February 10, 2021

Jazmín Díaz-Barrios y Morela Pereira Burgos

Trends in Academic Research. Vision 2021

The events of 2020 accelerated a process that was gradually taking place in the academic world and especially in the research area: Technologization; but in addition to the above, the pandemic and its aftermath have oriented (or perhaps we should say returned) research towards the human being as the center and pivot of it. These trends are consolidated in 2021.

Let's take a closer look at these two macro-trends.

The first, Technologization of research, that is, applying technology or technological methods (Real Academia Española, 2020); in turn, it is represented by several trends in 2021:

- Teleworking.

- Incorporation of academic work into social networks.

- Remote connection of research teams.

- Online data collection.


- Teleworking, also known as remote or remote work, where the person who provides a service may be very distant from the person who receives it. But furthermore, “... it implies a radical change in the way in which professional relationships are developed and the flow of production is organized worldwide ... it gives access to a global, multicultural and borderless world... it no longer matters where you are geographically, but with whom you connect and what talents and capacities you can offer” (Barbosa, 2013: 7).

This teleworking in the field of research occurs in various ways: attending conferences to present research results; give courses on new research findings, advise students who carry out research work in other latitudes. In this sense, the academic discovered that he does not have to travel to participate in conferences, seminars or symposia, just as universities took the step of holding virtual events.

Given the continuity of the pandemic and the decrease in costs that a virtual congress means for universities and researchers, this trend will continue in the following years. The face-to-face event will not disappear, but it will be basically for individuals who are in the same city, and it will be enriched by the presence of researchers who previously had no possibility to attend.

The courses and the consultations to distant students is another reality that is incorporated into the new scenario. Many students will be able to benefit from the knowledge of career researchers whose courses they would not have been able to attend, or who previously would not have been able to hire. For his part, the researcher will see his work and knowledge more valued.


-The use of academic networks is not yet generalized among researchers in Latin America; however, in other spaces, its use is being greater to the extent that the system itself pushes researchers to incorporate it; such is the case of the demands of scientific journals and specialized indexes, as a way to enhance the visibility of the content and therefore of the researcher. Campos Freire et al. (2014) refer as the main academic social networks to ResearchGate, Academia and Mendeley; however, Artigas and Casanova (2020) point out that in Latin America Mendeley is not predominant and instead the network of Redalyc Authors stands out. Additionally, many Latin American journals require Orcid and Scholar google records as a requirement.

Now, for this 2021 and subsequent years, the use of social networks such as LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter or Facebook is outlined to make academic work visible. The pandemic researcher was able to perceive the potential that these media offer to show themselves and their work, and is beginning to use them. In sum, the trend is towards the massive use of networks to make academic efforts visible, given the difficulty of doing so through institutional channels; those who do not join this trend will be progressively, or perhaps immediately, off the global radar in terms of their visibility.

Competition in social media spaces is increasing, and whoever goes ahead to show their profile and results of academic work correctly will have greater possibilities in the international market.


- The remote connection of research teams. Working from home (teleworking), as a direct result of the pandemic, led to the disaggregation of the members of research teams that usually congregated in academic spaces. In fact, there was a time of silence among the team members, while they looked for a way to restart work and adapt to the new conditions, limiting the investigative work to an individual activity.

However, already in 2021, the work teams have understood that they can continue developing their research with meetings through applications such as Zoom, Meet, WhatsApp or other platforms to hold virtual meetings. Even the work and updating of shared documents is immediate through tools like google doc.

According to the Observatorio Laboral (s/f), the use of instant messaging applications such as WhatsApp, resizes the forms of interaction between the members of the organizations, improving communication by streamlining and generating closeness between employees. He adds that it is an effective tool for coordinating work teams, keeping them up to date through communication that leaves an easy-to-locate record, not only in text but also in attachments.

On the other hand, platforms such as Zoom and Meet offer spaces for interaction, in some cases free and in others at low cost. In all options, the training to implement their use is basic or self-learning, and they facilitate transparent and quick communications for the research teams. Jáuregui (2020) points out, that we are facing a radically new reality, the world started by Gutemberg, paper, has fallen into disuse; the information is made through videoconferences on a variety of platforms and Internet applications. Webinar is already a term not only essential in research slang, but used on a daily basis.

In this trend, participants are inclined to share leadership and support each other by managing the emotions and worries derived from the dynamic and uncertain environment in which they are operating their activities. In this sense, the propensity for 2021 is to strengthen research teams, even incorporating researchers who for reasons of distance had broken up, or researchers from other countries, whose physical distance made collaboration impractical.


-As for online data collection, the Information Management Competence is a developing competence, with multiple tools that every researcher begins to use to extract the maximum amount of data and information from the web. Additionally, given the difficulty of moving to do interviews or surveys, online tools come to the aid of the researcher to support him in his work, as well as instruments such as Google Forms, Typeform, Formdesk or JotForm have excellent free versions that allow us to reach our interviewee or easily surveyed.

Orellana López and Sánchez Gómez (2006) specify that we have gone from traditional data collection (libraries, face-to-face exchanges, written, visual, auditory documents, objects), using off-line databases as primary information sources to a data collection leveraged on new technologies, whose center is on-line databases, links to compilations, discussions and interventions by computer, digital libraries, digitized texts, multi-mediasystems, Internet interviews, video recordings and simulations, among other tools.


The second macro-trend, research towards the human being as its center and pivot: In recent decades,research in practically any area has been based on technological improvement, be it in education, health, management and even social problems, are seen from an orientation to the technological solution. Each research can seek to improve the quality of life of humanity, but not thought from an integral, holistic vision, but from a technical and material vision: how to provide more things.

The events of 2020 represented a brake and a reflection. The COVID-19 pandemic and its effects on the world, has made both people and organizations, ultimately, at least those that want to remain in force, modify their schemes. In this sense, a renewed view of the human being is observed in the work environment, which implies, among other aspects: greater focus on diversity and inclusion, which leaves aside the monolithic vision, giving way to a multicultural one.

Health care is more important and a change in focus is observed towards prevention as well as the mental health and well-being of employees; improvements in the employee experience, which leads to understanding what motivates productivity, recognizing and allowing various versions of work and personal flexibility, reinventing traditional work processes.

In this sense, in the field of academic organizations, 2021 presents the need for a more transdisciplinary research, where human needs are at the center of the research. When reviewing the trends of recognized world research organizations we find (in addition to those related to the covid-19 virus) for example, the Harvard medical school studying racism in medicine or stress management of university students; to Harvard Business School, oriented towards startups, exercise as a life habit and small organizational changes that can revitalize a firm.

In other words, we see research that addresses a business or medical topic, from the perspective of the individual and not from the medical or business perspective exclusively. We are witnessing a double transition, in the first place, towards inter and transdisciplinarity in an almost insensitive, smooth way, simply because the events led to that holistic need.

On the other hand, from research that was born as support for education and science, to research that is developed as support for society as a whole and that makes it more sustainable. In that sense, this small synthesis of trends in research 2021 leads us to think that research is moving towards more flexible and empathetic paths, which makes it more solid and sustainable over time.


Bibliographic references

Artigas, W. y Casanova, I. (2020) Influencia de las redes sociales académicas en la construcción de la identidad digital latinoamericana. Anales de Documentación, 23 (2).

Barbosa,V. (2013). Teletrabajo, Liderar y Trabajar en Equipos a distancia. Editorial Dunken. Disponible en:

Campos Freire, F.; Rivera Rogel, D. y Rodríguez Hidalgo, C. (2014) La presencia e impacto de las universidades de los países andinos en las redes sociales digitales. Revista Latina de Comunicación Social, 69, 571-592.

Jáuregui, F. (2020). La ruptura: La revolución en marcha que no supimos ver. Disponible en: 

Observatorio Laboral (s/f). WhatsApp en tu centro de trabajo, entre lo práctico y lo correcto. Disponible en: 

Orellana López, D. M., y Sánchez Gómez, M. C. (2006). Técnicas de recolección de datos en entornos virtuales más usadas en la investigación cualitativa. Revista De Investigación Educativa, 24 (1), 205-222. Disponible en: 

Real Academia Española (2020). Tecnologizar. Disponible en:

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