Fieldwork is the bridge between academia and practice. Often, this bridge is not crossed due to lack of guidance, time and practical experience. Academics are left on their own to guess what would work best. In facilitating this, this article assesses the methods used in a case study of doctoral fieldwork at the European Parliament within the civil service. Findings include identifying optimum methods to plan, develop and execute doctoral fieldwork.
This research is structured in four parts, which covers a literature review on fieldwork in the social sciences, the case study, the methodologies used, and a problem-solving section giving tips to succeed at fieldwork. Findings include a selection of methodologies which include participant observation and note-taking. These methodologies assist in improving skills such as time management, working under high pressure and delivering quality reports with attention to detail, which are fundamental for a successful academic career.
The experience covered in this article will assist academics in designing their fieldworks at all levels of their careers. The methods described are transferrable to fieldworks across legal, political and policy-making institutions.