Extension of the PhD trajectory due to Covid-19 (BOF Budget)

Project Details


The COVID-19 crisis has a major impact on research at the VUB. For example, research with patients and test subjects has been halted and laboratory research,
but also fieldwork and longitudinal research have known significant bottlenecks in the past period. In addition, almost all researchers also experience bottlenecks
as a result of extra (online) education load, care tasks and limited (home) facilities. However, the impact of the COVID-19 crisis is different for everyone. There are
distinguish different causes that influence the degree of delay, with
in particular the type of research, the stage of the research project and
the personal circumstances of the researchers.
Projects in which the researcher makes observations and collects data will be
the rule is delayed more than research in which the observations are already behind
be the back. Within the research where observations have to be made
the delay will not be the same everywhere. Research in which observations were made
used in humans, or mainly in laboratories, uses
equipment/infrastructure or of living matter, and longitudinal research will
are more delayed than projects where no observations are made.
Research involving fieldwork such as observations, interviews, focus groups and other methods that focus on human contact may also experience delays.
The impact for the ongoing investigation includes, in addition to the delay due to the
cessation of data collection also includes other aspects: the time needed to restart a study, the approval of changes in the research design by the ethical committees as a result of COVID-19 measures, etc. In addition, account must also be taken of bottlenecks due to imposed safety regulations.
The stage of research can influence the degree of delay. The roughly three stages of a research project such as (1) the start with
literature review and methodological elaboration, (2) the actual, ongoing research
and (3) the completion with processing the data and writing the
publications, can overlap within a research project, since
several studies are often conducted at the same time.
Personal circumstances also influence the extent to which research is delayed. Mental stress due to the uncertainty associated with a crisis of such magnitude can make it difficult for researchers to
focus research. Some researchers are faced with caring responsibilities for
(a) sick loved one(s) or may have also been ill themselves due to an infection with
SARS-CoV-2. International researchers working at the VUB are often far from
house, limited in mobility and may run into problems with their residence permit. In this corona crisis, some researchers had to deal with an increased burden of care, as a result of home education for the children, or small children who
unable to go to the shelter.
Because promoters and supervisors can also experience all of the above problems,
could this result in reduced supervision of the researchers, which in turn
jeopardizes the normal progress of the investigation and may delay it
lead. Special attention is also needed for UZ Brussel researchers who are active
in the medical field who were involved in healthcare because of COVID-19 and
as a result, they are less likely to work on their research or not at all.
All this shows that the COVID-19 pandemic is having a major impact on research,
regardless of the type of investigation, the stage of the investigation and the
personal circumstances of the researchers, but the perceived bottlenecks and
problems and the eventual delay will therefore be different for everyone. Because of this diversity in the problem, there is no 'one-size-fits all' solution for the bottlenecks and problems that researchers experience as a result of
of the COVID-19 crisis. Several solutions are therefore required, which
do justice to the diversity of the problems experienced and possible delays
to offer the right solution(s) based on customization.
In consultation with all Flemish universities, a uniform approach and uniform assessment criteria were agreed to allow an exceptional compensation extension.
to accommodate PhD students who, as a result of the
COVID-19 crisis are unable to complete their research in the foreseen time schedule.
This means that the same criteria apply to all VUB PhD students, regardless of the funding source.
Effective start/end date1/09/2330/11/24


  • Covid19

Flemish discipline codes in use since 2023

  • Social epidemiology


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