Coronavirus – Important Message for PGR Students from the Dean of the Graduate School

Dear Postgraduate Researchers,

I would like to pass on some advice and information in relation to impacts resulting from Coronavirus. Whilst we might all feel alone in the face of this pandemic, please remember that we can and should work together to overcome it. If the Graduate School specifically can help with anything that your supervisor or School/Centre cannot, please do ask. We might not be in the office but we are still very much at work.

You will find general advice and information from the university here as well as on the government’s webpages. Do follow these regularly as they are frequently updated. Below are some specific reflections on possible issues which you might be facing.

  1. If the nature of your research methods or process is being severely affected by the current situation (eg unable to meet specific groups, visit an archive, unable to travel etc) please discuss this with your supervisor in the first instance. They will be able to help you adjust/rethink your approach and make appropriate changes. If it is too late in the progress of your research to make significant alterations, then be honest and open about any such limitations in your thesis. Examiners will be understanding, but they can only be so if you make this explicit in your writing. Give serious thought to moving away from using person-to person evidence in the short and possibly longer-term towards other safer modes of data collection where feasible. Your health and that of others is paramount!
  2. If you are abroad or not currently working at home or on campus for your research, speak to your supervisor/s and school about either curtailing your visit or exploring other options. Every case will need to be assessed on an individual basis with regard to concomitant risks and possibilities. But you should not feel you need to make such decisions on your own. Your supervisors and schools are here to help.
  3. Please check with schools, supervisors and your Director of Graduate Studies about access to facilities such as work spaces and labs. This might well change in the coming days, so it is best to start planning bearing this in mind.
  4. Keep in touch with your supervisory team members by skype, phone calls or by email. These can be used for your monthly or other reviews.
  5. You should no longer do any group work or other social activities related to your research. We all need to follow the government’s social distancing guidelines.
  6. The Graduate School will be setting up some informal ‘virtual drop in sessions’ where you can have an informal chat with myself or a member of staff. We will send out more details soon.

If you need to take a break from your research, please do so. Everything will probably take more time than usual at the moment, and it will be hard to focus – we will all need to learn to adjust. In recognition of this, at the point of PhD submission, students will be able to seek a short extension to their PhD. We will look favorably on all such requests.

We have also made it straightforward for vivas to happen by skype/zoom without the need for an independent observer. There may well be other changes to processes that need to be made as the pandemic unfolds. We will let you know of any that affect you.

Above all, please stay safe and look after yourself and those close to you.

Best wishes

Professor Paul Allain
Dean of the Graduate School