Fieldwork overseas – some practical tips on planning your fieldwork

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Many PhD researchers spend up to a year conducting fieldwork, and frequently this is overseas. The fieldwork experience can often be one of the most enriching parts of your research but it can also be challenging.  The IAD has run several workshops on fieldwork and here are some of the tips on planning we have gathered from students who have completed their fieldwork.

 Start planning your fieldwork well in advance of your departure.

  • Find out what visas/permits you need to conduct your research (live in the country) and apply for these in advance.
  • Research all the ethical requirements and data protection rules before you go. Speak to your supervisor/other students who have undertaken fieldwork in your area. Ethical requirements will vary from subject to subject.
  • Be prepared for additional, unexpected bureaucracy. Accept that your fieldwork may take longer than you initially thought and build this in to your planning.
  • Draft a timetable before you leave and include within it empty blocks of time. Always have some sort of background fieldwork activity you can pick-up and put-down in case of cancellations or other delays.
  • Build in time for holidays.
  • Ensure you have all the relevant vaccinations.
  • Create a check list of everything you need to do before you leave.
  • Organise insurance. The University offers insurance for students and staff.

 Some useful links:

University Insurance http://www.ed.ac.uk/schools-departments/finance/about/sections/insurance/policies

 University Health and Safety

Guidance on Health and Safety when travelling abroad

http://www.docs.csg.ed.ac.uk/Safety/general/travelling_abroad.pdf

Fieldwork Risk Assessments

http://www.ed.ac.uk/schools-departments/health-safety/risk-assessments-checklists/risk-assessments