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Research Lifecycle Directory: Project Management

Managing your Research Project

This page intends to provide users with an overall understanding of how to manage a research project and includes guiding questions, information about tracking progress and links to additional resources concerning research data management and citation management software. 

Guiding Questions

Questions to Consider

At the beginning of any research project, it is essential to consider the goals and scope that are associated with the completion of the project as well as who within the research team will be acting as the Principal Investigator (PI) and other designated roles. Here are some questions to think about when designing your research project:

  • Why is this project being done? What is the need, opportunity, or problem that this research will address?
  • What are the outcomes/deliverables of this project? What will be produced at the end?
  • What work is needed to achieve this? What work falls outside the scope of this project?
  • Are there any significant dates or milestones that need to be considered? What risks are associated with them, if any?
  • What is the total budget, and what are the expected costs?
  • What will communication look like throughout the project between team members?

Answers to these questions are recorded in what is called a Project Charter, an example of which you can find below.

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Citation Management

Tools and Resources for Citation Management

Additional Tools and Resources

Research Data Management Resources

Keeping Track

Keeping Track of Your Project

Any ongoing research project can become overwhelming with all its moving parts, so it is vital to keep track of the resources you have consulted as well as the responsibilities of team members throughout the project cycle. Tracking your progress using a project tracker allows you to see each step clearly and helps breakdown what is complete and what is left to do. Here are some examples of what to include in your tracker to help you manage your research.

Action Items Log

This section helps keep track of what is completed and what is ongoing throughout the duration of your project. Here is an example of what an action items log would look like:

Date Assigned Date Complete Person Responsible Task                                                 Outcome/Status                           
         

This is an incredibly important resource that you can consult throughout the project cycle to ensure you stay on track and know exactly where you are.

Meeting & Communications Log

As you move through the project cycle, there will be many meetings and frequent communication between team members. Keeping a log of any meetings and communications allows you to track any decisions that have been made throughout the process. Here is an example of a meeting & communications log:

Date Attendees                   Objective/Notes                            Next Steps/Questions for Follow-Up
       

Stakeholder List

Throughout the process, you will want to keep in mind the stakeholders involved in your project and what their roles are. In keeping track of who they are, contact information, and their role in your project, also make a note of any outside factors that might impact their involvement throughout the process.

Deliverables List

Your project will have several outcomes when completed. You will want to keep a list of what those deliverables are, what team member is responsible for them, any acceptance criteria or important descriptions that need to be tracked, and the in-progress date, due date, and date of completion. Here is an example of a deliverables list:

Deliverable Most Responsible Person Description/Acceptance Criteria                         In-Progress (Date) Due (Date) Complete (Date)
           

Risks and Issues Log

All projects have risks, and you will likely encounter issues throughout the project cycle. However, you can track any risks you think are associated with your project and develop strategies to address them should they be encountered. If issues occur, it is also important to log what they were and how they were handled to ensure your understanding of the situation and how best to move forward in your project.

Lessons Learned

After dealing with issues, reflect on the lessons learned and log these as well. These reflections are valuable resources that will help inform future decisions in your current research project or how to better manage your next one. When logging, ask yourself these questions:

  • What happened this time?
  • What would you do differently next time?

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
Michener Institute of Education at UHN, 2018.