How to Improve Research Productivity during Covid-19?

Increasing research productivity has been an essential issue for academics who have been conducting qualitative research for years. Covid-19 had undoubtedly changed the way we live, work, behave and it seems if some of these changes might be more long-lasting than we have initially assumed.

The research industry was not exempt from this change – according to the latest survey of the International Association of Universities (IAU), almost 80% of higher education institutions said the research activities at their institutions have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Based on the same survey, 52% of the respondents reported that scientific research projects are in danger of not being successfully completed.

One can naturally guess that qualitative research has been impacted worse than quantitative research, resulting from the nature of the way data is collected. A slew of online survey tools has joined the market during the last decade to make it simple to create and distribute surveys digitally.

Qualitative research, on the other hand, took a stronger hit since many of the face-to-face interviews and focus groups involving a group of people who came together in a room, is no longer possible. Moving forward, it might take a long time to interview respondents in person who fall within a high-risk group, even after vaccines begin to be distributed across the general population. Some of the researchers we spoke with mentioned that inability to be in the field, talk to people or observe the real interactions in social settings had a negative impact on the quality of research output. It seems as if it is less likely to establish the same level of trust with people you don't meet in person.

Conversation-based research methods (e.g. interviews and focus groups) are one of the most common research methods in social sciences research. A qualitative researcher aims to reach robust and meaningful conversations from the raw data; and transcription is the first step in achieving that if the data collection involves a conversation. Once the recording is transcribed, the analysis must be made.

Due to Covid-19, researchers are forced to work remotely and conducting qualitative research in a project team requires digitally connected platforms more than ever. Many of the existing qualitative data analysis platforms are not cloud-based which limits users to access their data on a single platform. Even if those are transitioning into becoming more of a shared workspace, the current practices are far from offering real-time collaborative opportunities to users.

Moreover, many of the existing data analysis tools are not so agile in upgrading their systems (some programs release a new update every 2-3 years). Therefore, data accessibility and ease of collaboration that ensures an uninterrupted workflow are two important points that large teams who work virtually grapple with.

Automated transcription and analysis tools can provide secure platforms that enable researchers to quickly convert their interviews to text and collaborate in a single workplace. It is especially useful to store, edit and collaborate documents when one or more team members work in different locations.

Instead of giving a break to research due to the challenges posed by Covid-19, such tools allow researchers to continue transcribing which in return speeds up the entire research process. To put that into context, we have even received increasing requests from academicians who decided to go back and transcribe their existing recordings which were kept in their archives for a long time.

Many automated transcription services provide integrations with such digital platforms as Zoom, Microsoft Team, Google Hangouts or Skype so that users can receive their transcription in just a matter of minutes.

Scrintal is a GDPR-conscious AI-powered platform that significantly lowers the time it takes to manually transcribe interviews and allows the user to run analyses on the same platform. It was born to remedy any shortcomings of the algorithms and help users save time editing their transcripts.

Scrintal delivers the first draft of your transcript in minutes. This will require some editing depending on the audio quality but you can start working on it immediately. You can simultaneously collaborate with others on the same document to finish quicker.

When you are done with correcting, you can easily search for keywords in audio/video, mark those important parts with a variety of colors and add notes. When the document is finalized, you can export it in a number of formats including subtitles, etc. All your recordings will be sorted under related projects to make it easier to find what you are looking for.

Ece Kural's profile picture

Ece Kural

PhD Candidate @ Stockholm University