How to avoid stress as a PhD student during the COVID-19 lockdown
Among academics, PhD students are likely to bear the brunt of global coronavirus lockdown limitations. The pandemic’s interruptions have created a generation of anxious research students worried about the finish and quality of their work.
As a student and supervisor, we quickly encountered the same problems. When the lockdown seemed impending, we reviewed our plans for the following few weeks – and possible alternatives. As the situation deteriorated and the possibility of long-term consequences had become a reality, our discussions evolved to address increasing concerns about the project’s future. We discussed the constraints imposed by the epidemic on our objectives and the financial assistance and additional time that the institution intends to offer postgraduate researchers. We then understood that in order to progress, we needed to embrace change.
At the moment, there is a group of PhD students who are stranded at home due to the restrictions and uncertainties imposed by the coronavirus. We believe that doctorate dissertations, like so many other ongoing undertakings, should be contextualized by promoting innovative thinking and revising academic norms. Here are five suggestions for learners (and supervisors) who find themselves in a position similar to ours. While we recognize that some will be impractical, we believe it is critical for PhD students to think creatively and tactically about the choices available to them.
Consider an alternative approach to the project’s study.
With less available time in the lab or field, a different method to addressing the study issue may be needed. Consider a new angle or component for the project. For example, after talks with her supervisors, our butterfly researcher transformed her initial intentions — to modify the insect’s habitat in order to evaluate the effect of vegetation changes — into a conceptual of the relevant literature.
Reevaluate the study’s objectives.
Revise the research plans. Be savage. PhD students and supervisors should select analyses that can be completed remotely, critical experiments to start immediately, and experiments to skip if time is restricted.
Consider shortening the thesis’s chapter count.
Academic prerequisites for a PhD include the generation of unique discoveries and their contextualization in the larger body of literature. This is often achievable with fewer chapters than originally intended. There may be one fewer paper produced as a result, but university recruiters and funding agencies will acknowledge this new reality. The scientific community should acknowledge that doing less is acceptable in this unique circumstance.
Utilize social media to solicit inspiration from coworkers.
Despite the postponement of workshops and meetings, you may still meet with colleagues to discuss your ideas or goals. Several organizations and research communities, for example, are creating online places for researchers — particularly early-career scientists — to share ideas through social media. Utilize these channels to solicit new ideas and to share preliminary findings and plans for feedback.
Be open with superiors about your difficulties.
When the viva arrives, be confident in describing the pandemic’s impact on the project in the introduction to the thesis or during the PhD defense. External examiners will have witnessed the effect on their own study and will empathize with your difficulties. A frequently asked question by examiners is just how the project developed over time. Students have a good start in addressing this issue due to the present situation.
Even without the pandemic’s upheaval and uncertainty, completing a PhD is seldom a breeze. A calm sea, on the other hand, never produced a competent sailor. This global crisis provides a chance for PhD students to demonstrate their resilience as researchers navigating the stormy waters of their studies. The rest of us should keep in mind that PhD candidates look for guidance and support from their supervisors and science community. Over and beyond the normal pressures of deadlines and publishing demand, the outbreak is likely to have an adverse effect on their mental health. In these odd times, more than ever, research students require our support and understanding.
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