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    Whose uncertainty? Learning disability research in a time of COVID-19

    Ryan, Sara ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-7406-1610, Mikulak, Magdalena ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-1519-7673 and Hatton, Chris (2023) Whose uncertainty? Learning disability research in a time of COVID-19. International Journal of Social Research Methodology. ISSN 1364-5579

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    Abstract

    UK government responses to COVID-19 have intensified experiences of uncertainty for people with learning disabilities. The pandemic has eroded the support people receive, previously weakened by austerity measures. In research, COVID-19 related uncertainty has led to some reworking of methods and intensive contingency planning. This was to fulfil funding requirements and was underpinned by research teams’ commitment to continuing research with people with learning disabilities not despite, but because of the pandemic. This is in a context where people with learning disabilities have been systemically excluded from research participation. Here, we reflect on these processes in relation to a project exploring how to improve the support for older people with learning disabilities. We consider the distribution of uncertainty in relation to conducting research during this time and ask whose uncertainty is attended to in these mid- and post-pandemic methodological debates and why. We suggest pandemic ‘disruption’ has created space for critical reflection allowing methodological creativity and consideration of in between strategies of trust, intuition, and emotion. We caution against the re-constraining of this space, instead arguing for continuing flexibility and creativity, where uncertainties are shared rather than used as a tool of control or dismissal of claims to support.

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