Unmasking the Cultural Impacts of COVID-19: A research student’s journey to her award-winning research

Congratulations to Susanna Su on winning the Taylor & Francis Group’s Library Excellence Award in Research for 2022!

We had the opportunity to speak with Susanna Su, a PhD student at the School of Communications and Arts, University of Queensland, who shared her valuable insights on the comprehensive research she conducted. Her study focused on examining the challenges and approaches faced by Chinese-owned businesses in Queensland amidst the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic, with a particular emphasis on cultural factors. Susanna won the Taylor & Francis Group Library Excellence Award in Research for 2022. This prize rewards effective use of library materials and services to achieve excellence in research at the University of Queensland.

Susanna Su, winner of the Taylor & Francis Library Excellence Award in Research in 2022, pictured with (from left to right) Dr Aparna Hebbani, Justine Cawley, Angela Hanna and Dr Amberyn Thomas.

          Email Susanna at:

          [email protected]

          Hi Susanna, please introduce yourself, give us a brief description of your area of research/study and your career so far.

          Hi everyone, I am Susanna, a PhD student at the School of Communication and Arts, at The University of Queensland. My research project is to study the culturally based problems and strategies used by Queensland’s Chinese business community during COVID-19.

          I started my PhD study during COVID-19 and have been busy juggling everything since. I am a mother of three with seven years of professional working experiences in communication before commencing my PhD study. Currently, I am the Australian student representative of the Australian and New Zealand Communication Association.

          Can you tell us why you chose this area of research and the thought process behind developing this study?

            The reason I chose this area of research, is my background in communications. I do believe that communication is important and still underestimated and underutilised. There were many rumours and fake news about the relationships between China and COVID. Media exacerbated this situation via frames and worsened the othering of Chinese people/immigrants in many Western countries. This was evident by the spiking discrimination reports during the height of the pandemic. We know that businesses were severely affected by COVID-19, whether the Chinese businesses were affected more under these circumstances and how they navigated through this crisis. These are all the questions I would like to know the answers for.

            How do you plan to use the support of the library to measure the impact and publishing of your work?

            • I used Impact Tracker and eSpace to record my works. Library can provide metrics reports and strategies for publishing in high impact journals.

            What tips and advice would you give peers on how to utilize their libraries services and resources?

            • Go to the library websites often! They have all kinds of notifications, news updates, and resource updates that you can keep abreast with. They have many resources that I found many students are not aware of. So give yourself some time to dive in the library/website to see what can be of help to yourself and your studies.

              The second tip would be talking to your liaison librarian often! They know everything about and in the library, even if you have a real difficult question that they cannot answer, they will find you the answer or the most suitable person to answer it. They are extremely helpful too!

            Magnifying glass cartoon image.

            Can you briefly summarize what the total outcome of your research was?/ What would you like people to take away from your research?

            • Unfortunately, I have not yet got to the point of providing full results of my research, however, I can tell you something I would like people to take away from my research. My research is about minority businesses, and how relevant stakeholders were communicated to during a crisis to successfully navigate the difficulties. Intercultural competency is important in communicating with people from another culture. It not only helps businesses to communicate with their key stakeholders but helps government agencies to communicate with their audiences during crises, especially in a multicultural society like Australia.

            How has using the library resources and services helped you conduct your research?

              • It has been helping me tremendously. During my study and research period in UQ, library has been a great companion in developing my skill sets in researching, teaching and transferable skills as well as deepening my knowledge in my field and other areas. UQ library not only has an amazing team full of knowledge, but the team is also proactive in assisting us as well. No matter what types of questions we have, namely database, finding books or articles, research software, and archives, they can always find a solution.

                The database subscriptions in UQ library allowing us to get access to most articles and books we need is a privilege of the UQ community. The library not only assists me to conduct my research but magnifies my research impact as well. Library trainings are very essential to students and researchers, such as Premiere Pro, NVivo, Word CaST, and RDM training. I was amazed to find that our librarians have excellent knowledge on niches such as ABS TableBuilder and newspaper digging when I needed to find uncommon information for my research, as my research does involve migration, racism and multicultural Australia which include archive materials and newspaper film access. Fryer library is a special place to be when talking about archives.

                I also maintain a good relationship with our liaison librarian who always gives me sound advice, updated information, and the assistance I need. When my peers have questions or need any help, I would always recommend them to approach the librarian first. Not only did I sign up to the library customer research, when I find a bug in the library system, I will report immediately so the community will not be affected as much.

            What would you say was your most utilized resource throughout the research process?

            • My most utilised resource would be the journal subscription. I read a lot of journal articles, like other PhD students, thus, I need to use our library’s useful and large subscription network to reach all articles and books I need to read.

            Thank you to Susanna for giving us her insight into the journey her research has taken her on so far and how library resources have greatly impacted her studies.

            The Taylor and Francis Group Library Excellence Award in Research at the University of Queensland is an award that rewards effective use of library materials and services to achieve excellence in research. The University of Queensland invites students studying a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), the Master of Philosophy (MPhil), or a Doctor of Biotechnology (DBiotech) to apply.