Effects of Corona on science and research: the situation in Denmark

Stefan Pfattheicher, Associate Professor, Department of Psychology and Behavioural Sciences at the Aarhus University in Aarhus (Denmark)


What are the major changes in your job due to the Corona situation? 

Given that, like universities all over the globe, Aarhus University is locked down, all meetings are held online. This includes teaching seminars, giving lectures, and supervising students and postdocs. I expected worse, but actually teaching and supervision works quite well online. Nonetheless, I prefer meeting students and colleagues in person, where conversation is more efficient and more inspiring. Since the lockdown, “random” non-planned meetings don’t occur any more, which is sad (and hinders progress).

Moreover, the psychological research we do in our lab also moved online. Instead of testing participants in the lab, we now exclusively run online studies. Overall, I think I am in a very good position, since I can continue with doing research and teaching.

How does Covid-19 affect your work with your international partners, students and staff?

This has actually not changed a lot – I continue working with my international partners who are not closer or farther away than before the crisis. Nonetheless, conferences and guest lectures or talks are cancelled. This is especially bad for junior researchers, who now have difficulties in building an academic network.

It is also bad for international (Erasmus) students; parts of them are back home in their countries, others stayed here in Denmark. They do not get to know the local culture and the academic context in Denmark.

Everyone is talking about the negative effects of the Covid-19 situation. But, what are the positive effects? Are there any?

The time commuting to work is substantially reduced. I have less meetings, and I am less interrupted by colleagues just coming in my office to chat. New ways of communication are tested.

How does the future look like? What are your hopes? What are you wishing for? 

Denmark already started the opening of the kindergartens and schooling of the youngest pupils. The university opens again for researchers in high need to work at labs (biomedical science). I wish that the politicians will very slowly open the society, and go back to a lookdown if the numbers get worse again. I personally expect no lectures at the university even in the autumn semester but that lectures and seminars in 2020 will be held completely online.