It is unfortunately no longer possible to hope that the current Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak won’t have an impact on research activity and your research programme. Of course, many of us will also be affected personally, through restrictions on our activities or health-related issues for ourselves and loved ones. We have seen it coming, but yesterday marked a step-change with the announcement that campus operations will be restricted after the end of this term and government recommendations to work from home where possible.
In this post, we will explore some of the things that PGRs can do to stay up-to-date with the latest advice, consider the impact of the outbreak on their research, and protect their mental health.
Information is invaluable, but it’s important to get your information from reputable sources which are taking a balanced approach. You have probably already seen the tailored information in the latest statement from the University and FAQs around Coronavirus (COVID-19), as well as the PGR-specific advice from the Graduate School. These are all being updated regularly, and I won’t repeat the contents here. For advice on protective measures, see the official webpages from the UK government and the World Health Organisation. Be critical of other sources of information (as you would be for your research sources) to check authority, currency and reliability.
Once informed, discuss with your supervisor the potential impact on your research activity. You may have already agreed a schedule of Skype (or other online) supervision meetings, and started to think about the types of research activity you can carry out while working from home or in self-isolation. How long will this be an acceptable option for you? You might like to engage in some scenario planning looking at different timescales for the restrictions, or other potential situations relevant to you. Under what circumstances might you need to consider a Leave of Absence?
This will be a stressful and difficult time for everyone, for lots of different reasons. It’s therefore important not to forget to look after yourself and your mental wellbeing. Student Minds have compiled some useful advice and links relevant to this. Keep in touch with your family, friends and communities by phone or online. Think about who is in your social support network and nurture those relationships by both giving and receiving support. What can you do to support your neighbours?
What changes are you having to make to your research as a result of this pandemic? What strategies are you using to handle the situation? What are going to be the particular challenges for you? Please comment below.