Sussex Humanities Lab + Library seminar: Narrative, Data, Hermeutics: Introducing ‘The Journal of Digital History’

A computer generated image made up of spiralling lines. Source: Sussex Humanities Lab / Journal of Digital History

An introduction to the new ‘Journal of Digital History’ from members of the team involved in its creation
Wednesday 26 May, 15.00 – 16.30 (UK time), online
Sign up on Eventbrite

The Journal of Digital History, which is currently in its final stage of development, is intended to serve as a forum for critical debate and discussion in the field of digital history by offering an innovative publication platform and promoting a new form of data-driven scholarship and of transmedia storytelling in the historical sciences.

A international peer-reviewed open access journal, created as a joint initiative by the C2DH of the University of Luxembourg and the De Gruyter Publishing Group, will set new standards in history publishing based on a novel multi-layered approach. Each article will include:

  • narration layer: involving transmedia storytelling
  • hermeneutic layer: exploring the methodological implications of using digital tools
  • data layer: providing access to data and code via a professional infrastructure

During this seminar, the JDH team @ C2DH will present the journal and its goals and reflect on how it is creating the JDH, as well as presenting a draft article that will be published in the JDH as a concrete example of the form of the multi-layered articles. The presentation will be followed by a Q&A.

Adapting to change: “I had to explore other ways to find answers to the questions I was interested in”

Kaveri Medappa a PhD researcher in the School of Global Studies

In this Adapting to Change series, we interview Sussex PhD researchers and supervisors about the challenges they faced in 2020, and the different approaches they took to tackle the issues, adapt their projects and continue with their research.

Below we hear from Kaveri Medappa who is a PhD researcher studying in the School of Global Studies (International Development department).

Tell us a little about your research and what your original research plans involved?

My research revolved around understanding the experiences of app-based drivers and food delivery workers in the city of Bangalore India. It delves deeper into the meanings which different groups of workers make of app-based work and its possibilities for lives and livelihoods, their experiences of interacting with digital technologies, as well as their efforts of collective mobilisations for better work conditions.

Which methodologies were you using in your work, and what stage were you at when you had to adapt your research?

My research is an ethnographic study and therefore was based on long-term, deep engagement with participants. I relied heavily on face to face interactions, interviews, shadowing workers and simply hanging out with them on the streets of Bangalore while they were at work.  

Since I was almost finishing my fieldwork in Bangalore when Covid19 and the lockdown hit, I did not have alter my original research plans drastically.

What obstacles did you face to your original research plans and how did you address these challenges?

I did have to think of alternate methods for certain threads I wanted to follow. For instance, I wanted to meet with management-level employees in the platforms I was studying to find out their perspective on app-based work, workers and on the conditions of work. I also wanted to delve deeper into how different app-based worker groups in Bangalore perceived mobilisation efforts and differently participated in it.

An image from Kaveri’s research, a a message received by one of her participants whilst working for a very popular food delivery app in India.

I had to explore other ways to find answers to the questions I was interested in. Covid19 and the manner in which platform-workers were treated by platforms pushed me start becoming more vocal about how platforms exploited the vulnerabilities of workers. So this meant I probably wouldn’t receive a very positive response from platform representatives to requests to meet with them. So I started depending on webinars, online tech conferences and so on where these founders and heads of HR, Marketing, Design departments usually spoke at. Of course I did not get answers to specific questions I had, but in some sense, listening to them in these spaces expanded my analytical lens as they spoke about a lot more than just their platforms.

Thanks to some initial contacts I had already established with some key union leaders, I could continue to keep in touch with them through social media platforms throughout the Covid lockdown in India and Bangalore. I was also given access to some chat channels which app-based drivers used to share their experiences, struggles and evolve collective solutions. Again, this was not something I had anticipated but which once again taught me a lot about how app-based drivers evolved a sense of community and support for each other.

I shifted to online and telephonic means of communication with my long-term participants. It was interesting to try phone conversations with some participants (food delivery workers). It was a very fruitful exercise because phone conversations turned out to be more personal, more reflective and intimate, as otherwise, in a face-to-face setting, conversations with food delivery participants would invariably turn into a group discussion. I did lose contact with a few of them because some probably left the city due to the lockdown and therefore could not be reached. But with the others, communication was mainly through phone calls, whatsapp and Telegram voice notes, pictures and message updates. Although it couldn’t replace doing fieldwork ‘proper’ and I think I missed out a lot, these methods still helped me keep in touch with participants and update each other of our lives.

What support did you receive during this period of change and where did you look to for guidance when you encountered an obstacle?

My supervisors and friends were my biggest sources of support. My supervisors, as well as Katie Walsh and Paul Gilbert were very invested in making sure that I was not becoming anxious and offered several options to deal with the situation. They helped me figure out the technicalities of staying longer and even applying for a break in the PhD and the consequences of it.

I think I looked most to my supervisors for guidance and advice on what to do. My supervisors were great sources of intellectual and emotional support, checking in often to know how I was doing and allaying any anxieties I had about not being able to do fieldwork. They even filled me with the much needed motivation to start thinking of beginning to write up – something I was not mentally prepared for at all. It was their patience, trust and gentle nudges which gave me the will to get on with the next phase of my PhD.

What advice would you give to someone currently facing challenges in their research?

I think I’d tell them to be easy on themselves. We often get very overwhelmed by our PhDs and think of it as something which defines us. I think we should keep reminding ourselves that this is no magnum opus and is simply a rigorous practice for doing research. Having said that, there is no perfect PhD project and ones ideas, questions, approaches keep evolving with time. I think it is important to think (with the help of peers, supervisors and friends) with a cool head the options that are available to us during a crisis and pick one that most suits our lives and our research projects. I think it’s also necessary to be patient and find/create support systems which help us though such challenges. It is a very emotionally depleting process to go through these challenges by oneself. And things usually don’t turn out as bad as we think. We don’t find answers to certain questions, some methods will not be possible, but might find more interesting insights when we pursue other threads or ways of reaching our participants.

Where is your research headed now and what’s next for you?

Right now I’m in the writing up phase. I’m churning out drafts from all the data I’ve gathered. I was stressed about not having enough material and not struggling with having too much! So the next several months is going to involve making sense of all that I have gathered from my research participants and writing my PhD.

If you would like to share your experience for the Adapting to Change interview series, please contact researcher-development@sussex.ac.uk

Discuss PhD wellbeing with the global research community at the 2nd International Conference on PGR Mental Health, 17-21 May

Promo image for the 2nd International Conference on the Mental Health and Wellbeing of Postgraduate Researchers #MHWBrighton

The University of Sussex is proud to partner with the University of Portsmouth and the UK Council for Graduate Education to bring you the 2nd International Conference on the Mental Health of Postgraduate Researchers (17-21 May): five days of keynotes, panel sessions, 20:20 talks, interactive workshops and free fringe events, delivered online.

It’s a brilliant opportunity to engage with the doctoral community worldwide, discover best-practice approaches to supporting the mental health of doctoral researchers, and discuss the impact of unhealthy research cultures on academic wellbeing. Download the conference programme now.

Student tickets are only £25 for a day pass or £50 for the full week, and Sussex staff are eligible for discounted UKCGE member rates.

Keynote speakers across the week include sector leaders Dr Jason Arday (Durham University), Dr Nicola Byrom (King’s College London/SMaRteN), Dr Diego Baptista (Diversity and Inclusion Policy Advisor on Research Culture, Wellcome Trust) and Rosie Tressler, CEO of the charity Student Minds.

Prof Robin Banerjee, Head of the School of Psychology at Sussex, will delivery Friday’s keynote, sharing insights from his own research into the social and emotional development of young people in educational contexts, and considering the implications for creating a climate for postgraduate research that nurtures kindness and wellbeing. 

Prof Jeremy Niven (Life Sciences), Sussex PI on the Office for Students SITUATE and U-DOC mental health projects, will be leading a workshop at the conference. He says, ‘We’re very fortunate to be working again with the UKCGE on the International Conference in Postgraduate Mental Health. It’s so important, now more than ever, to recognise the difficulties that our postgraduate students may be facing and to understand how we can create a supportive and open environment together.’

See the conference website for further information and to book your place, and follow #MHWBrighton on Twitter for all the action during the conference.

One-to-One Research Support: Don’t know where to start? Don’t panic, the Library can help you

Stuck?

A cartoon of a person staring at a laptop in horror, hands on the side of their head.

Cemented, grounded, shipwrecked. There’s nothing worse than that feeling of being stuck with your research. It can assume many forms. Perhaps you’re overwhelmed by the sheer scale of the project, or mountain of literature you need to get through. Or maybe you’re underwhelmed by the lack of previous scholarship on your topic. Or, and this one is uniquely frustrating, you are immobilised by the creeping feeling that you have seen the exact data you need before, but you cannot locate it.

Stalled?

Hindered, blocked, frustrated. This can happen to anyone. One moment you’re making progress and the next you are questioning the purpose of your research entirely. Discovering some new sources or learning about new tools to help you organise your citations and notes might be just the tonic to revive you.

Supercharging?

High performing, advancing. You’re already operating like a well-oiled research machine! But there’s always room for improvement. Do you need to level up your searching efficiency or develop future-proof data management practices?

Whatever stage you are at with your research, the Library’s Research Support team can help. We offer one to one or small group sessions for research postgraduates or academics who would like to know how the resources available through the Library can support their research.

Each session will be tailored to suit your own specific needs and can include:

  • discovering and exploiting the best resources for your research area, from print collections to online journals and databases
  • developing strategies for more systematic literature searching
  • getting organised with reference management software
  • building a data management plan for your project

Archives anxiety

Our fantastic Special Collections team, based over at The Keep, also offer researchers who would like support using archives (even if you won’t be using archives held at The Keep). These practical sessions can cover:

  • identifying archives and special collections for your research area
  • how to search archival catalogues most effectively
  • what to expect when visiting an archive and what to prepare in advance

Feel the Library love

We are really proud of our one-to-one support service, with 100% of surveyed participants saying that they would recommend the service to other researchers. It’s immensely rewarding getting to help researchers – and absolutely fascinating to get a close look at the breadth of research taking place across the institution.

We know about our resources and can help you make the most of them, but you are the expert on your own research, so these sessions are really a collaboration and an opportunity to build on knowledge. Don’t take my word for it, check out this blogpost on a previous Hive Scholar’s experience of the service.

You can book a one-to-one via the Support for researchers Library webpage.

A 1970s style animated gif of books and the slogan, 'When in doubt go to the Library'.

Share your life, reflections and hopes for the future in a Mass Observation diary on 12 May

A black and white image of a man's hand writing in a notebook.

On 12th May 2021 the Mass Observation Archive will be repeating its national call for day diaries, capturing the everyday lives of people across the UK. 

As we post this call, lockdown restrictions are lifting. We don’t know how life will be on 12th May, but we would like your help to document it.

In 2020 Mass Observation received over 5,000 diaries, which have already been used to support research, teaching and learning. We understand it continues to be a difficult time for lots of people and we were incredibly touched that so many people chose to share their stories with Mass Observation last year. 

We would love to hear from you again to find out how your life is a year on. If you didn’t send a diary in last year, why not join in this year and tell us about your life now in 2021?

Diaries can record 12th May and reflect back over the past year, or look forward to the future and life beyond this year. Share your lives, your hopes and your dreams with Mass Observation for future generations.

People of all ages from across the UK are welcome to take part.  

Community groups
We welcome diaries from schoolchildren, community groups, prisons or other organisations. Diaries can be written in any style and can include drawings, photographs, prose or poetry. 

Packs on our website are designed for schools and groups wanting to post their diaries to the Archive. There is a downloadable diary template and further resources to explore.

How to take part
Diaries in electronic form as email attachments (Word documents preferably) can be sent to moa@sussex.ac.uk. Physical/hard-copy diaries can be posted to MOA. 

You can also take part on Twitter. Tweet your day using the hashtag #12May21

For full details see the Mass Observation 12th May webpage. Email moa@sussex.ac.uk with questions and follow the team on Twitter @MassObsArchive for the latest updates.

The Mass Observation Archive is housed at The Keep near campus, as part of the University of Sussex Special Collections. Find out more about using the collection in your own teaching or research.

Adapting to change: “Speaking with others in the same boat over this period, was both reassuring and practically helpful”

Rachel Claydon, a PhD researcher at the Institute of Development Studies.

In this Adapting to Change series, we interview Sussex PhD researchers and supervisors about the challenges they faced in 2020, and the different approaches they took to tackle the issues, adapt their projects and continue with their research.

Below we hear from Rachel Claydon who is a PhD researcher studying at the Institute of Development Studies.

Tell us a little about your research and what your original research plans involved?

My research explores the role of the market in delivering positive nutrition outcomes. My original project planned to investigate the lived experience of fortified packaged foods targeting people with micronutrient deficiencies in Northern Ghana – products like fortified biscuits and juice powders. I wanted to gather evidence of the intended and unintended consequences of these polarising products. Fortified packaged foods are lauded by some given their potential to deliver vital missing micronutrients, but are feared by others because of their assumed association with the nutrition transition and a shift away from traditional diets.

Which methodologies were you using in your work, and what stage were you at when you had to adapt your research?

I had planned to conduct a 12-month ethnographic study of food consumption in Tamale, Ghana, involving participant observation and semi-structured interviews, focus groups, key informant interviews, a market scan and a small household survey. I was writing up my Research Outline in spring 2020 while completing the MSc in Social Research Methods during the first phase of the COVID-19 pandemic. It quickly became clear that moving with my young family to West Africa for a year in October 2020 would not be feasible.

What obstacles did you face to your original research plans and how did you address these challenges?

Given that fieldwork in Ghana would not be possible in the foreseeable future, I had to decide whether to postpone fieldwork for an unknown period, or to adapt the research and collect data in the UK. Given all of the uncertainties associated with the pandemic, I made the difficult decision to reorientate my research around fieldwork in the UK. The biggest challenge was reconceptualising the main themes of my research around the nutrition situation and market in the UK. This took a number of iterations, but I was supported by numerous patient conversations with my supervisors Nick Nisbett and Dinah Rajak (Global Studies). My research now explores experiences of branded foods with nutrition claims in the UK, specifically those targeting children. I had to rewrite my literature review for the UK context which took considerable time, however my methodology is broadly the same as planned for Ghana. I hope that a large part of my fieldwork will be able to be conducted with families face-to-face, however I have had to begin with an initial phase of digital ethnography in the face of ongoing restrictions in the UK. 

What support did you receive during this period of change and where did you look to for guidance when you encountered an obstacle?

My supervisors were very supportive, and certainly spent extra time over the summer reviewing my evolving Research Outline. I also joined regular calls with SeNSS funded Development Studies students from Sussex and other universities, many of whom were also facing major challenges with their fieldwork as a result of the pandemic. Speaking with others in the same boat (or worse!) over this period was both reassuring and practically helpful as we talked through different scenarios for each of our projects.

What advice would you give to someone currently facing challenges in their research?

We are often told to try to focus on indirect positive outcomes of the pandemic, and I honestly think that this is good advice. After a period of pretty major disappointment, I found I have been able to get excited about my adapted research plans by realising that my approach, originally designed for West Africa, was a new way of looking at the highly topical challenge of poor diets here in the UK. I am also pleased to have become part of the universalising development movement within Development Studies, looking at challenges in the Global North as well as the Global South.

Where is your research headed now and what’s next for you?

I have now begun fieldwork here in Brighton. I am currently working through some technical challenges of doing digital ethnography, but this feels like a vital skill to be learning. I will be doing my data collection part-time until July 2021, so am looking forward to getting stuck in with face-to-face research later in the year.

If you would like to share your experience for the Adapting to Change interview series, please contact researcher-development@sussex.ac.uk

Recognising and celebrating outstanding academic impact: 2021 Adam Weiler Award opens

A water droplet makes ripples on the surface.

The Adam Weiler Award launches this week, recognising doctoral researchers at Sussex who show the potential to achieve oustanding impact in their field.

Judged by a panel of Sussex academics, including the Head of the Doctoral School, Prof George Kemenes, the winner will be awarded £1,000 towards their research. This year, for the first time, three runners-up will also win £500.

In 2020 the prize was split between two exceptional researchers: Sunayana Bhargava (MPS), whose pioneering work seeking the existence of dark matter particles affected an entire sub-field in physics; and Halldor Ulfarsson (MFM/MAH), whose collaborative approach to the design of a new musical instrument, the halldorophone, is truly innovative.

The award is made possible thanks to a generous donation in memory of Adam Weiler, who studied International Relations at Sussex. Doctoral researchers must be nominated by their supervisor or the Director of Doctoral Studies in their School.

To find out more, including information about the selection process and a link to the application form, see the Adam Weiler Doctoral Impact Award webpage. The deadline for nominations is Monday 24 May.

Related:
What is research impact? Read this interview with the university’s Research Impact Officer, Christina Miariti, on the Research Hive blog.

Do you feel qualified to help your fellow researchers? ‘Looking Out for One Another’ RDP workshop open for bookings

Looking Out for One Another – RDP workshop open for bookings

Tuesday 27 April,
14.00 – 17.00

Who do doctoral researchers turn to when they’re struggling with their mental health? Do you feel qualified to help your friends and colleagues? 

Designed specifically for PhD researchers by the U-DOC team and Student Minds charity, this workshop is for anyone who wants to help their peers, and will give you the skills, knowledge and confidence to support them while also safeguarding your own mental health and wellbeing.

This workshop will:

  • Provide an understanding the PhD experience overall
  • Help you to identify practical tips for supporting others’ wellbeing, including how to start a sensitive conversation and effective communication techniques when talking to peers
  • Let you know what support is out there, for yourself and others

Spaces are still available, so book now via SussexDirect.

RLI Projects: A virtual conference sharing PhD research with the wider community in MPS

James Van Yperen is a postdoctoral research assistant in the School of Mathematical and Physical Sciences, working with local authorities and NHS partnerships on modelling Covid-19 and healthcare demand and capacity for the Sussex region. Together with Fabrizio Trovato and Hannah Wood he organised PhD in a Pandemic: Festival of the MPS PostGraduate Researcher, a week-long virtual conference for doctoral researchers to talk about their research and practice public speaking in front of colleagues.

See our website to apply for up to £750 to fund your own Researcher-Led Initiative. The deadline has been extended to Friday 23 April.

Going into my PhD as an eager, but shy, postgraduate I was uncertain of what PhD life would be like. I had to learn in a completely different manner, reading papers and solving problems as part of a 9-5 job, and then present my findings in front of my research group. Most of the friends I had made at university were now elsewhere, my support group had diminished. This meant I had to network. It’s easy, right? Just talk to people, right? I tried my hand at networking at a few conferences; I mostly ended up ordering takeaways and hiding in my hotel room.

Poster for the PhD in a Pandemic virtual MPS conference. Image: James Van Yperen

For those of you out there who are like me, sitting in their comfort zone because, well, comfort, networking and presenting doesn’t get much easier – but you learn to enjoy the challenge, when you’ve practiced it enough. And so, as I was going into my final year of my PhD and had recently been elected as a PGR representative, I thought I would make a difference – let me plan an event that could help PhD students gain these skills I lacked. At the first student rep meeting in October 2019, I met Fab and Hannah who both asked me if we should plan a conference for the PhD students in MPS. I said: let’s.

The original plan was for a typical day conference. PhD students would talk about their research, there would be a poster exhibition of PhD research, and then we would finish the day by networking between research groups and even across disciplines – you’re always told that you never know where collaborations occur. We had planned the date, we had planned the space, we were on the verge of booking catering, we had the coffee order ready… and then March 2020 happened. The mad panic to get everything, and everyone, virtually present in all aspects of university life took over. We had a task on our hands – how were we going to make this conference an appealing reality?

We originally postponed, citing with confidence that this would all be over in a matter of months – we would be able to host something, in person, in July. We postponed it to September. Then to October. We realised that this situation was not going to change, not enough for an event like the one we wanted.

Initially, we wanted to emulate all the individual components of the conference, with talks, a poster exhibition, and a networking event. However, these require very different platforms to work well. Zoom would have worked for the talks and the posters (utilising breakout rooms), but at the time only hosts could manage breakout rooms. To combat this we would have had to use a platform like Slack, with a channel plus a Zoom room for each poster. Networking would have been almost impossible: networking is done in small-scale conversations, not where everyone is present. So in the end we decided to focus purely on talks, on one platform that we are all far too familiar with, and to get as many participants and attendees as possible.

We split one full day of talks into five themed days – this meant we could group similar topics together, and provide a platform for undergraduate and Masters students to look at what PhD research is like in a field they know, without being overwhelmed by everything else. It meant that attendees could commit to some days but not others, very useful as it feels time moves faster and the days are shorter whilst working at home. We moved the talks to the evening, to give the opportunity for attendees to participate after a day of work or study. We scheduled the conference for the first week of December. It was going to happen.

Daniela Koeck presenting a slide at the virtual MPS conference, during a talk titled Search for supersymmetry in final states with tau leptons at the ATLAS Experiment.
Daniela Koeck presenting a slide during a talk at the virtual conference. Image: James Van Yperen

Despite the pandemic and the trials and tribulations of having a virtual conference at a very busy period of term, we had at least 20 attendees each day with a maximum of just under 40 on Friday. We had 15 presentations spread throughout the week. The conference was well received, from first year undergraduates all the way through to members of the faculty. Organising and preparing the conference was a great experience, and if you are thinking of doing the same I fully urge you to do it – the Doctoral School, the School Office, and all the faculty members who were asked to help out were all incredibly helpful and insightful. People want to see you succeed, especially in times like these.

I am glad we opted to focus only on the talks, as suitable platforms weren’t readily available. However, now we have been in this virtual situation for a while, new platforms have emerged. The Institute of Mathematics & Its Applications uses Spatial.chat, which is as close to emulating a networking event as can possibly be. At the BMC-BAMC 2021 conference we will be using the platform Sococo, which emulates the very essence of being at a conference. Now, more than ever, we can start to run conferences that are accessible throughout the world without the restrictions of physical presence.

As PhD students we are perfectly placed to discuss accessible research with both early career researchers and with learners, bridging the gap between the two. We can demonstrate to undergraduates what research really is, citing content closer to their studies. We can have engaging discussions with our peers in completely different areas of our discipline. We just need the stage to do it – this is what conferences like this are for.

By planning a conference you’ll learn many skills that are applicable to working in and out of academia, that you may not learn otherwise. My word of advice though: it is not an easy task. Be prepared to put in more time than you think, but be prepared also to reap the glory of a satisfying event and hope that it helps you build the skills you need to get out of your hotel room and network.

Adapting to Change: “It’s been a journey together, of adapting”

Dr Maria Moscati

In this Adapting to Change series, we interview Sussex PhD researchers and supervisors about the challenges they faced in 2020, and the different approaches they took to tackle the issues, adapt their projects and continue with their research.

Today we talk to Dr Maria Moscati, a Senior Lecturer in Family Law, about her experience of adapting to change from a supervisors perspective.

Could you let us know about your area of research?

So, I’m a Senior Lecturer in family law here at Sussex and my research interests lie at the intersection of dispute resolution, family law, comparative family law, access to justice and children’s rights, sexual orientation and gender identity as well as reproductive health. And, at the moment I have four PhD students.

Tell us a little about your supervisees, and the challenges they faced with their projects?

So they are all doing amazing research and they are facing different challenges, there is the overall challenge of Covid and so those of my students who had planned the fieldwork, had to work to revise their methodology and move online, as well as work on their ethical approval again. Also, the difficulty to be alone at home and not to be able to enjoy the research community itself at Sussex and to meet with the other students. Then there are researchers who unfortunately caught Covid, as unfortunately I also got it last year, and it had a terrible impact on my health and capacity to work because one of the worst consequences of Covid is that it affects concentration, the capacity to read an it brings lack of memory and brain fog. So it’s a virus that has a significant impact on the main activities that a researcher does, so they had they had to face that. It must be said, however, that for a couple of them, and also for myself at a certain point, doing the research formed a sort of a coping mechanism. Still thinking about doing research and trying to read something, trying to write something had worked as a coping mechanism to have something to focus on.

How did you change your methods of supervising to meet the needs of your research student and help them adapt their research plans?

I made sure I was in constant contact with my students, I’ve been checking on them weekly and for those who were sick, daily. Even though I knew that sometimes they couldn’t answer, for example, even texts, because when you have Covid, and when you have it really bad that, as I did, even reading requires so much energy that you don’t have. I could understand and relate as I had unfortunately, shared the same experience. So I knew that, for example, a meeting would need to last only 20 minutes, and I knew that we needed breaks, I knew that with the writing process that they would maybe only be able to write one or two sentences a day or to read only one or two pages a day when they unwell.

So I’ve helped them in working even if it’s slowly, or taking absence if they need to. And also, I’ve been trying to support them emotionally and help them to overcome that moment or the sense of ‘I’m not doing anything’ or ‘I will be late or behind’ and just say to them that it’s okay and don’t worry as it’s better that you are late and well. So it’s been a journey together, of adapting.

I also have to say that I have given priority to my supervisees physical and mental health, so I knew that sometimes, they might not want to have a supervision meeting or they might want to get a day in the diary for a supervision meeting because they needed that to feel that they were still functioning and progressing with their research.

What are the most important things you can do as a supervisor, to support a student whose research plans are disrupted?

You know, this is a pandemic, and we have to understand that it is something unexpected and different and it’s changing our parameters and how we can approach things, so we cannot think we can react to something using the same methods we used before. We know that we cannot ask people to be on online meetings for five hours, because the research shows that the level of attention we can give to the screen is limited, so it’s important to realize that. This is something different from all the challenges that you know the higher education has faced so far, back in July and August with two colleagues, I wrote a paper on the impact of Covid on those who are in academia, to just explain how we know we are supposed to write but when you have Covid, because of the lack of the oxygen to your brain, it doesn’t function properly, and also your arms are not able to type. What I would suggest to everyone to consider, is to be sensible and flexible and do not rush.

What advice would you give to a researcher currently facing challenges in their research?

Just don’t worry and don’t panic. Just wait a bit, nothing is lost if for one day we write less words, it is not to the end of the world.

What advice would you give to a fellow supervisor whose research student is facing difficulties?

That every student, including PhD researchers has a different story. And then to listen to, because everyone is reacting in a different way towards is happening so different students have different needs and different stories and different environments and so we need to adapt.

If you would like to share your experience for the Adapting to Change interview series, please contact researcher-development@sussex.ac.uk