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Mental Health Survey 2020

The brief 

CACTUS commissioned Shift Insight to analyse the data produced from a survey that was disseminated to researchers across the globe over an 8-month period, a large proportion of which was during the COVID-19 pandemic. CACTUS had designed the survey to explore researchers’ experiences and perceptions of working in research and the wider research culture. After careful data cleaning, a final sample size of 13,000 high-quality cases was used for the survey analysis. 

The approach

  • The analysis and reporting was split into two phases. In the first phase, Shift analysed the data produced from 27 agreement statements cross-tabulated by several demographic variables (e.g. region, gender and job role), as well as indicator questions around researchers’ mental health. The findings were presented as a phase 1 in-depth report.​
  • In the second phase, a sample of 1000 responses to an open question on “how to ensure a great work environment for researchers” were thematically analysed and presented in a phase 2 report. ​
  • Additionally, a segmentation analysis was conducted. This produced four distinct groups of researcher types, presented in a separate report. 

The value

  • Shift produced two public-facing reports detailing findings from each phase, as well as a report on the segmentation analysis for internal use. ​
  • The research revealed some key issues that require addressing in the research work culture. These issues could largely be attributed to long working hours, pressure to perform, discrimination and harassment, and a culture in which stress and anxiety are normalised.​
  • Shift presented key recommendations around how research institutions should respond to these issues in the report conclusions, which included stricter policies, provision of confidential support sources, and improving researcher resilience.