survey found that the biggest challenge for both researchers and research offices in securing funding is a lack of time and resources, which has been exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic. Some 21 per cent of researcher respondents said that more than half of their time was dedicated to administrative tasks.

“This year’s study highlights some of the unique challenges that Covid-19 has imposed on researchers and institutions of higher education,” said Shlomi Kringel, vice-president of learning and research solutions at Ex Libris.

While the pandemic has caused upheaval to research through lockdowns and shifts to online working, two-thirds of respondents said they were happy with the support their institutions had provided for homeworking. Among researchers, 18 per cent viewed open access more positively than before Covid-19.

A version of this article also appeared in Research Europe