Working through disruption

Guidance and resources to help doctoral candidates working through the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.

These are challenging times. Everyone is facing different degrees of disruption to their work and to their personal lives. Even if you aren’t experiencing interruptions to lab or fieldwork, you may be feeling isolated or anxious and finding it difficult to cope during this period. Perhaps you’re dealing with childcare duties, difficult co-living arrangements or caring for a loved one or family member. We understand that all these things can impact your ability to work. Measures are in place to try and help you if you need a break, need extra time, or need help paying your bills. These include:

  • Suspensions
  • Extensions
  • Fee waivers
  • Hardship funding

You can find out more about these options, and stay informed with updates from the School of Graduate Studies, at Coronavirus updates for doctoral candidates.

Getting help

Please reach out to someone if you need to talk. Here are some resources to help you if you need a bit of extra support to get you through.

Need to talk? | 1737: If you are in New Zealand, you can free call or text 1737 at any time, 24/7, to speak with a trained counsellor. It’s free and confidential.

University counselling services: If you are struggling and need to talk, the University’s counselling service is available. To access support, please complete the online questionnaire found at Counselling services.

Get anxiety advice: New Zealand’s Anxiety Helpline can help you manage any anxious thoughts or feelings you may be experiencing. Call them on 0800 ANXIETY (0800 269 4389).

Self-help resources: There are a wealth of useful self-help resources that you may find useful at Staying well during Covid-19.

Continuing your research

We encourage you, wherever possible, to continue in your research and writing. But we know that the evolving Covid-19 situation brings uncertainty. Wherever you are in your doctorate, it’s a good idea to begin planning for the medium- and long-term, and for a situation that continues to evolve - perhaps even cycling back and forth through New Zealand’s Alert Levels.

We encourage you to discuss with your supervisor your longer-term research plans. Your supervisor can help you to identify any possible risks and to form alternative plans in case of future disruption.

What plans need to be made / revised?

If you're an early or late-stage candidate, there is likely to be a lot of reading and writing you could do, or data you could analyse. If you're someone whose fieldwork, lab work or clinical trials have been interrupted by the lockdown, you likely need to be thinking through alternative plans. We encourage you to discuss your plans with your supervisors.

Have you discussed:

  • Which aspects of your research have been disrupted?
  • Which aspects of your research can continue as planned?
  • What might happen if you are unable to resume your research for several more weeks/months?
  • Whether you can/should devise an alternative research plan?
  • Whether the project might need a change in scope, and how long you and your supervisor should wait to make that decision?
  • Whether you need a suspension of enrolment?
  • Putting a plan in place for the next few weeks?

How much is realistic to expect of yourself - and your supervisor?

Some of you are experiencing high levels of stress. Even if it is practical for you to continue your work, it may not be realistic to expect you to be as productive as usual. The “be kind” mantra applies to expectations of yourself, as well as your supervisors. Please let your supervisor know of any limitations you may have during this time, and find out about thier own.

Consider the following questions:

  • Do you have an environment at home that is conducive to doctoral work?
  • Do you - or your supervisor - have whānau to care for during this time?
  • When are the best times for meetings to occur?
  • Are you both able to video-conference, or does emailing or phoning suit better?

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