COVID Impact Statements

Pandemic Impact Checklist to Simplify Drafting a COVID Impact Statement

The purpose of the COVID Impact Statement is to provide reviewers the information that they need to perform a fair, contextualized review of the faculty member’s performance and contributions. Click here for a printable pdf. Another resource with examples is here.  Dr. Rebecca Ong wrote a blog post for the Unscripted Research Blog. In it she details the chain reaction caused by COVID in Tech's research labs. She also offers solutions that can be used in combination with our suggestions below.

 The COVID Impact Statement (modified from University of Texas at Austin):

  • Should not contain ANY specific personal information (e.g., dependent care inaccessibility challenges, personal or dependents’ health information, etc.).
  • Should include time period ONLY (not the reason) for any approved medical or personal leaves, if applicable.
  • Should describe the faculty member’s workload, performance and trajectory prior to COVID.
  • Should describe the impact COVID has had on workload, performance and trajectory in the areas of research/creativity, teaching, and service.
  • Should describe how the faculty member has adjusted or plans to adjust their work in light of COVID to continue or re-build their trajectory.
  • Should not be longer than one page (~500 words) in order to ensure that it is read carefully by others.
  • May detail different kinds of professional impact on faculty work (negative and/or positive).

Sources: Gannon CHE 2021; Shuman CHE 2021 

Sample language provided overlaps between categories.  Please use the examples that apply to you and edit to avoid repetitiveness and/or overlap. You do not need to include language for every possible checklist item. 

Research, Scholarship, and Creative Activities

At the end of the description of each impact, you may want to add the following, as appropriate:

  • My plans for getting back on track are… 
  • Long term impacts of this delay that are not recoverable include….

Checklist item [Sources include UTSA, Michigan Tech Spring 21 survey]

Sample sentence you may want to adapt for your impact statement

Research space closure/alteration (lab/field work, shared facilities, data acquisition) or unable to access research supplies or equipment

Lab(s) were closed for # weeks, with limited access for an additional # weeks, and then reduced student capacity for an additional #weeks. These closures delayed my data collection by # months, as well as associated publications and presentations by # months. The [list supplies] needed for my research were in limited supply for # months, which delayed the work in my lab.

Human subject research delays

I was not able to work with human subjects for # months due to IRB human subjects restrictions, which delayed my data collection by # months, as well as associated publications and presentations by # months. 

Animal subject research delays

I was not able to work with animal subjects for # months due to closures on campus; this has delayed my data collection by # months, as well as associated publications and presentations by # months. 

Canceled or delayed meetings, presentations, performances, exhibitions, conferences, networking opportunities

Cancellation of the [name(s)] conferences / performances / exhibitions prevented me from disseminating my work as planned. Secondary impacts of this have included [delayed publication by # months, deferral of grant application by # months, etc.]. The moving of conferences and similar activities to an online environment during the pandemic has limited opportunities for networking with colleagues. This has delayed development and submission of new research proposals and other scholarly activities.

Grant management issues (GRAs paid for less productive work, could run out of funding, etc.)

Productivity in research was limited due to the pandemic. Support for students and others continued, but the progress was limited. This raises concerns about funding running out prior to completion of project goals.

Other grant completion issues

Components of the proposed research required face to face [or alternate specific] interactions, which could not be completed in a virtual format.  Thus, grant completion was delayed.

Publication delays (individual, collaborator, etc.)

As a consequence of [incomplete data collection, student/collaborator/individual challenges, etc.], manuscript submissions were delayed by # months.  Additionally, journal reviews were extended # months, which may result in fewer publications over the next couple of years.

Travel restrictions (self, collaborators, grad students) delayed research and/or presentations and impacted costs

Field-based research was not feasible for # weeks. When fieldwork resumed, restrictions on the number of people in a vehicle resulted in increased costs associated with the work. Travel restrictions impacted my or my students' ability to travel to other locations to conduct research.

Other professional/personal responsibilities restricting research/scholarship time

Additional professional (such as converting teaching to remote settings) and personal responsibilities {NOTE: not required to disclose any details} associated with the pandemic limited the time I had available for my research and scholarship for # months/weeks. This resulted in delayed data collection, along with fewer publications and conference presentations.

Sabbatical leave delayed or altered

My sabbatical leave had to be delayed # month/year due to travel restrictions. This affected the data collection that I planned to complete, as well as associated [publications/presentations/grant applications]. It also affected the nurturing of collaborations that I had hoped would support my future research.

Change in focus of effort in research caused by the pandemic

As a direct consequence of my research expertise aligning with [### COVID need], I pivoted my time to [lead conversations, run a lab, develop a new process, etc.] which supported Michigan Tech and the community in responding to the COVID pandemic. This work resulted in less time to continue my prior research.

Student degree completion impacts (data acquisition, committee, etc. delays)

In addition to reduced productivity in data collection, my student experienced [logistics, personal, health, etc.] issues, which set our research/scholarship back # months.  I have actively mentored the student, who is now back to full productivity -or- the student remains functioning at lower capacity and plans are to…. {please do not identify specific students or provide any confidential information}

Teaching & Mentoring

At the end of the description of each impact, you may want to add the following, as appropriate:

  • This limited time available for other scholarly/teaching responsibilities. 
  • My plans for getting back on track are…

Checklist item [Sources include UTSA]

Sample sentence to stitch together into a COVID impact statement.

In person/online modality switch

Significantly more time was needed for teaching as we switched to online and hybrid modalities. 

Additional student support

Significant time was needed to support students outside of class, including online office hours, additional office hours, additional review sessions.

Impact on student evaluations

Because I had not previously taught an online course, my student evaluations were lower during the [date] semester(s) than they typically have been when teaching face-to-face. 

Additional student care or advising duties, less visible duties for those with greater impact. 

(As a woman/underrepresented individual,) I saw an increased number of students reaching out for support and advice.  It is estimated that workload increased by # hours/week for # months.  

Increased mentoring responsibilities related to COVID

Due to COVID impacts on my mentees [student group, research, group, Enterprise, etc.], more time and effort was required to guide their development during ## semester(s).  

Time completing online certification/learning new tools

Formal training in online teaching, as well as ongoing efforts to learn new tools and improve the student experience, took significant amounts of time.

Covered another faculty member’s course/lab while they were out for a Covid-related issue

I covered another faculty member’s course or lab for # weeks while they were off for Covid-related issues. This increased the time I spent on teaching.

Logistics (time, resources) managing teaching lab instruction

Lab section capacity restrictions resulted in more time to prepare and deliver labs [substitute simulations, etc]. In addition, the logistics of these sessions had to be managed to allow for required sanitation of lab spaces.

Other professional/personal responsibilities restricting teaching effectiveness

Additional professional and personal responsibilities associated with the pandemic limited the time I had available to prepare for my revised online courses for # months/weeks. This resulted in [lower student evaluations,...].

Teaching preparation/ course logistics during the summer 

Preparing for fall teaching during the summer limited by ability to focus on [activity]. This included course preparation, adaptation to new techniques and technologies, teaching in new spaces etc. This contributed a significant amount of uncompensated time to the goals of teaching.

Service

At the end of the description of each impact, you may want to add the following, as appropriate:

  • This limited time available for other scholarly/teaching responsibilities. 
  • My plans for rebalancing my time are…

Checklist item [Sources include UTSA]

Sample sentence to stitch together into a COVID impact statement.

Increased workload due to virtual modality on existing committees

Because [name] committee was unable to complete [binder reviews, etc.] in person, a new workflow was developed [documents had to be converted to digital, etc.], which increased time required by # hours in ## semester(s). 

Increased workload due to new COVID-responsive committees

Additional meetings were required in order to keep up to date with the limitations that the pandemic caused. This included meetings devoted to this topic, as well as additional meetings that were needed due to pandemic impacts on other service responsibilities.

External service obligations changed due to COVID

My external service obligations increased due to COVID. For example, I was serving on the [professional society] committee that put together online teaching resources to support the organization’s members at the start of the pandemic. 

Other professional/personal responsibilities impacted service workload.

I was asked to contribute to [committee, session, article, etc.] to support and help others during COVID.  

References

  1. The University of Texas at Austin, College of Natural Resources, Writing a COVID Impact Statement, accessed Aug 2021.
  2. Michigan Tech Spring 2021 survey, Conducted by Vice President for Research Office and Office of the Provost.
  3. Gannon, Kevin, “Faculty Evaluation After the Pandemic: In our post-Covid personnel landscape, one-size-fits-all tenure and promotion policies are destined to fall short.” Chronicle of Higher Education, June 2021
  4. Schuman, Rebecca, “Now I Have to Write a ‘Covid Impact Statement’?: An academic-writing specialist answers your questions on pandemic-productivity quandaries.” Chronicle of Higher Education, May 2021.
  5. Skinner, M., Betancourt, N., & Wolff-Eisenberg, C. “The Disproportionate Impact of the Pandemic on Women and Caregivers in Academia.” https://doi.org/10.18665/sr.315147 Ithaka S+R. March 2021.
  6. Simula, Brandy L. Simula and Willink, Kate.  “Navigating the Continuing Psychological Pandemic: How academic leaders can help support faculty through the pandemic's next phase (opinion).” Inside Higher Ed, July, 2021
  7. Misra, Joya; Clark, Dessie; and Mickey, Ethel L.,  “Keeping COVID-19 From Sidelining Equity: Without intentional interventions, the pandemic will make higher education less diverse and equitable (opinion)Inside Higher Ed, February 2021
    1. Cardel, M. I., Dean, N., & Montoya-Williams, D. (2020). “Preventing a Secondary Epidemic of Lost Early Career Scientists: Effects of COVID-19 Pandemic on Women with Children.”  Annals of the American Thoracic Society, (ja). https://www.atsjournals.org/doi/abs/10.1513/AnnalsATS.202006-589IP 
  8. Flaherty, Colleen, “Where and how gender and caregiving intersect for professors during COVID-19: It's not just about gender or caregiving, it's both: new analyses suggest colleges need COVID-19 faculty relief policies that target female caregivers in particular.” Inside Higher Ed, February 2021
    1. Fulweiler RW, Davies SW, Biddle JF, Burgin AJ, Cooperdock EHG, et al. (2021) “Rebuild the Academy: Supporting academic mothers during COVID-19 and beyond.” PLOS Biology 19 (3): e3001100. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pbio.3001100 
  9. Malisch, J. et al. (2020). “In the Wake of COVID‐19, Academia Needs New Solutions to Ensure Gender Equity. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences,” 117(27), 15378-15381. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.2010636117 
    1. Supporting information https://www.pnas.org/content/pnas/suppl/2020/06/17/2010636117.DCSupplemental/pnas.2010636117.sapp.pdf

Other Resources:

Applying an Equity Lens to COVID Impact Statements: "Documenting the pandemic’s effect, especially on women faculty and those of color, is vital, write Donna Riley and Mangala Subramaniam, who offer advice on how to assess such statements."

Potentially long-lasting effects of the pandemic on scientists (Nature): Two surveys of principal investigators conducted between April 2020 and January 2021 reveal that while the COVID-19 pandemic’s initial impacts on scientists’ research time seem alleviated, there has been a decline in the rate of initiating new projects. See also:  The pandemic’s slowing of research productivity may last years—especially for women and parents (Science)