Preparing thoroughly for DPhil fieldwork, whether by Transfer of Status assessment (from PRS status) or from MPhil status directly is an important step in your studies. Together with your Supervisor, not only do you need to ensure that the development of your research is appropriate, you also need to be sure your plans are practicable, you have the appropriate skills, and that arrangements are in place for your research to be carried out as safely as possible.
It is important that those students progressing from MPhil status are aware that they cannot begin their fieldwork until they are registered DPhil students (usually in the October of their first year of DPhil study) and have completed the required paperwork and gained the appropriate approvals.
You should also plan to have contact with your supervisor at least once a month while on fieldwork, and at least every two weeks in FCO-flagged destinations or when carrying out other activities identified as high-risk.You should inform your Supervisor of any changes to your plans as your research develops.
The Social Sciences Division (SSD) website includes a wide range of resources relating to fieldwork: Fieldwork and Further information.
There are also valuable accounts of researchers’ own experiences.
There is the potential for researchers undertaking fieldwork to find themselves engaged with situations that are stressful, traumatic, or to witness events that are traumatic to others. Advice and support is available to help deal with such situations at the time and afterwards. In addition to the health and welfare services in the university and colleges, the Headington Institute, for example, works with humanitarian and development organisations to ensure the long-term wellbeing of personnel working in these areas. It has a range of useful information and free online training materials available dealing with matters such as resilience, stress, critical incidents and vicarious trauma.
Full details of skills training (from language training to first aid), travel planning and risk mitigation, ethical clearances, data security and available support and resources can be found here.
Information on available Funding can be found here.