Journaling the Pandemic: What 17,000 Journal Entries May Have to Tell Us about Covid-19


PSTC Seminar Room, Mencoff Hall 205

In May 2020, the speakers launched the Pandemic Journaling Project (PJP), an effort to archive ordinary people's experiences of the pandemic in real time. PJP provides a digital space, accessible via smartphone or computer, for people to create weekly journals of their Covid-19 experiences. The platform is designed to be accessible to as wide a range of potential participants as possible. PJP’s interface is accessible in English and Spanish, but participants can submit journal entries in any language. Anyone aged 15+, living anywhere in the world, can create journal entries of any length using text, images, or audio recordings. In its first 15 months, PJP enrolled more than 1,500 participants from 45 countries and collected more than 17,000 individual journal entries, in addition to demographic data and periodic survey data on physical and mental health, Covid exposure, and political leanings of all participants. When the pandemic ends, journals and meta-data will be deposited with the Qualitative Data Repository. Twenty-five years after the project’s conclusion, the corpus will be converted into a publicly accessible archive.

In this talk we will consider the possibilities and limitations of the PJP dataset as big (qualitative) data, and share some preliminary findings about a range of populations, including college students, pregnant people, health care workers and the elderly.