Impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on animal behaviour and welfare researchers

Irene Camerlink*, Birte L. Nielsen, Ines Windschnurer, Belinda Vigors

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Citations (Scopus)
34 Downloads (Pure)


The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in many changes in the way research is conducted. Some specific groups (e.g. women) and activities (e.g. teaching) may have been disproportionally affected. Our aim was to assess the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on animal behaviour and welfare researchers’ work experience and productivity, focussing on gender, care role, career stage and teaching load. An online survey asked researchers about childcare, research and teaching load and associated changes due to the pandemic, among others, and included the Perceived Stress Scale (PSS) and the Inventory of Socially Supportive Behaviours (ISSB). From June-July 2020, 117 completed responses were received from 28 countries. Time available for writing papers and grants either increased (36 %), decreased (31 %) or these tasks were halted completely (12 %). Perceived productivity was significantly lower for caregivers (P < 0.001) and for men as compared to women (P < 0.001); and low productivity was associated with more stress (higher PSS: P < 0.001). Respondents’ experience of the pandemic related to the PSS (b = −0.03 ± 0.02; P = 0.03) and to self-assessed personality traits (P = 0.01). The average PSS of 21 ± 6.5 was greater than the reference value of 15, and was higher when respondents had low job security (P < 0.001) and when they more strongly characterised themselves as perfectionists, hard-working, empathetic and worried (P = 0.02). Respondents who had an intense care role received most social support (P = 0.04). Teaching load increased for 25 % of the respondents but did not significantly relate to any of the response variables. Overall, caregivers and early career researchers faced the most difficulties, and personality traits had a major impact on the ability to cope with the changes caused by the pandemic.

Original languageEnglish
Article number105255
JournalApplied Animal Behaviour Science
Early online date9 Feb 2021
Publication statusPrint publication - Mar 2021


  • Care role
  • Corona virus
  • Gender equality
  • Pandemic
  • Psychological stress
  • Research output


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