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Research as a way to understand and respond to Covid-19 and its impacts

Recovery projects 

The educational impact of the closure of campus and the introduction of online delivery for students at the University of Bradford

Carole Binns

This short eight-week research project commenced shortly after the UK went into lockdown. Funded as a Covid-19 rapid response study, it contributed to the understanding of the educational impacts on undergraduate and postgraduate students resulting from the closure of campus, and the rapid, but necessary, changes in their programme and curriculum delivery. It aimed to investigate the educational challenges faced by different groups of students at that time.

Image showing front of Richmond Building and University grounds

An investigation into panic buying and spread of COVID-19

Elvira Ismagilova

COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically shaped consumer behaviour and led to panic buying. With news spreading fast about the dangers of COVID-19, many consumers started stockpiling items such as hand sanitiser, toilet paper, essential goods and medicines to prepare for self-isolation. As some consumers were emptying shelves, others did not seem to be engaged in this type of behaviour.

This situation leads to a question: why do some people panic buy whilst some do not? With this in mind, we looked at factors affecting panic buying behaviour and how it affects the spread of COVID-19. By using data from over 800 UK participants, the study found that perceived feeling of uncertainty, lack of control, herding, social media, awareness of consequences and justification of behaviour played an important role in panic buying behaviour. Additionally, it was found that the increase in the spread of COVID-19 is a negative consequence of panic buying. 

Image showing empty shelves in a supermarket

An exploratory analysis of agile and resilience capabilities in the face of COVID-19 for SME manufacturers in the UK

Jiachen Hou

The significance of SMEs to the UK’s economy is undeniable. The impacts of disruptions events, such as COVID-19, are devastating to SMEs’ activities and their continuity. This study aims to examine if firms have agile and resilience capabilities to reduce the impact of the disruption.

Man working in a small company fixing an electrical appliance

The Impact of Pandemics on Financial Markets

Mahdi Mousavi

The economic turmoil associated with the COVID-19 pandemic has had a severe impact on financial markets, including stocks, bond, and commodity (including crude oil and gold) markets. The steep plunge in financial markets has adversely affected the wealth of many investors including pension funds, mutual funds, and other common stockholders.

This study aims to propose applying a new methodology to evaluate the performance of alternative financial assets and sectors during and after a disease pandemic and to find out a mutual pattern in the reaction of those markets and assets to disease pandemics, which could be used for forecasting the future impacts.

We will investigate the impact of recent pandemics on different regions' stock markets, sectors as well as gold, oil and treasury bills to propose a robust investment strategy which could be applied by funds during disease pandemic crises. The expected outcomes of this research will help investors, pension funds and other investment companies to moderate their investment portfolios towards in case of facing future pandemics towards more efficient investment options. 

Paper showing financial market information

Exploring the feasibility of a hyperlocal delivery business model

Kuttimani Tamilmani, Charles Vincent and Nripendra Rana

Employing an experimental survey methodology, this project explores Consumers' willingness to buy and Retail sector SMEs’ readiness to sell on hypothetical on-demand delivery platform

The findings from this research can help in reducing consumers risk exposure to COVID-19 as home delivery becomes readily available, and Retail sector SMEs to stay relevant in serving their consumers, ultimately leading to the revival of the local economy.

Parcels outside a door for home delivery

Identifying Covid-19 related challenges in the Construction industry

Kamran Mahroof and Amizan Omar

The Industrial Manufacturing industry is highly lucrative to the UK economy, contributing £92 billion annual turnover and directly employing 1million employees in the UK alone - many of which have now been put out of work or on the furlough scheme. Research early this year has highlighted the devastating impact of Covid-19 on construction projects in the UK, whereby approx. 4,500 projects, worth up to £70bn were stalled, a trend likely to continue in the foreseeable immediate future. Given that the construction sector was instructed by the UK Government to return to work, seven weeks after the lockdown initially took place, this research aims to identify the main Covid-19 related challenges faced by the Construction Industry, how these challenges may be interrelated and what role innovative solutions such as AI led off-site Construction, AI Generative Design and Additive Manufacturing, AI and Machine Learning solutions can play to overcome, monitor and prioritise these key challenges.

  • We will develop an interaction matrix using Interpretive Structural Modelling (ISM) modelling to identify relationships between key challenges
  • The project will prioritise the key challenges that need to be addressed by the key stakeholders such as planners, building engineers and project managers
  • We will propose recommendations to these key stakeholders based on the findings
  • We will develop and disseminate a questionnaire based on the ISM analysis, to 10,000 key contacts and stakeholders within the UK’s construction industry. 
Men standing on a building site

Exploring Consumer Confidence in the COVID-19 Era Using Sentiment Analysis

Takao Maruyama and Kamran Mahroof

The COVID-19 pandemic has now twice forced non-essential shops and services to close, restricting people’s day-to-day purchasing activities, thus significantly impacting the UK’s economy. There remain high levels of uncertainty relating to consumer confidence to reengage with the economy, despite the Chancellor's announcement in July 2020 to lower VAT from 20% to 5% until early 2021.  This research monitors, analyses and uncovers consumers’ attitudes and confidence through sentiment analysis of tweets shared by the public.

Empty shopping street

A survey to explore the impact of healthcare student's early qualification and move into frontline roles as a result of the coronavirus pandemic

Kathryn Lord

Healthcare students have faced enormous disruption to their lives and studies as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The government introduced emergency legislation to expand the healthcare workforce allowing students to join practice prior to completion of their programme of study.

This cross-faculty research aims to understand and improve the experience of our healthcare students and how we as an institution can best adapt to support the new era we find ourselves in.  

Paramedic students in training performing resuscitation

Food waste generation during COVID-19

Ebru Surucu Balci

Image showing rotting fruit

Moral decision-making during COVID-19: Moral judgments, moralisation, and everyday behaviour

Kathryn Francis and Carolyn McNabb (University of Reading)

Studying moral decision-making during the pandemic is an important area of research as significant (and global) changes in social structures and community practises are likely to affect people’s beliefs about what is now right and wrong. Many individuals are now in government ‘lockdowns’ and are being reminded that, now more than ever, they must act for the greater good. Additionally, medical professionals now find themselves making regular and distressing triage decisions which involve prioritising some lives over others. This project will collect data about people’s current behaviours, their moral judgments, and the extent to which they have moralised behaviours associated with the pandemic (e.g., the extent to which they express opinions about them in terms of right and wrong).

Data has been collected prior to the pandemic, during the peak of the pandemic in April/May, and during the easing of the first lockdown in August. A preprint of the research is available on the OSF: along with all data files and analysis pipelines.

Collaborators: Centre for Integrative Neuroscience and Neurodynamics, University of Reading

A doctor sitting with his head down during a difficult day