A path forward for qualitative research on sustainability in the COVID-19 pandemic

Sustain Sci. 2021;16(3):1061-1067. doi: 10.1007/s11625-020-00894-8. Epub 2021 Jan 20.


The unique strengths of qualitative research, through in-depth inquiry and identification of unexpected themes and linkages, is essential to our growing understanding of COVID-19's impacts on the social world and its intersection with sustainability science. However, many challenges-physical, psychological, and ethical in nature-face qualitative researchers during the pandemic, as social distancing and travel restrictions prevent in-person field work. In this paper, we outline the essential contributions of qualitative study to sustainability science, discuss current challenges, and in turn, provide recommendations for researchers.

Keywords: COVID-19; Qualitative methods; Research ethics; Researcher well-being; Sustainability science; Virtual methods.