In the first episode of 2021 I continue my conversation with Sport and Health Sciences PGR Ellie Hassan, discussing the impact of Covid19 on her research, and the changes she has had to make to her data collection. If anyone else is interested in talking to me about how they've had to change their project due to the impact of Covid19, please get in touch with me on twitter @Preece_Kelly.


Music credit: Happy Boy Theme Kevin MacLeod (
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License


Podcast transcript


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Hello and welcome, to R, D And the in betweens. I'm your host, Kelly Preece.

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And every fortnight I talk to a different guest about researchers development and everything in between.

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Hello and welcome to R, D and the In Betweens in 2021. It's your erstwhite host Kelly Preece here

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And I'm delighted to be bringing you our first episode of the New Year.

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This is the conclusion of my discussion with Ellie Hassan, which I started back in 20/20 before Christmas,

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talking about work life balance and managing and taking breaks.

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We went on to talking about how the COVID 19 pandemic has affected the data collection for her research,

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and I thought the discussion was significant enough that it warranted its own podcast.

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So here it is. People are struggling a lot with this at the moment because of kind of the way in which it has disrupted.

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People's research, particularly data collection and the kind of the feeling, the need to kind of quote unquote catch up.

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Definitely had that. with what may have been missed or kind of where people feel very much behind where they were expecting to be,

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I guess, have to say. Have you experienced that?

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How have you dealt with it? Yeah, I've really, really experienced that especially.

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I don't know what happened, like, off the basically as soon as September came in.

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It felt like all of a sudden everyone was suddenly expected to be back on full again.

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I don't know if other people had that experience, but it went from kind of the kind of general consensus that I was getting was it's okay.

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Like we're in a pandemic. Everything's difficult to do. Right. We have to get by doing research now.

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And I was like, oh, excuse me. Well, the situation hasn't really changed.

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still pretty up to the air. And we are still not able to test people face to face, which is what I'm relying on be able to do?

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To get the data from my study. My main way I cope with that is I had to replan my whole PhD pretty much, which was kind of daunting

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I say replan. We didn't completely change everything, but we had to kind of just be really brutal and cut out anything that we could get cut out.

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So I actually I was really lucky to get some project management training from my DTP

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And has conversations with my supervisors about what constituted like a realistic work programme and things like that?

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So, yeah, it was just it was just kind of rethinking the whole thing. And it was kind of disappointing when it wasn't kind of disappointing.

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It was very disappointing. I just had my upgrade when we went into lockdown.

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So I had all these like, great plans for the radical research.

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And now it's it's just nothing like how it would have been.

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But, you know, that's fine. I'm still gonna get to do some really cool stuff.

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It just means that there's other cool stuff waiting for me once I'm done.

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So, yeah. Have you a major rethink just what's realistic for me to do at the moment?

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Absolutely. Because if you're trying to just stick to what you have planned for.

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It's just it's just not going to be possible, is it? No.

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And it and I think the what you said about the disappointment, I think is really important because, you know,

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we think about the kind of practical implications of, you know, I know people that have, you know,

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been supposed to be doing fieldwork abroad and in and, you know,

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that's going to be an entire chapter case study of the thesis and all this stuff that's been postponed or potentially, you know, cancelled altogether.

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And it's huge practical disruption. But a lot of the time that there are ways in which, like, you know, you're talking to modify.

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Yes, project.

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So there is still it's still it's it's still a PhD or a research degree or what, you know, which, you know, every kind of programme we run.

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But the disappointment and the stress and the anxiety associated with that, I think is possibly the thing that we're not talking about enough.

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Yeah, it was really disappointing. And really, I'm I'm still anxious like about it.

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We still don't know what's going to happen in the next like Yeah. You know, in the next two weeks, let alone.

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Yeah. But like, I'm halfway through my PhD and I still don't have a chapter yet, which is just like horrifying if you think about it too much

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But like it's okay, you know, it's it's fine. It's gonna be all right.

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But I can't get too stressed about it or it just ends up being counterproductive.

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I think it it's that it's all consuming. Yeah.

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When that happens and it that's that's the real challenge is kind of how do you overcome those kind of moments of the.

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I think we're all getting in various different, you know, different ways.

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You know, I have these moments where I go, you know, I have moments where I remember that we're in a global pandemic now.

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I forget that I have moments where the kind of significance and the weight of it.

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The reality consumes up every now and again. And you just have these moments of going

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Oh, my word. Like how? Like, I have barely left the house since March and.

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I'm probably not gonna go back to work into the office until next March.

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I could be working at home for an entire year and, you know.

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And the world is is a completely different place. In so many ways.

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And I have these moments of kind of oh my word. And I think, you know, every everybody has those experiences.

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And then when you have it, it must be the same with you PhD project kind of pootling along alright and then go, oh, my word.

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Or, you know, all of the things that I wanted to do when I'd planned to do.

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Yeah. Is is I don't want to sound too melodramatic.

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No, it is a little bit like being in mourning for your PhD

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Yes. No, no, I don't think it's melodramatic at all.

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And it really that really encapsulates actually the what people have while other people have said to me, they've they said it in that way.

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But it is it's in mourning for what the project could've been or would have been in other circumstances.

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And it and it's difficult to let that go as well, because I think, you know, we we don't know.

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Another thing that I think we we kind of I think we undervalue is the amount of personal investment.

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In the design of these projects and, you know, people who do research,

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they're not doing research generally on some kind of random thing that they don't care about.

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Yes, I wouldn't go too well especially for a PhD if you didn't care about it.

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People are doing research on things that they care about deeply.

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And that might be because it affects them personally or affects people that they know,

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or it's just something that the hugely passion about and they want to create change with.

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And so the emotional and personal investment that. And the amount of time, yeah.

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Year and a half your life, you know. Yeah, it's a big revelation for me.

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So, you know, this already but I'm really into, like, open science.

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Yeah. I'm one of the things that we planned for my PhD was that I would do register reports.

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I won't go into too much detail about where they are,

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but basically they require you having a pretty good sample size so that you can get a really well powered experiment.

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And my the opportunity to have a really good sample size now is just gone.

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But I'm still gonna have like, it's gonna be fine. It's not going to be like anN of two or anything like that.

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But the opportunity to get some like read like a really solid data and really be able to say like yes this is incredible it's just gone now.

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Which is. Yeah, it's really sad. I really care about that. And that's just gone.

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And I think what Ellie's talking about here is what a lot of PhDs have been talking to me about since the start of the COVID 19 pandemic.

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It's not about not being able to make changes to complete their research degree.

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It's about the ways in which the vision or the way that they had envisaged the project is fundamentally changed.

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And that can be things like what Ellie was experiencing in terms of not being able to collect the same sample size and therefore

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not being able to engage with those open data practises that she's really passionate about as a researcher and a scientist.

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But I know people who've had to drop entire case studies or completely changed their methodology.

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And although the research can be done and they can complete their research degree,

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there's a real sense of loss and a real sense of mourning for what they envisaged the project would be and the contribution that it would make.

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And again, it's it's going back to the fact that these are so often deeply personal topics

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that people are researching things that they're incredibly passionate about.

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And so it's important alongside all of the practical complexities of changing these projects,

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that we acknowledge that there is that emotional toll and there is that sense of grief and mourning.

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I'd be really interested in hearing from more postgraduate researchers about the

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ways in which they've had to change their projects due to the COVID19 pandemic.

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If you're interested in coming on the podcast and talking to me about your experiences,

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please do get in touch with me on Twitter @Preece_Kelly

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And that's it for this episode. Don't forget to like, rate and subscribe and join me next time when I'll be talking to somebody else about researchers, development and everything inbetween


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