Covid-19 pandemic is not an obstacle to resume research stays

Covid-19 is there and may be with us for a while, but research, like life itself, has to go on. We have talked with some members of the Group who, despite the circumstances, maintained their plans to carry out a research stay in other universities.  

Roberto Graña is a pre-doctoral researcher at the Department of Financial Economics and Accounting of the University of Vigo, and a member of the RGEAF research group. Roberto has just begun his stay at the Autonomous University of Madrid.  

For this researcher the most difficult thing has been the search for accommodation. The University of destination did not have any problem to accept his arrival and it put everything in his favor. “The situation generated by the Covid-19 has caused many accommodation companies to reduce their offer”, says the researcher. No PCR test was performed on her arrival, but he plans to do one before returning to our community.  

He says that it never crossed his mind to miss this opportunity. “I think that the situation affects the development of the stay as it affects the life of everyone in general. Nevertheless, the research activity continues, and we must continue to do all possible activities with the required caution”.  

Beyond his optimism and illusion, the researcher recognizes that the circumstances can affect the normal continuity of the project. “The situation limits the activities you can do but you have to adapt because the project is still going on and you have to do it. The most negative point is that social interactions and the ability to obtain networks are reduced, what is one of the main objectives of any stay. Virtual interactions increase because of the complexity of the situation, which requires greater precautions”, the student clarifies.  

Another ECOBAS researcher who is doing a research stay is Jesús López, Professor of Fundamentals of Economic Analysis at the University of Coruña, where he has been teaching since 1999, and senior researcher in the C+D Group. Professor López will finish his experience at the University of Extremadura on October 30.  

The professor did not think at any time to postpone the stay but he did modify his initial plans. “In my case I have been making regular stays in the first semester of the course, usually outside Spain. On this occasion, on the one hand due to potential eventualities associated with the pandemic (quarantines, risks of illness outside the country, etc.), and on the other hand due to the interest in the project I proposed by the receiving center, I decided to do it in Spain since the above mentioned eventualities are minimized and in addition research interests are aligned with those of the receiving center”.  

“The planning of the stay in these circumstances required more precise coordination of the dates of the stay and a reduction in the time I had initially thinking due to a potential new confinement or second wave of the Covid 19”, says the investigator. However, he has made the trip in his own car and is staying at a friend home, so he has not encountered the problems of the researcher Roberto Graña in terms of accommodation.

Professor López is also optimistic and believes that the situation will not affect the experience and the project. “Thanks to tools such as Zoom or Teams many meetings to discuss issues related to my projects can be carried out in a telematic way. In my case the stay is developing normally within what is the new situation. In the face-to-face meetings we follow the sanitary protocols but we do make more use of telematic tools to comment on the progress of the project”, explains the professor.  

Belén Vallina is also a pre-doctoral researcher in the Department of Financial Economics and Accounting at the University of Vigo and a member of the RGEAF research group. Belén began its stay at the OECD in Paris on 14 September and she will continue until 15 January next year.    

The researcher states that her stay has hardly been affected by the situation and everything is going to happen as planned. She has not had problems to make the trip, the prices of the planes have dropped and have maintained several daily departures from Galicia. In the case of housing has not been difficult to find but prices in the French city have remained high. The Reception Centre has supported the student from the outset and has not shown any reluctance to maintain the project. Vallina believes that the situation will not change her plans and is carrying out her research alternating face-to-face work and telework with rigid protocols that are reviewed weekly.    

It is clear that research does not stop at a time when society depends on it. We hope that our researchers will have good experience, that they will not be diminished by the situation, and that the knowledge acquired during their stay will help them to continue their research back in Galicia.