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Postgraduate Research Handbook

Empirical Research or Fieldwork

Empirical Research, Experimentation and/or Fieldwork

Almost all students carry out some form of empirical or experimental research, though the form of this may vary considerably: from fieldwork undertaken away from Manchester, through to empirical work undertaken using secondary data from databases.   Whatever the nature of this element of your research, it is important that you plan appropriately.  

Before you undertake experimental or empirical research, you should:

  • Attend a workshop to support your data collection/fieldwork preparations
  • Obtain research ethics approval for your research
  • Complete research training which prepares you for the research phase of your PhD
  • Agree a clear research plan and timetable with your supervisor
  • Apply for a period of Study Away from the University if your research is undertaken at a location which means you will not be in attendance at Manchester
  • Contact your sponsor to gain the required approval for any absence from Manchester
  • Liaise with a student mentor or buddy regarding experimental, empirical or field-based research
  • Agree how you will maintain regular contact with your supervisor.

Fieldwork Approval

You may undertake some of your study away from the University, typically to collect data. If you will be absent for more than 2 consecutive weeks, you must apply for the period of study away from the University and have obtained ethical approval for your research before you commence your research.

You should agree a planned timetable of work with your supervisors and complete the Fieldwork Approval form.

The form should be returned to your Doctoral Programmes Administrator at least one month in advance of your anticipated departure, in order that the Postgraduate Research Committee can approve your request.

During your period of fieldwork, you must:

  • Engage full time in research (or equivalent if a part-time student)
  • Maintain regular contact with your supervisors
  • Provide any written work requested by your supervisors
  • Return at the end of your approved period of fieldwork
  • Submit reports for interim (6-month) reviews
Insurance and Indemnity 

Travel Insurance

The University travel policy provides cover for students travelling on business such as fieldwork, conferences, etc. and for any travel that is a compulsory element of a University award-bearing degree programme of study.  For other travel, you should arrange your own insurance cover.  For more information, please see the Insurance Office website.

Liability Cover

The University also has other insurance policies in place for protection in relation to public liability.  Please contact the Insurance Office if you have queries.

Advice on Travel Health, Vaccination and Protection

If you are travelling outside of the UK for fieldwork or other study visits, you should visit the Occupational Health Service website for advice on safe travelling, vaccination and protection.