I was raped while on fieldwork 2

August 10, 2007

The dangers of fieldwork highlighted in "Fieldwork perils mount" (August 3), and in particular the suggestion that many grant-holders and PhD supervisors are unaware of the most basic protection that research staff should receive, are worrying.

All staff need to be fully aware of formal structures that should be in place to ensure the safety of those embarking on fieldwork, including risk assessments, adequate training and preparation and providing necessary insurance coverage.

This is what the new British Standard BS 8848 is designed to provide. We would encourage all institutions to use the BS 8848 to benchmark existing fieldwork safety-management procedures in all instances where a specification for the provision of fieldwork, visits, expeditions and adventurous activities outside the UK would be appropriate.

Fieldwork continues to serve as a vital methodological strategy across a range of academic disciplines, and it is imperative we take a systematic and sensible approach to risk management so that academics and students are not discouraged from undertaking field research that will extend the frontiers of knowledge in both the sciences and the social sciences.

Rita Gardner
Director, Royal Geographical Society, London

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