Field Research Pre-Planning

What is Field Research?

Any off-campus research activity undertaken by members of the university staff, students, postdoctoral fellows, volunteers and faculty to collect, generate or analyze all forms of data, including but not limited to environmental, biological, archival, ethnographical, anthropological, library or other research (e.g. laboratory research conducted by a member of the university community at a host institution, reconnaissance field trips to locate suitable field sites or visiting an industrial or construction site), as well as field trips and field schools carried out nationally or internationally.

If your activity is included in the above definition, you are conducting field activities.

If attending conferences, meetings or attending member institutions in countries where the Government of Canada travel warnings are “Take Normal Security Precautions” (Level 1-Low) or “Exercise a High Degree of Caution” (Levels 2-Medium, Level 3-Moderate), a FAP is not required but you must review and follow this Traveller checklist.  

Follow the steps below to prepare for the field season:  

1.  Determine Risk Level of your Field Research/Activity

  • Using the Risk Matrix, Approval and Action Requirements, determine the risk level of your activities. Look at the Examples in this chart to get an idea how other field activities are categorized.  If your activity is assessed at 1 (low) - note all categories must be low (who's travelling, location, activities and proximity to Emergency Medical Services), then a FAP is not required but you must review and follow this Traveller checklist. For all other categories (2-5), you must complete a Field Activity Plan (FAP) and must take the training.

2.  Take the mandatory Field Research Safety Training 

3. Complete your Field Activities Plan

  • PI/Supervisor must complete a FAP or for human-participant research, complete the H-FAP. If the PI/Supervisor wishes to delegate preparation of a draft to a senior graduate or postdoctoral fellow, oversight and approval still rests with the PI/Supervisor.
  • Complete the FAP Addendum for any research projects (1) for which there is the potential for specialized rescue and/or (2) that will be done in collaboration with another institution, agency, or company.
  • Save your FAP and FAP Addendum (if applicable) with the following naming convention:  Last name of PI – Project/Program Title/Year (eg .FAP_DOE_WhitecourtMeteorStudy_2024, Addendum_Doe_WhitecourtMeteorStudy_2024)
4.  Submit FAP and Addendum for Approval

  • Review the Risk Matrix, Approval and Action Requirements , and follow the instructions for approval based on your risk level and who will be conducting the work. 
  • Submit complete but unsigned FAP to the Field Activities Plan Central Registry
  •  If the project is Risk Level 1, 2 or 3: Expect to receive a response from an HSE Advisor or Faculty Health and Safety Advisor within 10 working days. 
  • If the project is Risk Level 4 or 5: Expect to receive a response within 20 business days.
  • A  Faculty or HSE Safety Representative will be in touch with the submitter and may advise of revisions. 
  • After making recommended changes, collect signatures from all participants and return the signed FAP in a PDF format to the Safety Representative that reached out to you.
  • The Safety Representative reaches out to the secondary approver for signature and provide the submitter with a copy of the signed FAP.
5.  Request a Daily Field Safety Log Book 

6.  Complete an Emergency Information Form  for each participant 

  • Ensure the forms are with the research team in the field.
  • Provide copies to your department contact.

Conducting field activities outside of Canada

Follow all the steps above and refer to additional information below:

International SOS

  • U of A staff and students have access to International SOS, a free emergency assistance plan. They can print off an ISOS Travel Briefing Plan to identify hazards for the country they are travelling to.

Travel Management Program

Visa Requirements

Funds to Foreign Countries

Traveling or Shipping Field Equipment