Motherhood, COVID-19, and the Postgraduate Research Experience: Personal Practice-Based Design Insights

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This practice-based report presents my experiences as a mother, Lecturer, and Doctoral Researcher during the COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns in the UK. Employing a postdigital storytelling approach, I created the film "The Covid Diaries" to tell the story of my roles as mother and academic during the pandemic. As a practice-based design doctoral researcher, making the film became a cathartic exercise in meaning-making. Telling a digital story of my ongoing design research journaling evolved into a qualitative research tool, capturing personal experiences, emotions, and reflections. Through narrative, visuals, and audio, the film portrays the challenges, uncertainties, and resilience of a primary caring parent undertaking doctoral studies during these unprecedented times. It also reveals broader concerns about the treatment of primary caring parents within academic institutions and funding bodies throughout the pandemic. Reflecting on the film-making process, I describe the complexities of identity, self-censorship, and the unique temporal rhythms of research and caregiving. This report contributes to the discourse on transformative experiences and challenges faced by primary caring parents in academia during the pandemic, particularly those undertaking practice-based design research.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)418-429
Number of pages12
JournalDesign For Health
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2023


  • COVID-19
  • Design research
  • Positionality
  • design for health
  • design and health
  • maternal health
  • motherhood
  • parenthood
  • academic motherhood
  • postdigital storytelling
  • design research for change
  • practice based design research
  • practice based research
  • postdigital
  • design film
  • Postgraduate Research
  • PGR experience
  • AHRC
  • Design Star CDT
  • positionality in design
  • reflexive design research
  • doctoral research


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