Research Continuity

 View Only
Expand all | Collapse all

Research and Professional Development Continuity

  • 1.  Research and Professional Development Continuity

    Posted 03-19-2020 13:31
    To varying degrees, our personal and professional lives have been altered over the past few weeks in ways that we can only begin to enumerate here. 

    In the interest of beginning a dialogue, I share a few changes that my lab and I have encountered recently, and I look forward to hearing what challenges other SRCD members have encountered and how they are coping.

    1. Canceled/Postponed conferences - Several professional conferences have either been conducted remotely, postponed, or canceled. For many of my students, these spring/summer meetings were the first opportunity to present at a professional meeting. Besides the emotional disappointment of not getting to meet and network with people whose work you cite, and traveling to an exciting new locale, there are also practical challenges for professional development - conference presentations are important entries for young professional CVs.  To assist with the latter, the APA released new guidelines for citing work that was slated for presentation at a canceled meeting.

    2. Remote advising - In our lab, web-based interfaces (WebEx, Zoom) were primarily used for communicating with collaborators and former students at other institutions. Now, dissertations and theses will be exclusively advised online. As advisors, we know that while these meetings are focused on meeting academic milestones, they are also opportunities to check in with students to see what "else" is going on. As scientists, we also know that a lot of communication is non-verbal, which is why I prefer students to log in with video (wifi connection permitting) so that we can retain as much of the non-verbal communication as possible. 

    3. Remote lab meetings - Communication challenges are further amplified when individual meetings are expanded into larger groups.  We have had 2 lab meetings so far, and it is certainly harder to "read the (virtual) room" from behind a computer screen. My strategy has been to spend a few minutes touching base with each team member at the beginning meeting, although I recognize that this is a poor substitute for in-person contact. I am curious to know how others have managed this transition. 

    4. Toeing the line between structure and acknowledgement - There is no doubt that we are encountering new obstacles each day and adjustment requires that we remain flexible and nimble. At the same time, structure is important and provides direction in uncertain contexts. Where is the fine line between providing structure (e.g., weekly lab meetings) and also giving students space and time to adjust? How should deadlines (e.g., thesis proposals) be considered and what is reasonable?

    I share here just a few things that my lab and I have been grappling with over the past 2 weeks. One thing that I am grateful that we are not dealing with is community based data collection. We completed data collection for a 4-year project focused on identity, discrimination and sleep last year, but I know that many others have had to suspend data collection. I have spoken to friends informally about this topic and I think that this would be a great forum for sharing what that process been like. What do you do if you are in the final year of data collection for a multi-year project? Or if you are just beginning a study? 

    Perhaps more than any other time, human subjects considerations related to harm associated with research participation has assumed an entirely different meaning. 

    Is there a silver lining? When I teach graduate level research methods, I tell repeatedly tell my first-year students, "there is no such thing as a perfect study". Although interruptions brought about by the recent pandemic are certainly on a different scale than what is typically included in a study's "limitations" section, the good news is that it is a systematic disruption impacting anyone who is currently collecting data. This context also provides an opportunity for us to apply some fun stats techniques that we learned in grad school, but never had the data for (e.g., interrupted time series). Finally, as a founding member of the Asian Caucus I am curious if anyone is currently collecting data on discrimination among Asian communities - this seems like a particularly important time to investigate this topic. 

    This post is by no means exhaustive, but I hope that it starts a conversation and provides a forum and a resource for the SRCD community to share how our research and professional lives can continue despite the changes around us.

    Be well, 

    Tiffany Yip
    Fordham University


  • 2.  RE: Research and Professional Development Continuity

    Posted 03-19-2020 15:14
    Hi Tiffany,

    It sounds like you've made great progress in figuring out how to adjust to this situation. Our university is on spring break this week, and we just received less than a week ago that spring break would be extended an additional week for students so that faculty can figure out how to transition to online classes and research. It's all still very much a work in progress.

    Once classes begin again, I am planning on starting remote lab meetings. I know that we need to be flexible that some students will not be able to attend, but I feel like a big part of being in a lab is learning in a community, and I worry that we'll lose a lot be working independently without regular check-ins.

    One big challenge for me - and something that I'll probably start a separate post to discuss - is how to work with undergraduate research assistants during this time period. 

    Another challenge has been how to deal with data collection. We thankfully recently finished one study a couple weeks ago, but we had about 6 3-year-olds to test for a separate project and many, many kids needed for another project for a student's honors thesis. The project with 3-year-olds involves a guided play approach to learning a scientific concept, which means it's simply not something we can transition into an online testing environment. For now, we are going to leave that study on hold as we work through pre-existing data and make decisions about how to go forward based on how long we are in social distancing mode. 

    My student who is working on his honors thesis is switching his project to be with adults for now so that he is able to complete his thesis. We're both a bit disappointed by this, but there's only so much any of us can do given the circumstances. At some point, we can see if we can transition it to an online project, but that is not feasible before his thesis is due. 


    Candice Mills
    The University of Texas at Dallas
    Twitter: @CandiceMMills

  • 3.  RE: Research and Professional Development Continuity

    Posted 03-20-2020 12:45
    Thanks, Tiffany and Candice. Our experiences have been very familiar. One thing I've realized is that it is impossible for me to anticipate all of the challenges that my graduate students and staff may be experiencing, so we have been talking almost daily for now and I'm constantly asking them what they may need. Sometimes, they're afraid to ask (e.g., yes, i can definitely pay for that SPSS license for your laptop). We've had to shut down a couple of community-based data collections and the biggest challenge has been to make sure that staff have things to do so that they don't feel too isolated. We actually increased the frequency of our meetings to just have a chance to check in, even if briefly. We've also created regular analysis meetings that people can join if they are available.

    Andrew Fuligni
    Los Angeles CA

  • 4.  RE: Research and Professional Development Continuity

    Posted 03-20-2020 12:47
    Another item to consider - faculty advancement and review. UCLA has just issued guidelines about how to consider interruptions and challenges for faculty to achieve traditional metrics for advancement, including the possibility of delaying the clock in certain cases. Important for both fairness and, perhaps, reducing anxiety a bit.

    Andrew Fuligni
    Los Angeles CA

  • 5.  RE: Research and Professional Development Continuity

    Posted 03-23-2020 16:25
    Thanks all,

    I had a couple of ongoing projects that are now on pause, and my team and I are trying to think of ways to adapt and support our participants. In one project that focuses on family child care networks, we are learning from the leaders of these networks how they are supporting child care providers given new restrictions and closures, and offering ways to continue to support learning. In another project, we are quickly adapting to add new questions to surveys and interviews (after IRB approval) to inquire about preschool teachers are faring with the COVID-19 restrictions. We are considering working with others states to get a more diverse picture of this population. This is could be an importunity to offer support to your participants--share resources or a newsletter about the project, or just use it as a time to check in. 

    One other thought is, if possible, make progress  on your writing--Use tools like SLACK to create groups and set weekly research or writing goals. Stay connected with your colleagues and post goals and keep each other accountable. 

    As we all continue to support each other and our students, I love the idea of checking in more via zoom. My department just set up a weekly zoom happy hour for parents. Let's all also be sure to stop and check in personally with our students and colleagues and offer ways to build resilience.

    Stay well,

    Bridget Hatfield
    Corvallis OR

  • 6.  RE: Research and Professional Development Continuity

    Posted 03-23-2020 17:35

    Hi all,
    It sounds like we're all experiencing similar challenges and barriers. Here in NZ we went into full lockdown yesterday and we were halfway through recruitment for a short-term longitudinal study. Many of the families and children we work with are at high risk so everything has been put on hold. Tiffany, like you, we're considering what amendments we can make to capture the experiences of families and teachers as they respond to COVID-19. Our study is examining the bidirectional relationship between child behaviour (aggression) and teacher and parent health and wellbeing. COVID-19 adds a whole new dimension to health, wellbeing, and behaviour so we're trying to consider ways to use this experience as an opportunity.
    I feel somewhat better knowing we're all in the same position.
    Take care and be well.


    Cara Swit
    University of Canterbury

  • 7.  RE: Research and Professional Development Continuity

    Posted 03-29-2020 18:39
    Hi Tiffany,

    One silver lining is that COVID-19 is affecting us all and so changes to accommodate teaching and research have been swift and wide-ranging. My institution has offered a 1-year extension of the tenure clock and our IRB is accelerating any amendments or new protocols related to COVID-19. I received an approval for an amendment to adjust an online survey to the current circumstances in a little more than a day, which is not typical! For others needing to alter their protocols for COVID-19 or submit new protocols to IRB related to COVID-19, it is worth asking if they can expedite the request. 

    You mention canceled conferences, and I wonder how others are dealing with the university-sponsored student research festivals that typically occur this time of year? For us, it is certainly an inconvenience to miss a conference, but for some students those presentations are required (e.g., for theses, graduation, etc.). Our university is holding a virtual event where students must provide a video of their presentation and then remain available online for comments from the public for several days. It will be interesting to see how this works.

    Thank you all for sharing your creative solutions!

    Virginia Tompkins
    The Ohio State University-Lima
    Lima OH

  • 8.  RE: Research and Professional Development Continuity

    Posted 04-02-2020 16:16
    Hello Virginia,

    I think your university's solutions is wonderful. I would like to hear more about how it goes. Some in my institution are doing virtual conferences and some (like me) abandoned that requirement just for this time--sadly--because conference presentations are the best way to engage undergraduates in research. It just wasn't feasible given that many of my students don't have internet, a proper computer or cameras. 

    I am doing small group presentations as part of my classes--and it is difficult with bandwidth issues and freezing but we are carrying on.

    Another problem is that many of my students got accepted to present their posters at prestigious conferences that have been cancelled. Typically, if one doesn't present one can't include that presentation on a CV. I have been recommending that they keep the accepted presentations on their CVs  with a bolded note that the conference was cancelled due to the COVID 19 PANDEMIC. 

    But I am eager to hear how virtual presentations go. 

    Stay home and healthy!

    Breckie (Ruth) Church
    Northeastern Illinois University
    Chicago IL

  • 9.  RE: Research and Professional Development Continuity

    Posted 04-24-2020 11:28
    Hi All,

    I wanted to provide an update that the virtual student research presentations at my institution went well. It was well-organized online with students' presentations available to view asynchronously, but there were not as many presenters as usual and there were few comments from the community. However, I am happy that students still had the opportunity to present. Although face to face presentations are certainly ideal, this format also gave students the chance to present a very polished "final" product. 

    Ruth, there are some guidelines for how cite canceled presentations from APA. Chuck Kalish linked to this in another discussion and I'll provide the link here too:


    Virginia Tompkins
    The Ohio State University-Lima
    Lima OH

  • 10.  RE: Research and Professional Development Continuity

    Posted 04-24-2020 13:49

    THANK YOU SO MUCH VIRGINIA!!  I will send this out to my students. In the mean time APS is sponsoring a virtual syposium--which is really great!!

    Hope all are safe.


    R.B. Church
    Professor Psychology
    Director NIH MARC Program
    Director NSF Science of LearningThe role of gesture in mathematics learning: From research to practice
    Coordinator for Program Assessment Assessment Information 
    Bernard J. Brommel Distinguished Research Professor


  • 11.  RE: Research and Professional Development Continuity

    Posted 04-02-2020 16:38

    I think there are many ways that people are dealing with. Some better than others. For instance, some people are postponing them. Not as good. While others are using Zoom to have a synchronous conference. I have heard of others proposing Go-To0Meeting or to give talks. I've seen some students record their presentation on Loom and either posting them on Loom or on a YouTube channel. The question becomes, do you want to do it synchronous vs. asynchronous? Obviously there are advantages and disadvantages to both. But, it will be up to your students and institution. 
    Just a few thoughts. 


    Aaron Richmond
    Metropolitan State University of Denver
    Denver CO

  • 12.  RE: Research and Professional Development Continuity

    Posted 04-03-2020 11:23
    HI Virginia,

    My institution is also looking at adding a year to the tenure clock, which I'm pretty happy about. Not just because of the disruption, but it gives me some time to start some new COVID-19-related research that will take time to unfold (and meanwhile, other work is obviously backburnered).

    Josh Hartshorne
    Boston College
    Chestnut Hill MA