Report from the Coalition for Networked Information (CNI) Roundtable: “Beyond the Pandemic: The Future of the Research Enterprise in Academic Year 2021–22 and Beyond”
From the Introduction to the Report:
In early June 2021, representatives from a number of CNI member institutions gathered for the third in a series of Executive Roundtable discussions that began in spring 2020, during the early days of the COVID–19 emergency. The conversations were intended to inform our understanding of how the pandemic had impacted the research enterprise and to share information about how institutions were planning to shape investments and strategies surrounding the research enterprise going forward. Previous Roundtables were held in April and September 2020 and reports from those conversations are available from https://www.cni.org/tag/executive-roundtable-report.
As with the earlier Roundtables on this topic, June participants primarily included senior library administrators, directors of research computing and information technology, and chief research officers from a variety of higher education institutions across the US and Canada; most participating member institutions were public universities with high research activity, though some mid–sized and private institutions participated as well. The June Roundtable took place in a single convening, supplemented by an additional conversation with a key institution unable to join the group meeting due to last–minute scheduling conflicts.
The discussion was wide–ranging, including, but not limited to: the challenges involving undergraduate, graduate and international students; labs and core instrumentation; access to physical collections (libraries, museums, herbaria, etc.) and digital materials; patterns of impact on various disciplines and mitigation strategies; and institutional approaches to improving research resilience. We sensed a growing understanding and sensitivity to the human toll the pandemic has taken on the research community. There were several consistent themes throughout the Roundtable series, but shifts in assumptions, planning, and preparation have been evident as vaccination rates have increased and as organizations have grown somewhat more confident in their ability to sustain largely in–person operations by fall 2021. Still, uncertainties abound and considerable notes of tentativeness remain, and indeed, events subsequent to the Roundtable, such as the large–scale spread of the Delta variant of COVID–19 in the US, have eroded much of the confidence we heard in June 2021, though probably more around instructional strategies than the continuity of the research enterprise. The events of the past 18 months, combined with a growing series of climate change–driven disruptions, have infused a certain level of humility into institutional planning, and they continue to underscore the importance of approaches that emphasize resilience and flexibility.
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About Gary Price
Gary Price (email@example.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.