Supporting mental health and wellbeing in social research during Covid-19 times


Bio: Melanie Nind is Professor of Education at the University of Southampton and a co-director of NCRM, leading on pedagogic research (https://www.ncrm.ac.uk/research/pedagogy.php) and methodological responses to Covid-19 (https://www.ncrm.ac.uk/research/socscicovid19/). Melanie guest-edited the 2015 special issue of International Journal of Social Research Methodology on the teaching and learning of social research methods, she is editor of the Bloomsbury Research Methods for Education book series and author of Inclusive Research in the NCRM Bloomsbury Research Methods series.

Bio: "Robert Meckin is a presidential fellow in the School of Social Sciences, University of Manchester and works closely with the National Centre for Research Methods (NCRM). He is interested in emerging technosciences, interdisciplinarity and research infrastructures. He has spent recent years collaborating with and working alongside scientists practicing a design-led approach to biotechnology, and exploring how publics anticipate the potential of new biotechnological capabilities by using the chemical menthol as a way into discussing everyday technological understandings. Publications include explorations of scientific practices in increasingly automated, digitalised laboratories, and the affordances of sensory methods in engaging publics. At NCRM he has been focused on interdisciplinary research methods and has been examining the nascent areas of investigative methods and computational social science methods with Mark Elliot (University of Manchester) and Michael Mair (University of Liverpool), and exploring changing research practices in Covid-19 with Melanie Nind and Andy Coverdale (both at the University of Southampton)."

Bio: Andy Coverdale is a Research Fellow in Southampton Education School at the university of Southampton and member of the Centre for Research in Inclusion. He is currently working with the National Centre for Research Methods on their project looking at social research in the context of Covid-19 alongside research into how digital accessibility is taught and learned in Higher Education and the workplace. Andy has many years’ experience of working with, supporting, and teaching people with learning disabilities, and recently completed work on the ‘Self-build Social Care‘ research project, using inclusive and participatory methods to work collaboratively with people with learning disabilities and their allies. Andy has previously conducted research in the educational use of digital media and technology through his work with iRes at Falmouth University and the Visual Learning Lab at the University of Nottingham. His PhD examined the role of social and participatory media in doctoral education.

This session draws on the NCRM study of changing research practices in response to the changing social context of the pandemic to reflect on how social researchers have been supporting mental health and wellbeing in research during Covid-19 times. How to provide such support when researching amidst heightened risks is one of the complex ethical challenges researchers need to discuss. Attending to the wellbeing of researchers; not just research participants; was an emergent theme in the study. The ethics of supporting wellbeing involves: (i) protection from harm; such as avoiding either over-burdening people who are already overwhelmed or adding to stress by abandoning research plans; and (ii) doing good; such as though providing vehicles for self-expression; social connection and purposeful activity. This includes enabling disadvantaged and marginalised communities; on whom Covid-19 has had disproportionate impact; to contribute and benefit from research. In all of this; methods matter for collective wellbeing.