Spade-work

spadework

[speyd-wurk]
noun
preliminary or initial work, such as the gathering of data, on which further activity is to be based.

Origin:
1770–80; spade1 + work

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Collins
World English Dictionary
spadework (ˈspeɪdˌwɜːk)
 
n
dull or routine preparatory work

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
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