Data Help for HDR Students

Data & advice to help you achieve your research goals

Resources and data to help you continue your research during self-isolation and in the face of cancelled fieldwork and laboratory studies.

Being a PhD or Masters student is stressful – now throw fieldwork cancellations, travel restrictions and the closure of university laboratories into the mix, and many students are really feeling the pressure. If you are wondering how you are going to do your research when you can’t collect data, access your lab mates, or use the library, then this is the page for you. We have curated a series of resources to help you navigate this extremely challenging time, from websites that can help you find data and samples, to advice on how to shift to desktop research. However, before going further, we suggest you speak to your supervisors – their job is to help you navigate your PhD accounting for context, background and research area, and the current situation doesn’t change that – so speak up and ask for help if you need it.

Changes to your research

First up, have a look at these great infographics created by @ZJAyres to help guide your research journey during the restrictions of coronavirus.

Your current research plan may be heavily reliant on fieldwork and laboratory work that have either been postponed or are no longer possible. So what are your options?

If you are thinking about doing a desktop study, then check out this great blog post by Dr Chris Brown from Griffith University, on what to consider before making the change.

You are not the only one facing these challenges so it is worth keeping up to date with how other researchers are approaching the issues associated with lockdown, for example, this article in Science.

COVID-19 means that we are engaging more and more via the digital world, so how can we present our best self and make the most of online opportunities? A recent post from the Research Whisperer, discusses the issues of being a PhD researcher in a digital world.

Opportunities to share & source data

If you have a candle, the light won’t glow any dimmer if I light yours off of mine – Steven Tyler

COVID-19 restrictions have left many students and researchers with limited field time and lab access. These constraints are putting time sensitive projects at risk and may mean unfinished projects and degrees.  Otlet is an amazing platform helping scientists search and source already collected biological samples and data for research. Otlet currently has thousands of biological samples from 311 different species of plants and animals ready for research. The platform is also providing a service to help connect researchers willing to share datasets with those in need of data due to COVID-19 challenges.

Coping with anxiety

So what happens if you are struggling with anxiety? First, remember you are not alone – you may not be able to meet your supervisor in person, but they are there to help you navigate the ‘new normal’. And, check out these some online resources – a recent article in the Conversation has some good tips for cabin fever and a career column from Nature on managing your mental health during this time of extreme change.

It is critical you stay connected during this time. VirtualnotViral was developed by @anujacabraal and @thomsonpat to help you achieve ‘No panic in the #PhDPandemic’. In addition to some great resources, they are also running regulat TweetChats to help you connect with others for support and advice.

What if these resources haven’t helped you?

If you are still feeling lost, and you haven’t already done so, then please speak to your supervisors – remember they are there to help you! Nevertheless, what happens if you are wondering whether, given the current situation, a PhD or Masters is really for you right now? We suggest checking out this thoughtful article from the thesis whisperer herself Associate Professor Inger Mewburn, director of researcher development at The Australian National University, who discusses the things you need to think through if you are asking yourself ‘Should I quit (go part time or pause) my PhD during COVID-19?