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100+ Best Research Titles About COVID-19 Examples

thesis title example about covid

The covid-19 pandemic has been the most devastating thing to happen in humanity in the past decade or two. It caused global panic and changed people’s lives in multiple aspects. Therefore, it is the perfect research topic for high school, postgraduate, and undergraduate students.

Exciting Sample Research Title About Pandemic

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Academic research related to covid-19 would be perfect because of its relevance. Furthermore, it applies to any field of study thanks to the vast and immense impacts of the pandemic. For instance, business and finance students can research the effects of the covid-19 pandemic on the economy, while social science majors can discuss the various social results.

The pandemic research topics are a good path also because they are interesting. Additionally, research topic examples about covid-19 give you a great research opportunity because of the numerous materials. There are multiple topics you can consider, from the quantitative and qualitative research titles about covid 19 to the effects and reception of the vaccine, among others.

Ready for detailed quantitative and qualitative research topics ? Find a great research title about a covid-19 example from the samples below.

The impacts of the pandemic were and are still felt globally. So, this means that there are numerous creative directions you can pursue when choosing the perfect topic. Here are some research titles about the pandemic and argumentative essay topics :

  • An exploration of the impacts of the pandemic on the global economy
  • The covid-19 pandemic and the global recession: what is the link?
  • The correlation between your country’s economy and its response to the pandemic
  • The connection between kid’s immune system and their survival from the pandemic
  • The impacts of the pandemic on third world countries
  • A comparison of the effects of the pandemic on third and first-world countries
  • A comparison of the response to the pandemic in Europe and America
  • The role of the pandemic in the appreciation of the scientific research field
  • An exploration of the long-term impacts of the pandemic on the education sector?
  • What could global governments have done better to prevent the pandemic?

Quantitative research about the pandemic involves collecting and analyzing data. However, choosing a quantitative research topic is not easy since you must select a researchable one. An example of a quantitative research title about covid-19 may be a good start. So, let’s look at some quantitative research title examples about covid-19:

  • How effective are detergents against germs during the pandemic?
  • An exploration of coronavirus response and future preparedness against pandemics
  • The global coronavirus pandemic: prevention and transmission of the virus
  • A look into the ethical controversies during the pandemic
  • A look into the effectiveness of the pandemic regulations
  • The psychological effects of the pandemic’s control measures
  • A link between intimate partner violence increase and the pandemic
  • Impacts of the global pandemic on the sports sector
  • The influences of the coronavirus pandemic on human relations
  • The pandemic and its aftermath

A qualitative research title about covid-19 significantly depends on data collected from first-hand observations, interviews, recordings in natural settings, and case studies. So, qualitative social issues research topics are mostly non-numerical data. Find a qualitative research title about the pandemic from the samples below:

  • How ethical are the covid-19 regulations?
  • The rise of racist attacks during the coronavirus pandemic
  • Racist attacks against the Asian community: what role did covid-19 pandemic play in this?
  • Hoarding and selfish tendencies during the coronavirus pandemic
  • The rise of the internet age during the coronavirus pandemic
  • How streaming services have benefited from the covid-19 pandemic
  • The role of pandemics and epidemics in promoting global change
  • The rate of employee retention among local businesses during the covid-19 pandemic
  • Companies that saw significant profits during the pandemic
  • Controversial theories about the pandemic and the coronavirus

You can also find a quantitative research title about covid-19, specifically focusing on the pandemic and its resulting issues. In addition to a quantitative research topic during a pandemic, research topics for STEM students are also pretty interesting. Here are some research topics during the pandemic that you can write about:

  • A link between the pandemic and employee retention rates in large corporations
  • Global recovery from the pandemic
  • The profoundly detrimental consequences of the covid-19 pandemic on the economy
  • How the global economy can recover from the pandemic
  • The long-term effects of the pandemic on the medical sector
  • The correlation between a decrease in employees in the medical industry and the pandemic
  • Mitigating the detrimental impacts of the pandemic on the education sector
  • The link between the pandemic and increased mental health challenges
  • The pandemic and depression: what is the link?
  • An analysis of the death rates during the life cycle of the coronavirus pandemic

You can also explore various research topics related to the covid-19 vaccines. The vaccine has been a controversial topic to study from various angles. Here are some research topics about covid 19, especially about vaccines:

  • The difference between the acceptance of the covid-19 vaccine in first and third-world countries
  • The role of social media influencers in promoting covid-19 vaccines
  • The controversies surrounding the covid-19 vaccine
  • How effective is the covid-19 vaccines against the virus?
  • An analysis of the covid-19 vaccination rates among conservative Americans?
  • The adverse effects of the covid-19 vaccine
  • An overview of the pros and cons of the covid-19 vaccines
  • The rate of covid-19 vaccination in 2021 vs. 2022
  • Covid-19 vaccine boosters: how many people go for the booster shots?
  • What happens when you get covid-19 after the vaccination?

When choosing a research topic, always pick an interesting and relevant topic. Doing so will simplify your research, help with data collection, and make your paper enjoyable. Get a research title about covid 19 quantitative for 2020 from the list below:

  • An analysis of the start of the covid-19 pandemic
  • An overview of the source of the coronavirus
  • Breaking down the myths about the coronavirus, its inception, and its impacts
  • The link between the spike in opioid addiction and the pandemic
  • The effects of the pandemic on essential social values
  • Quarantine in third-world countries compared to first-world countries
  • The rates of covid-19 infections and deaths in Africa
  • Social barriers during and after the coronavirus pandemic
  • Consumer Psychonomic during the covid-19 pandemic
  • The impact of the covid-19 pandemic on a globalized economy

The covid-19 pandemic offers multiple incredible research topic ideas. Choosing the best research title about the coronavirus can be tricky. So, let’s look at some qualitative research title examples about covid-19:

  • The covid-19 pandemic and what we can learn from it
  • What can global governments take away from the covid-19 pandemic?
  • An exploration of the impact of the coronavirus on the body
  • A look at how a strong immune system fights the coronavirus
  • Mental well-being during the coronavirus pandemic
  • Covid-19: managerial accounting during the pandemic
  • The positive impacts of the pandemic on the environment
  • A compelling city planning approach during the pandemic
  • Covid-19 and social values: what is the link
  • American administration responses to the covid-19 pandemic

The pandemic is a great study area for a thesis. You can choose various directions for your thesis depending on your study area and interest. Whether it is a quantitative research title about the pandemic or an example of a qualitative research title about covid-19, the following research titles about covid 19 should come in handy:

  • The coronavirus pandemic: changes in public spaces and hygiene
  • Development Control Regulations as the perfect medium to navigate and fight the pandemic
  • A revision of housing topologies after the pandemic
  • The drastic effects of the pandemic on the public transformation system
  • Workspace design changes after the pandemic
  • The effects of the pandemic on productivity and company culture
  • The concept of social distancing during the pandemic and its effectiveness
  • Sanitization practices in public spaces and residential buildings during the pandemic
  • Pedestrianization during the coronavirus pandemic
  • Public transportation and its impacts during the covid-19 pandemic

The covid-19 pandemic affected multiple sectors. However, the business industry is arguably the most impacted area beside the medical sector. So, a research title about business during the pandemic is an excellent study focus. Find a research title for the pandemic specifically focused on business:

  • The rate of business launches during the pandemic
  • How online businesses benefited from the pandemic
  • The pandemic and the business sector: the correlation
  • An overview of successful companies launched during the pandemic
  • The rate of business closures during the pandemic
  • How did businesses survive the pandemic
  • How Amazon took advantage of the pandemic to become a global giant
  • Lessons businesses can take away from the pandemic and its impacts
  • Business consumer retention and the pandemic
  • Crisis preparedness: what businesses learned from the coronavirus pandemic

A research title about the pandemic can be a great idea if you want to study a relevant topic. However, the topic relevance will depend on your study area. Find a great topic for research this pandemic from the list below:

  • A comprehensive reflection on the covid-19 pandemic
  • Leadership and management during the coronavirus pandemic
  • Economic factors and consequences of the covid-19 pandemic
  • Religion and the coronavirus pandemic: what is the overview?
  • The role of social media in spreading misinformation on the covid-19 pandemic
  • The role of social media in promoting the covid-19 pandemic
  • How streaming services and the internet helped maintain peoples’ sanity in the pandemic
  • Misinformation handling during the coronavirus pandemic
  • Job satisfaction levels during the pandemic in 2020 and 2021
  • A controversial argument on the benefits of the pandemic

A research title about the vaccine of covid 19 can be controversial. However, it makes an excellent topic for intellectual study. Find the best title for research about the pandemic related to vaccines

  • Mental health during the coronavirus pandemic and what to improve
  • Conspiracy theories regarding the covid-19 pandemic
  • Conservative views on the covid-19 vaccine in the Christian community
  • Public health: the issue of the coronavirus pandemic between 2020 to 2022
  • The changing health behaviors following the coronavirus pandemic situation
  • The impacts of the pandemic on early childhood development the pandemic
  • The pandemic generation: children born during the pandemic and their view of the world
  • A comparison of the influenza pandemic and the covid-19 pandemic
  • The effect of the pandemic on workers in the medical sector
  • Stress and coping mechanisms for nurses and doctors during the covid-19 sector

You can find a thesis statement about social media or a great research title about covid 19 vaccine and other topics online. However, not every research title about covid is relevant or great for academic research. You need the best social media research topics . Find a fantastic title of research about covid from the list below:

  • How social media helped mitigate the impacts of the pandemic
  • The rise of TikTok during the pandemic
  • Social media influence during the pandemic and the changes
  • The positive changes in the view of the coronavirus pandemic on social media tendencies
  • School closure during the coronavirus pandemic and the role of social media
  • The role of social media in promoting mental well-being during the covid-19 pandemic
  • Streaming services for the elderly during the 2020 coronavirus pandemic
  • How did the pandemic lead to increased adverse effects of social media
  • The American mental health population: the impacts of the covid-19 pandemic
  • Business negotiation strategies during the covid-19 pandemic

Third-world countries like the Philippines are among the most impacted nations by the pandemic. So, cover the research title example quantitative or qualitative, depending on your preferred data collection and analysis techniques. Some pandemic research title examples about the Philippines are:

  • The Philippines’ medical sector during the pandemic
  • Mitigation measures by the Philippines government during the pandemic
  • How the pandemic impacted the Philippines’ public sector
  • The Philippines’ education sector after the pandemic
  • Religion and the covid-19 pandemic: God’s existence in Covid-19 times
  • Philippines’ public policies after the pandemic
  • The Philippines food and beverage plan: the impacts of the pandemic
  • Covid-19 vaccination rates in the Philippines’
  • The psychological impacts of the pandemic on the Philippines society
  • A survey on conditions of low-income households during the pandemic

Title research about the pandemic will earn you excellent grades because of the topic’s relevance and multiple study opportunities. However, the quality of the subject matters significantly. Find an example of a research title about covid-19 pandemic below:

  • What has the world learned from the covid-19 pandemic?
  • How has the pandemic influenced the public’s view of health?
  • Why are there fewer medical employees after the pandemic?
  • How did nurses and doctors survive overworking during the pandemic?
  • Is there a link between the global recession and the pandemic?
  • How did the WHO’s response to the pandemic help mitigate its impacts?
  • What challenges did the WHO face while addressing the covid-19 pandemic?
  • Should people continue getting covid-19 vaccinations in 2022?
  • What is the correlation between the pandemic and the current state of global society?
  • What is social solidarity during the pandemic?

The covid-19 pandemic front liners were among the most impacted by the pandemic. So, it would make sense to focus your study on the frontliners. Find an incredible sample of a research title during the pandemic here:

  • Frontliners during the pandemic: how were they affected?
  • An overview of front liner’s view of the pandemic
  • A look into the covid-19 pandemic through the eyes of the pandemic
  • School closures during the pandemic: the impacts on frontline families
  • Effects of the pandemic on social relationships among frontliners
  • Frontliners: how their families suffered from the pandemic
  • Frontliner mental health and the pandemic: the correlation
  • Getting back into conventional practices in the medical sector after the pandemic
  • How frontline helped mitigate the risks of the pandemic
  • The age of online learning before and after the pandemic

You do not have to be in college or university to focus your research on the pandemic. Even high school students can write research topics about the pandemic. Here are some sample research topics for high school students:

  • Organizational risk management strategies after the pandemic
  • Social solidarity and the pandemic: the link
  • A link between the social response to plagues and the covid-19 pandemic
  • Social changes after the covid-19 pandemic
  • The covid-19 pandemic and the World History
  • Healthcare management and quality during the covid-19 pandemic
  • The covid-19 pandemic: The story of the 21 st -century pandemic
  • Child abuse and the pandemic: a correlation
  • The covid-19 pandemic: causes and solutions
  • The reality of the covid-19 pandemic in the elder community

Reach Out for More Interesting Topics About the Covid-19 Pandemic

You deserve the best research titles for high school, postgraduate, and undergraduate studies. Now that you know the best research title about covid-19 to choose from, reach out to us for help with COVID-19 assignments, research papers, essays, thesis for bachelor degree and even more topic suggestions in this area.

Scientists now agree that the COVID pandemic is arguably the most annoying thing to happen in the 21 st century, making it an ideal focus area. It will go down in history as the most challenging time for the economy, environment, and human health.

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Home > Honors College > Honors Theses > 1912

Honors Theses

An analysis of the effects of covid-19 on students at the university of mississippi: family, careers, mental health.

Hannah Newbold Follow

Date of Award

Spring 5-1-2021

Document Type

Undergraduate Thesis

Integrated Marketing Communication

First Advisor

Second advisor.

Cynthia Joyce

Third Advisor

Marquita Smith

Relational Format


This study analyzes the effects of COVID-19 on students at the University of Mississippi. For students, COVID-19 changed the landscape of education, with classes and jobs going online. Students who graduated in May 2020 entered a poor job market and many ended up going to graduate school instead of finding a job. Access to medical and professional help was limited at the very beginning, with offices not taking patients or moving appointments to virtual only. This would require that each student needing help had to have access to quality internet service, which wasn’t always guaranteed, thus producing additional challenges.

These chapters, including a robust literature review of relevant sources, as well as a personal essay, consist further of interviews with students and mental health counselors conducted over the span of several months. These interviews were conducted and recorded over Zoom. The interviews were conducted with individuals who traveled in similar social circles as me. These previously existing relationships allowed the conversation to go deeper than before and allowed new levels of relationship. Emerging from these conversations were six overlapping themes: the importance of family, the need for health over career, the challenge of isolation, struggles with virtual education, assessing mental health, and facing the reality of a bright future not promised. Their revelations of deep academic challenges and fears about the future amid stories of devastating personal loss, produces a striking and complex picture of emerging strength.

Recommended Citation

Newbold, Hannah, "An Analysis Of The Effects Of COVID-19 On Students At The University of Mississippi: Family, Careers, Mental Health" (2021). Honors Theses . 1912. https://egrove.olemiss.edu/hon_thesis/1912

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COVID-19 Thesis Impact Statement

The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on all aspects of our lives is well known.

Victoria experienced six lockdowns between March 2020 and October 2021 that collectively totalled 262 days. Deakin University sought to mitigate this impact on the research by higher degree by research students in various ways, including providing priority access to laboratories and support to pivot research projects. Not all impact on research could be mitigated with direct and indirect effects of limited domestic and international travel, closed university campuses and restricted in-person access to human research participants.

Within this context, you have the option of describing the impact of COVID-19 on your research and how you modified your topic, methods and data collection due to COVID-19 restrictions. The COVID-19 Thesis Impact Statement aims to provide the examiners with a clearer understanding of how the research was affected and shaped due to COVID-19 disruptions.

A COVID-19 Thesis Impact Statement is not required and you may submit your thesis for examination without reference to the COVID-19 pandemic. Should you wish to submit your thesis with a COVID-19 Thesis Impact Statement, do so only under the advice of your supervisory panel.

Please note that you may opt to include a COVID-19 Thesis Impact Statement for examination and remove it from your library copy but you cannot do the reverse. A COVID-19 Thesis Impact Statement cannot be included in your library copy if it wasn’t included in the examination copy.

Content of a COVID-19 Thesis Impact Statement

Following is some examples and advice of what and what not to include in your COVID-19 Thesis Impact Statement.

  • How your planned research activities such as topic, research question, methods and data collection and/or the scope of your research were disrupted or changed due the pandemic. For instance: inability to conduct fieldwork or face-to-face research; access to facilities such as labs, archives or other working spaces; inability to collect or analyse data due to travel restrictions.
  • How the research was shaped by the disruption: the actions or decisions taken to mitigate the disruption; new focus; revised research questions or development; pivoting or adjusting the research project.
  • Any other relevant factors relating to the impact of the COVID-19 disruption on your research.
  • Ensure that you do not infer that your thesis is of a lower standard due to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Your COVID-19 Thesis Impact Statement should not address any effect on your personal circumstances.

Format of a COVID-19 Thesis Impact Statement

You may choose to include the statement as an upfront additional page in your thesis and/or address the impact within the content of the thesis.

If placed as a separate page at the beginning of your thesis, it should be no more than 600 words.

We encourage you to discuss with your supervisor the format of a COVID-19 Thesis Impact Statement that best fits your thesis and impact on your research.

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The dissertation journey during the COVID-19 pandemic: Crisis or opportunity?

Despite dissertation's significance in enhancing the quality of scholarly outputs in tourism and hospitality fields, insufficient research investigates the challenges and disruptions students experience amidst a public health crisis. This study aims to fill the research gaps and integrate attribution and self-efficacy theories to understand how the COVID-19 pandemic influences students' decision-making and behaviours during the dissertation writing process. Qualitative exploration with 15 graduate students was conducted. The results indicate that adjustment of data collection approaches was the most shared external challenge, while students' religious background and desire for publishing COVID related topics were primary internal motivations.

1. Introduction

Dissertation writing is an essential part of academic life for graduate students ( Yusuf, 2018 ). By writing the dissertation, students can build research skills to analyse new data and generate innovative concepts to inform future scientific studies ( Fadhly et al., 2018 ; Keshavarz & Shekari, 2020 ). Therefore, scholars in higher education are dedicated to guiding students to complete impactful dissertations. Duffy et al. (2018) note that thesis advisors can empower students to explore novel ideas and identify new products or services for the tourism and hospitality industry beyond the traditional contribution of extending the existing research literature. Namely, the intriguing ideas proposed in students’ dissertations will eventually enrich and diversify the literature in the tourism and hospitality academia. Furthermore, the process of identifying impactful ideas will prepare students for a successful career either as a researcher or practitioner.

However, dissertation writing can be a challenging experience for both native and non-native writers. Students are sometimes confused about the characteristics of the dissertation or the expectations from the academics and practitioners ( Bitchener et al., 2010 ). A graduate student has to make numerous decisions during the dissertation writing journey. To successfully guide the students through this complicated writing journey, thesis advisors need to understand the factors influencing students' writing motivation and decision-making process. Previous studies have suggested these influential factors can be broadly classified into external sources (e.g., advisor/supervisor's influence, trends in the field, or publishability of the topic) and internal sources (e.g., researcher's background or researcher interest; Fadhly et al., 2018 ; I'Anson & Smith, 2004 ; Keshavarz & Shekari, 2020 ). Despite this classification, the discussions related to the impacts of macro-environments, such as socio-cultural trends, economic conditions, or ecology and physical environments, on students' dissertation writing are extremely lacking. Since the time background and the world situation when writing a dissertation are also critical factors influencing students' writing goals, more research should be done to broaden students' dissertation writing experiences.

The COVID-19 pandemic has immensely impacted global education, students' learning, and research activities. According to Dwivedi et al. (2020) , the COVID-19 pandemic has affected international higher education leading to the closure of schools to control the spread of the virus. Meanwhile, Alvarado et al. (2021) found that the global health crises have seriously disrupted doctoral students' Dissertations in Practice (DiP). Specifically, students must learn new methodologies and adjust the research settings and sampling techniques because of virtual-only approaches. Some have to find new topics and research questions since the original one cannot be investigated during the quarantine period. However, students may turn this current crisis into an opportunity as they build a shared community and support each other's private and academic lives. Apparently, the crisis can result in a stronger bond of friendship, and this may generate more collaborative research projects in the future.

As mentioned earlier, some studies have tried to identify factors influencing students' dissertation writing journey, albeit lack considerations related to the effects of macro-environments. Given the severe impacts of COVID-19 on the macro-environments of global higher education and the tourism industry, this study aims to fill the research gap and explore how a public health crisis may influence graduate students' dissertation writing, especially in the field of tourism and hospitality. Specifically, this study utilizes attribution and self-efficacy theory as the research framework to examine the internal and external factors that influenced graduate students' dissertation journey amidst the COVID-19 pandemic (see Fig. 1 ). The use of attribution and self-efficacy theory is appropriate in the current study because both explain how people make sense of society, influences of others, their decision-making process and behaviours. Although some may argue these theories are outdated, many scholars have used them to explain students' behaviours and experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic. For example, Xu et al. (2021) found that social capital and learning support positively influence students' self-efficacy, employability and well-being amidst the crisis. Meanwhile, Lassoued et al. (2020) used attribution theory to explore the university professors and their students' learning experience during the COVID-19 pandemic. They found that both groups attributed the problems to reaching high quality in distance learning to students' weak motivation to understand abstract concepts in the absence of in-person interaction.

Fig. 1

The theoretical framework.

Understanding the lived experience of students would enable stakeholders in tourism and hospitality education to deeply comprehend the plight and predicaments of students face and the innovate ways to mitigate those challenges amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. Thus, this study utilizes a qualitative approach to explore the impacts of internal and extremal factors on the dissertation writing process. The study was set in the context of an international graduate hospitality and tourism program in Taiwan known for its diverse student body. The research question that guides such qualitative exploration is: How have external and internal factors influenced graduate students’ dissertation writing journey during the COVID-19 pandemic?

This study is timely and critical considering the uncertainties that characterize pandemics which aggravates the already perplexities that associate dissertation writing. It throws light on factors that are susceptible to pandemic tendencies and factors that are resilient to crisis. The findings of this study would provide insights into how crises affect academia and suggest effective ways for higher educational institutions, academicians, and other key stakeholders to forge proactive solutions for future occurrences. Especially, higher education institutions would be well-positioned and informed on areas to train students and faculty members to ameliorate the impacts associated with pandemics.

2. Literature review

2.1. covid-19 and its impacts on educational activities.

Public health crises have ramifications for educational behaviour and choices; this is especially true of the COVID-19 pandemic. Most countries and institutions of higher education are still battling with the consequences suffered from the COVID-19 pandemic. Not surprisingly, there has been a tsunami of studies on the implications of the COVID-19 pandemic (e.g., Dwivedi et al., 2020 ; Manzano-Leon et al., 2021 ; Alam & Parvin, 2021 ). Assessing these studies, we found that although there are substantial extant studies on the negative implications of the COVID-19 pandemic, limited studies have also emphasised the positive side of the pandemic on education. For example, Dwivedi et al. (2020) concluded that the COVID-19 had revealed the necessity of online teaching in higher educational institutions. For they observed that at Loughborough, though face-to-face teaching is practised, one cannot relegate online teaching as some students will be unable to return to campus due to border closures. Thus, faculty members have to convert existing material to the online format. Furthermore, Manzano-Leon et al. (2021) also pointed out that the COVID-19 has allowed students to interact with their peers beyond traditional education. They pinpointed that playful learning strategies such as escape rooms enable students to interact well. Alam and Parvin (2021) also underscored students who studied during the COVID-19 pandemic performed better academically than those before. This finding suggests that online education is supposedly more active than face-to-face mode.

Apart from these positive implications aforementioned, most studies have emphasised the negative impacts of COVID-19 on education. Dwivedi et al. (2020) reviewed how the global higher education sector has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. It caused the closure of schools, national lockdowns and social distancing, and a proliferation of online teaching. COVID-19 forced both teachers and students to work and study remotely from home. According to Dhawan (2020) , the rapid deployment of online learning to protect students, faculty, communities, societies, and nations affected academic life. Online learning seemed like a panacea in the face of COVID-19's severe symptoms; however, the switch to online also brought several challenges for teachers and students. Lall and Singh (2020) noted that disadvantages of online learning include the absence of co-curricular activities and students' lack of association with friends at school. Many studies have also confirmed the pandemic's adverse effects on students' mental health, emotional wellbeing, and academic performance ( Bao, 2020 ; de Oliveira Araújo et al., 2020 ).

Despite the pandemic has caused numerous difficulties for many educational institutions, scholars and educators have risen to the challenges and tried to plan effective strategies to mitigate such stressing circumstances. For example, to respond the needs of a better understanding of students' social-emotional competencies for coping the COVID-19 outbreak, Hadar et al. (2020) utilized the VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex, ambiguous) framework to analyse teachers and students' struggles. Each element of VUCA is defined as follows:

  • ● Volatility: the speed and magnitude of the crisis;
  • ● Uncertainty: the unpredictability of events during the crisis;
  • ● Complexity: the confounding events during the crisis;
  • ● Ambiguity: the confusing and mixed meanings during the crisis.

This analysis and conceptualization of crises help to explain some of the students’ concerns on mental health, emotional wellbeing, and academic performance ( Bao, 2020 ; de Oliveira Araújo et al., 2020 ).

The pandemic also exacerbated existing challenges facing students and universities across the globe. According to Rose-Redwood et al. (2020) , the COVID-19 endangered the career prospects of both students and scholars. University partnerships with the arts sector, community service, and non-governmental organizations also suffered. The tourism and hospitality (academic) field faced unique challenges in light of COVID-19 without exception. Forms of tourism such as over-tourism and cruise tourism were temporarily unobservable, and most pre-crisis studies and forecast data were no longer relevant ( Bausch et al., 2021 ). Consequently, many empirical and longitudinal studies were halted due to the incomparability of data. Even though many studies have been conducted to explore the impacts of the COVID pandemic on educational activities, none of these studies has addressed how this public health crisis has affected graduate students’ dissertation journey. Therefore, the present research is needed to fill the gaps in the mainstream literature.

2.2. Attribution theory and self-efficacy

The current study employs attribution theory and self-efficacy to understand graduate students' dissertation writing journeys. Attribution theory explains how individuals interpret behavioural outcomes ( Weiner, 2006 ) and has been used in education and crisis management ( Abraham et al., 2020 ; Sanders et al., 2020 ). For example, Chen and Wu (2021) used attribution theory to understand the effects of attributing students' academic achievements to giftedness. They found that attributing students' academic success to giftedness had a positive indirect relationship with their academic achievement through self-regulated learning and negative learning emotions. However, attribution theory has been criticised for its inability to explain a person's behaviour comprehensively. This is well enunciated by Bandura (1986) that attribution theory does not necessarily describe all influential factors related to a person's behaviour. Instead, it provides in-depth accounts of one's self-efficacy. Hence, scholars have advocated the need for integrating self-efficacy into attribution theory ( Hattie et al., 2020 ).

Self-efficacy is closely related to attribution theory. Extant studies have investigated the essence of self-efficacy in education and its role on students' achievements ( Bartimote-Aufflick et al., 2016 ; Hendricks, 2016 ). For instance, in their educational research and implications for music, Hendricks (2016) found that teachers can empower students' ability and achievement through positive self-efficacy beliefs. This is achieved through Bandura's (1986) theoretical four sources of self-efficacy: vicarious experience, verbal/social persuasion, enactive mastery experience, and physiological and affective states. The current study integrates attribution theory and self-efficacy as the research framework to provide intellectual rigour and reasons underlined students' decision-making during their dissertation journey.

2.3. Internal and external factors that influence dissertation writing processes

This study considered both internal and external factors affecting graduate students' dissertation journeys in line with attribution theory. Internal factors are actions or behaviours within an individual's control ( LaBelle & Martin, 2014 ; Weiner, 2006 ). Many studies have evolved and attributed dissertation topic selection to internal considerations. For instance, I'Anson and Smith's (2004) study found that personal interest and student ability were essential for undergraduate students' thesis topic selection. Keshavarz and Shekari (2020) also found that personal interest is the primary motivation for choosing a specific thesis topic. In another study focused on undergraduate students at the English department, Husin and Nurbayani (2017) revealed that students' language proficiency was a dominant internal factor for their dissertation choice decisions.

On the other hand, external factors are forces beyond an individual's control ( LaBelle & Martin, 2014 ). Similar to internal factors, there is an avalanche of studies that have evolved and uncovered external factors that characterize students' dissertation decisions in the pre-COVID period (e.g., de Kleijn et al., 2012 ; Huin; Nurbayani, 2017 ; Keshavarz & Shekari, 2020 ; Pemberton, 2012 ; Shu et al., 2016; Sverdlik et al., 2018 ). For instance, de Kleijn et al. (2012) found that supervisor influence is critical in the student dissertation writing process. They further revealed that an acceptable relationship between supervisor and student leads to a higher and quality outcome; however, a high level of influence could lead to low satisfaction. Meanwhile, Pemberton (2012) delved into the extent teachers influence students in their dissertation process and especially topic selection. This study further underlined that most supervisors assist students to select topics that will sustain their interest and competence level. Unlike previous research, Keshavarz and Shekari (2020) found that research operability or feasibility was a critical external factor that informed students' dissertation decisions. In other words, practicality and usefulness are essential in determining the dissertation choices.

These studies above show how internal and external factors may determine students' dissertation decisions. Despite those studies providing valuable knowledge to broaden our understanding of which factors may play significant role in students' dissertation journeys, most of their focus was on undergraduate students and was conducted before COVID-19. Given that the learning experiences among graduate and undergraduate students as well as before and during the pandemic may differ significantly, there is a need to investigate what specific external and internal factors underline graduate students’ dissertation decisions during the COVID-19. Are those factors different from or similar to previous findings?

3. Methodology

Previous studies have disproportionately employed quantitative approaches to examine students' dissertation topic choice (e.g., Keshavarz & Shekari, 2020 ). Although the quantitative method can aid the researcher to investigate focal phenomena among larger samples and generalize the results, it has also been criticized for the lack of in-depth analysis or does not allow respondents to share their lived experiences. Given the rapid evolution and uncertainty linked with the COVID-19 pandemic, the contextual and social factors may drive individuals to respond to such challenges differently. Therefore, efforts toward analyzing individual experiences during the public health crisis are necessary to tailor individual needs and local educational policy implementation ( Tremblay et al., 2021 ). Accordingly, the current study adopts a qualitative approach grounded in the interpretivism paradigm to explore the factors affecting graduate students’ dissertation research activities and understand the in-depth meaning of writing a dissertation.

3.1. Data collection

Since statistical representation is not the aim of qualitative research, the purposive sampling instead of probability sampling technique was used for this study ( Holloway & Wheeler, 2002 ). Graduate students who were composing their dissertation and could demonstrate a clear understanding on the issues under study are selected as the target research subjects. To gain a rich data, the sample selection in the current study considers background, dissertation writing status, and nationality to ensure a diversified data set ( Ritchie et al., 2014 ). Data was collected from graduate students in Taiwan who were currently writing their dissertations. Taiwan was chosen as the research site because the pandemic initially had a minor impact on Taiwan than on other economically developed countries ( Wang et al., 2020 ). In the first year (2019–2020) of their study, the graduate students could conduct their research projects without any restrictions. Therefore, traditional data collections and research processes, such as face-to-face interview techniques or onsite questionnaire distributions were generally taught and implemented in Taiwanese universities at that time. However, in their second year of the graduate program (2021), the COVID-19 cases surged, and the government identified some domestic infection clusters in Taiwan. Thus, the ministry of education ordered universities to suspend in-person instruction and move to online classes from home as part of a national level 3 COVID-19 alert. Many graduate students have to modify their data collection plan and learn different software to overcome the challenges of new and stricter rules. As they have experienced the sudden and unexpected change caused by the COVID-19 in their dissertation writing journey, Taiwanese graduate students are deemed as suitable research participants in this research.

Following Keshavarz and Shekari (2020) , interview questions were extracted from the literature review and developed into a semi-structured guide. Semi-structured interview was employed allowing for probing and clarifying explanations. This also allowed both the interviewer and the interviewee to become co-researchers (Ritchie et al., 2005). The questions asked about internal, and external factors influencing dissertation writing (including topic selection and methodology) during COVID-19. Specifically, students were asked how they chose their dissertation topic, how they felt COVID-19 had impacted their dissertation, and what significant events influenced their academic choices during the pandemic. Before each interview, the purpose of the study was explained and respondents provided informed consent. All the interviews were audio-recorded and later transcribed.

Interviews, lasting about 50–60 min, were conducted with 15 graduate students as data saturation was achieved after analysing 15 interviews. The saturation was confirmed by the repetition of statements like, “personal interest motivated me”, “my supervisor guided me to select a topic”, and “I changed my data collection procedure to online”.

3.2. Data analysis and trustworthiness

Before the formal interview, two educational experts who are familiar with qualitative research were solicited to validate the wording, semantics, and meanings of the interview questions. Then, a pilot test was conducted with three graduate students to check the clarity of the expression for every interview question and revise potentially confusing phrasing. Validity and trustworthiness were also achieved through the use of asking follow-up questions. The transcripts of formal interviews were analysed using Atlas.ti 9. Qualitative themes were developed following open, selective, and axial coding procedures ( Corbin & Strauss, 1990 ). Finally, the relationships among themes and codes were identified, facilitating the research findings and discussions.

In order to prevent biases from affecting the findings of the study, series of procedures were undertaken following previous qualitative research. First, multiple quotations from respondents underlined the research findings which meant the respondents' true perspectives and expressions were represented. Moreover, the analyses were done independently and there was peer checking among the authors. There was also member checking where themes found were redirected to respondents for verification. In addition, external validation of the themes was done by asking other graduate students who share similar characteristics for comparability assessment to make the findings transferable.

4. Results and discussion

4.1. profile of respondents.

Respondents were purposively drawn from diverse backgrounds (including nationality, gender, and programs) to enrich the research findings. The sample includes graduate students who began dissertation writing in Taiwan during the COVID-19 pandemic period. The majority of the respondents are female and from South East Asia. Table 1 provides background information of these interviewees.

Background information of study respondents.

Respondent 1FemaleVietnam
Respondent 2MaleIndonesia
Respondent 3FemaleIndonesia
Respondent 4MaleTaiwan
Respondent 5FemaleIndonesia
Respondent 6FemaleIndonesia
Respondent 7MaleThailand
Respondent 8FemalePhilippines
Respondent 9FemaleChina
Respondent 10FemaleIndonesia
Respondent 11FemaleTaiwan
Respondent 12FemaleTaiwan
Respondent 13FemaleMyanmar
Respondent 14MalePhilippines
Respondent 15FemaleIndonesia

4.2. Internal factors

As Table 2 depicts, the themes ascertained from the data analysis were categorised according to internal and external factors which underpin the attribution theory ( Weiner, 2006 ). In consonance with previous studies, graduate students’ dissertation writing during the pandemic was influenced by internal factors (i.e., personal interest and religious background) and external considerations (i.e., career aspirations, society improvement, language issues, supervisor influence, COVID-19 publishable topics, data collection challenges). The analyses of each factor are presented below.

Major themes and codes emerging from the data.

DimensionThemesExtracted codesReferences
Personal interestPersonal preference; topic preference; personal priority; idiosyncratic; inner-conflict remedy; life motivation; delightful habit; nationality affiliation; empathy; personal aspiration in tourism destination development; personal desire. ; ; ; Post et al. (2017); Tedd, 2006
Religious backgroundReligious belief as way of life; confidence when combining student religious belief with academic goals ; Logan (2013); Oukunlola et al. (2021)
Career aspirationsDevelopment aspiration for own's country education; better career ; ; Millar (2013)
Society improvementSustainability awareness in tourism destination; tourist arrival growth; destination economy development; women empowerment; alternative tourism development; job opportunity creation; livelihood improvement; solving environmental problemPrebor (2010)
Language and communication concernLanguage barrier; common ease of communication due to same nationalityFranklin & Jaeger (2007)
Supervisor influenceTopic idea from supervisor; supervisor's guidelines, consultation with supervisor; supervisor's suggestions; supervisor's contributions to student's decision making; supervisor's expertise in particulars area ; ; ; ; Xia (2013);
Impactful topicsDesire to find impactful topic
Feasibility of research designThe method is appropriate with research gap; the design is suitable for data collection
COVID-19 publishable topicDesire for publishing paper; search for hot topic for publications ; McIltrot (2018)
Online data collection restrictionsInability to conduct face-to-face interview; international travel ban; impact on research design; impact on methodology; impact on data collection process; deprivation of obtaining in-depth data; prevented to meet respondent; alteration from face-to-face interview into online interview (Zoom & Facebook Messenger); inability to read the respondents' body language; prone to several interruptions during online interview; affected conversation flow; remote interview leads to limited in-depth interview ;

The most salient internal factors affecting dissertation topic selection were (1) personal interest and (2) religious background. For personal interest, respondent 1 expressed:

The first thing is that [it] comes from my interest. I'm currently working on solo female traveller [s], which is the market I want to study. So, the priority comes from my personal preference and to learn about this market no matter the external situation. I also think that this is due to how I was brought up. My parent nurtured me that way, and I love to do things independently, especially when travelling.

This finding is in line with previous studies such as Keshavarz and Shekari (2020) ; I’Anson and Smith (2004) , who emphasised the relevance of personal interest in students' dissertation decision-making. Informed by the self-efficacy and attribution theories, we found that students who attribute their decision-making on dissertation writing to internal factors (i.e., personal interest) have relatively high self-efficacy levels. As argued by Bandura (1977) , efficacy expectation is “the conviction that one can successfully execute the behaviour required to produce the outcomes” (p. 193). Namely, self-efficacy is determined by an individual's capability and ability to execute decisions independently, devoid of any external considerations. Despite the uncertainties and challenging circumstances amidst COVID-19, students who believe their ability and research skills usually adhere to their original dissertation topics and directions.

Religious consideration is another conspicuous factor informing graduate students' dissertation journey during the COVID-19 pandemic. As respondent 7 mentioned:

Islam has become my way of life. I am a Muslim. It is my daily life, so I like to research this. I was born into this faith, and I am inclined to explore Halal food. I feel committed to contributing my research to my faith no matter outside circumstances. Maybe if I combine it with academic (research), it will be easier to understand and easier to do.

Although not much has been seen regarding religious considerations in students' dissertation topic selection in previous studies, this research reveals religious background as a significant internal factor. From a sociology perspective, religious orientation and affiliation could affect individual behaviour ( Costen et al., 2013 ; Lee & Robbins, 1998 ), and academic decision-making is not an exception. Religious backgrounds are inherent in the socialisation process and could affect how a person behaves or how they make a particular decision. This premise is further accentuated by Costen et al. (2013) , who argued that social connectedness affects college students' ability to adjust to new environments and situations. Social connectedness guides feelings, thoughts, and behaviour in many human endeavours ( Lee & Robbins, 1998 ). Social connectedness and upbringing underpin peoples' personality traits and behavioural patterns. Therefore, this study has extended existing literature on factors that affect graduate students' decision-making on dissertation writing from a religious perspective, which is traceable to an individual's socialisation process. In other words, during crises, most students are inclined to make decisions on their dissertation writing which are informed by their social upbringing (socialisation).

4.3. External factors

As Table 2 indicates, abundant external factors inform graduate students’ decision-making on their dissertation writing process. Except for career aspirations, language concerns, and supervisor influences that previous studies have recognized ( Chu, 2015 ; Jensen, 2013 ; Keshavarz & Shekari, 2020 ; Lee & Deale, 2016 ; Tuomaala et al., 2014 ), some novel factors were identified from the data, such as “COVID-19 publishable topic” and “online data collection restrictions”.

Unlike extant studies that have bemoaned the negative impacts of the COVID on education ( Qiu et al., 2020 ; Sato et al., 2021 ), the current study revealed that graduate students were eager to research on topics that were related to COVID-19 to reflect the changes of the tourism industry and trends.

Initially, overtourism [was] a problem in my country, and I want to write a dissertation about it. However, there is no tourism at my research site because of the COVID-19 pandemic. So, I had to change my topic to resilience because resilience is about overcoming a crisis. I had to discuss with my supervisor, and she suggested the way forward that I revise my topic to make it relevant and publishable due to the COVID-19 pandemic (respondent 8).

This response shows the unavoidable impacts of the COVID-19 on the research community. As Bausch et al. (2021) pointed out, tourism and hospitality scholars have to change their research directions because some forms of tourism such as overtourism and cruise tourism were temporarily unobservable amidst the pandemic. Thus, many pre-pandemic studies and forecast data were no longer relevant. However, the COVID-19 pandemic can bring some positive changes. Nowadays, the industry and academics shift their focus from pro-tourism to responsible tourism and conduct more research related to resilience. As Ting et al. (2021) suggested, “moving forward from the pandemic crisis, one of the leading roles of tourism scholars henceforth is to facilitate high-quality education and training to prepare future leaders and responsible tourism practitioners to contribute to responsible travel and tourism experiences.” (p. 6).

Furthermore, the COVID-19 pandemic has significant ramifications upon the research methods in hospitality and tourism. As respondent 1 denoted,

Because of [the] COVID-19 pandemic, there were certain limitations like I cannot analyse interviewee's body language due to social distancing … some interruptions when we conduct online interviews due to unstable internet connectivity, which would ultimately affect the flow of the conversation.

The adjustments of research methods also bring frustrations and anxiety to students. For instance, respondent 3 expressed: “I became anxious that I won't be able to collect data because of social distancing, which was implemented in Taiwan.” The volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous (VUCA) feelings caused by the COVID-19 pandemic significantly influences students' mood, thinking and behaviour ( Hadar et al., 2020 ).

Apparently, during crises, graduate students' decision-making on their dissertation writing was precipitated by external considerations beyond their control. Based on self-efficacy and attribution theory, the fear that characterises crises affects students' self-efficacy level and eagerness to resort to external entities (e.g., supervisor influences or difficulties in collecting data) to assuage their predicament. In other words, some students may have a low self-efficacy level during the COVID-19 pandemic, which was triggered by the negative impacts of the crisis. Furthermore, scholars may need to notice that COVID-19 is likely to affect conclusions drawn on studies undertaken during this period due to over-reliance on online data collection.

5. Conclusions and implications

Although numerous studies have been conducted to understand the influences of the COVID-19 crisis on educational activities, none of them focuses on the graduate student's dissertation writing journey. Given the significant contributions dissertations may make to advancing tourism and hospitality knowledge, this study aims to fill the gap and uses attribution and self-efficacy theories to explore how internal and external factors influenced graduate students' decision-making for dissertations amidst the crisis. Drawing on qualitative approaches with graduate students who began writing their dissertation during the COVID-19 period, the study provides insights into students' learning experiences and informs stakeholders in hospitality and tourism education to make better policies.

There are several findings worthy of discussion. Firstly, graduate students' sociological background (i.e., personal interest and religious background), which is inherent in an individual's socialisation processes, inform their decision-making in the dissertation processes during the COVID-19 pandemic. This is in line with the self-efficacy theory, which argues that an individual has the conviction that they have the necessary innate abilities to execute an outcome ( Bandura, 1977 ). Namely, respondents with high self-efficacy levels attributed their decisions to internal factors. Unlike previous studies' findings that personal interest was a factor that underpinned graduate students' decision-making ( I'Anson & Smith, 2004 ; Keshavarz & Shekari, 2020 ), it is observed that religious background is an additional factor that was evident and conspicuous during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Secondly, the complexity and uncertainty that characterised the COVID-19 pandemic made emotion a dominant factor that affected graduate students’ dissertation journey and indirectly triggered other external factors that provoked behavioural adjustments among students. The trepidation and anxiety that COVID-19 has caused significantly affects the self-efficacy level of students and predisposes them to external considerations, such as the will of the supervisor or the difficulties in data collection, in their dissertation journey. This study paralleled previous research and revealed that respondents with low self-efficacy were influenced by external considerations more than individuals with high self-efficacy ( Bandura, 1977 ). However, this study highlights how a public health crisis accelerates students who have low self-efficacy to attribute their unsatisfactory academic life to the external environment, leading to depression and negative impacts on ideology ( Abood et al., 2020 ).

Lastly, the COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically influenced the direction of research and body of knowledge in tourism and hospitality. This is seen in the light of the influx of COVID-19 related research topics adapted by graduate students. Furthermore, over-reliance on online data collection approaches were observed in this research. Although online surveys and interviews have many advantages, such as low cost and no geographic restrictions, the results drawn from this approach frequently suffer from biased data and issues with reliability and validity. For example, Moss (2020) revealed that survey respondents from Amazon MTurk are mostly financially disadvantaged, significantly younger than the U.S. population, and predominantly female. As more and more students collect data from online survey platforms such as Amazon MTurk, dissertation advisors may need to question the representativeness of the study respondents in their students’ dissertation and the conclusions they make based on this population.

5.1. Theoretical implications and future study suggestions

This paper has extended the attribution and self-efficacy theories by revealing that a public health crisis moderates attributive factors that underpinned the decision-making of individuals. The integration of self-efficacy theory and attributive theory has proven to better unravel the behaviour of graduate students during the COVID-19 pandemic than solely utilizing one of them. The application and extension of the self-efficacy and attribution theories are rarely observed in the context of hospitality and tourism education, and thus, this study creates the foundation for future scholars to understand students’ attitudes and behaviour in our field.

The findings highlight some factors triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic and have not been identified previously. For example, the religious background was a significant driver to selecting a particular research topic. This research also shows a shift in research direction to hot and publishable issues related to COVID-19. The utility of the dissertation becomes a significant consideration among graduate students. Additionally, emotion is recognized as another critical factor affecting the dissertation writing journey. The current study informs academia and the research community on the extent to which the COVID-19 would influence idea generation and the direction of research in the foreseeable future, as extant studies have overlooked this vital connection. Future studies should consider those factors when investigating relevant behaviours and experiences.

The time that the current study was done is likely to affect the findings. Therefore, it is recommended that future research explore graduate students’ dissertation journey in the post-COVID-19 era to ascertain whether there will be similarities or differences. This would help to give a comprehensive picture of the impacts of the COVID-19 on education. Moreover, the findings of this study cannot be generalised as it was undertaken at a particular Taiwanese institution. We recommend that quantitative research with larger samples could be conducted to facilitate the generalisation of the findings. Finally, it is suggested that a meta-analysis or systematic literature review on articles written on the COVID-19 pandemic and education could be done to further identify more influential factors related to the public health crisis and educational activities.

5.2. Practical implications for hospitality and tourism education

The findings revealed that negative emotion might trigger students' attribution to external factors that affected the dissertation journey. Thus, relevant stakeholders should develop strategies and innovate ways to ease the fears and anxieties of the COVID-19 pandemic. This study calls for immediate actions to prevent spillover effects on upcoming students. Faculty members, staff, and teachers should be trained on soft skills such as empathy, flexibility, and conflict solutions required by the hospitality and tourism industry.

Moreover, the thesis supervisors should notice students' over-reliance on online data collection due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As it may possibly affect the quality and findings of their students' dissertations, there should be sound and logical justification for this decision. Collecting data online should be backed by the appropriateness of the method and the research problem under study instead of the convenience of obtaining such data. There is an urgent need for students to be guided for innovative data collection methods. The school can turn the COVID-19 crisis into an opportunity to improve the online teaching materials and equipment. The research programs may consider including more teaching hours on online research design or data collection procedures to bring positive discussions on the strengths of such approaches.

Credit author statement

Emmanuel Kwame Opoku: Conceptualization, Methodology, Formal analysis, Writing - Original Draft, Writing - Review & Editing, Project administration. Li-Hsin Chen: Conceptualization, Supervision, Review, Editing, Response to reviewers. Sam Yuan Permadi: Investigation, Visualization, Project administration.

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Global Health (GHWG)

Content from global health (ghwg) working group, do you want to write a covid dissertation.

NHS leaflet and surgical gloves

Professor Sophie Harman, a member of our Global Health Working Group, gives some advice about coming up with dissertation topics related to COVID.

Part of the joy and point of writing a dissertation is for students to come up with their own subject and research question. Both students and supervisors know this is often the most painful part of the process (second only to the week before deadline – start early, marathon not a sprint etc!). I know good supervisors can support students writing dissertations in all manner of subjects and this is what makes it so rewarding. However, in a year where we’re all dealing with increased pressure, demands on our time, and managing screen headaches, I thought I’d put my 15 years global health politics experience to good use and make some suggestions/pointers to help you when a student comes to you as says the inevitable: [1]

‘I was thinking of writing my dissertation on COVID-19’

Below are 10 suggested questions with suggested literature and methods, covering institutions, security, race, policy, vaccines, gender, aesthetics, expertise, knowledge. These by no means cover everything and by no means prescribe how I think a dissertation on that topic should be written. If helpful, see them as jump-off points to think about these topics. The only caution I have is make sure all projects are only focused on the start/first 6 months of COVID-19 – we are only at the end of the beginning. This is also a pre-emptive move to stop you getting your students to email me for ideas.

Institutions and global governance

1. Is the WHO capable of preventing and responding to major pandemics?

Literature: WHO, IHR, GOARN, global health security + previous outbreaks (Ebola, pandemic flu, HIV/AIDS)

Methods: Case Studies – look at the tools/instruments e.g. IHR, GOARN, Regional offices etc

2. Why did states pursue different responses to the COVID-19 outbreak?

Literature: Global health security, state compliance in IR, international law and international organisations

Methods: Pick two contrasting case studies e.g. England/Scotland, Canada/US, Germany/UK, Sweden/Denmark and then look at different levels of policy and decision making per chapter – Global, National, Regional/local and rationales behind decisions from – expert evidence, speeches, policy decisions, policy timelines

3. How can we understand the gender dimensions of COVID-19?

Literature: Gender and global health, Feminist IPE, Black Feminism, WPS (if looking at violence)

Methods: Explore 1 – 3 key themes from the literature – Care and domestic burden, Health Care Workers, Domestic violence in depth. Depending on networks and contacts, could run focus groups (ethics! And definitely NOT if doing violence), or analyse survey data – lots of surveys done on this and the raw data is always made available if have the skills to play with it.

Political economy

4. Are states the main barrier to vaccine equity?

Literature: Vaccine access and nationalism, access to treatment, IPE of health and trade, pharmaceutical companies, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation

Methods: Look at the different stages of vaccine development for 2/3 trials and consider the role of States (where putting money, public statements, any actions e.g. email hacks), Researchers (where get money from, how collaborating, knowledge sharing), Institutions (CEPI, GAVI, WHO), and the Private Sector (pharma and foundations – who’s investing, what is their return – and private security companies – who protects the commodity?). Think: interests, investment, barriers/opportunities.

Security and foreign policy

5. Were state security strategies prepared for major pandemics prior to COVID-19? If not, why not?

Literature: Global health security, securitisation and desecuritisation of health

Methods: 2 – 3 state case studies or 1 in detail, think about Strategy, Training/Preparedness, Actors. Content analysis of security strategies and defence planning and budget allocations, speeches, training, simulations etc.

6. What is the role of images in responding to outbreaks?

Literature: Aesthetics and IR, behaviour change communication and images in public health

Methods: 3 case studies on different types of images in COVID-19, e.g. 1. Global public health messaging; 2. National public health messaging; 3. Community Expression – OR pick one of these options and explore in depth.

Race and racism

7. Could the racial inequalities of COVID-19 been foreseen and prevented?

Literature: Racism and global health, racism and domestic health systems, Black Feminism, Critical Trans Politics

Method: Option 1 – look maternal health as a proxy in three case study countries e.g. Brazil, US, UK; Option 2 – pick one country and look at three health issues prior to COVID-19 e.g. Maternal Health, Diabetes, Heart Disease.

Knowledge, discourse, and experts

8. Is COVID-19 the biggest global pandemic of a generation?

Literature: Postcolonial/decolonial theory, poststructuralism, Politics of HIV/AIDS, pandemic flu

Method: Discourse analysis around ‘once in a lifetime rhetoric’ – who says it, when, and why; contrast with discourse around COVID-19 from countries with previous outbreaks e.g. Sierra Leone, DRC, China, Indonesia, South Africa, Brazil (you’ll need to be selective as can’t measure discourse from all states! Think through why you make your choices here and how they relate to each other) OR contrast COVID-19 with a previous pandemic, e.g. HIV/AIDS

9. What knowledge counts in COVID-19?

Literature: Postcolonial/decolonial theory, post-structuralism, IR and Global Health, politics of experts

Methods: Review lessons learned from previous outbreaks (there are lots of source material on this after Ebola and SARS for example) and how they led to changes/what learned for COVID-19; Stakeholder mapping and/or network analysis – Who are the experts? Look at backgrounds, types of knowledge and expertise, did they work on the Ebola response/HIV/AIDS in the early 2000s for example?; Case Study – UK/US – where have high concentration of public health experts and institutions, export knowledge to low and middle income countries, evidence of importing knowledge from these countries, especially given the experience?

UK/State responses

10. How can we understand/explain the first 6 months of the US/UK/Sweden/Australia/South Africa/China/Brazil/you choose! response to COVID-19?

WARNING! This is the question that could descend into a polemic so approach with absolute caution. I would strongly advise against, but have included to give a clearer steer.

The key with this question is to remember you are not submitting a public health or epidemiology dissertation, so bear in mind you probably don’t have the skills and knowledge to assess what was a good/bad public health decision (other than obvious ones such as PPE stocks for example). What you do have the skills to do is to look at the politics as to  why  a decision was taken and  how  it was taken – investigate what the different recommendations/guidance suggested, who followed/ignored/subverted it and what outcomes this produced.

Literature: health policy, public policy, state compliance IR

Methods: 1. Global – map what global advice there was and how did the state follow (or not) in preparedness and response and what was the rationale for doing so – political circumstances at the time, stated rationale for decision, who was making decision; 2. National – key public health decisions, commodities, social-economic consequences – how were these planned for/overlooked and why. To look at these two levels may require mixed methods of global and national policy timelines, stakeholder analysis, content analysis of speeches and recommendations, mapping changes to data presentation and access.

[1]  For the first two years of my career I supervised countless projects loosely based around ‘Is the War in Iraq illegal?’ I’m hoping some of the variety here will stop two years of ‘Is the UK government’s respond to COVID-19 a national scandal?’ or ‘Is the WHO fit for purpose?’ – two great topics, but tiresome after a bit.

Reproduced with kind permission from Global Politics Unbound at QMU.

Photo by iMattSmart on Unsplash

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Thesis Submission Guidance: COVID-19 Impact Statement

In response to the impact of the global pandemic, we’re giving you the option to include a statement at the start of your thesis which outlines the effects that COVID-19 may have had on the research that you have undertaken towards your doctoral degree.

The inclusion of a statement is to facilitate the reader’s awareness, both now and in the future, that the pandemic may have had an effect on the scope, direction and presentation of the research.

The academic standards and quality threshold for the award remains unchanged. Where statements are included, you should be reassured that this is not evidencing a lack of original research or intellectual rigour.

If you decide to include one such statement, it should appear on the first page of the thesis, after the cover page, and be titled ‘Impact of COVID-19’. The statement should not exceed 1000 words and will not count towards the total thesis word count.

Examples of potential areas for consideration and comment when developing your impact statement are below. However, you should discuss the content of the statement with your supervisor before submission:

  • Details on how disruption caused by COVID-19 has impacted the research (for example, an inability to conduct face to face research, an inability to collect/analyse data as a result of travel constraints, or restricted access to labs or other working spaces).
  • A description of how the planned work would have fitted within the thesis narrative (e.g., through method development, expansion of analytical skills or advancement of hypotheses).
  • A summary of any decisions / actions taken to mitigate for any work or data collection/analyses that were prevented by COVID-19.
  • Highlighting new research questions and developments, emphasising the work that has been undertaken in pivoting or adjusting the project.

You are reminded of the public nature of the published thesis and the longevity of any such included statements about the impact of the pandemic. You are advised to take a cautious approach as to the insertion of any personal information in these statements.

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Learning in times of COVID-19: Students’, Families’, and Educators’ Perspectives

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The COVID-19 pandemic has had a profound and sudden impact on many areas of life; work, leisure time and family alike. These changes have also affected educational processes in formal and informal learning environments. Public institutions such as childcare settings, schools, universities and further ...

Keywords : COVID-19, distance learning, home learning, student-teacher relationships, digital teaching and learning, learning

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National Academies Press: OpenBook

The Impact of COVID-19 on the Careers of Women in Academic Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (2021)

Chapter: 8 major findings and research questions, 8 major findings and research questions, introduction.

The COVID-19 pandemic, which began in late 2019, created unprecedented global disruption and infused a significant level of uncertainty into the lives of individuals, both personally and professionally, around the world throughout 2020. The significant effect on vulnerable populations, such as essential workers and the elderly, is well documented, as is the devastating effect the COVID-19 pandemic had on the economy, particularly brick-and-mortar retail and hospitality and food services. Concurrently, the deaths of unarmed Black people at the hands of law enforcement officers created a heightened awareness of the persistence of structural injustices in U.S. society.

Against the backdrop of this public health crisis, economic upheaval, and amplified social consciousness, an ad hoc committee was appointed to review the potential effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on women in academic science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and medicine (STEMM) during 2020. The committee’s work built on the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine report Promising Practices for Addressing the Underrepresentation of Women in Science, Engineering, and Medicine: Opening Doors (the Promising Practices report), which presents evidence-based recommendations to address the well-established structural barriers that impede the advancement of women in STEMM. However, the committee recognized that none of the actions identified in the Promising Practices report were conceived within the context of a pandemic, an economic downturn, or the emergence of national protests against structural racism. The representation and vitality of academic women in STEMM had already warranted national attention prior to these events, and the COVID-19

pandemic appeared to represent an additional risk to the fragile progress that women had made in some STEMM disciplines. Furthermore, the future will almost certainly hold additional, unforeseen disruptions, which underscores the importance of the committee’s work.

In times of stress, there is a risk that the divide will deepen between those who already have advantages and those who do not. In academia, senior and tenured academics are more likely to have an established reputation, a stable salary commitment, and power within the academic system. They are more likely, before the COVID-19 pandemic began, to have established professional networks, generated data that can be used to write papers, and achieved financial and job security. While those who have these advantages may benefit from a level of stability relative to others during stressful times, those who were previously systemically disadvantaged are more likely to experience additional strain and instability.

As this report has documented, during 2020 the COVID-19 pandemic had overall negative effects on women in academic STEMM in areas such productivity, boundary setting and boundary control, networking and community building, burnout rates, and mental well-being. The excessive expectations of caregiving that often fall on the shoulders of women cut across career timeline and rank (e.g., graduate student, postdoctoral scholar, non-tenure-track and other contingent faculty, tenure-track faculty), institution type, and scientific discipline. Although there have been opportunities for innovation and some potential shifts in expectations, increased caregiving demands associated with the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, such as remote working, school closures, and childcare and eldercare, had disproportionately negative outcomes for women.

The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on women in STEMM during 2020 are understood better through an intentionally intersectional lens. Productivity, career, boundary setting, mental well-being, and health are all influenced by the ways in which social identities are defined and cultivated within social and power structures. Race and ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity, academic career stage, appointment type, institution type, age, and disability status, among many other factors, can amplify or diminish the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic for a given person. For example, non-cisgender women may be forced to return to home environments where their gender identity is not accepted, increasing their stress and isolation, and decreasing their well-being. Women of Color had a higher likelihood of facing a COVID-19–related death in their family compared with their white, non-Hispanic colleagues. The full extent of the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic for women of various social identities was not fully understood at the end of 2020.

Considering the relative paucity of women in many STEMM fields prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, women are more likely to experience academic isolation, including limited access to mentors, sponsors, and role models that share gender, racial, or ethnic identities. Combining this reality with the physical isolation stipulated by public health responses to the COVID-19 pandemic,

women in STEMM were subject to increasing isolation within their fields, networks, and communities. Explicit attention to the early indicators of how the COVID-19 pandemic affected women in academic STEMM careers during 2020, as well as attention to crisis responses throughout history, may provide opportunities to mitigate some of the long-term effects and potentially develop a more resilient and equitable academic STEMM system.


Given the ongoing nature of the COVID-19 pandemic, it was not possible to fully understand the entirety of the short- or long-term implications of this global disruption on the careers of women in academic STEMM. Having gathered preliminary data and evidence available in 2020, the committee found that significant changes to women’s work-life boundaries and divisions of labor, careers, productivity, advancement, mentoring and networking relationships, and mental health and well-being have been observed. The following findings represent those aspects that the committee agreed have been substantiated by the preliminary data, evidence, and information gathered by the end of 2020. They are presented either as Established Research and Experiences from Previous Events or Impacts of the COVID-19 Pandemic during 2020 that parallel the topics as presented in the report.

Established Research and Experiences from Previous Events

Leading up to the COVID-19 pandemic, the representation of women has slowly increased in STEMM fields, from acquiring Ph.D.s to holding leadership positions, but with caveats to these limited steps of progress; for example, women representation in leadership positions tends to be at institutions with less prestige and fewer resources. While promising and encouraging, such progress is fragile and prone to setbacks especially in times of crisis (see ).
Social crises (e.g., terrorist attacks, natural disasters, racialized violence, and infectious diseases) and COVID-19 pandemic-related disruptions to workload and schedules, added to formerly routine job functions and health risks, have the potential to exacerbate mental health conditions such as insomnia, depression, anxiety, and posttraumatic stress. All of these conditions occur more frequently among women than men. As multiple crises coincided during 2020, there is a greater chance that women will be affected mentally and physically (see and ).


1 This finding is primarily based on research on cisgender women and men.

Structural racism is an omnipresent stressor for Women of Color, who already feel particularly isolated in many fields and disciplines. Attempts to ensure equity for all women may not necessarily create equity for women across various identities if targeted interventions designed to promote gender equity do not account for the racial and ethnic heterogeneity of women in STEMM (see , , and ).

Impacts of the COVID-19 Pandemic during 2020

While some research indicates consistency in publications authored by women in specific STEMM disciplines, like Earth and space sciences, during 2020, several other preliminary measures of productivity suggest that COVID-19 disruptions have disproportionately affected women compared with men. Reduced productivity may be compounded by differences in the ways research is conducted, such as whether field research or face-to-face engagement with human subjects is required (see ).
Many administrative decisions regarding institutional supports made during 2020, such as work-from-home provisions and extensions on evaluations or deliverables, are likely to exacerbate underlying gender-based inequalities in academic advancement rather than being gender neutral as assumed. For example, while colleges and universities have offered extensions for those on the tenure track and federal and private funders have offered extensions on funding and grants, these changes do not necessarily align with the needs expressed by women, such as the need for flexibility to contend with limited availability of caregiving and requests for a reduced workload, nor do they generally benefit women faculty who are not on the tenure track. Furthermore, provision of institutional support may be insufficient if it does not account for the challenges faced by those with multiple marginalized identities (see and ).
Organizational-level approaches may be needed to address challenges that have emerged as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, as well as those challenges that may have existed before the pandemic but are now more visible and amplified. Reliance on individual coping strategies may be insufficient (see and ).
The COVID-19 pandemic has intensified complications related to worklife boundaries that largely affect women. Preliminary evidence
from 2020 suggests women in academic STEMM are experiencing increased workload, decreased productivity, changes in interactions, and difficulties from remote work caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and associated disruptions. Combined with the gendered division of nonemployment labor that affected women before the pandemic, these challenges have been amplified, as demonstrated by a lack of access to childcare, children’s heightened behavioral and academic needs, increased eldercare demands, and personal physical and mental health concerns. These are particularly salient for women who are parents or caregivers (see ).
During the COVID-19 pandemic, technology has allowed for the continuation of information exchange and many collaborations. In some cases technology has facilitated the increased participation of women and underrepresented groups. However, preliminary indicators also show gendered impacts on science and scientific collaborations during 2020. These arise because some collaborations cannot be facilitated online and some collaborations face challenges including finding time in the day to engage synchronously, which presents a larger burden for women who manage the larger share of caregiving and other household duties, especially during the first several months of the COVID-19 pandemic (see ).
During the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, some professional societies adapted to the needs of members as well as to broader interests of individuals engaged in the disciplines they serve. Transitioning conferences to virtual platforms has produced both positive outcomes, such as lower attendance costs and more open access to content, and negative outcomes, including over-flexibility (e.g., scheduling meetings at non-traditional work hours; last-minute changes) and opportunities for bias in virtual environments (see ).
During the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, many of the decision-making processes, including financial decisions like lay-offs and furloughs, that were quickly implemented contributed to unilateral decisions that frequently deviated from effective practices in academic governance, such as those in crisis and equity-minded leadership. Fast decisions greatly affected contingent and nontenured faculty members—positions that are more often occupied by women and People of Color. In 2020, these financial decisions already had negative, short-term effects and may portend long-term consequences (see ).
Social support, which is particularly important during stressful situations, is jeopardized by the physical isolation and restricted social interactions that have
been imposed during the COVID-19 pandemic. For women who are already isolated within their specific fields or disciplines, additional social isolation may be an important contributor to added stress (see ).
For women in the health professions, major risk factors during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 included unpredictability in clinical work, evolving clinical and leadership roles, the psychological demands of unremitting and stressful work, and heightened health risks to family and self (see ).


While this report compiled much of the research, data, and evidence available in 2020 on the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, future research is still needed to understand all the potential effects, especially any long-term implications. The research questions represent areas the committee identified for future research, rather than specific recommendations. They are presented in six categories that parallel the chapters of the report: Cross-Cutting Themes; Academic Productivity and Institutional Responses; Work-Life Boundaries and Gendered Divisions of Labor; Collaboration, Networking, and Professional Societies; Academic Leadership and Decision-Making; and Mental Health and Well-being. The committee hopes the report will be used as a basis for continued understanding of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in its entirety and as a reference for mitigating impacts of future disruptions that affect women in academic STEMM. The committee also hopes that these research questions may enable academic STEMM to emerge from the pandemic era a stronger, more equitable place for women. Therefore, the committee identifies two types of research questions in each category; listed first are those questions aimed at understanding the impacts of the disruptions from the COVID-19 pandemic, followed by those questions exploring the opportunities to help support the full participation of women in the future.

Cross-Cutting Themes

  • What are the short- and long-term effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the career trajectories, job stability, and leadership roles of women, particularly of Black women and other Women of Color? How do these effects vary across institutional characteristics, 2 discipline, and career stage?

2 Institutional characteristics include different institutional types (e.g., research university, liberal arts college, community college), locales (e.g., urban, rural), missions (e.g., Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Hispanic-Serving Institutions, Asian American/Native American/Pacific Islander-Serving Institutions, Tribal Colleges and Universities), and levels of resources.

  • How did the confluence of structural racism, economic hardships, and environmental disruptions affect Women of Color during the COVID-19 pandemic? Specifically, how did the murder of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and other Black citizens impact Black women academics’ safety, ability to be productive, and mental health?
  • How has the inclusion of women in leadership and other roles in the academy influenced the ability of institutions to respond to the confluence of major social crises during the COVID-19 pandemic?
  • How can institutions build on the involvement women had across STEMM disciplines during the COVID-19 pandemic to increase the participation of women in STEMM and/or elevate and support women in their current STEMM-related positions?
  • How can institutions adapt, leverage, and learn from approaches developed during 2020 to attend to challenges experienced by Women of Color in STEMM in the future?

Academic Productivity and Institutional Responses

  • How did the institutional responses (e.g., policies, practices) that were outlined in the Major Findings impact women faculty across institutional characteristics and disciplines?
  • What are the short- and long-term effects of faculty evaluation practices and extension policies implemented during the COVID-19 pandemic on the productivity and career trajectories of members of the academic STEMM workforce by gender?
  • What adaptations did women use during the transition to online and hybrid teaching modes? How did these techniques and adaptations vary as a function of career stage and institutional characteristics?
  • What are examples of institutional changes implemented in response to the COVID-19 pandemic that have the potential to reduce systemic barriers to participation and advancement that have historically been faced by academic women in STEMM, specifically Women of Color and other marginalized women in STEMM? How might positive institutional responses be leveraged to create a more resilient and responsive higher education ecosystem?
  • How can or should funding arrangements be altered (e.g., changes in funding for research and/or mentorship programs) to support new ways of interaction for women in STEMM during times of disruption, such as the COVID-19 pandemic?

Work-Life Boundaries and Gendered Divisions of Labor

  • How do different social identities (e.g., racial; socioeconomic status; culturally, ethnically, sexually, or gender diverse; immigration status; parents of young children and other caregivers; women without partners) influence the management of work-nonwork boundaries? How did this change during the COVID-19 pandemic?
  • How have COVID-19 pandemic-related disruptions affected progress toward reducing the gender gap in academic STEMM labor-force participation? How does this differ for Women of Color or women with caregiving responsibilities?
  • How can institutions account for the unique challenges of women faculty with parenthood and caregiving responsibilities when developing effective and equitable policies, practices, or programs?
  • How might insights gained about work-life boundaries during the COVID-19 pandemic inform how institutions develop and implement supportive resources (e.g., reductions in workload, on-site childcare, flexible working options)?

Collaboration, Networking, and Professional Societies

  • What were the short- and long-term effects of the COVID-19 pandemic-prompted switch from in-person conferences to virtual conferences on conference culture and climate, especially for women in STEMM?
  • How will the increase in virtual conferences specifically affect women’s advancement and career trajectories? How will it affect women’s collaborations?
  • How has the shift away from attending conferences and in-person networking changed longer-term mentoring and sponsoring relationships, particularly in terms of gender dynamics?
  • How can institutions maximize the benefits of digitization and the increased use of technology observed during the COVID-19 pandemic to continue supporting women, especially marginalized women, by increasing accessibility, collaborations, mentorship, and learning?
  • How can organizations that support, host, or facilitate online and virtual conferences and networking events (1) ensure open and fair access to participants who face different funding and time constraints; (2) foster virtual connections among peers, mentors, and sponsors; and (3) maintain an inclusive environment to scientists of all backgrounds?
  • What policies, practices, or programs can be developed to help women in STEMM maintain a sense of support, structure, and stability during and after periods of disruption?

Academic Leadership and Decision-Making

  • What specific interventions did colleges and universities initiate or prioritize to ensure that women were included in decision-making processes during responses to the COVID-19 pandemic?
  • How effective were colleges and universities that prioritized equity-minded leadership, shared leadership, and crisis leadership styles at mitigating emerging and potential negative effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on women in their communities?
  • What specific aspects of different leadership models translated to more effective strategies to advance women in STEMM, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic?
  • How can examples of intentional inclusion of women in decision-making processes during the COVID-19 pandemic be leveraged to develop the engagement of women as leaders at all levels of academic institutions?
  • What are potential “top-down” structural changes in academia that can be implemented to mitigate the adverse effects of the COVID-19 pandemic or other disruptions?
  • How can academic leadership, at all levels, more effectively support the mental health needs of women in STEMM?

Mental Health and Well-being

  • What is the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and institutional responses on the mental health and well-being of members of the academic STEMM workforce as a function of gender, race, and career stage?
  • How are tools and diagnostic tests to measure aspects of wellbeing, including burnout and insomnia, used in academic settings? How does this change during times of increased stress, such as the COVID-19 pandemic?
  • How might insights gained about mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic be used to inform preparedness for future disruptions?
  • How can programs that focus on changes in biomarkers of stress and mood dysregulation, such as levels of sleep, activity, and texting patterns, be developed and implemented to better engage women in addressing their mental health?
  • What are effective interventions to address the health of women academics in STEMM that specifically account for the effects of stress on women? What are effective interventions to mitigate the excessive levels of stress for Women of Color?

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The spring of 2020 marked a change in how almost everyone conducted their personal and professional lives, both within science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and medicine (STEMM) and beyond. The COVID-19 pandemic disrupted global scientific conferences and individual laboratories and required people to find space in their homes from which to work. It blurred the boundaries between work and non-work, infusing ambiguity into everyday activities. While adaptations that allowed people to connect became more common, the evidence available at the end of 2020 suggests that the disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic endangered the engagement, experience, and retention of women in academic STEMM, and may roll back some of the achievement gains made by women in the academy to date.

The Impact of COVID-19 on the Careers of Women in Academic Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine identifies, names, and documents how the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted the careers of women in academic STEMM during the initial 9-month period since March 2020 and considers how these disruptions - both positive and negative - might shape future progress for women. This publication builds on the 2020 report Promising Practices for Addressing the Underrepresentation of Women in Science, Engineering, and Medicine to develop a comprehensive understanding of the nuanced ways these disruptions have manifested. The Impact of COVID-19 on the Careers of Women in Academic Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine will inform the academic community as it emerges from the pandemic to mitigate any long-term negative consequences for the continued advancement of women in the academic STEMM workforce and build on the adaptations and opportunities that have emerged.


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