Advice for students on Postgraduate Research programmes

We are committed to supporting your research, so far as possible, to ensure you are not disadvantaged as a result of this difficult time.

Please continue to check this page for the most up-to-date information, as well as the main student and staff coronavirus intranet pages.

 

Monday 17th May saw further easing of restrictions across England and as such the University is now operating at level 3.

The guidance to work from home if you can remains in place. PGRs who require use of campus facilities can request access and this continues to be agreed on a case by case basis. Heads of School, Executive Deans and Directors will continue to ensure those working on-campus do so with full risk assessments in place. 

Please liaise with your supervisors to confirm the latest arrangements within your School.

For those of you taking training modules, arrangements will continue as is, with a mix of online engagement: e.g. recorded lectures to watch and comments, directed reading, structured tasks, live online presentations, collaborative work and discussions. These online activities may be supplemented with carefully selected small group sessions on campus such as practical classes, laboratory classes, workshops and tutorials for students registered on formal modules or with work placements.

Students taking any campus-based training modules should get tested before taking part in any face-to-face sessions.

Students who have recently started a clinical placement or who are due to do so soon should speak to their school with any queries.

The library has extended its range of online research resources to support desk-based research activities and more information can be found here.

The KDA has also made resources available for students and supervisors to use when considering alternative research activities and methods, including a new sway guide to rethinking your research plans.

Supervision activity will continue to be delivered virtually, using Microsoft Teams or Google Meet until the operational level reaches 2. Some students may continue online after that depending on personal circumstances.

You should be meeting with your supervisor regularly to review the impact Covid-19 has had on your research and to discuss and re-think your research plans (where possible). You should also be given updates from your School regarding the use of school/campus facilities and recording these discussions in your PDLP.  

During these meetings, students should consider how they will progress with their plans over the next 6-12 months, noting social distancing measures (of varying degrees) are likely to be in force for some time.

The KDA has designed a guide to help you review your research plans here.

If you are struggling to maintain regular contact with your supervisor or feel you are not receiving sufficient support, please get in touch with your PGR/Professional Doctorate Lead. Contact details can be found here.

Should you wish to flag an issue anonymously to the KDA, you can do so via this link.

For those of you who are local to Keele, reduced restrictions on indoor hospitality has enabled the University, Students’ Union and Keele Postgraduate Association to provide indoor services from Monday 17th May.

The Sports Centre are also now able to provide a wider set of facilities for group sport and exercise (indoors and outdoors).

For those of you who do not live locally, It’s important to maintain contact with family, friends and colleagues. Please check out the KPA for virtual social activities to keep you in touch with fellow researchers. Your Faculty Microsoft teams continue to be used to hold informal coffee mornings and keep in touch days.

The KDA has also created a Team called ‘Postgraduate research students’ which contains all PGRs from across the University. It has channels for those of you living on campus, with caring responsibilities etc and we would encourage you to use this to connect. If you do not have access to this Team, please email KDA@keele.ac.uk.

The Start to Success team have also established informal groups for new (PGR beginnings) and continuing students (student minds). Learn more here.

Check out the KDA’s tips for working from home here.

We would encourage all PGR students to ensure they have completed the most recent GDPR and IT Security training online regarding data storage here.

The KDA have provided resources to support PGR student wellbeing, in partnership with the Start to Success team.

There are lots of tips for how you can look after your wellbeing on these web pages too, and our Student Services team are always available to help you.

Training takes many forms for PGR students i.e. conferences, seminars, module participation, internal training on equipment and laboratory techniques etc.

The University’s blended approach to teaching and training for 2020/21 means that wherever possible, training is now available online via Keele People and Learning Pool and internally through Schools with some carefully selected small group sessions.

External providers are also now providing more and more online training and students are advised to liaise with supervisors regarding internal and external training that might be appropriate.

Keep an eye on the KDA training pages, the KDA PGR Microsoft Team and your Faculty PGR Teams for courses specifically designed in line with the Researcher Development Framework i.e running focus groups, Refworks and research ethics.

You should also subscribe to the researcher training calendar, which can be subscribed to using either Google or Outlook. Please contact the KDA@keele.ac.uk to be given a link to subscribe. 

Your Faculty PGR Microsoft team will be used to advertise courses run through doctoral training centres and partners of Keele too.

You should continue to record all research activity within your Personal Development Plan (PDLP), noting any adjustments that you agree with your supervisory team, as well as any significant disruptions that are directly attributable to this period of changed working conditions. 

You can record this in several ways depending on the activity:

  • Use the ‘research training’ section for specific modules/activities you hoped to undertake but leave the end date empty, to indicate this was not completed due to the situation.

  • Use the ‘targets and objectives’ section for non-specific internal training or conferences, again note in there you were unable to participate due to the current situation.

  • Use the supervisory meetings section to record discussions related to the impacts of COVID-19 on your research.

This is important advice. As you continue through your research programme, your PDLP will be used as supporting evidence during the Interim and Progress Review process; to validate the changes in your research activity as a result of COVID-19. If you are externally funded, your funder may request information on disruption to your research, therefore it is essential that this is recorded.  

We appreciate that research is a highly diverse activity across the University’s three distinct faculties, all of which provide for very different research and work practices in very different work spaces. If you encounter problems that cannot be answered by the generic advice on these web pages, please consult your supervisory team, Faculty Postgraduate Research Director (see below) or the KDA.

  • FNS - Shailesh Naire
  • FMHS - Sam Hider
  • HUMSS - Anthony Wrigley

Supervisors and Progress review panel members have been briefed by Faculty Postgraduate Research Directors on how to conduct Progress (this year and beyond), acknowledging (according to discipline and research practice) ways in which COVID-19 will have impacted on research activities and ensuring students are not penalised for a lack of progress as a result of the pandemic.

If you have any specific concerns regarding a Progress review you are due to undertake, please contact your supervisor in the first instance.

All thesis submissions are now made online via submissions.pgr@keele.ac.uk, and guidance can be found here.

The electronic submission deadline will remain the same as the formal date in your academic record, unless you are submitting during a university closure period or weekend / bank holiday in which case it will be the next working day.

Students now have the option to include a Covid-19 impact statement when submitting their thesis for examination and this is in addition to the University’s Covid-19 guidance for examiners. 

Covid Impact Statement
This form allows you to detail any necessary adjustments to your research plans and activities under Covid-19. It is submitted separately to your thesis but will be forwarded to the examiners with your thesis.

Covid-19 guidance for examiners
This will be included in the general guidance sent with your thesis and outlines how examiners can ensure that the doctoral or masters outcomes have been achieved under Covid-19. In particular, it emphasises that proxies for the outcomes (e.g. publications, quantity of work) should not be used, and asks examiners to recognise and reward alternative approaches used to create, interpret and apply knowledge, and to adopt a broader definition of originality including advanced scholarship. Further information can be found here.

Viva examinations will typically be conducted by multi-way video link with the candidate and all panel members in separate locations. Hybrid models are also possible depending on the current official guidelines in place in the appropriate geographical location.

Students may request to postpone their viva until such time that a face to face viva can take place at Keele University with all members of the examination panel present in the room with the candidate.

The type of viva requested will be selected on the form nominating title, examiners and chairs.

If you have any specific concerns regarding your viva, please contact your supervisor in the first instance.

 

Whilst access to the library remains limited, the requirement to lodge your thesis in the library is on hold.

We ask you to lodge your thesis on the due date, or at the first possible opportunity after the University reaches operational level 1. Provided the hard copy submission is received within 12 weeks of the University fully reopening, we will consider that your thesis was submitted on its actual due date. You are also able to nominate an individual to submit on your behalf.

Alternatively, you can lodge your thesis using the postal service and more information can be found here, including further information about eThesis requirements.

In addition to the hard copy, you must also submit an electronic version of your final thesis as a single PDF document to h.burton@keele.ac.uk. Submission extensions are not applicable in this instance.

From October 2020, the international student registers have been discontinued.

You will no longer receive monthly reminders from Keele’s Immigration Compliance team to confirm your engagement with your School, using on or off-site registers.

Interim and Progress reviews, supervisory meetings and personal development and learning plans (PDLP) will be used to confirm your engagement on a regular basis.

It is therefore very important that you maintain your PDLP and your supervisory meeting section. Guidance on using the PDLP can be found here.
Student checkpoint events will continue to take place but the format of these will depend on the University COVID-19 Operational Level, at that time.

When a checkpoint event is scheduled, Keele’s Immigration Compliance team will contact you and will provide all the information you need, as usual. If you have any further queries regarding these changes, please contact visa@keele.ac.uk.

From January 2021, EU students will also be required to confirm engagement with their School using Interim and Progress reviews, supervisory meetings and personal development and learning plans (PDLP).

School of Primary, Community and Social Care Emma Healey
School of Pharmacy and Bioengineering Tony Curtis
School of Allied Health Professions Sue Hunter
School of Medicine Oksana Kehoe
School of Nursing and Midwifery Jane Jervis
School of Humanities Shalini Sharma
HUMS (Taught) Maria Flood
HUMS (Prof Docs) Sally Findlow
School of Social, Political and Global Studies Sam Weston
School of Law Fabienne Emmerich
Keele Business School Alena Audzeyeva
School of Life Sciences Nick Wright
School of Chemical and Physical Sciences Aleksander Radu
School of Geography, Geology and Environment Guido Meinhold
Astrophysics Nicholas Wright
School of Computing and Mathematics Goksel Misirli
School of Psychology Masi Noor