Research in times of the coronavirus pandemic
Hervés, professor at the University of Vigo and coordinator of the ECOBAS
Strategic Group, analyzes the consequences of the crisis caused by Covid-19 in
the field of university research in economics areas.
of the projects in which ECOBAS members are working will not be affected by the
In contrast with
what happens in other scientific fields, the group director
highlights that most of the researchs carried out at ECOBAS does not require
large infrastructure or specific materials. In general, researchers can carry
out their work outside the university, due to the fact that most of
them only need bibliographic references, computer media and economic-business
data that can be accessed through the network. However, there may be isolated
projects that focus their study on very specific topics such as consumption
that require an empirical part (surveys or interviews). In this case, if
it wasn't carried out before lockdown, it could delay the investigation.
"Essentially, Covid19 pandemic would not affect the projects, unless they were
waiting for some stage prior to their kick off, and even in these cases they
could be carried out online", explains the professor.
academic activity has not been interrupted either
Master's degrees and doctorate
programs promoted by ECOBAS did not undergo drastic changes due to the pandemic
either. In the case of the Master in Economics, classes were already online
before this happened, as it is an interuniversity program shared by the
Universities of Vigo, Santiago de Compostela and A Coruña. The current
situation only affects the exams, although they were telematic, they
had the supervision of a teacher in each center. "This will not be
possible in this term, but each of these three universities have protocols
to carry out online evaluations, so the incidence of Covid-19 is minimal."
The students of the
Interuniversity Doctorate Program in Economic Analysis and Business Strategy
also continue their activity from lockdown. "Most of the doctoral work is
individual, only students with pre-doctoral scholarships from the University of
Vigo, Xunta de Galicia or the Ministry are required to carry out their research
on-site at the center. These students can work from home, so excepting some exceptional
cases, lockdown doesn't represent any essential change. "The doctorate program has three face to face classes. Two of
them have already been taught in the first semester. The last one, due to
the current state of alarm, it's being taught remotely.”
Is it important to note
that all the doctoral thesis presentation procedures have been largely
suspended. Some students had already deposited their thesis physically before
the crisis, but when the state of alarm was declared, all procedures and
deadlines were suspended. "When the situation returns to normal, the
ten-day public exposure process can be completed and it will be decided whether
the thesis are defended in person or electronically," explains Professor
Hervés, coordinator of the doctoral program and director of some of the thesis
Stays abroad will be affected by the pandemic, but not pre-doctoral
Doctoral students who had
planned a research stay abroad in these months, (necessary to have an international
mention), will not be able to do it at the moment. The upside is that
administrative deadlines don't run, and researchers can use the time to
progress with their thesis and improve their CV without worrying about
resources, as pre-doctoral contracts were automatically extended. When the
situation is normalized and the administrative deadlines are resumed, they can
carry out their stay with the corresponding financing.
"Contrary to what you might think, teaching activity in times of Covid
requires much more time"
The group director
highlights that the members of ECOBAS have to combine their research activity
with teaching. Nevertheless, he underlines as a positive point of the situation
the progress in the digitization of processes: "We all have improved
our online communication skills and we have learned to use new teaching tools
that will be very useful in the future." The professor also highlights the
fast adaptation of the University of Vigo and the students good acceptance.
He recognizes this is a necessary change of model and it could take years
to establish if it were not for the pandemic.
"Among the negative aspects, he stands out the suppression of
scientific meetings, seminars and International Conferences"
The projects of ECOBAS research
team, will not be affected. However, we have to regret the lack of
research visits, cancellation of seminars that were already planned and also
the postponement of international conferences organized with the collaboration
of ECOBAS. Among others, the 9th Atlantic Workshop on Energy and Environmental
Economics scheduled for June on the A Toxa island was postponed and it
will be held in 2021; the XXV Workshop on Dynamical Macroeconomics
scheduled for the first days of July at the Soutomaior Castle, has also been
suspended until next year; and the 20th Biennial Conference of the
International Institute of Fisheries Economics and Trade (IIFET), which would
have to be held in late June has been postponed until the end of August.
Finally, Carlos Hervés underlines
that the Covid-19 pandemic will leave some positive points for the whole
society, since it’s usefully highlighting what is really important. It will
also serve to deal with social problems latent since long time ago. From now on
things are going to be different but they do not necessarily have to be worse.
From the university perspective, when we get back to the classes, a “new
normality” will be experienced. "Online classes will surely be alternate
with face-to-face classes. In this lockdown we have learned how to use tools
that allows us to establish a new model, aimed to facilitate an improve our teaching skills."