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The crisis caused by the new corona virus has an impact on many areas of life. Also doctoral students are severely affected by the crisis, as the results of our flash survey show. Research possibilities have been limited, the contact ban and cancelled conferences and stays abroad hinder progress with the dissertation, financial worries are widespread. At the same time, young researchers appreciate that their work has become more flexible, and the peace and calm that give them an opportunity to deepen the theoretical parts of their research.

 

Between April 2 and 16, we carried out a flash survey on how the corona crisis affects doctoral students of the University Leipzig with regard to their work.  86 doctoral students took part in the survey.

The results clearly show that a majority (almost 70%) of the students are quite, strongly or very strongly affected by the effects of the corona virus on university life. The main problems they face are the limitations on conducting research, as experiments or data collection are no longer possible, the libraries being closed, conferences and other events having been cancelled as well as the interruption or cancellation of stays abroad, e.g. for field research. Furthermore, the lack of contact and the resulting impaired exchange with the supervisors and other researchers weighs on a large number of young researchers.

The crisis as a chance

However, many of the answers also showed perspectives on the crisis as a chance: 25% of the answers indicated that the doctoral researchers now have more time for research, can spend more time on theoretical readings, writing the dissertation and planning the research project. Many also reported on positive effects in terms of their work becoming more flexible, the forced restructuring of everyday life and increased autonomy in the design of their research. Some of the doctoral students (12% of the answers) also appreciate more calm that promotes concentration. A similarly large proportion (11%), however, sees no opportunities whatsoever in this crisis. Many doctoral students (18% of responses) identify the boost for the digitalisation of teaching and communication as a further opportunity.

Wishes for help and support

Uncertainties about the future financing of their work are of great concern to the doctoral students. When asked about the help and support from the university that is needed, one third of the participants answered that they would appreciate the extension of contracts by at least three months or alternative transitional financing in order to cover the extension of the doctoral period due to restrictions in research.

Doctoral students also ask for a larger amount of literature being available online. To this end, the University Library has gathered information on which providers have activated e-books and e-journals for the duration of the crisis and compiled electronically available literature for all subjects. For further requirements, please contact the UBL. With the changing of restrictions since April 21st, it is also possible to borrow books at some locations again.

We are trying to meet the demand for online training at the Competence School, and are working intensively with our trainers to convert the workshops to digital offers. The "Introduction to R" course with Dr. Thomas Köntges has already been successfully implemented virtually. Additionally, the following online courses have been scheduled:

Registration for the courses is opening as usual about one month before the event.

Further help, links and tips for doctoral students during the corona crisis will soon be available here on our website. If you have any further wishes, ideas or comments, please do not hesitate to contact us!

If you are interested in more detailed results of the flash survey, please contact Karoline Marx.