Latest updates

Update for doctoral research - 4 May

Good morning

Thank you to those who participated in the Doctoral Presidents’ team survey around the early impacts of the pandemic lockdown on Doctoral Researchers. This has provided us with useful information about the impact of the virus and the needs of our DR community. We have been working hard to ensure that your progress can continue on track as far as possible, and we hope the information below addresses some of the concerns raised in the survey.

Unable to access laboratories to undertake data collection: 
If you are unable to undertake experimental/data collection work in the lab, please continue to discuss with your supervisory team possible mitigations for this. The disruption may continue for some time so changes to your original project plans, which could be very significant, must be your main response to these unprecedented circumstances. Can you make alternative plans for collecting data, or use the time to review the literature, analyse and write? Are there other methods you could employ to collect your data? Schools are now starting to make plans to begin to reopen lab facilities. This will be only be done if it is absolutely safe to do so and the pace of re-openings will depend on the easing of lockdown conditions, following government guidance. You can prepare for this by speaking with your supervisors and familiarising yourself with the social distancing guidelines and lone worker information:https://learn.lboro.ac.uk/course/view.php?id=14766

Mental Wellbeing: 
Whilst Student Services should continue to be your first point of contact for Wellbeing issues, to supplement this, the Doctoral College has paid for all Doctoral Researchers to get access to the Employee Assistance Programme(EAP); a remote service provided by Assured Health, that offers confidential, unlimited support on any matters that might be of concern including mental health, relationships and money matters. The service is free and available 24 hours a day, both online and over the phone. The site has an extensive library of guides, podcasts, planners and more, and the service is also available to immediate family members, should they need it. Their 24/7 confidential helpline can be reached by calling 0800 030 5182. For more information including how to log in visit here.

The Doctoral College’s ‘Remote Learning for Researchers’ contains wellbeing resources that you can access at your own time and pace. For instance, we have provided recordings from some of our Doctoral Wellbeing Week sessions and provided links to internal services and external services and resources. In addition, you can continue to access the wide range of support available from the University’s Student Services. For instance, this includes Counselling, Disability Support, Mental Health Support, Study Support, Academic and Practical Support, English Language Support, Student Advice and Support (e.g. finance, visas and housing), Security, Faith and Spirituality, and more.

In addition to the Doctoral College’s new blog series ‘Doctoral Online Community’ that will cover a wide range of topics pertinent to our doctoral researchers, the University has also recently launched a new blog series. The University blog is specifically about health and wellbeing, and the first post shares guidance on locking after yourself in lockdown https://blog.lboro.ac.uk/wellbeing/2020/04/24/looking-after-yourself-in-lockdown/

Training and Development: 
The new Remote Learning for Researchers Learn site provides the opportunity to complete a selection of our core workshops online at any time, with further workshops and development opportunities to be added in the coming months. We have already added the Doctoral College Induction to this suite, so if you have just started, or were previously unable to attend a face-to-face induction, you can now complete this requirement remotely. The site includes some playlists for LinkedIn Learning, covering such topics as using Microsoft Office, programming in Python and using software packages such as NVivo and SPSS; you may also wish to browse through some of the other 8000+ video tutorials available.

This year’s Doctoral College Summer Showcase will take place online from 29th June – 3rd July. We will be holding the final of our Three-Minute Thesis competition and providing you with both traditional and creative new ways to present your research. This will be a great opportunity to connect with other Doctoral Researchers and feel part of the wider Loughborough community!

If you are looking for some contact with other Doctoral Researchers, the PhD Social and Support Network are meeting online every Tuesday lunchtime, while the Writing Gym is running on Monday mornings – check the Doctoral College Bulletin for more details on how to join in.

From next week you will be able to book online meetings to discuss your development with Dr Duncan Stanley and Dr Katryna Kalawsky via theDevelopment Portal – look for the “Appointment” symbol on the dashboard and select a time slot that suits you best.

Ethics Guidance: 
The information below is provide on the Coronavirus FAQs “My research involves face to face data collection. Can I continue?” For your convenience we’re providing the University guidance on ethics during Covid 19 here too

Investigations involving human participants

In accordance with government guidance to reduce social contacts, staff and students are asked to pause until further notice on-going or planned research data collection that involves face to face interaction with participants (except in exceptional circumstances, for example studies associated directly with the national COVID-19 research programme, and such exceptional requests should be directed to the Chair of the Sub-Committee, M.R.Lindley@lboro.ac.uk.)

Where research is simply paused for a number of months the Ethics Approvals Sub-Committee will not require notification, but if significant changes to research design are required a project amendment will need to be submitted in the normal way. Studies can be moved online without requiring an amendment, unless this substantially changes the study in which case an amendment is required.

An expedited approval route for COVID-19 studies is being implemented. Please contact LEON@lboro.ac.uk for details.

 

IT Support
IT services have responded to questions raised in the survey by producing some new information to support our researchers. This includes more information on accessing software, the VPN and links to remote dialling in on PCs. These pages FAQs will continue to be updated and can be accessed here: https://www.lboro.ac.uk/services/it/research/help/working-from-home-top-tips/

Casual Paid Employment at the University: 
If you have been offered and agreed work which has been scheduled at the University (e.g., bought in teaching or demonstrating) then it will be paid, even if you are no longer able to carry out that work due to Covid-19. If no work has been agreed or offered then no payments will be made. If you have queries on this please contact the person with whom the casual work was organised.

With all best wishes,

Prof Liz Peel, Associate PVC (Doctoral College)