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    Review of 'The effects of cumulative stressful educational events on the mental health of doctoral students during the COVID-19 pandemic'

    The effects of cumulative stressful educational events on the mental health of doctoral students during the COVID-19 pandemicCrossref
    The paper provides information in an under-explored area though not clearly environmental.
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        Rated 3.5 of 5.
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        Rated 4 of 5.
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    The effects of cumulative stressful educational events on the mental health of doctoral students during the COVID-19 pandemic

    High rates of psychological distress including anxiety and depression are common in the doctoral community. With the COVID-19 pandemic taking a toll on mental health it is necessary to explore the riskand protective factors for this population. Using data from the Covid-19: Global Study of Social Trust and Mental Health, the present study examined the relationship between COVID-19-related cumulativestressful educational experiences and doctoral students’mental health problems. Moreover, it assessed therole of attentional ability and coping skills in promoting good mental health.Mental health problems were assessed using the 9-item Patient Health Questionnaire and the 7-itemGeneralized Anxiety Disorder Questionnaire to measure depression and anxiety symptoms, respectively.We measured coping skills using a 14-item questionnaire and attentional ability using a 7-itemquestionnaire. The results of multiple linear regression analyses showed that cumulative stressful educational experiencewere related to increased depression symptoms but not anxiety symptoms in fully adjusted models.Additionally, coping skills and attentional ability were related to both depression and anxiety symptoms.Finally, no associations between mental health problems and demographic factors or other covariates werefound. The experience of multiple educational stressful events due to COVID-19 is a key risk factor for increasedmental illness in the doctoral community. This could be explained by the uncertainty that the COVID-19pandemic has caused to the students.

      Review information

      This work has been published open access under Creative Commons Attribution License CC BY 4.0, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. Conditions, terms of use and publishing policy can be found at www.scienceopen.com.

      Education,Social & Behavioral Sciences
      Doctoral students,COVID-19,Educational experiences,COVID-19, doctoral students, educational experiences, mental health, stressful events,Mental health,Health,Stressful events

      Review text

      Sideropoulos et al aimed to determine the effects of cumulative stressful events on the mental health of doctoral students during the COVID-19 pandemic. This research is important and under-explored; however, I am uncertain as to the appropriateness of the research for an environmental journal. While the research area is important, and the inclusion of assessment of coping skills and attentional ability is a strength, the manuscript could benefit from considerable revisions, with attention paid to setting up the research question, and presenting the results.


      Specific comments:


      Provide more information on the population/participants in which the study was conducted.



      Paragraph 2: provide examples/citations that support the claim that examining sub-populations separately is important.


      Line 122: This sentence repeats what was stated in the previous sentence.



      Line 181 is missing the close parenthesis.


      On lines 183, 187, and 193, I would like to know more about how reliability was tested in more detail.


      Section 2.2.4, I would imagine that factors that induce stress in the doctoral community differs by the specialization of study. For example, the nature/cause of stress of a PhD student in the humanities could be different from the factors inducing stress in someone from a “Professional Doctorate” degree. Is there is a reason the field of study was not included as a covariate?


      Line 216, please provide more information on the data analysis.


      Why were the two individual-level variables not investigated separately? Perhaps if there was more discussion of the relationship between the two variables in the introduction, this would become evident to the reader. As presented, it raises questions and the logic is not easy to follow.



      Line 240: Did the authors mean “covariates” instead of “covariance?”



      Line 251. The term “synthetic” confused me. Did the authors mean “systematic” way?


      Line 322: What are the percentages?


      The lack of consensus with previous research is unexpected and needs more discussion, likely in line with a lack of generalizability of the results given the unique sample and modest sample size.





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