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Research Building Blocks: Keeping Your Team Organized

Herding Cats

photo of many cats Most people in health care settings who are trying to perform research are squeezing time to do it in and around busy, unpredictable schedules.  Even when you and your team have protected time in which to work on research, calendars and timelines get complicated and projects run off the rails. Keeping yourself and all of your team members on track is difficult, but important for the success of your project.  



"An idiom denoting a futile attempt to control or organize a class of entities which are inherently uncontrollable – as in the difficulty of attempting to command a large number of cats into a group" 

Herding cats, Wikipedia

Project Management Tips

  • Have a plan - write a research protocol and make sure everyone understands the goal, the plan, and why the plan works for the goal
  • Establish roles for all team members from the beginning.
  • Establish responsibilities for each task at the beginning.  One option would be to use a RASCI table.
  • Establish timelines for different stages of your project. One option would be creating a Gantt chart.
  • If you haven't done this type of research before, find estimates for how long different stages of this research method takes, for instance the Cochrane Handbook has a table describing the expected timeline of a Cochrane systematic review.
  • Communicate!
    • Make sure everyone on the team knows to let the Lead know if they run into trouble, have any questions, etc.
    • Regularly update everyone on the project's progress, any problems, and any necessary adjustments to the timelines.
    • Regularly revisit the plan to see how you are doing and decide if/how adjustments need to be made, and how you will explain those adjustments when you are writing up your research.
    • Plan to regularly meet in person, on the phone, online, however you can make it work to discuss solutions to problems, keeping processes consistent, etc.