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Recording the impact of Covid-19 on your doctoral studies

You should record how Covid-19 has affected your research activities. This evidence will be crucial if you later apply to extend your registration or funding.

The effects of the pandemic on your research

As we advised in our email to doctoral students on 24 March, you should first discuss with your supervisory team how your planned activities might be adapted in the current restrictions. In practice they may be able to suggest a way of reorganising/changing your study, enabling you to continue your studies without having to suspend or lengthen your project.

It is important to recognise that the situation will not ease for a significant period of time, and may result in more stringent limitations; it is therefore important that in your discussions with your supervisors you look ahead over at least the next few months.

Working with your supervisor

Supervisory meetings

Whether or not you work on campus, or whether you continue with your research plans or need to revise them, you must consult regularly with your supervisory team, and notify your Lead Supervisor of any changes to your health and work.

It is important to remember that everyone – including your supervisory team – will be affected by the current situation. Supervisors may also face health issues and need to isolate, and often balance new teaching and research-related demands. You should meet with your supervisors to set expectations for the frequency and nature of your meetings, to clarify your planned activities, and review these regularly.

We advise using Microsoft Teams in place of face-to-face meetings whenever possible.

If your lead supervisor is ill you should contact your second supervisor and your Director of Studies to discuss what arrangements need to be put in place for supervision of your project.

Progress reports

You and your supervisor are expected to continue completing six-monthly progress reports, and you should both use the report to record what actions have been taken to minimise the impact of the Covid-19 outbreak on your research, as well as any detrimental effects on your research.

Follow our guidance below on how to record the impact of Covid-19 on your doctoral studies, in case you later need to apply for an extension to your registration or funding (subject to your funder’s requirements).

If you have any queries please email the Doctoral College Programmes team for more information, and include your department, programme and student number in the email.

Recording the impact on your studies

All students, whether or not you can continue with your studies, should record the impact of Covid-19 on your work. While the effects are sometimes obvious, it is also important to recognise that many issues are often less obvious, and that sometimes many smaller factors can accumulate over time. Remember also that applications for extensions are normally considered as you near the end of your current periods of registration (which is when you can best-judge how much additional time you need). In the case of first and second year students this can be in several years’ time – hence the importance of keeping a record of issues as they happen.

It is up to you how you record these details but, to help you, here are some examples of the types of things that you may wish to think about:

  • specific research-related activities that have had to be put on hold, possibly influenced by loss of access to facilities such as labs, library, specific computer/data sources, or facilities outside of the university. Your work may also be affected by your inability to travel for fieldwork (in the UK or overseas) or to visit other research institutions, or your inability to collect data through surveys or interviews
  • temporary changes to the nature of your activities, such as if you're limited to writing or editing confirmation reports or thesis chapters while waiting to resume lab, surveys or other key research activities (see the option to temporarily change to Writing-Up status)
  • down-time in having to redesign your research plans (including associated discussions and agreements with your supervisory team), and the need for new ethical approvals (which can be significant, especially when dealing with external agencies such as the NHS)
  • reduced work rates or limitations to activities associated with working from home
  • loss of support e.g. loss of contact with supervisory team due to their isolation and health issues
  • financial implications including lost income or funding (and need to supplement through alternate employment resulting in reduced study time), and key research activities delayed into the final non-funded stages of your registration
  • caring responsibilities
  • physical health issues, including those of yourself or someone in your household, and how these have affected your ability to study
  • anxiety and personal mental health factors e.g. through isolation from family and friends, loss of loved ones, concerns over returning to study
  • other personal issues including additional pressures faced by certain groups of students who may be disproportionately impacted by the current crisis, including but not limited to: disabled students, international students, minority ethnic students, LGBTQIA+ students…
  • any other aspects - please note this list is not exhaustive

Importantly, where possible you should include the dates and how has this affected the overall duration of your research (thus informing the duration of a future request for an extension).

Should you wish to apply for an extension of registration or of your submission deadline, see our guidance on suspensions and extensions.