Corona and Doctoral Candidates

The Corona virus makes work on a dissertation harder for most people. Books are less easy to get, laboratories can’t be used as freely as usually, conferences have to be cancelled and so forth.

For some of us, organizational challenges from outside the university add even more stress to difficult working conditions. Female doctoral candidates (like all female researchers) get hit especially hard by familial obligations like child care. Although scientific and scholarly publications have statistically increased over all, publications by female authors have dropped during the pandemic.

For international doctoral candidates, likewise, the virus poses particular problems. The expiration dates for visa have not automatically been delayed, so extensions must be sought. Navigating German burocracy has not gotten easier with face-to-face offices closed and almost all interaction with clerical personnel digitalized (but not necessarily speeded up).

If you are working on your dissertation during the Corona-crisis, the following might be of interest to you:

  • In theory, all research assistants and other university staff with a regular position („Haushaltsstelle“) are supposed to be able to get their contract prolonged if they apply for an extension based on Corona-related delays. This might turn out to be difficult if your supervisors disagree with your assessment of the necessity of an extension. In that case, you are free to contact the respective Dean of Students („Studiendekan“) of your faculty and ask for mediation in this matter. (For doctoral candidates without a regular position there is, unfortunately, no regulation of this kind).
  • If familial obligations put additional strain on you outside the university, please contact the womens’ representatives („Frauenbeauftragte“) or the family service („Familienservice“) and share your trouble. The staff in those offices are aware of the new difficulties arising with Corona and will both try to help you and be glad about any additional data about the overall situation that you can provide.
  • We have been told that the FAU Welcome Center offers support and guidance to international students and doctoral candidates in matters of Corona-related problems with the expiration of visa and other deadlines.
  • The city of Erlangen has promised to be very obliging in matters of extensions of all sorts if appliants can relate their need to extend deadlines to Corona.