Covid Chronicles (Video) : Robin Andrews from the University of South Wales shares her experiences of researching during lockdown

Covid Chronicles is a series of stories from KESS 2 participants in reaction to the Covid-19 pandemic. Here is a video response from Robin Andrews of the University of South Wales. You can read the video transcript below:


Hi, my name is Robin Andrews and I’m a KESS 2 funded PhD student at the University of South Wales, Treforest. I work with a healthcare website called health& and my project involves evaluating an online symptom checker for women with menopausal symptoms.

Has the global pandemic brought opportunities that would not otherwise have presented themselves?

Definitely the lockdown has given me the opportunity to be a lot more focussed on my PhD, I found sadly that having fewer social obligations has meant that I’ve been able to put a lot more hours into my work. So far, I’ve managed to write a chapter for my thesis and I’m hoping to get a few more done before Christmas.

I’ve also found time to submit some research for publication, so I’m hoping this will save me a lot of time for next year when things pick up again socially. It has been difficult not being able to access USW facilities such as the library and IT it’s also been hard not being able to pop in to see my supervisors, to ask for some quick help and advice and offered reassurance. But generally I’ve managed to get a lot done I’ve made good use of the extra time.

Has the challenge of Covid-19 opened doors and triggered novel ways of working?

Yes, so because of the lockdown restrictions, I’ve had to change quite a lot of my research. I did have plans to do a lot of face to face qualitative style interviews. Unfortunately, because of the situation, that’s a huge health and safety concern so what I’ve had to do is redevelop a lot of my research to take place in the form of an online survey. This has meant that I’ve had to create a survey with both qualitative and quantitative elements. I hate to say it, but this has actually saved me a lot of time in the long run because analysing survey data is a lot easier than creating and finding time to conduct a lot of interviews.

I’ve also been using Zoom and Teams to communicate with my company partner, Health & Her, and also other PGR students and my supervisors. One thing I’d say is that Teams has been really, really helpful during the lockdown, it’s actually been amazing to keep track of all of my documents, all of my to do list items, and it’s helped me contact my supervisors and communicate with my supervisors far more easily than we would have over email alone. One thing I’d like to say as well is that my supervisors, Dr. Deborah Lancastle and Professor Bev John, have both been brilliant during the lockdown, despite having heavy workloads themselves. They’ve worked hard to review my work and have always made themselves available for meetings and to answer any of my questions. They’ve also looked out a lot for my well-being and made sure that I’ve got the appropriate set up at home to continue working during lockdown.

I would say that the global pandemic has triggered novel ways of working and I think these new practises will probably become a staple in academia in the future, as I find them very convenient and easy to adapt to and I’ll definitely continue using them once we come out of lockdown, eventually.

KESS 2 are keen to collect many more stories relating to postgraduate research during the pandemic. If you are a KESS 2 participant and would like to contribute your story, please email for more information on how to take part.

You can follow more Covid Chronicles stories here:

Related articles: 

10 Facts about the Menopause : an article by KESS 2 student Robin Andrews

PhD Lockdown Story: Robin Andrews [external link]