Suspending your studies for fieldwork experience during a PhD

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Bongo Bongo
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So, I'm just about to formally start my PhD and am really enjoying it so far. I've heard that the first year is mainly putting together a huge literature review and explaining how these ideas are relevant to your research.

But, looking slightly further into the future, would it be possible to suspend studies to get fieldwork experience? Or can you continue writing and researching while doing say 3 months of fieldwork (even if your writing up in a tent in a jungle somewhere)?

What do unis and academics generally think about suspending studies to do fieldwork?

If the fieldwork is just, say three months is it possible to work around this?

Thanks guys!
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Keele Postgraduate
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(Original post by Bongo Bongo)
So, I'm just about to formally start my PhD and am really enjoying it so far. I've heard that the first year is mainly putting together a huge literature review and explaining how these ideas are relevant to your research.

But, looking slightly further into the future, would it be possible to suspend studies to get fieldwork experience? Or can you continue writing and researching while doing say 3 months of fieldwork (even if your writing up in a tent in a jungle somewhere)?

What do unis and academics generally think about suspending studies to do fieldwork?

If the fieldwork is just, say three months is it possible to work around this?

Thanks guys!
It will really depend upon your thesis, your university, and your method of funding so this is something you're best to have a chat with your PhD supervisor about - ideally the sooner the better so that you can plan appropriately.

If the fieldwork is directly related to your PhD, there are usually ways of factoring that in to your PhD studies without needing to formally suspend or take a leave of absence. For example, my funding body offers a Fieldwork and Conference fund that can assist with paying costs of fieldwork, and you can also apply formally for fully funded extensions to your PhD for extensive fieldwork and study abroad opportunities.

If the fieldwork isn't directly related to your thesis, you're on slightly trickier territory and may need to look at taking an (unfunded) leave of absence from your PhD studies in order to take up a fieldwork/employment opportunity. That isn't to say that it would be impossible to keep up with writing and researching your PhD if you were also doing fieldwork but do bear in mind that a full-time PhD is a full-time job in and of itself - and it gets considerably more intense the further into it you get. So if you continued with the PhD whilst doing unrelated fieldwork you'd still be expected to continue with the same level of outputs (conference papers, publications, chapter drafts), and would have to continue to gain research/training hours, meet with supervisors etc. Depending on where you were and what you were doing for your fieldwork, this could be very difficult.

Have a chat with your supervisor to look at your options. Personally I'd try to avoid suspending your PhD if at all possible however, depending on your PhD topic, fieldwork can be an extremely valuable addition to a thesis so you may find there are funded opportunities for you to add this in without the need for suspension of your studies.

Hope that helps!

Amy Louise
Last edited by Keele Postgraduate; 5 months ago
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PhoenixFortune
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(Original post by Bongo Bongo)
So, I'm just about to formally start my PhD and am really enjoying it so far. I've heard that the first year is mainly putting together a huge literature review and explaining how these ideas are relevant to your research.

But, looking slightly further into the future, would it be possible to suspend studies to get fieldwork experience? Or can you continue writing and researching while doing say 3 months of fieldwork (even if your writing up in a tent in a jungle somewhere)?

What do unis and academics generally think about suspending studies to do fieldwork?

If the fieldwork is just, say three months is it possible to work around this?

Thanks guys!
If your fieldwork is for your PhD, you can discuss the duration of it with your supervisors. If it's for an additional project that isn't connected to your PhD, you can sometimes get an interruption awarded to account for the time you'll be away. However, this can also heavily depend on what your funders think about that (and whether the project is affiliated with them or not).
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mnot
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(Original post by Bongo Bongo)
So, I'm just about to formally start my PhD and am really enjoying it so far. I've heard that the first year is mainly putting together a huge literature review and explaining how these ideas are relevant to your research.

But, looking slightly further into the future, would it be possible to suspend studies to get fieldwork experience? Or can you continue writing and researching while doing say 3 months of fieldwork (even if your writing up in a tent in a jungle somewhere)?

What do unis and academics generally think about suspending studies to do fieldwork?

If the fieldwork is just, say three months is it possible to work around this?

Thanks guys!
I dont think suspending in first year unless you have to, I think coming back will be back more difficult, starting stopping, restarting... I guess it depends but I dont think a supervisor would appreciate being at a loose end with a student for a bit, when they have their own goals.

If the field work will contribute to your project then I would try to work with your supervisor to integrate it into your project.
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