Group pictures from field trips are now distant memories only and research collaboration is entirely dependent on remote connections. The worst affected are all the carefully prepared scientific conferences and seminars, which had to be cancelled.
The corona virus crisis does not affect the work of many researchers much, says Timo Koivurova, director of the Arctic Center at the University of Lapland. Research collaboration has always been carried out online.
However, research collaboration cannot be based on remote connections alone. Scientists also need to meet each other. Arja Rautio, Vice-President Research of the Arctic University Network UArctic, based at the University of Oulu, hopes that young researchers will also be able to meet senior researchers, participate in workshops and summer schools in the future.
"After this crisis, the world is will not be the same, but we need to preserve the elements that build multidisciplinary Arctic research that will be conducted together throughout the northern region. That requires physical meetings, because we cannot create similar connections alone.
In support of lecturers, UArctic has opened Arctic Learning Resources, a virtual course site where teaching materials produced over the years have been collected. Within just a few days, the universities added dozens of online courses and other teaching resources to the platform.
"Change always opens up new possibilities. For example, collecting open data for use by different researchers may reduce the need to travel in the future. Scientists are doing a huge amount of duplication of work. Field visits, interview trips and the collection of scientific material could be synchronized," says Arja Rautio.
Outi Snellman from the University of Lapland, who heads UArctic's international secretariat, reminds that the research community is resilient. The universities closed their doors, and both students and staff moved to work from home.
According to Outi Snellman, some researchers in social science research have said that they now have time to write articles, even a monograph. But for many, the crisis means that an entire season of field work will be lost.
"There will probably be cases where long data sets are broken. But scientists have always done research in the prevailing circumstances, and I believe that research collaboration will not be compromised."
“The victims here may be young researchers who cannot travel to conferences or do exchange programs: they do not yet have a network of international contacts. Conferences, field courses and also exchanges play a key role in creating networks,” Outi Snellman notes.
Student mobility is a key part of UArctic cooperation. Students who were studying abroad through the north2north exchange program have returned home from around the world, and participation in the autumn application round is uncertain.
“The issues and problems that unite the Arctic will not go away with this crisis. Various cooperation structures and funding will continue to be needed. Mobility may be reduced or changed permanently, but the need for cooperation and interaction will definitely not diminish. ”