What do I need to do? - Operation Wallacea

What do I need to do?

How do I select a suitable dissertation project?
The first stage is to decide which topic area(s) is of most interest. Further information on the available topics can be found via the links on the left of this page where you can view a short video describing each topic. You will also find more detailed project descriptions and initial reading lists for each project. After reading through these you should be able to narrow your selection to one or two individual projects. Then please contact your local Opwall office and they will arrange for one of the relevant lead academics to speak with you to help identify the most suitable project for you based on your interests and degree scheme. Once you have booked on to a project, it is a good idea to consult with your academic tutor/advisor to ensure your university supports your choice of project, and you are entitled to a full refund up until 1st April if your university do not support you completing your dissertation with us.

How do I prepare well before coming out on expedition?
Once you have selected your preferred project and booked on to the expedition, you need to start preparing a draft research proposal that needs to be submitted by 28th February 2018 to your assigned Dissertation Coordinator at Opwall. This draft research proposal should contain the following sections:

  • A project title
  • Review of current literature relevant to your project, rationale for your project and the specific aims and hypotheses of your research
  • Proposed data collection methods
  • How the data will be analysed
  • Equipment requirements
  • References/bibliography
  • Risk assessment (templates are available via the Opwall website)

At this stage you also need to talk to your university to identify who your internal University supervisor for the research project will be. You will then be sent a dissertation assessment form that will need to be signed by your university supervisor and returned to your Opwall Dissertation Coordinator. Once we have received this form and the draft research proposal, your Opwall Dissertation Coordinator and your specialist field supervisor will provide detailed feedback and comments on your draft proposal. Once you have these comments you need to go away and address them fully, before submitting a final research proposal by 15th April 2018. Without receipt of your final proposal, Opwall has the right to refuse you the opportunity to complete a dissertation or thesis on site.

How will I be supervised in the field?
Once you are on site, you will be introduced to your experienced Senior Scientist along with your Field Supervisor, and during an initial meeting will agree a field plan and timetable. Your Field Supervisor will work with you on a day to day basis to ensure you have all the logistical help you need to complete your data collection. You will also report regularly throughout your expedition to the Senior Scientist who will ensure you have the academic support and guidance needed to complete a high quality dissertation project.

What will I be expected to do on site?
Ensure that you give completion of your dissertation or thesis the highest priority. You will be staying in some of the most beautiful areas of the world and it is important that you enjoy yourself without getting too distracted, and getting the balance right will be your biggest challenge. As a minimum you will need to spend 4 weeks collecting data for an Honours (undergraduate) project or 6 weeks for a Masters. Since skills and safety training inevitably takes 1–2 weeks, as an undergraduate you will need to stay for 6 weeks in total, although 8 weeks would be better and is essential for a Masters project. Usually when you start writing you realise that there is additional information that you need to collect and it is typically not possible to gather this information once you have left site, and so you should enter data, analyse results and start drafting sections of your write up during your stay. You will be asked to give a short oral seminar to other students and staff about your research at the end of your stay, and to write a short report.

What will I be expected to do when I return to university?
We strongly recommend that you finish writing up your dissertation or independent research report as soon as you can, while it is still fresh in your mind. If you leave it for a few months, it is often very difficult to get back into the detail of the project. You must send a digital copy of your dissertation or independent research project to Operation Wallacea as soon as it is completed. This copy is forwarded to various in-country organisations who are interested in the results of the work and to publish your report on the Operation Wallacea web site where required. Remember that you are part of a wider project and your results are needed! Please also let your Opwall Dissertation Coordinator know the grade you get for your dissertation.