PhD Lockdown Story: Robin Andrews

Robin Andrews, KESS PhD Psychology student

Robin, an ESF-funded KESS student, talks about redeveloping her research methods due to lockdown and transferring from MPhil to PhD


"Whatever will happen will happen, regardless of how much I worry about it so I try to enjoy every day and look for the positives. The lockdown has given me the opportunity to be more focused on my PhD, although it has been difficult not being able to access USW facilities or pop in to see my supervisors for some quick help and advice. 

"I am coming to the end of my second year and have just transferred from MPhil to PhD. I spent a lot of time thinking about the MPhil and worrying about whether I was going to pass, but it was actually a simple process. The report must be no more than 6,000 words but can be comprised of work you’ve already produced. You also have a viva with someone external to your research team who will ask you a number of questions about your research. This is where you will be expected to defend your research methodology and receive feedback. 

"My advice to anyone about to transfer from MPhil to PhD is to not worry about it. Most research projects change and develop over time so there is no point in trying to write a perfect or highly accurate transfer report as chances are, things will change - my project doesn’t look anything like what I’ve described on my transfer report six months on. 

"It’s also important to get the most out of your viva meeting. There are a number of things an outsider perspective will pick up that would otherwise be missed, and this will be massively important for developing your research.

"Because of lockdown restrictions, I have had to re-develop my methods so that my research can be conducted entirely online. I’m looking forward to having all of my data collected so I can focus on writing up my thesis and submit some of my studies for publication. 

"This week I have been collecting data and finalising my ethics application for my fourth and final study, so it’s actually been good to be have this quiet time. 

Health-and-Her website - Robin Andrew PhD

"My project involves evaluating an online symptom tracker for women with menopausal symptoms. I’m enrolled on an ESF-funded KESS PhD which means my project is a collaboration between USW and a company partner, a female healthcare website I hope that my research will demonstrate that simple, online interventions can be useful and cost effective for improving health outcomes for menopausal women. 


"I have been using Zoom to communicate with company partner, and Teams to stay in touch with supervisors, other PGR students and USW staff. My supervisors, Dr Deborah Lancastle and Professor Bev John, have been brilliant during lockdown. Despite having heavy workloads themselves, they’ve worked hard to review my work and have always made themselves available for meetings or to answer my questions. They’ve also looked out for my wellbeing and made sure I’ve got the appropriate set-up at home to continue working during lockdown.

"After my PhD, I am keen to continue research within the field of female reproductive health, potentially within a post-doctorate position. Throughout my PhD, I have worked as an hourly paid lecturer and I am keen to continue this and see where it could take me."