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Research on the coronavirus pandemic

Overview of empirical research on the social impact of the coronavirus pandemic

Studies on the coronavirus pandemic

A number of initiatives are currently emerging that are collecting data on the effects of the coronavirus pandemic and how to combat it. The range of these initiatives is wide and includes self-selected samples from ad-hoc surveys, representative surveys, coronavirus diaries, and the integration into long-term studies. The German Data Forum (RatSWD) provides key information on the individual initiatives on its website to give an overview and to promote broad participation in open surveys. Suggestions for further surveys to include, information on their content, or initial results are very welcome. Write us an email to office@ratswd.de.

Go to the Corona projects [German only]

Project Best_FDM

As part of the “Best_FDM” project, the RatSWD supports empirical research on the coronavirus pandemic with a working group. The aim of the working group is to initiate a process to promote networking and interoperability across methodological boundaries between research projects in the social, behavioural, educational, and economic sciences. By doing so, it supports quality assurance of research data and a change in data culture even in small ad-hoc research projects.

What support do researchers need? Recommendations and needs

Creation of scientific surveys

Scientific surveys form an important data infrastructure for basic research and for application-oriented analyses in the social, behavioural, and economic sciences. Of course, this also applies to research on the coronavirus pandemic. With online surveys and an openness to external questions, they are able to flexibly address current developments and research needs. Their use of data has also evolved in various ways: secondary use has increased across disciplines, and survey data is increasingly enriched by linking it to data from other sources, e.g., administrative sources. The German Data Forum (RatSWD) continues to support this dynamic field by publishing recommendations for the sustainable development of the survey landscape [German].

Sustainable research data management

In order to sustainably secure the numerous new research data created in the context of the coronavirus pandemic, and to make them available for further analyses, various precautions and measures must be taken when applying for, planning, and carrying out research projects. So far, the requirements for the design of data management plans in the individual disciplines and at the research funding institutions have been very heterogeneous and differ especially with respect to the expected degree of detail in the proposed plans. The German Data Forum (RatSWD) has therefore developed guidelines for sustainable research data management and data management plans in the social, behavioural, and economic sciences [German].

Data collection with new information technology

In addition to classic (online) surveys, there is also an increasing number of projects researching the coronavirus pandemic using new information technologies for data collection, e.g., smartphone apps and electronic diaries. This makes possible recording data on location, movement, or individual media usage during the coronavirus pandemic in real time. While doing so, quality of sensor-based data is essential as well as adherence to research ethics and data protection standards. Quality-assured data management should be developed prior to data collection. The German Data Forum (RatSWD) supports researchers in meeting these challenges with a recent guideline.

Contactless data access via remote access procedures

In Germany, formally anonymised microdata from the official statistics of the federal government, the state governments, and social security institutions, which are an important basis of numerous empirical research projects, have so far only been used locally at guest researcher workstations or via remote execution (often without being able to view and browse data results on screen). The possibility of access individual-level data remotely makes the research process more flexible and independent of business trips. In the current coronavirus pandemic, remote access to data is crucial, as visiting scientists are hardly able to work at research data centres in person. Models for this already exist at several European statistical offices and German research institutions. The German Data Forum (RatSWD) therefore provides a recommendation on developing and testing a remote access scenario in a pilot project [English Summary].