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11.3 Managing Your Research Project

Learning objectives.

  • Identify reasons for outlining the scope and sequence of a research project.
  • Recognize the steps of the research writing process.
  • Develop a plan for managing time and resources to complete the research project on time.
  • Identify organizational tools and strategies to use in managing the project.

The prewriting you have completed so far has helped you begin to plan the content of your research paper—your topic, research questions, and preliminary thesis. It is equally important to plan out the process of researching and writing the paper. Although some types of writing assignments can be completed relatively quickly, developing a good research paper is a complex process that takes time. Breaking it into manageable steps is crucial. Review the steps outlined at the beginning of this chapter.

Steps to Writing a Research Paper

  • Choose a topic.
  • Schedule and plan time for research and writing.
  • Conduct research.
  • Organize research
  • Draft your paper.
  • Revise and edit your paper.

You have already completed step 1. In this section, you will complete step 2. The remaining steps fall under two broad categories—the research phase of the project (steps 3 and 4) and the writing phase (steps 5 and 6). Both phases present challenges. Understanding the tasks involved and allowing enough time to complete each task will help you complete your research paper on time with a minimal amount of stress.

Planning Your Project

Each step of a research project requires time and attention. Careful planning helps ensure that you will keep your project running smoothly and produce your best work. Set up a project schedule that shows when you will complete each step. Think about how you will complete each step and what project resources you will use. Resources may include anything from library databases and word-processing software to interview subjects and writing tutors.

To develop your schedule, use a calendar and work backward from the date your final draft is due. Generally, it is wise to divide half of the available time on the research phase of the project and half on the writing phase. For example, if you have a month to work, plan for two weeks for each phase. If you have a full semester, plan to begin research early and to start writing by the middle of the term. You might think that no one really works that far ahead, but try it. You will probably be pleased with the quality of your work and with the reduction in your stress level.

As you plan, break down major steps into smaller tasks if necessary. For example, step 3, conducting research, involves locating potential sources, evaluating their usefulness and reliability, reading, and taking notes. Defining these smaller tasks makes the project more manageable by giving you concrete goals to achieve.

Jorge had six weeks to complete his research project. Working backward from a due date of May 2, he mapped out a schedule for completing his research by early April so that he would have ample time to write. Jorge chose to write his schedule in his weekly planner to help keep himself on track.

Review Jorge’s schedule. Key target dates are shaded. Note that Jorge planned times to use available resources by visiting the library and writing center and by meeting with his instructor.

Jorge's schedule

  • Working backward from the date your final draft is due, create a project schedule. You may choose to write a sequential list of tasks or record tasks on a calendar.
  • Check your schedule to be sure that you have broken each step into smaller tasks and assigned a target completion date to each key task.
  • Review your target dates to make sure they are realistic. Always allow a little more time than you think you will actually need.

Plan your schedule realistically, and consider other commitments that may sometimes take precedence. A business trip or family visit may mean that you are unable to work on the research project for a few days. Make the most of the time you have available. Plan for unexpected interruptions, but keep in mind that a short time away from the project may help you come back to it with renewed enthusiasm. Another strategy many writers find helpful is to finish each day’s work at a point when the next task is an easy one. That makes it easier to start again.

Writing at Work

When you create a project schedule at work, you set target dates for completing certain tasks and identify the resources you plan to use on the project. It is important to build in some flexibility. Materials may not be received on time because of a shipping delay. An employee on your team may be called away to work on a higher-priority project. Essential equipment may malfunction. You should always plan for the unexpected.

Staying Organized

Although setting up a schedule is easy, sticking to one is challenging. Even if you are the rare person who never procrastinates, unforeseen events may interfere with your ability to complete tasks on time. A self-imposed deadline may slip your mind despite your best intentions. Organizational tools—calendars, checklists, note cards, software, and so forth—can help you stay on track.

Throughout your project, organize both your time and your resources systematically. Review your schedule frequently and check your progress. It helps to post your schedule in a place where you will see it every day. Both personal and workplace e-mail systems usually include a calendar feature where you can record tasks, arrange to receive daily reminders, and check off completed tasks. Electronic devices such as smartphones have similar features.

Organize project documents in a binder or electronic folder, and label project documents and folders clearly. Use note cards or an electronic document to record bibliographical information for each source you plan to use in your paper. Tracking this information throughout the research process can save you hours of time when you create your references page.

Revisit the schedule you created in Note 11.42 “Exercise 1” . Transfer it into a format that will help you stay on track from day to day. You may wish to input it into your smartphone, write it in a weekly planner, post it by your desk, or have your e-mail account send you daily reminders. Consider setting up a buddy system with a classmate that will help you both stay on track.

Some people enjoy using the most up-to-date technology to help them stay organized. Other people prefer simple methods, such as crossing off items on a checklist. The key to staying organized is finding a system you like enough to use daily. The particulars of the method are not important as long as you are consistent.

Anticipating Challenges

Do any of these scenarios sound familiar? You have identified a book that would be a great resource for your project, but it is currently checked out of the library. You planned to interview a subject matter expert on your topic, but she calls to reschedule your meeting. You have begun writing your draft, but now you realize that you will need to modify your thesis and conduct additional research. Or you have finally completed your draft when your computer crashes, and days of hard work disappear in an instant.

These troubling situations are all too common. No matter how carefully you plan your schedule, you may encounter a glitch or setback. Managing your project effectively means anticipating potential problems, taking steps to minimize them where possible, and allowing time in your schedule to handle any setbacks.

Many times a situation becomes a problem due only to lack of planning. For example, if a book is checked out of your local library, it might be available through interlibrary loan, which usually takes a few days for the library staff to process. Alternatively, you might locate another, equally useful source. If you have allowed enough time for research, a brief delay will not become a major setback.

You can manage other potential problems by staying organized and maintaining a take-charge attitude. Take a minute each day to save a backup copy of your work on a portable hard drive. Maintain detailed note cards and source cards as you conduct research—doing so will make citing sources in your draft infinitely easier. If you run into difficulties with your research or your writing, ask your instructor for help, or make an appointment with a writing tutor.

Identify five potential problems you might encounter in the process of researching and writing your paper. Write them on a separate sheet of paper. For each problem, write at least one strategy for solving the problem or minimizing its effect on your project.

In the workplace, documents prepared at the beginning of a project often include a detailed plan for risk management. When you manage a project, it makes sense to anticipate and prepare for potential setbacks. For example, to roll out a new product line, a software development company must strive to complete tasks on a schedule in order to meet the new product release date. The project manager may need to adjust the project plan if one or more tasks fall behind schedule.

Key Takeaways

  • To complete a research project successfully, a writer must carefully manage each phase of the process and break major steps into smaller tasks.
  • Writers can plan a research project by setting up a schedule based on the deadline and by identifying useful project resources.
  • Writers stay focused by using organizational tools that suit their needs.
  • Anticipating and planning for potential setbacks can help writers avoid those setbacks or minimize their effect on the project schedule.

Writing for Success Copyright © 2015 by University of Minnesota is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License , except where otherwise noted.

American Society for Microbiology

Project management tips for researchers.

Jan. 23, 2019

Project Monitoring and Control

Project closing.

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Educational resources and simple solutions for your research journey

managing research projects

Research Project Management: 5 Project Management Tips for Researchers

managing research projects

Effective planning and a management of resources are essential prerequisites required for proper research project management and the successful completion of research projects. However, one of the biggest challenges researchers face while accomplishing these tasks is that these projects usually have varying lengths and unpredictable outcomes, so the research management techniques need to be redeveloped with every new project.

As a scientist, one is more inclined toward understanding the science and, hence, the leadership and organizational skills required for research project management need to be consciously acquired along the way. Furthermore, the ‘scientist mindset’ of adapting to unpredictability by making rapid changes in existing protocols can clash heavily with the ‘manager mindset’ of ensuring these changes align with the availability of resources. 1  Therefore, it’s understandable that many young researchers struggle with how to manage research projects, especially during the initial stages of their academic journey, often finding it difficult to incorporate such research management techniques.

If you are among those wondering how to manage your research projects effectively, this article will provide you with some useful tips to help you improve your research project management skills. But before having a closer look at these, let us have a short recap of the different aspects that are often associated with the successful management of any project.

Every new project ideally begins with preparation of a roadmap or a personal guide, which can be modified as required for the entire duration of the project. Here are some key steps that can help in better preparation of a roadmap for research project management. 2

Initiation and planning- The first step for research project management is typically defined as the initiation stage. In this stage, the feasibility of the project is assessed with respect to the different experiments to be performed and the availability of resources required for their completion. If any part of the project needs collaborative effort to be completed, an important research management technique would be to identify the relevant people required at this stage itself. The initiation stage is followed by the planning stage, which includes the preparation of necessary protocols, allocation of resources, and informing personnel involved about their specific roles and responsibilities.

Risk management- After the initiation and planning stage is complete, the next step in research project management is to identify potential roadblocks that may occur during the implementation of the roadmap and devise strategies to resolve them. This may include revisiting insufficiently standardized protocols and reconsidering the use of techniques depending on the limited availability of resources. Risk identification and mitigation planning saves time and ensures a smooth workflow and is, therefore, an essential component for effective research project management.

managing research projects

In spite of a perfectly planned project roadmap on paper, many researchers struggle to execute these research management techniques. This can be frustrating and demotivating for researchers, but there are some simple solutions that can be implemented to overcome these struggles and ensure successful research project management.

  • Identify your core issue

If you’re struggling with implementing the roadmap in the desired manner, the first step or research management technique is to identify the core issue. For some researchers, the problems could range from a technical error that needs troubleshooting or a miscalculation while acknowledging the risks involved while preparing the roadmap. Identifying the core issue that is blocking the execution and finding solutions for it is an important aspect of improving your research project management skills.

  • Simplify your timelines

To ensure a smooth workflow under any circumstances, a great research management technique would be to break down your envisioned timeline (especially when they involve new protocols) into smaller timelines with more attainable goals. This will allow you to revisit the ‘original’ roadmap on a more regular basis and ensure the better management of the funds and resources available.

  • Refrain from perfectionism

Research is ‘work in progress’ and the outcome of any experiment may not always be the one that you envisioned in the roadmap. So how to manage such research projects? It is helpful to lower any expectations regarding a ‘perfect’ outcome; accepting ‘negative’ results and the learnings that come along with it is a critical research management technique. When one does not chase perfectionism, it becomes easier to accept and adapt to unpredictability, eventually leading to effective research project management and the successful completion of the project. 3

  • Engage in regular communication with stakeholders

An important, yet underrated component of effective research project management is engaging in regular communication with all the relevant stakeholders. Whether it is the personnel involved directly in your project such as your advisor, peers, technicians or indirect stakeholders such as the funding agencies, it is important to keep the communication lines open at all times. Short meetings scheduled at defined intervals for the entire duration of the project is a good research management technique to discuss progress, pace, and troubleshooting strategies would help bring everyone on the same page regarding the outcome of the project.

  • Maintain a record sheet for effective allocation of funds

If your project is funded by organizations that have stringent protocols regarding budget consumption, you need to pay extra attention to how you are using the funds. Using digital tools to maintain a record sheet as part of your research project management reduces your work load and makes it easier and convenient to share your spends with stakeholders whenever the need arises.

Lastly, before embarking upon any project, it is always important to get an external perspective on different aspects that are involved in the project. Discussing the roadmap with someone who is not directly involved in your project provides an objective overview and helps in better identification of loopholes, making it an important aspect of effective research project management.

We hope these research project management tips were useful and relevant in answering how to manage a research project, and will help you strengthen your research management techniques.

Table of Contents

  • Project Management for Scientists, Part 1: An Overview. https://www.science.org/content/article/project-management-scientists-part-1-overview.
  • Project Management Tips for Researchers. ASM.org https://asm.org/Articles/2019/January/Project-Management-Tips-for-Researchers.
  • 10 Project Management Tips for Non-Project Managers. Northeastern University Graduate Programs https://www.northeastern.edu/graduate/blog/project-management-tips/ (2019).

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5 Essential tips to plan and manage research projects

Project Management

Dr. Romiya Barry

5 Essential tips to plan and manage research projects

Once you have successfully applied for funding for your research project and received the award, it is time to set it up. You may be managing a project for the first time and may be unprepared to face the challenges. Setting up a project requires you to think of multiple aspects.  This article will provide five tips to create a roadmap for your research project success.

Set up a shared workspace

Whether you have a private lab to work in, or you are leading a multidisciplinary virtual project, a central location is essential to instilling team cohesion. The central location for sharing information may be a bulletin board on a wall in the lab or a shared network drive that only team members actively contributing to the project can access. The location will be the primary source for providing updates to the team and managing project knowledge. The location should also host the team charter which establishes agreement on how you will work together to accomplish the project goals. The team charter outlines the team mission, vision, and objectives. It can set the ground rules for modes of communication, group planning, meeting expectations as individuals and as a team, the reporting structure, and how to handle deadlines.

Create a project management plan

It is likely your funding application required you to submit a project plan. However, the assumptions that grounded your original project plan may be no longer valid.  For example, there may be a change in available resources, key personnel have been reallocated to other projects, or there was a shift in the known science around your topic. These changes can necessitate changes in your original plan. The project plan you submitted should be reviewed, and the resources and assumptions built into the plan should be revised, accordingly. The project plan sets out what you will do. The next step you should take with the team is to plan out how you will conduct the project. Include the tasks to be completed and the expected time and effort required to complete them.

managing research projects

Prepare for budget management

Knowing when you will receive funding disbursements and make expenditures will help you to plan the timeline of project activities. Make a list of the materials to be purchased with a schedule for acquiring the items and the expected cost of each purchase. Similarly, create a list of the vendors to be contracted and a schedule and budget of the contract payments. Be aware of any contingencies to the grant funding schedule, especially if disbursements will be received according to milestones. To minimize the risk that the project is delayed due to insufficient funding to carry out the next task, review the schedule of installment payments alongside your schedule of expenditures.

Forecast the risks

When setting up your project management plan, decide with your team what challenges you may expect for each of the milestones you have outlined in the project plan. Write a plan to avoid and mitigate each risk. Account for project successes during risk planning. For example, if you accomplish a milestone ahead of schedule, will the team be ready to initiate the subsequent activities in the plan? Review your list with other stakeholders to gain an external perspective.

managing research projects

Create a communication plan

Set expectations for stakeholders on how often you will distribute updates about the project. Focus the communication plan to include stakeholders who are decision-makers and those impacted by the activities and outcomes of the project. Decide how often you will communicate progress, the intervals for releasing updates, and in which format you will provide the communication. Make sure to balance the information provided by including highlights on barriers and facilitators to success, an overview of project failures, and notable achievements.

Summary As a research manager, you help to set the course for project success. An organized project facilitates efficient problem-solving and quick decision-making. Start your project by planning your activities and managing your resources, and plan to communicate effectively to relevant stakeholders.

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Published on: Jan 21, 2020

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This simple tool can help you manage multiple research projects

How to master the art of prioritization.

Carsten Lund Pedersen

managing research projects

Credit: sorbetto/Getty Images

23 January 2020

managing research projects

sorbetto/Getty Images

One of the most difficult things in research is to pick, prioritize, and pursue the right research projects.

I’ve struggled with this in the past, and often found myself juggling different papers simultaneously in a race to keep up with my various research interests and publication pressures.

This isn’t a sustainable solution for any researcher in the long run. Fortunately, I’ve found a solution in the field of project management.

The time and energy crunch

The life of a researcher is in many ways centered on managing and implementing a portfolio of different projects on an ongoing basis. It only makes sense, then, to learn from the experts.

Since the invention of the Gantt chart in 1917 and the subsequent professionalization of project management in the 1950s , an array of useful tools has emerged.

One such tool is the project management triangle , which says that all projects have three constraints (scope, time, and costs), which ultimately determine the quality of the project.

If you change one of these elements (e.g. you increase the scope), it will have consequences for the other elements (increased scope would need more time and higher costs to succeed).

These triple constraints have been used by everyone from IT professionals to graduate students in managing projects.

For my own projects, I like to reframe the triangle (see the figure below). In my experience, ambition, time, and energy are the main constraints that determine the quality of a research project.

project management triangle

For example, if you want to see your research on the cover of Science or Nature , producing high-quality science alone isn’t enough. You’ll need substantial time and energy (and a bit of luck) to achieve your very high ambitions.

Of course, both time and energy are finite resources that you need to spread across your various competing projects.

Each time you’re faced with an interesting research project, you need to ask yourself three questions:

  • What is the level of ambition for this project?
  • Given the level of ambition, how much time and energy can I realistically commit to the project?
  • Should I terminate some of my other projects in order to participate?

The answers you give may well reveal that you can only take on a very limited role in the project – and only after you’ve completed one of your other demanding projects.

In this way, the model can help you to plan and prioritize your time and energy across your portfolio.

It’s a trade-off

Once you’ve committed to a research project, it’s also important to note that conflicts between the constraints may arise during the implementation phase.

For instance, if teaching assignments suddenly invade your semester, then you may need to revise the ambition and energy levels to better match the time you can realistically allocate to the project.

I’ve started to use this method myself by creating an overview of my present projects and assessing each of them in terms of the triple constraints.

This has resulted in the termination or postponement of several projects and the limiting of my role in other projects, so I can focus on a few key projects instead.

Doing so has made my work life less stressful, and I feel that I’ve delivered much better on key projects because of it.

The most important insight I’ve learned from this tool is that my personal resources are limited and therefore trade-offs must be made each day. If I fail to make those difficult decisions, I risk burning myself out and can jeopardize the quality of my work.

Our projects and personal productivity are too important to be misaligned or mismanaged.

We need to be making clever choices on tricky trade-offs (no projects were harmed during the writing of this article.)

Carsten Lund Pedersen is an assistant professor in the Department of Marketing at the Copenhagen Business School.

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Research projects & dissertations

Managing a research project.

The following guide has been created for you by the  Student Learning Advisory Service . For more detailed guidance and to speak to one of our advisers, please book an  appointment  or join one of our  workshops . Alternatively, have a look at our  SkillBuilder  skills videos.   

The stages of a research project

The basic stages involved in undertaking a university research project are as follows:

1. Choose your research area

Usually, it is best choose an area that you have already studied or are studying within your academic field. Not only will this help you identify potential research, but you can be confident in finding a suitable supervisor and reliable sources within the university. Choosing an area that you also find particularly interesting will help sustain your engagement. 

2. Conduct preliminary research (scope out the topic)

Survey current research surrounding your chosen subject area. Reflect on it carefully, and take advice from academic staff to establish what has already been written on your chosen subject area. This will enable you to identify what you can do that has not been done before.

3. Decide your research topic

Clearly define and delineate your research topic. The more clearly you do so the more confidence and clarity you will have in what you are trying to achieve, and the easier it will be for you to monitor your progress. If you’re uncertain what you’re trying to achieve, how will you know whether you’re on course or not?

At this stage you might also formulate a provisional research question – that is, the question your research will answer:

Research topic: Investigate ‘A’ and ‘B’ to see if/how they interrelate.

Research Question: ‘To what extent is A caused by B?’

4. Decide your methodology

As you are deciding your topic, you should be investigating and considering your research methodology – how you will conduct your research. Is it going to be experimental, observational, theoretical, textual, qualitative, quantitative? Will it involve human subjects? Are there ethical considerations – specific protocols, procedures or approaches to follow? Think about the research method you have chosen; what advantages does it give? What insights might it yield? What difficulties might it pose? How has it been used before in your field of study?

5. Submit/present your research proposal for approval

Most schools have a formal deadline for receiving research proposals/dissertation plans, and a formal approval process. In some cases this is an assessment stage – so make sure you know exactly what you need to submit, and when, in order to progress with your project. Your school will have given you guidance about what your proposal should include. Generally, the common elements are:

  • Your main research question/problem/title
  • Questions or concerns that will help you solve your main research problem
  • A brief literature review or list of key texts/sources
  • An overview of your methodology
  • A timeline showing your main research project tasks

6. Finalise your topic and methodology

You may need to revise your research plan in the light of feedback you receive during the approval process. Many students are overambitious in their aims; academic staff have a much clearer idea of what is achievable and necessary in terms of a successful research project, so be guided by their advice. You may also need to modify your methodology in the light of your initial research, or a pilot study. It may be necessary, for example, to alter a questionnaire that isn’t generating the data you were expecting.

7. Conduct your research (fieldwork)

This might take place in a laboratory, in a library or archive, at a computer, on the streets or in a field. Whatever the location, this is the practical activity of collecting raw information or data. Be aware that what you think you are going to find out, and what you actually do find out, can often be very different, so be prepared to alter your research aims/question accordingly.

8. Analysis/data processing

Whatever your research topic, you will need to analyse and process the information you have collected in order to make sense of it. This might involve statistical analysis, generating graphs, charts or tables, organising information into categories, or critical appraisal of texts or events. As well as finding out something, you need to understand what it means within your academic field.

9. Writing up

This is the process of producing the written document – your dissertation or thesis – upon which your research project will be assessed. Allow enough time to improve and revise your work through a series of drafts, and to edit and proof-read the final document – including ensuring that any graphs/images referred to in the text are properly numbered and labelled, and that your referencing is error-free – before formatting and binding the finished document. Do not underestimate how long the writing up process will take.

10. Submission

All academic research projects are time constrained, so you will have a specific deadline for submitting your work. With longer research projects, you will also have intermediate deadlines (e.g. progress/upgrade boards). Consequently, you will need to time-manage each stage of your work to ensure that you complete the overall project on time.

Project managing your research

Any complex project involving multiple activities and deadlines requires some form of management. Using simple project management techniques will allow you to keep control of your research project – to schedule your work more effectively, to identify how much time you have to spend on each stage, to create intermediate milestones that will tell you if you’re on schedule or not (and allow you to respond accordingly) and give you a clear overview of your progress.

One simple but highly effective technique is to produce a Gantt chart. This provides you with a clear visual plan of your research project, based on scheduling the different stages involved against a time base. The example below (Figure 1) is based on the ten basic research project stages, scheduled against two (hypothetical) formal deadlines – submission of the proposal in week 10 and submission of the finished dissertation in week 24:  

Figure 1: Simple research project Gantt chart    

This example is typical of an undergraduate or taught Masters’ dissertation. Longer research projects (PhD, Masters by research, etc.) will generally have more activities spread over a longer timeframe (See below, Figure 2, for an example of a project plan for a humanities PhD).  

Figure 2: Humanities PhD example Gantt chart

In project management, the scheduling of individual activities is always worked backwards from the deadline. Thus, the amount of time that you have to complete each task is a function of the overall project schedule. As shown above, some tasks have to be carried out consecutively (i.e., you can’t start the next task until you’ve completed the previous one), but other tasks can be carried out at the same time, or started before the previous task has been completed, (e.g. you might be able to start analysing your data whilst you’re still collecting it). What you also need to bear in mind with undergraduate dissertations is that your research project constitutes only one part (25%) of your academic activities, and that you’ll be working on other assignments, reading, exam revision, etc, at the same time. As such, it is important that you make full use of the available time period and balance your priorities accordingly.

Tip: With longer-term projects such as these, it can be difficult to stay focused and motivated. Try to dedicate some time to your project every day/week (depending on your other academic commitments) and break your tasks down into smaller chunks so that they are more manageable. The Pomodoro technique can also be helpful for generating small bursts of concentration. If you are struggling, maybe read an article on your topic to remind yourself of your interest in the area, or talk to fellow students or your supervisor(s).    

Project Management for Research

The tools you need to make your research project a success.

This toolkit includes a variety of tools for managing your research projects including recommendations for general project management software and tools to help you and your team manage activities from grant writing to implementation and project closeout.

Explore the toolkit below:

Grant Writing + Project Development

A Gantt Chart is a popular project management tool; it is a type of bar chart that illustrates a project’s schedule. The chart allows for organizing and viewing project activities and tasks against pre-established timeframes.

Gantt Chart Template Gantt Chart Instructions Gantt Chart Example

Graphic display of the flow or sequence of events that a product or service follows; it shows all activities, decision points, rework loops and handoffs.

Process maps allow the team to visualize the process and come to agreement on the steps of a process as well as examine which activities are duplicated. Process maps are used to:

  • Capture current and new process information
  • Identify the flow of a process
  • Identify responsibility of different business functions
  • Clearly show hand-off between functions
  • Identify value added and non-value added activities
  • Train team members in new process

Process Map Template Process Mapping Guide Process Map Example 1 Process Map Example 2

The Data Management Plan (DMP) defines the responsibilities related to the entry, ownership, sharing, validation, editing and storage of primary research data.

A data management plan must not only reflect the requirements of the protocol/project but also comply with applicable institutional, state and federal guidelines and regulations. The DMP Tool details your agencies expectations, has suggested language for REDCap and exports a properly formatted plan.

DMP Tool NIH Data Management & Sharing (DMS) Policy

The Project Charter's purpose is to define at a high level what the Project Team will deliver, what resources are needed and why it is justified.

The Project Charter also represents a commitment to dedicate the necessary time and resources to the project. It can be especially useful when organizing a multi-disciplinary, internally funded team. The document should be brief (up to three pages maximum).   

Project Charter Template Project Charter Instructions Project Charter Example

Milestones are an effective way to track major progress in your research project.

A Gantt Chart is an effective tool for setting and tracking milestones and deliverables. It is a type of bar chart that illustrates a project’s schedule.  

The proposal budget should be derived directly from the project description.

The proposal budget should follow the format specified by the sponsor. The Office of Sponsored Programs Budget Preparation webpages provide descriptions of the standard budget categories, lists of typical components of those categories, Ohio State rates where appropriate and other details to help ensure your budget is complete. Budget Preparation Resources from Office of Research The 398 grant form from the NIH is a template that includes standard categories required for an NIH grant (and many others) that you can use to develop a preliminary budget.

PHS 398 Forms PHS 398 Budget form for Initial Project Period Template PHS 398 Budget Form for Entire Proposal Project Template

The Risk Assessment and Mitigation Plan first assists the research team in anticipating risk that may occur during the research project before it happens.

The plan then specifies when to act to mitigate risk by defining thresholds and establishing action plans to follow. As a fundamental ethical requirement research risks are to be minimized to the greatest extent possible for all research endeavors. This includes not only prompt identification measures but also response, reporting and resolution. Risk Assessment and Mitigation Plan Template Risk Assessment and Mitigation Plan Example

The Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) organizes the research project work into manageable components.

It is represented in a hierarchical decomposition of the work to be executed by the research project team. It visually defines the scope into manageable chunks that the team can understand.  WBS Instructions and Template WBS Structure Example


A Gantt Chart is a popular project management tool; it is a type of bar chart that illustrates a project’s schedule.

The chart allows for organizing and viewing project activities and tasks against pre-established timeframes. A Gantt Chart can also be used for tracking milestones and major progresses within your research project.

The purpose is to define at a high level what the Project Team will deliver, what resources are needed and why it is justified.   

It is represented in a hierarchical decomposition of the work to be executed by the research project team. It visually defines the scope into manageable chunks that the team can understand.  WBS Instructions + Template WBS Structure Example

A communications plan facilitates effective and efficient dissemination of information to the research team members and major stakeholders in the research project.

It describes how the communications will occur; the content, security, and privacy of those communications; along with the method of dissemination and frequency.

Communications Plan Template Communications Plan Example

The Data Management Plan (DMP) defines the responsibilities related to the entry, ownership, sharing, validation, editing, and storage of primary research data.

A data management plan must not only reflect the requirements of the protocol/project but also comply with applicable institutional, state, and federal guidelines and regulations. The DMP Tool details your agencies expectations, has suggested language for REDCap, and exports a properly formatted plan.

DMP Tool DMP Tool Instructions Ohio State Research Guide: Data

The chart allows for organizing and viewing project activities and tasks against pre-established timeframes. Gantt Chart Template Gantt Chart Instructions Gantt Chart Example

This tool helps you capture details of issues that arise so that the project team can quickly see the status and who is responsible for resolving it.

Further, the Issue Management Tool guides you through a management process that gives you a robust way to evaluate issues, assess their impact, and decide on a plan for resolution.

Issue Management Tool Template Issue Management Tool Instructions Issue Management Example

A Pareto Chart is a graphical tool that helps break down a problem into its parts so that managers can identify the most frequent, and thus most important, problems.

It depicts in descending order (from left to right) the frequency of events being studied. It is based on the Pareto Principle or “80/20 Rule”, which says that roughly 80% of problems are caused by 20% of contributors. With the Pareto Principle Project Managers solve problems by identifying and focusing on the “vital few” problems. Managers should avoid focusing on “people” problems. Problems are usually the result of processes, not people.

Pareto Chart Template Pareto Chart Instructions Pareto Chart Example

Closeout, Transfer + Application

Completing a project means more than finishing the research. 

There remain financial, personnel, reporting, and other responsibilities. These tasks typically need to be completed within a timeline that begins 60 to 90 days before the project end date and 90 days after. Specifics will vary depending on the project and the funding source. The Office of Sponsored Programs “Project Closeout” webpage provides a description closeout issues, a list of PI Responsibilities and other details to help ensure your project is in fact complete.  Project Closeout Checklist Project Closeout Resources from Office of Research

A communications plan facilitates effective and efficient dissemination of information to the research team members and major stakeholders in the research project. 

It describes how the communications will occur; the content, security and privacy of those communications; along with the method of dissemination and frequency.

Project Management Software

An open-source project management software similar to Microsoft Project.

OpenProject  has tools to create dashboards, Gantt Charts, budgets, and status reports. Activities can be assigned to team members and progress monitored. OpenProject also has a tool for Agile Project Management. While the software is free, OpenProject must be installed and maintained on a local server and there will probably be costs associated with this. Talk to your departmental or college IT staff.

A secure, web-based project management system.

Basecamp  offers an intuitive suite of tools at a minimal cost: ~$20/month or free for teachers. Basecamp facilitates collaboration between research team members with features such as to-do lists, messaging, file sharing, assignment of tasks, milestones, due dates and time tracking.  

A project management tool that organizes tasks, activities, responsibilities and people on projects.

Trello can help manage research projects by keeping everyone on time and on task. It uses a distinctive interface based on cards and lists and may be especially useful for smaller projects.

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Managing Research Projects

  • First Online: 09 November 2022

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  • Anne van Dongen 3  

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Project management is a valuable skill that helps you think about where you want your research project to go, what you need to get there, and how to minimise risks during the process. Unfortunately, most early career researchers do not get much training in research project management and are left to fend for themselves. This chapter starts with useful tips about managing time by giving examples of essential project planning tools like task lists, milestones, charts, and timelines. Next, it discusses managing the research project process including administration, data management, and risk assessment. In addition, it discusses how best to manage people in your project team, from your supervisors to external stakeholders, and shares tips on preparing and chairing meetings and setting up a communication plan. Finally, this chapter emphasises the need to manage your own mental health while making the most of your research project.

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My gut is that most conspiracy theorists have never been project managers. Their optimism is adorable. – Merlin Mann (independent writer, speaker, and broadcaster).

Managing your PhD project for most of us will be a daunting introduction to research project management, and most of us were woefully unprepared for it. I started my PhD not even realising I was actually the manager of my PhD project. With three PhD supervisors who did not always agree, and were not always available, I wasted time not taking control of the process more. This partly stemmed from anxiety about telling my supervisors what I needed from them. I didn’t realise how busy (and let’s face it, chaotic) supervisors can be, and just assumed that after sending them my draft I should just wait until they contacted me. In the meantime, I took on other research projects, sat in all sorts of committees, and teaching, which delayed my thesis even more. Even though I loved doing the additional projects, I was mainly doing them to procrastinate. At some point (late in the process, I must admit, as it took me over five years to finish my PhD), I decided enough was enough. I made a plan to finish my thesis, communicated the plan to my supervisors with deadlines for them to review my drafts, and even scheduled two weeks away from the office to finish my thesis introduction and discussion. I learnt that my supervisors actually really appreciated me taking charge and communicating clearly what I needed from them, as that helped them plan my project among all the other projects they had going.

Since then, I have managed or coordinated research projects in the Netherlands, UK, and Australia, and have worked with and for people from different countries. The most important lesson I have learnt when it comes to project management is that no one has a lot of time to contribute, but everyone wants to have their say. In addition, as you are ‘only’ early in your career, you often will not have the authority that can be used as leverage.

This chapter includes several tips and tricks I learnt along the way, things I have done, things I wish I had done, and things I really need to start doing. In this chapter, I present insights from my own experience, tips I got from colleagues who are managing research projects, and a non-systematic literature search on recent papers or blogs on ‘managing research projects’. There are many books, journals, and blog posts dedicated to project management. I have included some in the reference list, and the topics and literature presented in this chapter serve more as suggestions.

Managing from Small- to Large-Scale Research Projects

What is project management and why is it important.

One of the most important goals of project management is that it helps you think about where you want your project to go and what you need to get there. It helps you anticipate how much time a project and its tasks will take and what resources you will need (Howard Hughes Medical Institute and Burroughs Wellcome Fund, 2006 ). It will also help you minimise risk by being able to take preventative action and detect deviation from the plan early on. In addition, it allows you to update and inform managers, supervisors, and other stakeholders on the project’s process and progress.

Unlike classical project management, research programme managers tend to focus on process more than output. This is because the research process is iterative and involves progressive insight. The outcome of one (sub)study may change the direction the project will go in. In addition, research projects are often subjected to factors beyond the control of the project manager. You will have responsibility, but are often unable to assert authority – you will have to get things done through people in your team without having any direct control over them. ‘People skills’ are therefore as important in research project management as, for example, planning skills.

Furthermore, different types and scopes of projects require different management processes and skills. Projects can range from relatively straightforward in scope, where just you and your manager/supervisor are involved and there is a single research site (e.g., the university), to complex ones, where you have to deal with multiple (internal and external) stakeholders and research sites (e.g., research in several GP practices). ‘Stakeholders’ are individuals, groups, or organisations who have an interest in can affect or be affected by the outcome of a project. Depending on your field, they can be (external) funders, community leaders, students, policy makers, patients, healthcare professionals, non-profit organisations, industry leaders, etc.

Project management is not an exact science. It should be a tool to get the maximum out of your project and your project members, so use this chapter to gain actionable ideas but implement what works for YOU, and YOUR project and team. As mentioned, as an early career research project manager you will often be dealing with situations that are beyond your control. This chapter describes how to make the most of your project by focusing on the things you do have control over.

Managing Time

Whether you are working on a PhD project or managing a postdoctoral research fellowship, you will not have infinite time to complete your research. In this section, I highlight three practical time management templates you can use when planning your projects and listing the tasks involved. A task that should be finished is also called a milestone.

The most basic template is a timeline and task list, which can take the form of a simple Word or Excel table (see Fig. 7.1 ). A Gantt chart (Fig. 7.2 ) can be a helpful visual aid for longer term overview. A Gantt chart is a graph (named after Henry L Gantt who introduced the technique in 1903) consisting of horizontal bars that depict the start date, duration, and end date for each activity. Ideally, a task list should also identify task interdependencies. This is when one task cannot start until another task has been completed. For example, data collection cannot start until ethics approval has been obtained, and the submission to the ethics board cannot happen until the whole team has reviewed, edited, and approved the questionnaire or topic guide you will use in your study.

A table of 4 columns and 29 rows.The column headers read, task, who, when, and status. The rows are divided into Study 1, qualitative, and Study 2, quantitative. Study 1 includes ethics and data collection sections. Study 2 includes an ethics and a questionnaire section.

Example of a task list

A table of 3 columns and 19 rows. The column header reads, project time table, 2022 and notes. The rows are divided into Study 1 qualitative, Study 2 quantitative, and Group meetings.

Example of (part of) a Gantt chart

Planning a timeline can be a bit daunting, not least because a research project is often dependent on other people and subject to contingencies. You can have an excellent plan but if your supervisor, the ethics committee, or the engineer programming your app runs over time, your project can be thrown into disarray. Thomas and Hodges ( 2010 , Chapter 8, p. 139) state the following: ‘ If you want to estimate the total number of person hours or days likely to be needed for a project as a whole, a good rule of thumb is to take whatever total you first work out to be a viable estimate and multiply it by two. This is likely to come somewhere close to the actual number of hours or days that will be needed in practice’. This may seem excessive, but I have found this to be a very realistic rule. It will also save you a lot of stress if you are able to adequately allocate the time. In addition, don’t forget that after the data collection is finished, articles will need to be written. That takes time. I once worked on an ambitious project where we had lots of cool data at the end, but no one had time to write the articles, because the team members either changed jobs, started different projects, or went on maternity leave.

When planning research projects, be aware that as your project progresses, your goals may change. Therefore, it is good practice to build in periodic reviews of results against objectives and revise the objectives, tasks and timelines where necessary. Organise time backwards from deadlines or planned article submission dates and consider the timing of sequential tasks. For example, you should not plan starting data collection before a reasonable estimated date of ethics approval. In addition, do not forget to take public holidays and your team members’ annual leave into account. It is generally no use to send out a questionnaire before the Christmas holidays as people may not be in the mood for surveys. The same goes for summer holidays. Participants, potential respondents, and your team members may not have time or motivation to contribute to your project. And finally, schedule enough time to remind your team members about their tasks. For urgent and/or focused work like writing articles and running complicated statistics, it is good practice to block out time in your calendar, so you will not be interrupted when working on these tasks.

When things get really complex and you have many larger and smaller tasks on your plate, a 3 × 3 planning matrix (Fig. 7.3 ) can be useful in addition to day-to-day planning. In this schedule, you divide your tasks according to how long it will take you to finish them, and how urgent they are. The columns reflect the former, and the rows reflect the latter. Long tasks (i.e., those that will take you several hours) will need to be scheduled in your agenda. Short tasks (i.e., those that will take less than 2 h) could be done, e.g., between a lecture and a meeting. Emails or calls can be finished quickly and could be done when you have 15 min to spare. Make this work for you – think about how you would like to define long and short tasks by the time period (week, month, quarter) that is most useful for you. In terms of urgency (i.e., the rows), ask yourself, do they need to be finished this week, this month, or is there no deadline? Plan work on the first row and then move your way down to the other rows.

A table of 3 columns and 12 rows. The columns divide the tasks according to how long it will take you to finish them, and how urgent they are.

Example of a 3 × 3 planning matrix

Managing the Process

Admin and data management.

When I started my PhD project, I was not very meticulous in making process notes. Instead, I thought I could rely on my memory. I was wrong. It is good practice to take notes on everything, ranging from meetings, changes in the process, and especially the decisions being made. You will need those notes as a few months down the line you will not remember why or how particular decisions were made. Saving your notes and having earlier versions of documents make it possible to retrace editing and decision-making. Sometimes, decisions get casually made in emails, so saving all emails is another way to retrace steps. The best way to keep track of decision-making is to keep an Excel sheet like the example in Fig. 7.4 .

A table of 6 columns and 4 rows. The column headers read, decision,date, made by, made via, reason, and documented. It indicates the most suitable way to keep track of decision-making.

Example of an excel sheet on decision-making

It is easy to let project administration slip when you are busy with data collection, article writing, or teaching. And let’s face it, it’s not the most exciting part of the project. But taking 15 min at the end of each day (when needed) to keep track of the process may save you a lot of time and stress along the way. Another worthwhile exercise is noting down the time it took you to complete specific tasks. A lot of the work you do and the time you spend are ‘invisible’ to your managers or supervisors, and it can be good to have an overview to show them how long you spend working on each task. In addition, the next time when you plan a project, you will have a much better idea how much time it takes to execute different tasks.

Another good practice to start with early is clear project documentation in a shared folder (Fig. 7.5 ). This will save you a lot of time looking for specific documents. When saving documents, make sure you add a title and date to the titles of all documents to ensure you are clear on which are previous versions, later versions, and final versions of your documents. And for your data analyses, always save your syntaxes or data cleaning process documents.

A table of 2 columns and 10 rows. The column header reads, Title and Project title at a top level folder with different tasks.

Example of a project folder structure

Forecast the Risks

When setting up your project management plan, think through with your team what challenges you may expect for each of the milestones you have outlined in the project plan. Something that all project managers should do is a risk analysis assessment (Fig. 7.6 ). It is helpful to split risk into two aspects: probability and impact. Probability is the likelihood of something happening, impact is how serious things are, if they do happen.

A table has 7 columns and 4 rows. The column headers read, date entered, description, probability, impact, possible response actions, and chosen action.

Example of a risk assessment overview

Common risks to research projects are delays or refusal of approval during ethical review, difficulty in obtaining access to potential research participants, low recruitment or retention rates for research participants (attrition), implementation in the ‘real world’, data collection methods not working as planned, data processing and analysis being more difficult than anticipated, equipment failure or loss, projects running over budget, and conflict (Streiner, 2011 ).

There are several strategies that can be used to avoid or reduce some of these risks. Find out what your ethics committee needs in order to approve your project, and start preparing documents early. Carry out a feasibility or pilot study to test recruitment procedures, questionnaires, or interview topic guides. If you have student research assistants for data collection, set up monitoring systems to check how the data collection is progressing and schedule regular debriefing to discuss progress and problems they are facing.

Finishing Up

As a project is nearing completion, make arrangements to store research data for future use, including re-analysis of the data to confirm the original findings, additional or more detailed analyses, inclusion of data in a meta-analysis, linking the data to other datasets or research resources, or audit of the data to confirm it was collected as stated. If you plan to store your data for future use, it is important to ensure that the types of analyses already performed on the data are adequately documented (e.g., in a codebook or script) and that clear links can be traced from the raw datasets to the reported project results. Preferably, if possible, place everything in an Open Access repository (see Chap. 9 ).

Now is also the time to reflect on the process to learn from the experience, e.g., did you underspend or overspend, what might you have done differently to better use the resources, and how would you change things for the next project? Take this reflection into your next project, project proposal, or job application.

One of the most challenging aspects of project management has nothing to do with the project content and everything with your team members. You may be lucky to be working with only one or two supervisors or colleagues who are clear in their expectations, read your drafts on time, and get along well. If not, this section can help you with the pitfalls of managing your managers and other team members.

Supervising Your Supervisors and Coping with Colleagues

These six tips were kindly written by Lisa Klinkenberg, PhD. She recently finished her thesis and was complemented at her defence on how well she managed her supervision team of four. Such a large supervision team is not common but not unheard of in the Netherlands, and it poses many challenges which Lisa skilfully managed.

Break the Feedback Cycle by Announcing Your Final Version.

When working on a manuscript, a questionnaire or something else, as an early career researcher you are likely to send draft versions to your supervisors or colleagues and receive extensive feedback on these drafts which you will then process into a new draft version, which you will then send back to them again. This cycle can repeat itself many times, with often minimal improvements in the later cycles. And when this cycle continues, you might ask yourself: when is it finally good enough? To speed up this process, when you feel confident enough about a version (around the third draft), mention that this is your final version and ask your supervisor(s) or colleagues if it is okay to submit/use it like this, or if they have some minor comments left to share. This urges them to give more clarity on whether it is indeed good enough to be submitted as a final version.

Do Not Expect That All Feedback from Your Supervisor or Colleague Is ‘the Truth’.

Your supervisors and colleagues are probably experts in the field. But when it comes to the order in your manuscript, the content of your cover letter or the layout of your research poster, people rely on their personal experiences, opinions, and training. This is also true for your supervisors or colleagues and even though they might mention in their feedback that ‘the conclusion of your research should be in the middle of your research poster’ or ‘the descriptive statistics should be mentioned in your methods rather than your results’, these kinds of comments are preferences rather than facts, which have worked in their career but might not work for you. Although it is easiest to just do as your supervisor(s) or colleagues tell you to do, keep listening to your own preferences and feelings. In addition, at some point you do become more familiar with the grant, article, or poster guidelines than they are. If you do, respectfully explain why you are not incorporating their feedback.

Openly Discuss Conflicting Opinions.

Somewhat in line with Tip 2, supervisors or colleagues from your research team might also give conflicting feedback. When supervisor 1 tells you to change the order of some paragraphs, and supervisor 2 tells you to revert the order, it is best to openly discuss this conflicting feedback in a meeting. If you side more with one of your supervisors, you can explain in a respectful manner why you prefer their solution above the solution of your other supervisor.

Give Deadlines and Send Reminders for Feedback .

Your supervisors and colleagues are busy people with other (PhD) students and postdocs to supervise. They probably also need to write grants, teach, and execute management related tasks. So, when you send your draft to them for feedback, they might not reply as quickly as you would hope or maybe not at all. A strategy you can apply is to clearly state in your email (or even in the email title) a deadline for when you want to receive their feedback. In most cases, two weeks in advance should be a sufficient timespan. This deadline should be set a few days earlier than when you actually need the feedback (e.g., for a conference deadline). Also state that when you do not receive feedback, you will assume the version is good as it is and that you will submit it. When one week passes, send a friendly reminder of the draft version you want feedback on and remind them of the deadline. When it is one or two days before the deadline and you have not received all feedback yet, send another reminder with a friendly, but a more urgent tone wherein you again state that you will assume this version is good enough as it is in its current state and that you will submit it.

Celebrate Victories with Your Team.

It is good for team morale to share and celebrate victories, such as an award or a new publication. For example, if you have your manuscript published, bring a cake to your next in-person meeting, or say ‘cheers’ with coffee and tea in an online meeting. You can also do this with celebratory events that are not work related, such as your or their birthdays. Besides the fun in celebrating victories, it is also good way to bond with your team. And when the relationships between the team members are good, your team is also more likely to help you out and give feedback in time.

Do Not Side Too Much with One of Them. One implication of working as a team is that you may develop closer professional relationships with one of your supervisors/colleagues more than others. Of course, this is a completely normal thing when building relationships: one person’s interests, views, and personal traits might align better with yours than that of another person. You should be aware, however, of how this will affect your team dynamics. For instance, you will be more likely to ‘side’ with the supervisor or colleague you agree with the most while ignoring the feedback of the supervisor or colleague you agree with the least. Also, if you have a more informal relationship with one of your supervisors or colleagues, you should try to be formal when it comes to work related activities. For instance, if the supervisor you like more is often late with his/her feedback or gives very strict feedback, you should professionally handle this situation and not take it personally.

Create a Communication Plan

It is wise to let your team know how you plan to communicate with them, and where they can find the information about the projects. A shared workspace will be the primary source for providing updates to the team and managing project knowledge. It should be a repository for project documentation like meeting agendas and minutes, and planning and task lists.

The easiest shared workspace is a shared folder on the university network drive. This will work well enough if you manage a small team located at the same university. If you work with external team members, there are multiple project software tools available ranging from relatively simple (e.g., Asana, Slack, Teams, Google), to more sophisticated (e.g., Trello, Jira, Monday). Other platforms can also be used to make your research more open (e.g., GitHub, Open Science Framework). Like other software, project management programmes come with bells and whistles you may never need or use. Again, this should be a tool to get the maximum out of your project and your project members, so do what works best for you and your project and team. Before you choose though, it is important to make sure all external stakeholders have access to the software and are able to use it.

If your project involves external stakeholders who are not in the core project team (like a patient advisory group or research assistants), it may be a good idea to produce a newsletter or use (Google drive, Slack, or Teams) groups for updates to keep people engaged with the project. Set expectations for these stakeholders on how often you will distribute updates about the project, and in which format you will provide the communication. Make sure to balance the information provided by including highlights on barriers and facilitators to success and notable achievements.

If many people are attending a meeting, it is a good idea to send out a Doodle poll ( www.doodle.com ) with different day/time options to find out when most people can attend. When choosing a date, consider who actually needs to be in attendance, and whose attendance is optional. Send the agenda and documentation you want to discuss at least a week before the meeting, so people have time to read it and prepare for the meeting. If the meeting is long (>1.5 h), schedule a coffee/tea/bathroom break. Especially in online meetings, it is difficult to stay focused for over an hour.

When you are chairing the meeting, clarify the agenda and objectives of the meeting at the start. If the discussion takes too long (for example, when people share excessive background info or start venting), remind them of the meeting agenda and goals in a friendly way. Summarise the conclusions and decisions made at the end, approximately 10 min before the declared meeting end time. Ensure the key decisions and action points are clear to everyone. Give everyone one last option to mention any other business.

After the meeting, share a summary with all attendees and all that could not be present. Full minutes are good but notes of the meeting including the main decisions and action points (including who will take the action) are usually good enough and will save you a lot of time. Check whether these action points have been completed before the next meeting (or sooner in case of deadlines).

Influencing Stakeholders

As an early career researcher, you often do not have authoritative leverage over most of your stakeholders, nor your managers/supervisors. Therefore, it may be good to consider what kind of influencing strategies are available to you. If you need someone to do something they may not necessarily want to do, take some time to think about who they are and what they might gain from participating in the project (Daley et al., 2017 ). Ask yourself questions like:

What is the bigger picture as far as they are concerned?

What are their priorities, and how can they be met by this project?

What are their aspirations, goals, and objectives and how do they fit in with this project?

What is constraining them?/What is pressuring them?

What are their strengths and weaknesses?

Influencing factors besides seniority or authority are, for example:

Likeability – people will be more motivated to ‘help you out’ if they like you;

Reciprocity – if you do something for someone else, they will be more inclined to do something for you;

Social – try to make sure they enjoy working on the project, e.g., by scheduling some time to chat before or after a meeting;

Scarcity – you may have a resource they need (e.g., knowledge, skills, network);

Urgency – if something must be done before a certain date, you can appeal to a sense of urgency;

Power allies – they may not necessarily want to do something for you, but they may want to impress your supervisor;

Shared purpose – The project may serve a similar purpose for both of you;

Moral/value-based – if your research is about making the world a healthier/more social/more equal place, they may feel persuaded by moral reasons;

External visibility – being in the project may increase their visibility in a certain field and may increase their network.

Managing Your Mental Health

Finally, please look after your mental health while managing your projects. Setbacks, impostor syndrome, or negative results can have a real impact on your mood or long-term mental health, and it is important to look after yourself, even (or especially) when no one else does.

Make time for breaks. Go for a walk to clear your head, do some exercises to prevent neck and back pains, take your eyes off the screen for a while, and pet your cat (dog, partner, plant, etc.). Do not think you are alone in this because you are not. If needed, ask for help. Most of the time, someone has done it before, got stuck before, and solved it before. Google is a great resource if you cannot find someone around you who has come across the same issue.

I cannot stress the importance of connecting with other early career researchers and/or project managers. Sharing the burden makes you feel less alone and can occasionally give you great ideas on how to solve problems. At one university where I worked, a group was set up for research project managers who got together (virtually) for an hour once a month. The first half hour was usually spent ranting, and in the second half hour, we tried to help each other with project issues. It was a very wholesome process. If you ever feel the pressure getting to you, talk! To your colleagues, friends, your supervisor if you can, mentor or a professional.

Everyone gets lost sometimes, finding out they have been wasting valuable time, or made a (seemingly huge) mistake. Don’t panic! Or panic for a little while (it’s only natural) but stop panicking after some time. Then start fresh.

Conclusion and Practical Recommendations

Properly managing your research project from the start takes time and effort, but it will save you even more time, not to mention stress, if you plan adequately. Most universities organise courses or workshops in project management for early career researchers. It can be very useful to enrol in one, as there will always be helpful information or exercises that are not mentioned in this chapter. Research project management can be hard, preparation is key, and you will make mistakes (as we all do!), but at the end, it will be worth it. If not for the scientific result, then for the addition to your CV. Project management is a valuable, key transferable skill that you can utilise within or outside of academia. Finally, I would like to summarise some key practical recommendations to successfully manage projects:

Project management helps you think about where you want your project to go and what you need to get there.

Taking some time for planning and management will save you time later on.

Take notes about the process and all decisions throughout the project.

Date all project documentation and save it in a clearly defined folder structure.

Create a clear communication plan for your project group.

Always look after your own mental health, it is more important than any project.

Daley, R., Guccione, K., & Hutchinson, S. (2017). 53 ways to enhance researcher development . Frontinus.

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Streiner, D. L. (2011). In S. Sidani (Ed.), When research goes off the rails: Why it happens and what you can do about it . Guilford Press. https://www.guilford.com/books/When-Research-Goes-Off-the-Rails/Streiner-Sidani/9781606234105

Thomas, D. R., & Hodges, I. D. (2010). Designing and managing your research project: Core skills for social and health research . Sage Publications. https://doi.org/10.4135/9781446289044

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I would like to thank Lisa Klinkenberg, Rebecca Woodhouse, Papiya Mazumdar, and Emily Peckham for providing valuable input for this chapter.

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van Dongen, A. (2022). Managing Research Projects. In: Kwasnicka, D., Lai, A.Y. (eds) Survival Guide for Early Career Researchers. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-031-10754-2_7

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How to use a project management approach to help run research projects

Jon Gunnell explains how to adopt the PRINCE2 project management method to help overcome the many challenges of running a multi-year research project

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Jon Gunnell

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Timeline and calendar for project management

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The secret to success as a researcher at universities is the ability to manage people

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Academics face numerous pressures on their time even before managing the process of, for example, a five-year research project that needs to deliver real-world benefits.

Such a project at the University of Sheffield’s School of Law – titled Fortitude and funded by the European Research Council – aims to improve the “legal capability” of children in the UK. The project’s ultimate goal is to create gamified learning for children aged from three to 15 that will help them deal with legal issues they encounter in their everyday lives. For example, how does a child engage with a shop assistant who gives them incorrect change?

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It is crucial – and difficult – for an academic team to ensure that a project like this is managed effectively and delivers its objectives. Managing research involves responsibility for other academics who, while accustomed to working independently, may be less familiar with delivering the outputs a project needs – and within a specific deadline. Plus, there may be a requirement to translate theoretical materials into something meaningful in the “real world” – in our case, devising gamified learning that children will use.

Adopting a project management approach in an academic setting – such as the PRINCE2 method , originally devised by the UK government to improve public sector project success and now used worldwide – can address the challenges of running a multi-year research project and avoid overwhelming academic teams.

Project management: the right discipline for managing research projects

A project – according to the PRINCE2 project management method – is defined as ‘‘a temporary organisation that is created for the purpose of delivering one or more business products according to an agreed business case’’.

Having a method to manage this entity means you have a safe and robust framework to operate in. It also helps ensure creativity and effective communication between team members. This is important because, without it, people tend to work in isolation. With a project management structure – including regular team meetings where people discuss problems and identify solutions – a team collaborates and tasks become actions and outputs.

The value of using a best practice method

Best practice project management methods such as PRINCE2 are the result of experts combining knowledge, experience and proven techniques gained from running various projects around the world.

Therefore, by either hiring a qualified project manager to run an academic research project, or training a relevant team member in the method, your project will be run according to clear principles:

− Defined project roles and responsibilities, which means people have clarity and there is less risk of just muddling through.

− A focus on deliverables (products or outputs), which ensures that everyone knows what the project aims to deliver.

− A business case to ensure that the project remains viable during its lifetime.

− Assurance, troubleshooting and audits to keep things on track.

− Learning and continuous improvement to avoid repeating mistakes and enhance quality.

− The ability to work with both an “agile” delivery approach (an evolving way of working involving regular testing and feedback) and a traditional “waterfall” project approach (linear and based on a plan agreed up front). For example, while our overall project approach is waterfall, briefing gaming companies to develop digital games for children is better handled with agile. But in either case, project management provides structure and control.

The key elements in PRINCE2 that help the research management process

There are numerous ways of working outlined in PRINCE2 that can support the management of a research project. These include:

1. The project plan

Having a project plan from the outset helps identify what a long-term project will look like, but with flexibility, as things might change. It also means that everyone involved can see the key milestones throughout the project.

2. Business case

Developing and revisiting a business case ensures that the project either remains viable or otherwise closes. In our project, this involved completing the European Research Council Grant Agreement: a document that brings together all the information necessary to obtain funding for the research project. On an annual basis, we also need to provide financial and scientific reports that outline what’s been spent, what’s been achieved and what’s planned.

3. Project benefits

Identifying benefits acknowledges that a successful project should change something for the better. In a research management context, that could mean discovering something groundbreaking.

4. Specifying business requirements

Identifies what the project requires for success and helps when tendering for suppliers. In our case, we’re now going out to tender with gaming companies to produce digital or physical games for children based on our research. Therefore, we have produced a specification document for the requirements.

5. Identifying risks

Pinpointing risks means anticipating what could impede the project and allows a project manager to find ways of minimising the risks and keeping stakeholders informed. For our project, we have a risk log that captures factors such as teachers’ strikes, which might mean school participants are unavailable at a crucial point. This helps us to replan an activity and keep the project on schedule.

6. Engaging stakeholders

Knowing who the project stakeholders are, mapping them according to their importance and agreeing how to interact with them ensures that they remain engaged throughout. For us, that can include internal stakeholders, such as the head of department in the university and external stakeholders, such as schools, who can support the project – and knowing how often we need to engage with them.

7. Developing a communication plan

Having different methods and channels to communicate with stakeholders is vital to demonstrate the work you’re doing and to share results and learnings. For example, we’ve communicated research findings and successes of the project periodically when attending external conferences and academic events at the university.

8. Regular, formal reporting

Delivering regular reports to a research project’s funding body might cover the latest research findings and how you are managing the budget. Without such reports, your funding could be at risk.

9. Documenting lessons learned

This helps the project team to reflect on different activities and how they could be improved next time. Questioning and capturing what’s gone well, what hasn’t and what you would do differently is also important for future projects.

How a project management method improves project outcomes

A project’s purpose is to deliver something new that will benefit an organisation or department. In other words, provide a positive outcome. In our case, having a project management method in place has helped us to deliver:

− An ethics approach for the project that meets both the University of Sheffield’s and the European Research Council’s requirements.

− A child-centred framework to measure legal capability, developed through research with children from a number of our partner schools.

− A GDPR approach that meets the requirements of the university and ensures the security of all personal data.

− A project website, which we have used as our key channel of communication for both project participants and stakeholders.

Replicating the value of project management in your institution

By including a project manager at the bid stage of a research project, the academic team can get dedicated support for the development of a project plan, which could then accompany their funding bid. And by sharing lessons learned and experiences gained across an institution, this can become the basis for developing and embedding best practice project management within any future projects.

Jon Gunnell is project manager at the University of Sheffield School of Law, UK.

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Click here for more information about the PRINCE2 project management method.

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Managing a research project

Having been successful in attracting funding for your project, you will now have to lead it from set-up to completion. The following pages take you through the key stages:

1. Settting up a research project

2. Monitoring a research project

3. Reporting on your research project

4. Making the most of your research project

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  • v.20; 2019 Oct 25

Managing Ideas, People, and Projects: Organizational Tools and Strategies for Researchers

Samuel pascal levin.

1 Beverly, MA 01915, USA

Michael Levin

2 Allen Discovery Center at Tufts University, Suite 4600, 200 Boston Avenue, Medford, MA 02155-4243, USA

Primary Investigators at all levels of their career face a range of challenges related to optimizing their activity within the constraints of deadlines and productive research. These range from enhancing creative thought and keeping track of ideas to organizing and prioritizing the activity of the members of the group. Numerous tools now exist that facilitate the storage and retrieval of information necessary for running a laboratory to advance specific project goals within associated timelines. Here we discuss strategies and tools/software that, together or individually, can be used as is or adapted to any size scientific laboratory. Specific software products, suggested use cases, and examples are shown across the life cycle from idea to publication. Strategies for managing the organization of, and access to, digital information and planning structures can greatly facilitate the efficiency and impact of an active scientific enterprise. The principles and workflow described here are applicable to many different fields.

Graphical Abstract

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Information Systems; Knowledge Management


Researchers, at all stages of their careers, are facing an ever-increasing deluge of information and deadlines. Additional difficulties arise when one is the Principal Investigator (PI) of those researchers: as group size and scope of inquiry increases, the challenges of managing people and projects and the interlocking timelines, finances, and information pertaining to those projects present a continuous challenge. In the immediate term, there are experiments to do, papers and grants to write, and presentations to construct, in addition to teaching and departmental duties. At the same time, however, the PI must make strategic decisions that will impact the future direction(s) of the laboratory and its personnel. The integration of deep creative thought together with the practical steps of implementing a research plan and running a laboratory on a day-to-day basis is one of the great challenges of the modern scientific enterprise. Especially difficult is the fact that attention needs to span many orders of scale, from decisions about which problems should be pursued by the group in the coming years and how to tackle those problems to putting out regular “fires” associated with the minutiae of managing people and limited resources toward the committed goals.

The planning of changes in research emphasis, hiring, grant-writing, etc. likewise occur over several different timescales. The optimization of resources and talent toward impactful goals requires the ability to organize, store, and rapidly access information that is integrated with project planning structures. Interestingly, unlike other fields such as business, there are few well-known, generally accepted guidelines for best practices available to researchers. Here we lay out a conceptual taxonomy of the life cycle of a project, from brainstorming ideas through to a final deliverable product. We recommend methods and software/tools to facilitate management of concurrent research activities across the timeline. The goal is to optimize the organization, storage, and access to the necessary information in each phase, and, crucially, to facilitate the interconnections between static information, action plans, and work product across all phases. We believe that the earlier in the career of a researcher such tools are implemented and customized, the more positive impact they will exert on the productivity of their enterprise.

This overview is intended for anyone who is conducting research or academic scholarship. It consists of a number of strategies and software recommendations that can be used together or independently (adapted to suit a given individual's or group's needs). Some of the specific software packages mentioned are only usable on Apple devices, but similar counterparts exist in the Windows and Linux ecosystems; these are indicated in Table 1 (definitions of special terms are given in Table 2 ). These strategies were developed (and have been continuously updated) over the last 20 years based on the experiences of the Levin group and those of various collaborators and other productive researchers. Although very specific software and platforms are indicated, to facilitate the immediate and practical adoption by researchers at all levels, the important thing is the strategies illustrated by the examples. As software and hardware inevitably change over the next few years, the fundamental principles can be readily adapted to newer products.

Software Packages and Alternatives

A Glossary of Special Terms

Basic Principles

Although there is a huge variety of different types of scientific enterprises, most of them contain one or more activities that can be roughly subsumed by the conceptual progression shown in Figure 1 . This life cycle progresses from brainstorming and ideation through planning, execution of research, and then creation of work products. Each stage requires unique activities and tools, and it is crucial to establish a pipeline and best practices that enable the results of each phase to effectively facilitate the next phase. All of the recommendations given below are designed to support the following basic principles:

  • • Information should be easy to find and access, so as to enable the user to have to remember as little as possible—this keeps the mind free to generate new, creative ideas. We believe that when people get comfortable with not having to remember any details and are completely secure in the knowledge that the information has been offloaded to a dependable system and will be there when they need it, a deeper, improved level of thinking can be achieved.
  • • Information should be both organized hierarchically (accessible by drill-down search through a rational structure) and searchable by keywords.
  • • Information should be reachable from anywhere in the world (but secure and access restricted). Choose software that includes a cell phone/tablet platform client.
  • • No information should ever be lost—the systems are such that additional information does not clog up or reduce efficiency of use and backup strategies ensure disaster robustness; therefore, it is possible to save everything.
  • • Software tools optimized for specific management tasks should be used; select those tools based on interoperability, features, and the ability to export into common formats (such as XML) in case it becomes expedient someday to switch to a newer product.
  • • One's digital world should be organized into several interlocking categories, which utilize different tools: activity (to-dos, projects, research goals) and knowledge (static information).
  • • One's activity should be hierarchically organized according to a temporal scale, ranging from immediate goals all the way to career achievement objectives and core mission.
  • • Storage of planning data should allow integration of plans with the information needed to implement them (using links to files and data in the various tools).
  • • There should be no stored paper—everything should be obtained and stored in a digital form (or immediately digitized, using one of the tools described later in this document).
  • • The information management tasks described herein should not occupy so much time as to take away from actual research. When implemented correctly, they result in a net increase in productivity.

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The Life Cycle of Research Activity

Various projects occupy different places along a typical timeline. The life cycle extends from creative ideation to gathering information, to formulating a plan, to the execution for the plan, and then to producing a work product such as a grant or paper based on the results. Many of these phases necessitate feedback to a prior phase, shown in thinner arrows (for example, information discovered during a literature search or attempts to formalize the work plan may require novel brainstorming). This diagram shows the product (end result) of each phase and typical tools used to accomplish them.

These basic principles can be used as the skeleton around which specific strategies and new software products can be deployed. Whenever possible, these can be implemented via external administration services (i.e., by a dedicated project manager or administrator inside the group), but this is not always compatible with budgetary constraints, in which case they can readily be deployed by each principal investigator. The PIs also have to decide whether they plan to suggest (or insist) that other people in the group also use these strategies, and perhaps monitor their execution. In our experience, it is most essential for anyone leading a complex project or several to adopt these methods (typically, a faculty member or senior staff scientist), whereas people tightly focused on one project and with limited concurrent tasks involving others (e.g., Ph.D. students) are not essential to move toward the entire system (although, for example, the backup systems should absolutely be ensured to be implemented among all knowledge workers in the group). The following are some of the methods that have proven most effective in our own experience.

Information Technology Infrastructure

Several key elements should be pillars of your Information Technology (IT) infrastructure ( Figure 2 ). You should be familiar enough with computer technology that you can implement these yourself, as it is rare for an institutional IT department to be able to offer this level of assistance. Your primary disk should be a large (currently, ∼2TB) SSD drive or, better, a disk card (such as the 2TB SSD NVMe PCIe) for fast access and minimal waiting time. Your computer should be so fast that you spend no time (except in the case of calculations or data processing) waiting for anything—your typing and mouse movement should be the rate-limiting step. If you find yourself waiting for windows or files to open, obtain a better machine.

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Schematic of Data Flow and Storage

Three types of information: data (facts and datasets), action plans (schedules and to-do lists), and work product (documents) all interact with each other in defining a region of work space for a given research project. All of this should be hosted on a single PC (personal computer). It is accessed by a set of regular backups of several types, as well as by the user who can interact with raw files through the file system or with organized data through a variety of client applications that organize information, schedules, and email. See Table 2 for definitions of special terms.

One key element is backups—redundant copies of your data. Disks fail—it is not a question of whether your laptop or hard drive will die, but when. Storage space is inexpensive and researchers' time is precious: team members should not tolerate time lost due to computer snafus. The backup and accessibility system should be such that data are immediately recoverable following any sort of disaster; it only has to be set up once, and it only takes one disaster to realize the value of paranoia about data. This extends also to laboratory inventory systems—it is useful to keep (and back up) lists of significant equipment and reagents in the laboratory, in case they are needed for the insurance process in case of loss or damage.

The main drive should be big enough to keep all key information (not primary laboratory data, such as images or video) in one volume—this is to facilitate cloning. You should have an extra internal drive (which can be a regular disk) of the same size or bigger. Use something like Carbon Copy Cloner or SuperDuper to set up a nightly clone operation. When the main disk fails (e.g., the night before a big grant is due), boot from the clone and your exact, functioning system is ready to go. For Macs, another internal drive set up as a Time Machine enables keeping versions of files as they change. You should also have an external drive, which is likewise a Time Machine or a clone: you can quickly unplug it and take it with you, if the laboratory has to be evacuated (fire alarm or chemical emergency) or if something happens to your computer and you need to use one elsewhere. Set a calendar reminder once a month to check that the Time Machine is accessible and can be searched and that your clone is actually updated and bootable. A Passport-type portable drive is ideal when traveling to conferences: if something happens to the laptop, you can boot a fresh (or borrowed) machine from the portable drive and continue working. For people who routinely install software or operating system updates, I also recommend getting one disk that is a clone of the entire system and applications and then set it to nightly clone the data only , leaving the operating system files unchanged. This guarantees that you have a usable system with the latest data files (useful in case an update or a new piece of software renders the system unstable or unbootable and it overwrites the regular clone before you notice the problem). Consider off-site storage. CrashPlan Pro is a reasonable choice for backing up laboratory data to the cloud. One solution for a single person's digital content is to have two extra external hard drives. One gets a clone of your office computer, and one is a clone of your home computer, and then you swap—bring the office one home and the home one to your office. Update them regularly, and keep them swapped, so that should a disaster strike one location, all of the data are available. Finally, pay careful attention (via timed reminders) to how your laboratory machines and your people's machines are being backed up; a lot of young researchers, especially those who have not been through a disaster yet, do not make backups. One solution is to have a system like CrashPlan Pro installed on everyone's machines to do automatic backup.

Another key element is accessibility of information. Everyone should be working on files (i.e., Microsoft Word documents) that are inside a Dropbox or Box folder; whatever you are working on this month, the files should be inside a folder synchronized by one of these services. That way, if anything happens to your machine, you can access your files from anywhere in the world. It is critical that whatever service is chosen, it is one that s ynchronizes a local copy of the data that live on your local machine (not simply keeps files in the cloud) —that way, you have what you need even if the internet is down or connectivity is poor. Tools that help connect to your resources while on the road include a VPN (especially useful for secure connections while traveling), SFTP (to transfer files; turn on the SFTP, not FTP, service on your office machine), and Remote Desktop (or VNC). All of these exist for cell phone or tablet devices, as well as for laptops, enabling access to anything from anywhere. All files (including scans of paper documents) should be processed by OCR (optical character recognition) software to render their contents searchable. This can be done in batch (on a schedule), by Adobe Acrobat's OCR function, which can be pointed to an entire folder of PDFs, for example, and left to run overnight. The result, especially with Apple's Spotlight feature, is that one can easily retrieve information that might be written inside a scanned document.

Here, we focus on work product and the thought process, not management of the raw data as it emerges from equipment and experimental apparatus. However, mention should be made of electronic laboratory notebooks (ELNs), which are becoming an important aspect of research. ELNs are a rapidly developing field, because they face a number of challenges. A laboratory that abandons paper notebooks entirely has to provide computer interfaces anywhere in the facility where data might be generated; having screens, keyboards, and mice at every microscope or other apparatus station, for example, can be expensive, and it is not trivial to find an ergonomically equivalent digital substitute for writing things down in a notebook as ideas or data appear. On the other hand, keeping both paper notebooks for immediate recording, and ELNs for organized official storage, raises problems of wasted effort during the (perhaps incomplete) transfer of information from paper to the digital version. ELNs are also an essential tool to prevent loss of institutional knowledge as team members move up to independent positions. ELN usage will evolve over time as input devices improve and best practices are developed to minimize the overhead of entering meta-data. However, regardless of how primary data are acquired, the researcher will need specific strategies for transitioning experimental findings into research product in the context of a complex set of personal, institutional, and scientific goals and constraints.

Facilitating Creativity

The pipeline begins with ideas, which must be cultivated and then harnessed for subsequent implementation ( Altshuller, 1984 ). This step consists of two components: identifying salient new information and arranging it in a way that facilitates novel ideas, associations, hypotheses, and strategic plans for making impact.

For the first step, we suggest an automated weekly PubCrawler search, which allows Boolean searches of the literature. Good searches to save include ones focusing on specific keywords of interest, as well as names of specific people whose work one wants to follow. The resulting weekly email of new papers matching specific criteria complements manual searches done via ISI's Web of Science, Google Scholar, and PubMed. The papers of interest should be immediately imported into a reference manager, such as Endnote, along with useful Keywords and text in the Notes field of each one that will facilitate locating them later. Additional tools include DevonAgent and DevonSphere, which enable smart searches of web and local resources, respectively.

Brainstorming can take place on paper or digitally (see later discussion). We have noticed that the rate of influx of new ideas is increased by habituating to never losing a new idea. This can be accomplished by establishing a voicemail contact in your cell phone leading to your own office voicemail (which allows voice recordings of idea fragments while driving or on the road, hands-free) and/or setting up Endnote or a similar server-synchronized application to record (and ideally transcribe) notes. It has been our experience that the more one records ideas arising in a non-work setting, the more often they will pop up automatically. For notes or schematics written on paper during dedicated brainstorming, one tool that ensures that nothing is lost is an electronic pen. For example, the Livescribe products are well integrated with Evernote and ensure that no matter where you are, anything you write down becomes captured in a form accessible from anywhere and are safe no matter what happens to the original notebook in which they were written.

Enhancing scientific thought, creative brainstorming, and strategic planning is facilitated by the creation of mind maps: visual representations of spatial structure of links between concepts, or the mapping of planned activity onto goals of different timescales. There are many available mind map software packages, including MindNode; their goal is to enable one to quickly set down relationships between concepts with a minimum of time spent on formatting. Examples are shown in Figures 3 A and 3B. The process of creating these mind maps (which can then be put on one's website or discussed with the laboratory members) helps refine fuzzy thinking and clarifies the relationships between concepts or activities. Mind mappers are an excellent tool because their light, freeform nature allows unimpeded brainstorming and fluid changes of idea structure but at the same time forces one to explicitly test out specific arrangements of plans or ideas.

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Mind Mapping

(A and B) The task of schematizing concepts and ideas spatially based on their hierarchical relationships with each other is a powerful technique for organizing the creative thought process. Examples include (A), which shows how the different projects in our laboratory relate to each other. Importantly, it can also reveal disbalances or gaps in coverage of specific topics, as well as help identify novel relationships between sub-projects by placing them on axes (B) or even identify novel hypotheses suggested by symmetry.

(C) Relationships between the central nervous system (CNS) and regeneration, cancer, and embryogenesis. The connecting lines in black show typical projects (relationships) already being pursued by our laboratory, and the lack of a project in the space between CNS and embryogenesis suggests a straightforward hypothesis and project to examine the role of the brain in embryonic patterning.

It is important to note that mind maps can serve a function beyond explicit organization. In a good mapped structure, one can look for symmetries (revealing relationships that are otherwise not obvious) between the concepts involved. An obvious geometric pattern with a missing link or node can help one think about what could possibly go there, and often identifies new relationships or items that had not been considered ( Figure 3 C), in much the same way that gaps in the periodic table of the elements helped identify novel elements.

Organizing Information and Knowledge

The input and output of the feedback process between brainstorming and literature mining is information. Static information not only consists of the facts, images, documents, and other material needed to support a train of thought but also includes anything needed to support the various projects and activities. It should be accessible in three ways, as it will be active during all phases of the work cycle. Files should be arranged on your disk in a logical hierarchical structure appropriate to the work. Everything should also be searchable and indexed by Spotlight. Finally, some information should be stored as entries in a data management system, like Evernote or DevonThink, which have convenient client applications that make the data accessible from any device.

Notes in these systems should include useful lists and how-to's, including, for example:

  • • Names and addresses of experts for specific topics
  • • Emergency protocols for laboratory or animal habitats
  • • Common recipes/methods
  • • Lists and outlines of papers/grants on the docket
  • • Information on students, computers, courses, etc.
  • • Laboratory policies
  • • Materials and advice for students, new group members, etc.
  • • Lists of editors, and preferred media contacts
  • • Lists of Materials Transfer Agreements (MTAs), contract texts, info on IP
  • • Favorite questions for prospective laboratory members

Each note can have attachments, which include manuals, materials safety sheets, etc. DevonThink needs a little more setup but is more robust and also allows keeping the server on one's own machine (nothing gets uploaded to company servers, unlike with Evernote, which might be a factor for sensitive data). Scientific papers should be kept in a reference manager, whereas books (such as epub files and PDFs of books and manuscripts) can be stored in a Calibre library.

Email: A Distinct Kind of Information

A special case of static information is email, including especially informative and/or actionable emails from team members, external collaborators, reviewers, and funders. Because the influx of email is ever-increasing, it is important to (1) establish a good infrastructure for its management and (2) establish policies for responding to emails and using them to facilitate research. The first step is to ensure that one only sees useful emails, by training a good Bayesian spam filter such as SpamSieve. We suggest a triage system in which, at specific times of day (so that it does not interfere with other work), the Inbox is checked and each email is (1) forwarded to someone better suited to handling it, (2) responded quickly for urgent things that need a simple answer, or (3) started as a Draft email for those that require a thoughtful reply. Once a day or a couple of times per week, when circumstances permit focused thought, the Draft folder should be revisited and those emails answered. We suggest a “0 Inbox” policy whereby at the end of a day, the Inbox is basically empty, with everything either delegated, answered, or set to answer later.

We also suggest creating subfolders in the main account (keeping them on the mail server, not local to a computer, so that they can be searched and accessed from anywhere) as follows:

  • • Collaborators (emails stating what they are going to do or updating on recent status)
  • • Grants in play (emails from funding agencies confirming receipt)
  • • Papers in play (emails from journals confirming receipt)
  • • Waiting for information (emails from people for whom you are waiting for information)
  • • Waiting for miscellaneous (emails from people who you expect to do something)
  • • Waiting for reagents (emails from people confirming that they will be sending you a physical object)

Incoming emails belonging to those categories (for example, an email from an NIH program officer acknowledging a grant submission, a collaborator who emailed a plan of what they will do next, or someone who promised to answer a specific question) should be sorted from the Inbox to the relevant folder. Every couple of weeks (according to a calendar reminder), those folders should be checked, and those items that have since been dealt with can be saved to a Saved Messages folder archive, whereas those that remain can be Replied to as a reminder to prod the relevant person.

In addition, as most researchers now exchange a lot of information via email, the email trail preserves a record of relationships among colleagues and collaborators. It can be extremely useful, even years later, to be able to go back and see who said what to whom, what was the last conversation in a collaboration that stalled, who sent that special protocol or reagent and needs to be acknowledged, etc. It is imperative that you know where your email is being stored, by whom, and their policy on retention, storage space limits, search, backup, etc. Most university IT departments keep a mail server with limited storage space and will delete your old emails (even more so if you move institutions). One way to keep a permanent record with complete control is with an application called MailSteward Pro. This is a front-end client for a freely available MySQL server, which can run on any machine in your laboratory. It will import your mail and store unlimited quantities indefinitely. Unlike a mail server, this is a real database system and is not as susceptible to data corruption or loss as many other methods.

A suggested strategy is as follows. Keep every single email, sent and received. Every month (set a timed reminder), have MailSteward Pro import them into the MySQL database. Once a year, prune them from the mail server (or let IT do it on their own schedule). This allows rapid search (and then reply) from inside a mail client for anything that is less than one year old (most searches), but anything older can be found in the very versatile MailStewardPro Boolean search function. Over time, in addition to finding specific emails, this allows some informative data mining. Results of searches via MailStewardPro can be imported into Excel to, for example, identify the people with whom you most frequently communicate or make histograms of the frequency of specific keywords as a function of time throughout your career.

With ideas, mind maps, and the necessary information in hand, one can consider what aspects of the current operations plan can be changed to incorporate plans for new, impactful activity.

Organizing Tasks and Planning

A very useful strategy involves breaking down everything according to the timescales of decision-making, such as in the Getting Things Done (GTD) philosophy ( Figure 4 ) ( Allen, 2015 ). Activities range from immediate (daily) tasks to intermediate goals all the way to career-scale (or life-long) mission statements. As with mind maps, being explicit about these categories not only force one to think hard about important aspects of their work, but also facilitate the transmission of this information to others on the team. The different categories are to be revisited and revised at different rates, according to their position on the hierarchy. This enables you to make sure that effort and resources are being spent according to priorities.

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Scales of Activity Planning

Activities should be assigned to a level of planning with a temporal scale, based on how often the goals of that level get re-evaluated. This ranges from core values, which can span an entire career or lifetime, all the way to tactics that guide day-to-day activities. Each level should be re-evaluated at a reasonable time frame to ensure that its goals are still consistent with the bigger picture of the level(s) above it and to help re-define the plans for the levels below it.

We also strongly recommend a yearly personal scientific retreat. This is not meant to be a vacation to “forget about work” but rather an opportunity for freedom from everyday minutiae to revisit, evaluate, and potentially revise future activity (priorities, action items) for the next few years. Every few years, take more time to re-map even higher levels on the pyramid hierarchy; consider what the group has been doing—do you like the intellectual space your group now occupies? Are your efforts having the kind of impact you realistically want to make? A formal diagram helps clarify the conceptual vision and identify gaps and opportunities. Once a correct level of activity has been identified, it is time to plan specific activities.

A very good tool for this purpose, which enables hierarchical storage of tasks and subtasks and their scheduling, is OmniFocus ( Figure 5 ). OmniFocus also enables inclusion of files (or links to files or links to Evernote notes of information) together with each Action. It additionally allows each action to be marked as “Done” once it is complete, providing not only a current action plan but a history of every past activity. Another interesting aspect is the fact that one can link individual actions with specific contexts: visualizing the database from the perspective of contexts enables efficient focus of attention on those tasks that are relevant in a specific scenario. OmniFocus allows setting reminders for specific actions and can be used for adding a time component to the activity.

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Project Planning

This figure shows a screenshot of the OmniFocus application, illustrating the nested hierarchy of projects and sub-projects, arranged into larger groups.

The best way to manage time relative to activity (and to manage the people responsible for each activity) is to construct Gantt charts ( Figure 6 ), which can be used to plan out project timelines and help keep grant and contract deliverables on time. A critical feature is that it makes dependencies explicit, so that it is clear which items have to be solved/done before something else can be accomplished. Gantt charts are essential for complex, multi-person, and/or multi-step projects with strict deadlines (such as grant deliverables and progress reports). Software such as OmniPlanner can also be used to link resources (equipment, consumables, living material, etc.) with specific actions and timelines. Updating and evaluation of a Gantt chart for a specific project should take place on a time frame appropriate to the length of the next immediate phase; weekly or biweekly is typical.

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Timeline Planning

This figure shows a screenshot of a typical Gantt chart, in OmniPlan software, illustrating the timelines of different project steps, their dependencies, and specific milestones (such as a due date for a site visit or grant submission). Note that Gantt software automatically moves the end date for each item if its subtasks' timing changes, enabling one to see a dynamically correct up-to-date temporal map of the project that adjusts for the real-world contingencies of research.

In addition to the comprehensive work plan in OmniFocus or similar, it is helpful to use a Calendar (which synchronizes to a server, such as Microsoft Office calendar with Exchange server). For yourself, make a task every day called “Monday tasks,” etc., which contains all the individual things to be accomplished (which do not warrant their own calendar reminder). First thing in the morning, one can take a look at the day's tasks to see what needs to be done. Whatever does not get done that day is to be copied onto another day's tasks. For each of the people on your team, make a timed reminder (weekly, for example, for those with whom you meet once a week) containing the immediate next steps for them to do and the next thing they are supposed to produce for your meeting. Have it with you when you meet, and give them a copy, updating the next occurrence as needed based on what was decided at the meeting to do next. This scheme makes it easy for you to remember precisely what needs to be covered in the discussion, serves as a record of the project and what you walked about with whom at any given day (which can be consulted years later, to reconstruct events if needed), and is useful to synchronize everyone on the same page (if the team member gets a copy of it after the meeting).

Writing: The Work Products

Writing, to disseminate results and analysis, is a central activity for scientists. One of the OmniFocus library's sections should contain lists of upcoming grants to write, primary papers that are being worked on, and reviews/hypothesis papers planned. Microsoft Word is the most popular tool for writing papers—its major advantage is compatibility with others, for collaborative manuscripts (its Track Changes feature is also very well implemented, enabling collaboration as a master document is passed from one co-author to another). But Scrivener should be seriously considered—it is an excellent tool that facilitates complex projects and documents because it enables WYSIWYG text editing in the context of a hierarchical structure, which allows you to simultaneously work on a detailed piece of text while seeing the whole outline of the project ( Figure 7 ).

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Writing Complex Materials

This figure shows a screenshot from the Scrivener software. The panel on the left facilitates logical and hierarchical organization of a complex writing project (by showing where in the overall structure any given text would fit), while the editing pane on the right allows the user to focus on writing a specific subsection without having to scroll through (but still being able to see) the major categories within which it must fit.

It is critical to learn to use a reference manager—there are numerous ones, including, for example, Endnote, which will make it much easier to collaborate with others on papers with many citations. One specific tip to make collaboration easier is to ask all of the co-authors to set the reference manager to use PMID Accession Number in the temporary citations in the text instead of the arbitrary record number it uses by default. That way, a document can have its bibliography formatted by any of the co-authors even if they have completely different libraries. Although some prefer collaborative editing of a Google Doc file, we have found a “master document” system useful, in which a file is passed around among collaborators by email but only one can make (Tracked) edits at a time (i.e., one person has the master doc and everyone makes edits on top of that).

One task most scientists regularly undertake is writing reviews of a specific subfield (or Whitepapers). It is often difficult, when one has an assignment to write, to remember all of the important papers that were seen in the last few years that bear on the topic. One method to remedy this is to keep standing document files, one for each topic that one might plausibly want to cover and update them regularly. Whenever a good paper is found, immediately enter it into the reference manager (with good keywords) and put a sentence or two about its main point (with the citation) into the relevant document. Whenever you decide to write the review, you will already have a file with the necessary material that only remains to be organized, allowing you to focus on conceptual integration and not combing through literature.

The life cycle of research can be viewed through the lens of the tools used at different stages. First there are the conceptual ideas; many are interconnected, and a mind mapper is used to flesh out the structure of ideas, topics, and concepts; make it explicit; and share it within the team and with external collaborators. Then there is the knowledge—facts, data, documents, protocols, pieces of information that relate to the various concepts. Kept in a combination of Endnote (for papers), Evernote (for information fragments and lists), and file system files (for documents), everything is linked and cross-referenced to facilitate the projects. Activities are action items, based on the mind map, of what to do, who is doing what, and for which purpose/grant. OmniFocus stores the subtasks within tasks within goals for the PI and everyone in the laboratory. During meetings with team members, these lists and calendar entries are used to synchronize objectives with everyone and keep the activity optimized toward the next step goals. The product—discovery and synthesis—is embodied in publications via a word processor and reference manager. A calendar structure is used to manage the trajectory from idea to publication or grant.

The tools are currently good enough to enable individual components in this pipeline. Because new tools are continuously developed and improved, we recommend a yearly overview and analysis of how well the tools are working (e.g., which component of the management plan takes the most time or is the most difficult to make invisible relative to the actual thinking and writing), coupled to a web search for new software and updated versions of existing programs within each of the categories discussed earlier.

A major opportunity exists for software companies in the creation of integrated new tools that provide all the tools in a single integrated system. In future years, a single platform will surely appear that will enable the user to visualize the same research structure from the perspective of an idea mind map, a schedule, a list of action items, or a knowledge system to be queried. Subsequent development may even include Artificial Intelligence tools for knowledge mining, to help the researcher extract novel relationships among the content. These will also need to dovetail with ELN platforms, to enable a more seamless integration of project management with primary data. These may eventually become part of the suite of tools being developed for improving larger group dynamics (e.g., Microsoft Teams). One challenge in such endeavors is ensuring the compatibility of formats and management procedures across groups and collaborators, which can be mitigated by explicitly discussing choice of software and process, at the beginning of any serious collaboration.

Regardless of the specific software products used, a researcher needs to put systems in place for managing information, plans, schedules, and work products. These digital objects need to be maximally accessible and backed up, to optimize productivity. A core principle is to have these systems be so robust and lightweight as to serve as an “external brain” ( Menary, 2010 )—to maximize creativity and deep thought by making sure all the details are recorded and available when needed. Although the above discussion focused on the needs of a single researcher (perhaps running a team), future work will address the unique needs of collaborative projects with more lateral interactions by significant numbers of participants.

How to Do Research: A Practical Guide to Designing and Managing Research Projects (3rd revised edition)

Records Management Journal

ISSN : 0956-5698

Article publication date: 19 June 2007

  • Project management

Williams, C. (2007), "How to Do Research: A Practical Guide to Designing and Managing Research Projects (3rd revised edition)", Records Management Journal , Vol. 17 No. 2. https://doi.org/10.1108/rmj.2007.28117bae.008

Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2007, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Nick MooreFacet Publishing2006176 pp.ISBN 978-1-85604-594-0 Keywords: Research, Project management, Projects Review DOI: 10.1108/09565690710757986

This book should be read by anyone involved in academic research, students, early career researchers and lecturers alike. Students and researchers will be introduced in a structured way to the research process while lecturers will gain a useful teaching resource. Its success is evident: first published in 1983 this is the third revised edition. It does exactly what it says on the packet – it “focuses on the day-to-day requirements of project managing a piece of research right through from the formulation of the initial idea, to the development of a research proposal and then to the writing up and dissemination of results”. In order to achieve this the book is divided into two sections: the research process and methods.

The section on the research process leads the new researcher through the business of defining a research question – the issue, aims and objectives of the research – adopting an appropriate methodology, managing the research itself and writing it up and disseminating results. It also includes guidance on writing research proposals and on obtaining funding to support research.

The second section provides more detailed guidance on the technicalities of research methods, offering a brief description of available research techniques, and taking the reader through desk research, the collection and analysis of quantitative and qualitative data generated mainly through questionnaires and interviews and offering guidance on sampling and statistical analysis. Four pages of “further reading” are supplied. Finally a useful case study is provided. This is an example of an actual proposal submitted by the author when a member of the Policy Studies Institute, the aim of which was to identify the range of skills that would be required by future information professionals.

This book is most useful to those engaged in social science research: indeed it is clearly directed toward those researching “people and institutions and the relationships between them”. It identifies a range of funding bodies, with the ESRC (Economic & Social Research Council) as the most appropriate research council (the Arts & Humanities Research Council is not mentioned). While it recognises the needs of those undertaking research as part of undergraduate, master’s and doctoral degrees – and indeed much of the methodology outlined in section 2 will be extremely valuable to them – it is perhaps those aiming to secure funding for applied research that are the main audience. As such it concentrates on the requirements of applied and policy, rather than theoretical research arguing that while “theory” is useful for explaining things, and more likely to be undertaken as part of a qualification, the need to provide practical solutions “means that strategic research tends to place more reliance on empirical data and evidence than it does on theories and concepts”.

Given that the focus is on social science research it follows that the description of methodologies concentrates on the collection of data about people and their behaviour. Since this is best extracted via questionnaires and interviews, the main sources of raw data for social research, discussion of these methods predominate. Examples within these are centred on the selection and quantitative and qualitative analysis of data generated through samples of human populations. There is less direct guidance for those engaged on research into other humanities-related issues using inanimate sources. Records managers or archivists might want to investigate standards, systems, processes, records, finding aids or historical archives for example. While the overall content of the book will be tremendously helpful to them they should not expect to find examples or recommendations relating to research in these kinds of areas or resources.

This volume maintains discussion at the basic introductory level throughout. This serves to present the whole business of research as less daunting than it might otherwise appear, and this is ideal both for the novice researcher and as a check for the more experienced. It would have been good to have had more specific pointers to further sources, so that once confidence has been gained or when exploration in more depth (sampling, for example) is required there were more ready access to these. While the book list in Chapter 16 is helpful, a fuller bibliography (even the occasional footnote) would have been helpful.

This book is highly recommended. It is – like the research methods it advocates – well structured, with clear aims and objectives that are undoubtedly achieved, well written and accessible to its readers.

Caroline Williams University of Liverpool, Liverpool, UK

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Starting steps for research project success

managing research projects

Research projects are an important part of a student’s academic career. They’re an integral part of the learning process, providing students with the opportunity to explore a particular topic in-depth, develop research skills, and make an original contribution to their field of study.

That said, they can also be a source of stress for many students, particularly if it’s their first time writing a research project. The best way to approach a project of this size is to break it down into smaller steps and ensure you’ve laid the groundwork before you even begin writing.

In this article, we’ll look at different elements of beginning a research project, including writing a proposal, starting steps, and how to use monday.com to organize all your research and tasks in one place.

What is a research project?

A research project is an organized effort to investigate a specific question or topic. It can involve either quantitative or qualitative research methods and can include surveys, interviews, or literature reviews.

The goal of a research project is to answer a question or hypothesis by exploring new ideas and testing theories.

In an academic setting, research projects are typically conducted by students, faculty members, postdoctoral fellows, or graduate students, and may involve collaborations with outside organizations.

How to write a research project proposal

Before beginning to write a research project, you need to first write a proposal. A research project proposal is a document used to outline the specific goals, methods, and resources required for a research project. It’s used to present the planned research to potential sponsors or other stakeholders in order to receive approval to proceed with the project.

There are several elements to include in a project proposal that will not only help guide your research but help show why your topic is relevant and worth pursuing.

  • Title: Develop a clear and concise title for your research project proposal.
  • Introduction: Give background, including the purpose and importance of the research.
  • Objectives: List the specific objectives of your research project.
  • Methodology: Describe the methods and techniques you will use.
  • Resources: Describe the resources you will need to carry out your project.
  • Timeline: Provide a timeline for completion and bring up any potential obstacles or risks.
  • Expected outcomes: Identify the expected outcomes, including possible implications.
  • Budget: Estimate the costs of completing the project and any necessary funding.
  • References: Provide references that you’ll cite that help prove your topic is relevant.

Looking at examples of other research project proposals will be helpful to visualize what yours should look like. Here are examples of successful project proposals in the field of social policy and criminology as well as a Ph.D. project in politics .

A project proposal template from monday.com can help you build out your project proposal. This template will ensure that you aren’t missing any essential elements that can result in your research project getting rejected or needing to edit and resubmit a new proposal.

5 starting steps for writing a research project

While there are many different steps to the writing portion of a research project, the initial setup of your project will not only set you up for success but will make the writing go a lot more smoothly. Here are five steps you should take when you’re just starting your research project.

1. Find the right supervisor

A good supervisor will provide guidance on the design, methods, and structure of your research project, as well as advice on how to best analyze and interpret data. A good way to find the right supervisor is to speak with faculty members in a department, a trusted professor, or a colleague to discuss who might be the best fit. When you have a list of potential advisors, send them an email to introduce yourself and your project before asking to meet to discuss the next steps.

2. Choose your topic

After finding a supervisor, they may be able to help you narrow down your topic. The more specific your topic, the better you’ll be able to sharpen the direction of your research so that you can explore your topic in greater depth. It can also save time by allowing you to tighten the scope of your research and focus on the most relevant aspects of the topic.

3. Develop a thesis

A thesis serves as the main point or argument and provides direction and focus to a project, allowing you to collect and organize information more efficiently. A clear and concise thesis statement guides readers in understanding the project’s purpose and ensures that readers will be able to follow the main thread of your argument.

4. Create a timeline

When you begin your research, it’s important to create a timeline to set a framework for the project and ensure that it’s completed on time. It also keeps you organized on various tasks and ensures all steps are accounted for, from researching to writing and editing. Finally, a timeline can help you stay motivated and on track.

5. Write your outline

Outlines provide structure and clarity and allow you to organize your thoughts in a logical order. An outline serves as a roadmap for your research, allowing you to focus on the important points and not get sidetracked. It may also help identify gaps in your research, which can be addressed before beginning the writing process.

monday.com can help you organize your research project

Given all the different steps to take before you even begin writing, staying organized and on top of each task will ensure your project runs seamlessly. Project management tools such as monday.com can help you stay organized so that you don’t overlook an important step in your project. There are a few specific monday.com features that make it an excellent tool for anyone working on a research project.

Track your project with timelines

project timeline in monday.com

Create a timeline to see when different elements of your research project are due and see if you’re on time with your project proposal’s timeline.

Organize your tasks in one place

task management in monday.com

There are tons of small tasks in each research project, from planning a project, collecting and organizing data, communications, surveying, and more. With monday.com’s task management tools, you can make sure you’ve accounted for all tasks you need to complete so that you don’t miss a thing.

Use a template to make a visual plan

The student planner template allows you to visualize your project plan. Not only is this a good place to track tasks, but you can also add in information such as budgets, contact information, priorities, and even attach files for each access to your project’s information all in one place.

How do you start a research project?

When starting a research project, the first step is to create a research question or hypothesis that will be the focus of the project. Next, you’ll want to begin gathering information, finding a supervisor, forming your thesis, and outlining your project.

What are some examples of research projects?

Research projects vary widely depending on the field. For example, in biology, some research projects have focused on investigating the effects of a medication or therapy on a specific group of patients or looking at the role of genetics in disease.

How do I find a research project topic?

There are many different ways to find a topic. For starters, consider which topics interest you. From there, you can research online, speak with professors or advisors, and attend conferences and workshops to find ideas.

Make sure you have all you need to start writing

Writing a research project takes a lot of time, dedication, and focus. They can also be stressful, especially if it’s your first time writing one. Following the steps and guidelines here will make your research project more successful. Additionally, using a project management work tool like monday.com to organize your research project is one of the best ways to alleviate the stress of staying on top of your tasks and timeline so that you can better focus on the research itself.

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Project Management Strategies for Research Team Members

Webinar series on the principles of project management

For more information:

  • Understand the foundational principles of project management.
  • Explore how project management principles and strategies can influence your work with colleagues and stakeholders on various projects.

Managing projects is a detailed and systematic process. Yet, the applications of this process vary across disciplines and teams. This webinar series will introduce how to troubleshoot, forecast, and problem solve using project management in various contexts while considering how these elements impact the work of teams. Each of the four independent sessions will be led by David Vincenti, PMP, a certified project management professional. This series will identify the principles of project management and how to apply templates and skills to your work and experiences in team settings. The last session will feature a panel of guest speakers who utilize successful project management strategies in their respective roles and professions. Those without official training in this area will gain skills and confidence in project management during this series.

Boundary-Crossing Skills for Research Careers

This session explores approaches to developing a broad range of competencies integral to establishing and maintaining a successful research career. The series delves into the following competencies: team science, mentorship, project management, communication, leadership, and funding research. For more information and to access other resources and webinars in the series, please visit  Boundary-Crossing Skills for Research Careers.

Meet the Presenter

David Vincenti, PMP.

Vincenti has presented to academic and professional audiences on project management, professional development, and other topics, and has been recognized for his work with career planning for early-career technical professionals. He holds degrees in materials engineering and technology management from Stevens Institute of Technology.

Meet the Panelists

Sarita Patil, MD:  Assistant Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School and Assistant Physician, Massachusetts General Hospital

Jane Shim, BA : Clinical Research Coordinator, Food Allergy Center, Massachusetts General Hospital

Neal Smith, MSc : Senior Computational Biologist, Center for Immunology and Inflammatory Diseases, Massachusetts General Hospital

Yamini Virkud, MD, MA, MPH : Pediatric Allergist/Immunologist and Assistant Professor, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Session dates

Session 1: Defining the Work November 1, 2022 | 12:00pm ET This session introduces basic project management principles. You will learn the definition of a project, how to manage project scope, and how to draft the baseline of a project while considering how projects can be connected.

Session 2: Creating the Plan November 3, 2022 | 12:00pm ET In this session, you will learn to apply project planning terms and understand how to break a project into manageable parts, sequence tasks, and manage time while considering how these components affect your work and the work of your team members.

Session 3: Finalizing the Plan November 8, 2022 | 12:00pm ET In this session, you will explore project management principles further by calculating risks, managing a process, reviewing a project plan, and forecasting the execution and completion of a project while considering how these elements impact your work and the work of your team members.

Session 4: Panel Discussion November 10, 2022 | 12:00pm ET This culminating session features a panel discussion with four successful project management practitioners. The panelists will share their experiences in their respective roles and professions, and discuss how they engage in project management work within team settings.

Time commitment

50-minute sessions on Zoom

This series is designed for team members in the clinical and translational (c/t ) workforce who are familiar with project management but have no formal training. Attendees are welcome to attend on their own or with their team members.

We believe that the research community is strengthened by understanding how a number of factors including gender identity, sexual orientation, race and ethnicity, socioeconomic status, culture, religion, national origin, language, disability, and age shape the environment in which we live and work, affect each of our personal identities, and impacts all areas of human health.


There are no eligibility requirements. Prior session attendees have included: PhD, MD, postdocs, junior faculty, and medical students.

Registration is currently closed. Please check back for future opportunities.

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  1. Seven Essential Tips for Managing a Large Research Project

    Leave less important things like email and admin to fill the gaps in your planning at the end. Add checkpoints to your planning. Use externally imposed deadlines such as conference papers that need to be written and meetings with your supervisor to finish certain parts of your research (and to document these!).

  2. 11.3 Managing Your Research Project

    Review the steps outlined at the beginning of this chapter. Steps to Writing a Research Paper. Choose a topic. Schedule and plan time for research and writing. Conduct research. Organize research. Draft your paper. Revise and edit your paper. You have already completed step 1.

  3. Project Management Tips for Researchers

    Project management is also a key transferable skill that you can utilize within academia or the broader workforce. Lets review five stages of a typical project management life cycle and how you might apply these fundamentals to your own research projects. Initiation During the initiation stage, you determine the scope and feasibility of a project.

  4. Research Project Management: 5 Project Management Tips for Researchers

    When one does not chase perfectionism, it becomes easier to accept and adapt to unpredictability, eventually leading to effective research project management and the successful completion of the project. 3. Engage in regular communication with stakeholders. An important, yet underrated component of effective research project management is ...

  5. PDF 1 Designing and Managing Research Projects: An overview

    Planning and doing a research project often involves a fairly standard set of steps or stages (although not always). These include designing the project, preparing a research pro-posal, obtaining resources for carrying out the research, conducting and managing the project, writing a research report and communicating research findings.

  6. 5 Essential tips to plan and manage research projects

    Five tips for crowdfunding your research project. Create a communication plan. Set expectations for stakeholders on how often you will distribute updates about the project. Focus the communication plan to include stakeholders who are decision-makers and those impacted by the activities and outcomes of the project.

  7. Six project-management tips for your PhD

    Six project-management tips for your PhD. Use strategies from the private sector to better manage your graduate project. By. Angel Santiago-Lopez. One way to help manage your PhD is to create a ...

  8. Managing Your Academic Research Project

    This book is an essential resource for academics managing a large and complex research project. It provides important practical insights into the processes that inform such research projects and delivers insights into the delicate balance between industry, stakeholder and academic needs. It gives practical advice about developing relationships ...

  9. This simple tool can help you manage multiple research projects

    One such tool is the project management triangle, which says that all projects have three constraints (scope, time, and costs), which ultimately determine the quality of the project. If you change ...

  10. Managing a Research Project

    Generally, the common elements are: Your main research question/problem/title. Questions or concerns that will help you solve your main research problem. A brief literature review or list of key texts/sources. An overview of your methodology. A timeline showing your main research project tasks. 6.

  11. Project Management for Research

    The tools you need to make your research project a success. This toolkit includes a variety of tools for managing your research projects including recommendations for general project management software and tools to help you and your team manage activities from grant writing to implementation and project closeout. Explore the toolkit below:

  12. Managing Research Projects: A Comprehensive Guide

    Conducting research is an engaging and enriching activity, regardless of the subject. Treating research as a project and managing it accordingly is crucial to ensure the best possible outcomes.

  13. Managing Research Projects

    Abstract. Project management is a valuable skill that helps you think about where you want your research project to go, what you need to get there, and how to minimise risks during the process. Unfortunately, most early career researchers do not get much training in research project management and are left to fend for themselves.

  14. Using project management to help run research| THE Campus Learn, Share

    Project management: the right discipline for managing research projects. A project - according to the PRINCE2 project management method - is defined as ''a temporary organisation that is created for the purpose of delivering one or more business products according to an agreed business case''. Having a method to manage this entity ...

  15. Managing a research project

    1. Settting up a research project. 2. Monitoring a research project. 3. Reporting on your research project. 4. Making the most of your research project. and provide you with some project management tools for researchers.

  16. How to Do Research

    This new edition of Nick Moore's highly successful "How to do Research" offers an accessible guide to the complete research process. It focuses on the day-to-day requirements of project, managing a piece of research right through from the formulation of the initial idea, to the development of a research proposal and then to the writing up and disseminating of results.

  17. Managing Ideas, People, and Projects: Organizational Tools and

    Introduction. Researchers, at all stages of their careers, are facing an ever-increasing deluge of information and deadlines. Additional difficulties arise when one is the Principal Investigator (PI) of those researchers: as group size and scope of inquiry increases, the challenges of managing people and projects and the interlocking timelines, finances, and information pertaining to those ...

  18. How to Do Research: A Practical Guide to Designing and Managing

    This new edition of Nick Moore's highly successful How to do Research offers an accessible guide to the complete research process. It focuses on the day-to-day requirements of project, managing a piece of research right through from the formulation of the initial idea, to the development of a research proposal and then to the writing up and disseminating of results.

  19. How to Do Research: A Practical Guide to Designing and Managing

    How to Do Research: A Practical Guide to Designing and Managing Research Projects (3rd revised edition) Nick MooreFacet Publishing2006176 pp.ISBN 978-1-85604-594-0Keywords: Research, Project management, ProjectsReview DOI: 10.1108/09565690710757986. This book should be read by anyone involved in academic research, students, early career researchers and lecturers alike.

  20. Starting steps for research project success

    Here are five steps you should take when you're just starting your research project. 1. Find the right supervisor. A good supervisor will provide guidance on the design, methods, and structure of your research project, as well as advice on how to best analyze and interpret data.

  21. Project Management Strategies for Research Team Members

    In this session, you will explore project management principles further by calculating risks, managing a process, reviewing a project plan, and forecasting the execution and completion of a project while considering how these elements impact your work and the work of your team members. Session 4: Panel Discussion. November 10, 2022 | 12:00pm ET.

  22. PDF Managing Research Projects: Beyond Cost and Schedule

    Federal management of research, development, test, and evaluation (RDT&E) projects predominantly focuses on tracking budget and timelines. While important, these two measures are insufficient for ensuring the successful completion and transition of research gains into follow-on operational usage. A multi-dimensional framework that manages the ...

  23. Published Research

    This research aims to help project management practitioners navigate the opportunities and challenges of the data-rich era in which we live. It focuses on talent management and on understanding how new talent entering the profession will transform project management by 2030. The research outcomes will provide tangible actions for attracting ...