The Covid-19 outbreak disrupted our routines, this is something we all know now. We also may have got used to it and to the idea of adaptation. Nevertheless, as PhD students, we must meet some institutional obligations. Expectations might be lower, deadlines more flexible, but still there are responsibilities we must comply with.

Most universities ask their doctoral students to provide an annual review of their work at some point during the summer and, in particular for the first year, this is an important step on the PhD journey. It is an occasion to clarify our ideas about our projects, to ask for feedback, to make useful adjustments. In normal circumstances it can be hard work, though – and during a pandemic?

Research has been affected by the Covid-19 outbreak at all levels and students had to face the challenge to learn on a distance and work without having access to resources. Writing a PhD thesis when libraries are closed has almost been like building a wall without bricks.  So what? How to meet deadlines and submissions in the current situation?

Today we will provide you some easy suggestions to approach your pandemic annual review. Keyword: honesty.

Talk to your supervisors

… clearly, openly. Don’t be ashamed of asking for information, feedback, confirmation – or for more time. They are facing the same challenges as you – they will understand and give you the best advice for your situation. Meet them (virtually) as often as you need, it will make a difference.

Keep the focus

Working during the lockdown has been hard for everyone. Now that the situation is easing up, it’s time to keep the focus. Settle your review main goals, discuss about it with your supervisors, don’t waste your energies. Be consistent, be focused on the fundamental objectives, around which your review will gravitate.

Be honest to yourself

Don’t ask yourself to do things you don’t have time, energies or resources to do. Settle honest, feasible, productive goals. Interrogate yourself about what you need in order to meet your expectations. This is not the be an overachiever.

Make plans for the future

Make (honest) plans for the next year. Be realistic, but enthusiastic. It will both give perspective to your project and motivation to yourself. Spot the weaknesses of this year’s work, be aware of the fact that in all likelihood it was out of your responsibility and make them the strengths of the next year’s working plan.


The current situation is not easy yet. It is a challenging time, but remember that we all share the same insecurities and concerns. Find what works better for yourself!



Image: Photo by Green Chameleon on Unsplash


Giovanna Pasquariello is a Contributions editor for “Pubs and Publications: the PhD experience”. She’s a first year at the University of Edinburgh, studying something old, very old: Greek inscriptions about the Celtic tribes who settled in Anatolia in 3rd BC. Apart from this, she swears she is a fun person.