January 22, 2022

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 COVID19 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 midsized 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 lastminute scheduling conflicts.

The discussion was wideranging, 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 inperson operations by fall 2021. Still, uncertainties abound and considerable notes of tentativeness remain, and indeed, events subsequent to the Roundtable, such as the largescale spread of the Delta variant of COVID19 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 changedriven  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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16 pages; PDF.

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About Gary Price

Gary Price (gprice@mediasourceinc.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.