1. Are students funded to do field work or would this be more of desk research?
Students do not have any funding to do field work and are unlikely to have time to conduct fieldwork given their heavy course loads. The client should ensure that the project they propose is doable through desk research, interviews (in-person if in London, or, alternatively by phone/Skype), or other methodologies not requiring travel or in-person fieldwork.
2. Is the Terms of Reference jointly developed with the student(s) and/or faculty or is that done by the client alone?
The initial Terms of Reference (ToR) are proposed by the client, and reviewed first by LSE staff. LSE staff are reviewing these ToRs to ensure that projects are doable, realistic and relevant to our students, and appropriate for the correct degree programmes. Clients may be asked to make changes deemed necessary by our staff in order to establish an appropriate project. Students then get to access the ToRs to help them select their preferred projects. Once student groups have been allocated to specific projects, the students consult with the client to discuss the particulars of the ToR and make any necessary changes based on the group’s skills, and client’s needs. Agreeing the final ToRs between the students and the client is an important first step in the consultancy.
NB: To ensure a high quality finished product, it is very important that clients not alter ToRs significantly after they have been agreed with the assigned students. Copies of the original and revised ToRs are included in the groups’ interim and final reports.
3. What is the time input required from clients?
Client organizations are expected to provide at least one point of contact who can be in touch with students; each project will differ, but in some cases it may be prudent to provide more than one point of contact to deal with different phases or needs in the project timeline. Clients should establish with students at the beginning of the consultancy what level of input will be required of them (for instance: will students need to be put in touch with interviewees only the client has access to? Does the client wish to check in with students after each interview? Will meetings with the students take place in person, over the phone, or will email updates suffice?). Realistically, clients should expect that consultancy teams will need to be in touch briefly every few days at the very start of the project, but less as the project progresses. The degree of contact necessary usually reflects the nature of the tasks given and the extent to which clients assume responsibility for putting students in contact with interviewees etc.
4. Are clients involved in grading/feedback?
The consultancy projects are graded by LSE staff and evaluated based on a final presentation and final written report. Clients are invited to the LSE for final presentations and/or can opt to host the final presentation in their offices (if based in London). Clients are invited to give input to the LSE staff member grading the project and their feedback will be taken into account when determining the final grade.
5. To what extent are students reliant on us as clients to provide source information?
Clients need to consider at the outset where students will obtain core information. If the students are dependent on clients for contact information or internal documentation this will need to be provided in a timely way. LSE mentors may gently nudge clients to provide this if necessary. Clients need to be realistic about the capacity of London based researchers to access interlocutors overseas without the necessary introductions.
6. How much support do the LSE Mentors give to the student teams?
Because this is a form of experiential learning LSE mentors help the teams to structure decisions in response to problems that they encounter. They do not provide the consultancy groups with the answers and even were they to do so, the groups can choose to do things differently.
7. Do Clients have a role in mentoring?
This depends on the client. Frequently the simplest way of handling this is to adopt the role of a somewhat benevolent client – being supportive but generally expecting professional standards and commitment on the part of the team.
8. Are there any Ethical Considerations?
Students will often produce notes of interviews conducted in the course of the consultancy. These can only be passed to the client if agreed in advance and if the interviewees consent and have been informed of this prior to the interview. Students will not be authorised to deviate from this procedure.