Scientific priorities and relational dynamics during the COVID-19 pandemic: A qualitative study

Elise Smith, Corisa Rakestraw, Jeffrey S. Farroni

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


To rapidly respond to the COVID-19 public health crisis, researchers have been called upon to prioritize pandemic research, while simultaneously modifying their existing research to maintain the safety of all stakeholders. This study aims to explore the experiences of health science researchers in their scientific practices, research priorities, and professional relational dynamics due to COVID-19. Specifically, we interviewed 31 researchers from diverse fields at the University of Texas Medical Branch. Participants worked on COVID-19, non-COVID-19 related research, or both. We integrated inductive and deductive coding using a thematic coding method. The following four themes were explored: 1) impact of research, 2) research priorities, 3) professional relationships and 4) contextual influences on science. Participants were drawn to COVID-19 work for a diversity of reasons including social need, scientific interest, professional duty, and increased access to funding opportunities. While collaborations have increased for COVID-19 researchers, interpersonal relationships have been challenging for participants. Additionally, political, familial, and personal stresses due to the pandemic have taken a toll on researchers in very different and often inequitable ways. To ensure team cohesion, there is a need to develop research practices, policies and systems that value empathy, flexibility, and interdependence.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalAccountability in Research
StateAccepted/In press - 2022


  • COVID-19
  • qualitative study
  • research dynamics
  • research practices
  • research priorities
  • social dynamics of science
  • team conflict
  • team science

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Library and Information Sciences


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