How to write a research plan: Step-by-step guide

Last updated

30 January 2024

Reviewed by

Short on time? Get an AI generated summary of this article instead

Today’s businesses and institutions rely on data and analytics to inform their product and service decisions. These metrics influence how organizations stay competitive and inspire innovation. However, gathering data and insights requires carefully constructed research, and every research project needs a roadmap. This is where a research plan comes into play.

Read this step-by-step guide for writing a detailed research plan that can apply to any project, whether it’s scientific, educational, or business-related.

  • What is a research plan?

A research plan is a documented overview of a project in its entirety, from end to end. It details the research efforts, participants, and methods needed, along with any anticipated results. It also outlines the project’s goals and mission, creating layers of steps to achieve those goals within a specified timeline.

Without a research plan, you and your team are flying blind, potentially wasting time and resources to pursue research without structured guidance.

The principal investigator, or PI, is responsible for facilitating the research oversight. They will create the research plan and inform team members and stakeholders of every detail relating to the project. The PI will also use the research plan to inform decision-making throughout the project.

  • Why do you need a research plan?

Create a research plan before starting any official research to maximize every effort in pursuing and collecting the research data. Crucially, the plan will model the activities needed at each phase of the research project .

Like any roadmap, a research plan serves as a valuable tool providing direction for those involved in the project—both internally and externally. It will keep you and your immediate team organized and task-focused while also providing necessary definitions and timelines so you can execute your project initiatives with full understanding and transparency.

External stakeholders appreciate a working research plan because it’s a great communication tool, documenting progress and changing dynamics as they arise. Any participants of your planned research sessions will be informed about the purpose of your study, while the exercises will be based on the key messaging outlined in the official plan.

Here are some of the benefits of creating a research plan document for every project:

Project organization and structure

Well-informed participants

All stakeholders and teams align in support of the project

Clearly defined project definitions and purposes

Distractions are eliminated, prioritizing task focus

Timely management of individual task schedules and roles

Costly reworks are avoided

  • What should a research plan include?

The different aspects of your research plan will depend on the nature of the project. However, most official research plan documents will include the core elements below. Each aims to define the problem statement , devising an official plan for seeking a solution.

Specific project goals and individual objectives

Ideal strategies or methods for reaching those goals

Required resources

Descriptions of the target audience, sample sizes , demographics, and scopes

Key performance indicators (KPIs)

Project background

Research and testing support

Preliminary studies and progress reporting mechanisms

Cost estimates and change order processes

Depending on the research project’s size and scope, your research plan could be brief—perhaps only a few pages of documented plans. Alternatively, it could be a fully comprehensive report. Either way, it’s an essential first step in dictating your project’s facilitation in the most efficient and effective way.

  • How to write a research plan for your project

When you start writing your research plan, aim to be detailed about each step, requirement, and idea. The more time you spend curating your research plan, the more precise your research execution efforts will be.

Account for every potential scenario, and be sure to address each and every aspect of the research.

Consider following this flow to develop a great research plan for your project:

Define your project’s purpose

Start by defining your project’s purpose. Identify what your project aims to accomplish and what you are researching. Remember to use clear language.

Thinking about the project’s purpose will help you set realistic goals and inform how you divide tasks and assign responsibilities. These individual tasks will be your stepping stones to reach your overarching goal.

Additionally, you’ll want to identify the specific problem, the usability metrics needed, and the intended solutions.

Know the following three things about your project’s purpose before you outline anything else:

What you’re doing

Why you’re doing it

What you expect from it

Identify individual objectives

With your overarching project objectives in place, you can identify any individual goals or steps needed to reach those objectives. Break them down into phases or steps. You can work backward from the project goal and identify every process required to facilitate it.

Be mindful to identify each unique task so that you can assign responsibilities to various team members. At this point in your research plan development, you’ll also want to assign priority to those smaller, more manageable steps and phases that require more immediate or dedicated attention.

Select research methods

Once you have outlined your goals, objectives, steps, and tasks, it’s time to drill down on selecting research methods . You’ll want to leverage specific research strategies and processes. When you know what methods will help you reach your goals, you and your teams will have direction to perform and execute your assigned tasks.

Research methods might include any of the following:

User interviews : this is a qualitative research method where researchers engage with participants in one-on-one or group conversations. The aim is to gather insights into their experiences, preferences, and opinions to uncover patterns, trends, and data.

Field studies : this approach allows for a contextual understanding of behaviors, interactions, and processes in real-world settings. It involves the researcher immersing themselves in the field, conducting observations, interviews, or experiments to gather in-depth insights.

Card sorting : participants categorize information by sorting content cards into groups based on their perceived similarities. You might use this process to gain insights into participants’ mental models and preferences when navigating or organizing information on websites, apps, or other systems.

Focus groups : use organized discussions among select groups of participants to provide relevant views and experiences about a particular topic.

Diary studies : ask participants to record their experiences, thoughts, and activities in a diary over a specified period. This method provides a deeper understanding of user experiences, uncovers patterns, and identifies areas for improvement.

Five-second testing: participants are shown a design, such as a web page or interface, for just five seconds. They then answer questions about their initial impressions and recall, allowing you to evaluate the design’s effectiveness.

Surveys : get feedback from participant groups with structured surveys. You can use online forms, telephone interviews, or paper questionnaires to reveal trends, patterns, and correlations.

Tree testing : tree testing involves researching web assets through the lens of findability and navigability. Participants are given a textual representation of the site’s hierarchy (the “tree”) and asked to locate specific information or complete tasks by selecting paths.

Usability testing : ask participants to interact with a product, website, or application to evaluate its ease of use. This method enables you to uncover areas for improvement in digital key feature functionality by observing participants using the product.

Live website testing: research and collect analytics that outlines the design, usability, and performance efficiencies of a website in real time.

There are no limits to the number of research methods you could use within your project. Just make sure your research methods help you determine the following:

What do you plan to do with the research findings?

What decisions will this research inform? How can your stakeholders leverage the research data and results?

Recruit participants and allocate tasks

Next, identify the participants needed to complete the research and the resources required to complete the tasks. Different people will be proficient at different tasks, and having a task allocation plan will allow everything to run smoothly.

Prepare a thorough project summary

Every well-designed research plan will feature a project summary. This official summary will guide your research alongside its communications or messaging. You’ll use the summary while recruiting participants and during stakeholder meetings. It can also be useful when conducting field studies.

Ensure this summary includes all the elements of your research project . Separate the steps into an easily explainable piece of text that includes the following:

An introduction: the message you’ll deliver to participants about the interview, pre-planned questioning, and testing tasks.

Interview questions: prepare questions you intend to ask participants as part of your research study, guiding the sessions from start to finish.

An exit message: draft messaging your teams will use to conclude testing or survey sessions. These should include the next steps and express gratitude for the participant’s time.

Create a realistic timeline

While your project might already have a deadline or a results timeline in place, you’ll need to consider the time needed to execute it effectively.

Realistically outline the time needed to properly execute each supporting phase of research and implementation. And, as you evaluate the necessary schedules, be sure to include additional time for achieving each milestone in case any changes or unexpected delays arise.

For this part of your research plan, you might find it helpful to create visuals to ensure your research team and stakeholders fully understand the information.

Determine how to present your results

A research plan must also describe how you intend to present your results. Depending on the nature of your project and its goals, you might dedicate one team member (the PI) or assume responsibility for communicating the findings yourself.

In this part of the research plan, you’ll articulate how you’ll share the results. Detail any materials you’ll use, such as:

Presentations and slides

A project report booklet

A project findings pamphlet

Documents with key takeaways and statistics

Graphic visuals to support your findings

  • Format your research plan

As you create your research plan, you can enjoy a little creative freedom. A plan can assume many forms, so format it how you see fit. Determine the best layout based on your specific project, intended communications, and the preferences of your teams and stakeholders.

Find format inspiration among the following layouts:

Written outlines

Narrative storytelling

Visual mapping

Graphic timelines

Remember, the research plan format you choose will be subject to change and adaptation as your research and findings unfold. However, your final format should ideally outline questions, problems, opportunities, and expectations.

  • Research plan example

Imagine you’ve been tasked with finding out how to get more customers to order takeout from an online food delivery platform. The goal is to improve satisfaction and retain existing customers. You set out to discover why more people aren’t ordering and what it is they do want to order or experience. 

You identify the need for a research project that helps you understand what drives customer loyalty . But before you jump in and start calling past customers, you need to develop a research plan—the roadmap that provides focus, clarity, and realistic details to the project.

Here’s an example outline of a research plan you might put together:

Project title

Project members involved in the research plan

Purpose of the project (provide a summary of the research plan’s intent)

Objective 1 (provide a short description for each objective)

Objective 2

Objective 3

Proposed timeline

Audience (detail the group you want to research, such as customers or non-customers)

Budget (how much you think it might cost to do the research)

Risk factors/contingencies (any potential risk factors that may impact the project’s success)

Remember, your research plan doesn’t have to reinvent the wheel—it just needs to fit your project’s unique needs and aims.

Customizing a research plan template

Some companies offer research plan templates to help get you started. However, it may make more sense to develop your own customized plan template. Be sure to include the core elements of a great research plan with your template layout, including the following:

Introductions to participants and stakeholders

Background problems and needs statement

Significance, ethics, and purpose

Research methods, questions, and designs

Preliminary beliefs and expectations

Implications and intended outcomes

Realistic timelines for each phase

Conclusion and presentations

How many pages should a research plan be?

Generally, a research plan can vary in length between 500 to 1,500 words. This is roughly three pages of content. More substantial projects will be 2,000 to 3,500 words, taking up four to seven pages of planning documents.

What is the difference between a research plan and a research proposal?

A research plan is a roadmap to success for research teams. A research proposal, on the other hand, is a dissertation aimed at convincing or earning the support of others. Both are relevant in creating a guide to follow to complete a project goal.

What are the seven steps to developing a research plan?

While each research project is different, it’s best to follow these seven general steps to create your research plan:

Defining the problem

Identifying goals

Choosing research methods

Recruiting participants

Preparing the brief or summary

Establishing task timelines

Defining how you will present the findings

Should you be using a customer insights hub?

Do you want to discover previous research faster?

Do you share your research findings with others?

Do you analyze research data?

Start for free today, add your research, and get to key insights faster

Editor’s picks

Last updated: 18 April 2023

Last updated: 27 February 2023

Last updated: 6 February 2023

Last updated: 15 January 2024

Last updated: 6 October 2023

Last updated: 5 February 2023

Last updated: 16 April 2023

Last updated: 7 March 2023

Last updated: 9 March 2023

Last updated: 12 December 2023

Last updated: 11 March 2024

Last updated: 13 May 2024

Latest articles

Related topics, .css-je19u9{-webkit-align-items:flex-end;-webkit-box-align:flex-end;-ms-flex-align:flex-end;align-items:flex-end;display:-webkit-box;display:-webkit-flex;display:-ms-flexbox;display:flex;-webkit-flex-direction:row;-ms-flex-direction:row;flex-direction:row;-webkit-box-flex-wrap:wrap;-webkit-flex-wrap:wrap;-ms-flex-wrap:wrap;flex-wrap:wrap;-webkit-box-pack:center;-ms-flex-pack:center;-webkit-justify-content:center;justify-content:center;row-gap:0;text-align:center;max-width:671px;}@media (max-width: 1079px){.css-je19u9{max-width:400px;}.css-je19u9>span{white-space:pre;}}@media (max-width: 799px){.css-je19u9{max-width:400px;}.css-je19u9>span{white-space:pre;}} decide what to .css-1kiodld{max-height:56px;display:-webkit-box;display:-webkit-flex;display:-ms-flexbox;display:flex;-webkit-align-items:center;-webkit-box-align:center;-ms-flex-align:center;align-items:center;}@media (max-width: 1079px){.css-1kiodld{display:none;}} build next, decide what to build next.

project plan in research

Users report unexpectedly high data usage, especially during streaming sessions.

project plan in research

Users find it hard to navigate from the home page to relevant playlists in the app.

project plan in research

It would be great to have a sleep timer feature, especially for bedtime listening.

project plan in research

I need better filters to find the songs or artists I’m looking for.

Log in or sign up

Get started for free

project plan in research

Illustration by James Round

How to plan a research project

Whether for a paper or a thesis, define your question, review the work of others – and leave yourself open to discovery.

by Brooke Harrington   + BIO

is professor of sociology at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire. Her research has won international awards both for scholarly quality and impact on public life. She has published dozens of articles and three books, most recently the bestseller Capital without Borders (2016), now translated into five languages.

Edited by Sam Haselby

Need to know

‘When curiosity turns to serious matters, it’s called research.’ – From Aphorisms (1880-1905) by Marie von Ebner-Eschenbach

Planning research projects is a time-honoured intellectual exercise: one that requires both creativity and sharp analytical skills. The purpose of this Guide is to make the process systematic and easy to understand. While there is a great deal of freedom and discovery involved – from the topics you choose, to the data and methods you apply – there are also some norms and constraints that obtain, no matter what your academic level or field of study. For those in high school through to doctoral students, and from art history to archaeology, research planning involves broadly similar steps, including: formulating a question, developing an argument or predictions based on previous research, then selecting the information needed to answer your question.

Some of this might sound self-evident but, as you’ll find, research requires a different way of approaching and using information than most of us are accustomed to in everyday life. That is why I include orienting yourself to knowledge-creation as an initial step in the process. This is a crucial and underappreciated phase in education, akin to making the transition from salaried employment to entrepreneurship: suddenly, you’re on your own, and that requires a new way of thinking about your work.

What follows is a distillation of what I’ve learned about this process over 27 years as a professional social scientist. It reflects the skills that my own professors imparted in the sociology doctoral programme at Harvard, as well as what I learned later on as a research supervisor for Ivy League PhD and MA students, and then as the author of award-winning scholarly books and articles. It can be adapted to the demands of both short projects (such as course term papers) and long ones, such as a thesis.

At its simplest, research planning involves the four distinct steps outlined below: orienting yourself to knowledge-creation; defining your research question; reviewing previous research on your question; and then choosing relevant data to formulate your own answers. Because the focus of this Guide is on planning a research project, as opposed to conducting a research project, this section won’t delve into the details of data-collection or analysis; those steps happen after you plan the project. In addition, the topic is vast: year-long doctoral courses are devoted to data and analysis. Instead, the fourth part of this section will outline some basic strategies you could use in planning a data-selection and analysis process appropriate to your research question.

Step 1: Orient yourself

Planning and conducting research requires you to make a transition, from thinking like a consumer of information to thinking like a producer of information. That sounds simple, but it’s actually a complex task. As a practical matter, this means putting aside the mindset of a student, which treats knowledge as something created by other people. As students, we are often passive receivers of knowledge: asked to do a specified set of readings, then graded on how well we reproduce what we’ve read.

Researchers, however, must take on an active role as knowledge producers . Doing research requires more of you than reading and absorbing what other people have written: you have to engage in a dialogue with it. That includes arguing with previous knowledge and perhaps trying to show that ideas we have accepted as given are actually wrong or incomplete. For example, rather than simply taking in the claims of an author you read, you’ll need to draw out the implications of those claims: if what the author is saying is true, what else does that suggest must be true? What predictions could you make based on the author’s claims?

In other words, rather than treating a reading as a source of truth – even if it comes from a revered source, such as Plato or Marie Curie – this orientation step asks you to treat the claims you read as provisional and subject to interrogation. That is one of the great pieces of wisdom that science and philosophy can teach us: that the biggest advances in human understanding have been made not by being correct about trivial things, but by being wrong in an interesting way . For example, Albert Einstein was wrong about quantum mechanics, but his arguments about it with his fellow physicist Niels Bohr have led to some of the biggest breakthroughs in science, even a century later.

Step 2: Define your research question

Students often give this step cursory attention, but experienced researchers know that formulating a good question is sometimes the most difficult part of the research planning process. That is because the precise language of the question frames the rest of the project. It’s therefore important to pose the question carefully, in a way that’s both possible to answer and likely to yield interesting results. Of course, you must choose a question that interests you, but that’s only the beginning of what’s likely to be an iterative process: most researchers come back to this step repeatedly, modifying their questions in light of previous research, resource limitations and other considerations.

Researchers face limits in terms of time and money. They, like everyone else, have to pose research questions that they can plausibly answer given the constraints they face. For example, it would be inadvisable to frame a project around the question ‘What are the roots of the Arab-Israeli conflict?’ if you have only a week to develop an answer and no background on that topic. That’s not to limit your imagination: you can come up with any question you’d like. But it typically does require some creativity to frame a question that you can answer well – that is, by investigating thoroughly and providing new insights – within the limits you face.

In addition to being interesting to you, and feasible within your resource constraints, the third and most important characteristic of a ‘good’ research topic is whether it allows you to create new knowledge. It might turn out that your question has already been asked and answered to your satisfaction: if so, you’ll find out in the next step of this process. On the other hand, you might come up with a research question that hasn’t been addressed previously. Before you get too excited about breaking uncharted ground, consider this: a lot of potentially researchable questions haven’t been studied for good reason ; they might have answers that are trivial or of very limited interest. This could include questions such as ‘Why does the area of a circle equal π r²?’ or ‘Did winter conditions affect Napoleon’s plans to invade Russia?’ Of course, you might be able to make the argument that a seemingly trivial question is actually vitally important, but you must be prepared to back that up with convincing evidence. The exercise in the ‘Learn More’ section below will help you think through some of these issues.

Finally, scholarly research questions must in some way lead to new and distinctive insights. For example, lots of people have studied gender roles in sports teams; what can you ask that hasn’t been asked before? Reinventing the wheel is the number-one no-no in this endeavour. That’s why the next step is so important: reviewing previous research on your topic. Depending on what you find in that step, you might need to revise your research question; iterating between your question and the existing literature is a normal process. But don’t worry: it doesn’t go on forever. In fact, the iterations taper off – and your research question stabilises – as you develop a firm grasp of the current state of knowledge on your topic.

Step 3: Review previous research

In academic research, from articles to books, it’s common to find a section called a ‘literature review’. The purpose of that section is to describe the state of the art in knowledge on the research question that a project has posed. It demonstrates that researchers have thoroughly and systematically reviewed the relevant findings of previous studies on their topic, and that they have something novel to contribute.

Your own research project should include something like this, even if it’s a high-school term paper. In the research planning process, you’ll want to list at least half a dozen bullet points stating the major findings on your topic by other people. In relation to those findings, you should be able to specify where your project could provide new and necessary insights. There are two basic rhetorical positions one can take in framing the novelty-plus-importance argument required of academic research:

  • Position 1 requires you to build on or extend a set of existing ideas; that means saying something like: ‘Person A has argued that X is true about gender; this implies Y, which has not yet been tested. My project will test Y, and if I find evidence to support it, that will change the way we understand gender.’
  • Position 2 is to argue that there is a gap in existing knowledge, either because previous research has reached conflicting conclusions or has failed to consider something important. For example, one could say that research on middle schoolers and gender has been limited by being conducted primarily in coeducational environments, and that findings might differ dramatically if research were conducted in more schools where the student body was all-male or all-female.

Your overall goal in this step of the process is to show that your research will be part of a larger conversation: that is, how your project flows from what’s already known, and how it advances, extends or challenges that existing body of knowledge. That will be the contribution of your project, and it constitutes the motivation for your research.

Two things are worth mentioning about your search for sources of relevant previous research. First, you needn’t look only at studies on your precise topic. For example, if you want to study gender-identity formation in schools, you shouldn’t restrict yourself to studies of schools; the empirical setting (schools) is secondary to the larger social process that interests you (how people form gender identity). That process occurs in many different settings, so cast a wide net. Second, be sure to use legitimate sources – meaning publications that have been through some sort of vetting process, whether that involves peer review (as with academic journal articles you might find via Google Scholar) or editorial review (as you’d find in well-known mass media publications, such as The Economist or The Washington Post ). What you’ll want to avoid is using unvetted sources such as personal blogs or Wikipedia. Why? Because anybody can write anything in those forums, and there is no way to know – unless you’re already an expert – if the claims you find there are accurate. Often, they’re not.

Step 4: Choose your data and methods

Whatever your research question is, eventually you’ll need to consider which data source and analytical strategy are most likely to provide the answers you’re seeking. One starting point is to consider whether your question would be best addressed by qualitative data (such as interviews, observations or historical records), quantitative data (such as surveys or census records) or some combination of both. Your ideas about data sources will, in turn, suggest options for analytical methods.

You might need to collect your own data, or you might find everything you need readily available in an existing dataset someone else has created. A great place to start is with a research librarian: university libraries always have them and, at public universities, those librarians can work with the public, including people who aren’t affiliated with the university. If you don’t happen to have a public university and its library close at hand, an ordinary public library can still be a good place to start: the librarians are often well versed in accessing data sources that might be relevant to your study, such as the census, or historical archives, or the Survey of Consumer Finances.

Because your task at this point is to plan research, rather than conduct it, the purpose of this step is not to commit you irrevocably to a course of action. Instead, your goal here is to think through a feasible approach to answering your research question. You’ll need to find out, for example, whether the data you want exist; if not, do you have a realistic chance of gathering the data yourself, or would it be better to modify your research question? In terms of analysis, would your strategy require you to apply statistical methods? If so, do you have those skills? If not, do you have time to learn them, or money to hire a research assistant to run the analysis for you?

Please be aware that qualitative methods in particular are not the casual undertaking they might appear to be. Many people make the mistake of thinking that only quantitative data and methods are scientific and systematic, while qualitative methods are just a fancy way of saying: ‘I talked to some people, read some old newspapers, and drew my own conclusions.’ Nothing could be further from the truth. In the final section of this guide, you’ll find some links to resources that will provide more insight on standards and procedures governing qualitative research, but suffice it to say: there are rules about what constitutes legitimate evidence and valid analytical procedure for qualitative data, just as there are for quantitative data.

Circle back and consider revising your initial plans

As you work through these four steps in planning your project, it’s perfectly normal to circle back and revise. Research planning is rarely a linear process. It’s also common for new and unexpected avenues to suggest themselves. As the sociologist Thorstein Veblen wrote in 1908 : ‘The outcome of any serious research can only be to make two questions grow where only one grew before.’ That’s as true of research planning as it is of a completed project. Try to enjoy the horizons that open up for you in this process, rather than becoming overwhelmed; the four steps, along with the two exercises that follow, will help you focus your plan and make it manageable.

Key points – How to plan a research project

  • Planning a research project is essential no matter your academic level or field of study. There is no one ‘best’ way to design research, but there are certain guidelines that can be helpfully applied across disciplines.
  • Orient yourself to knowledge-creation. Make the shift from being a consumer of information to being a producer of information.
  • Define your research question. Your question frames the rest of your project, sets the scope, and determines the kinds of answers you can find.
  • Review previous research on your question. Survey the existing body of relevant knowledge to ensure that your research will be part of a larger conversation.
  • Choose your data and methods. For instance, will you be collecting qualitative data, via interviews, or numerical data, via surveys?
  • Circle back and consider revising your initial plans. Expect your research question in particular to undergo multiple rounds of refinement as you learn more about your topic.

Good research questions tend to beget more questions. This can be frustrating for those who want to get down to business right away. Try to make room for the unexpected: this is usually how knowledge advances. Many of the most significant discoveries in human history have been made by people who were looking for something else entirely. There are ways to structure your research planning process without over-constraining yourself; the two exercises below are a start, and you can find further methods in the Links and Books section.

The following exercise provides a structured process for advancing your research project planning. After completing it, you’ll be able to do the following:

  • describe clearly and concisely the question you’ve chosen to study
  • summarise the state of the art in knowledge about the question, and where your project could contribute new insight
  • identify the best strategy for gathering and analysing relevant data

In other words, the following provides a systematic means to establish the building blocks of your research project.

Exercise 1: Definition of research question and sources

This exercise prompts you to select and clarify your general interest area, develop a research question, and investigate sources of information. The annotated bibliography will also help you refine your research question so that you can begin the second assignment, a description of the phenomenon you wish to study.

Jot down a few bullet points in response to these two questions, with the understanding that you’ll probably go back and modify your answers as you begin reading other studies relevant to your topic:

  • What will be the general topic of your paper?
  • What will be the specific topic of your paper?

b) Research question(s)

Use the following guidelines to frame a research question – or questions – that will drive your analysis. As with Part 1 above, you’ll probably find it necessary to change or refine your research question(s) as you complete future assignments.

  • Your question should be phrased so that it can’t be answered with a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’.
  • Your question should have more than one plausible answer.
  • Your question should draw relationships between two or more concepts; framing the question in terms of How? or What? often works better than asking Why ?

c) Annotated bibliography

Most or all of your background information should come from two sources: scholarly books and journals, or reputable mass media sources. You might be able to access journal articles electronically through your library, using search engines such as JSTOR and Google Scholar. This can save you a great deal of time compared with going to the library in person to search periodicals. General news sources, such as those accessible through LexisNexis, are acceptable, but should be cited sparingly, since they don’t carry the same level of credibility as scholarly sources. As discussed above, unvetted sources such as blogs and Wikipedia should be avoided, because the quality of the information they provide is unreliable and often misleading.

To create an annotated bibliography, provide the following information for at least 10 sources relevant to your specific topic, using the format suggested below.

Name of author(s):
Publication date:
Title of book, chapter, or article:
If a chapter or article, title of journal or book where they appear:
Brief description of this work, including main findings and methods ( c 75 words):
Summary of how this work contributes to your project ( c 75 words):
Brief description of the implications of this work ( c 25 words):
Identify any gap or controversy in knowledge this work points up, and how your project could address those problems ( c 50 words):

Exercise 2: Towards an analysis

Develop a short statement ( c 250 words) about the kind of data that would be useful to address your research question, and how you’d analyse it. Some questions to consider in writing this statement include:

  • What are the central concepts or variables in your project? Offer a brief definition of each.
  • Do any data sources exist on those concepts or variables, or would you need to collect data?
  • Of the analytical strategies you could apply to that data, which would be the most appropriate to answer your question? Which would be the most feasible for you? Consider at least two methods, noting their advantages or disadvantages for your project.

Links & books

One of the best texts ever written about planning and executing research comes from a source that might be unexpected: a 60-year-old work on urban planning by a self-trained scholar. The classic book The Death and Life of Great American Cities (1961) by Jane Jacobs (available complete and free of charge via this link ) is worth reading in its entirety just for the pleasure of it. But the final 20 pages – a concluding chapter titled ‘The Kind of Problem a City Is’ – are really about the process of thinking through and investigating a problem. Highly recommended as a window into the craft of research.

Jacobs’s text references an essay on advancing human knowledge by the mathematician Warren Weaver. At the time, Weaver was director of the Rockefeller Foundation, in charge of funding basic research in the natural and medical sciences. Although the essay is titled ‘A Quarter Century in the Natural Sciences’ (1960) and appears at first blush to be merely a summation of one man’s career, it turns out to be something much bigger and more interesting: a meditation on the history of human beings seeking answers to big questions about the world. Weaver goes back to the 17th century to trace the origins of systematic research thinking, with enthusiasm and vivid anecdotes that make the process come alive. The essay is worth reading in its entirety, and is available free of charge via this link .

For those seeking a more in-depth, professional-level discussion of the logic of research design, the political scientist Harvey Starr provides insight in a compact format in the article ‘Cumulation from Proper Specification: Theory, Logic, Research Design, and “Nice” Laws’ (2005). Starr reviews the ‘research triad’, consisting of the interlinked considerations of formulating a question, selecting relevant theories and applying appropriate methods. The full text of the article, published in the scholarly journal Conflict Management and Peace Science , is available, free of charge, via this link .

Finally, the book Getting What You Came For (1992) by Robert Peters is not only an outstanding guide for anyone contemplating graduate school – from the application process onward – but it also includes several excellent chapters on planning and executing research, applicable across a wide variety of subject areas. It was an invaluable resource for me 25 years ago, and it remains in print with good reason; I recommend it to all my students, particularly Chapter 16 (‘The Thesis Topic: Finding It’), Chapter 17 (‘The Thesis Proposal’) and Chapter 18 (‘The Thesis: Writing It’).

A coastal scene with a stone wall on the left, sandy beach below, and calm sea extending to the horizon. The sun is partially obscured by clouds, casting rays over the water. A distant ship is visible on the horizon.

Goals and motivation

How to do mental time travel

Feeling overwhelmed by the present moment? Find a connection to the longer view and a wiser perspective on what matters

by Richard Fisher

Three people sit on a bench facing a forest fire on a hill at night, with a fire truck nearby. The flames illuminate the trees, creating a dramatic and intense scene.

How to cope with climate anxiety

It’s normal to feel troubled by the climate crisis. These practices can help keep your response manageable and constructive

by Lucia Tecuta

A person stirring food in a steaming pot on a stove in a kitchen. Several other stainless steel pots are also on the stove. The foreground shows a blurred image of bread rolls, and a jar with cherry tomatoes can be seen on the right.

Emerging therapies

How to use cooking as a form of therapy

No matter your culinary skills, spend some reflective time in the kitchen to nourish and renew your sense of self

by Charlotte Hastings

We use cookies to give you the best experience possible. By continuing we’ll assume you’re on board with our cookie policy


  • A Research Guide
  • Research Paper Guide

How to Write a Research Plan

  • Research plan definition
  • Purpose of a research plan
  • Research plan structure
  • Step-by-step writing guide

Tips for creating a research plan

  • Research plan examples

Research plan: definition and significance

What is the purpose of a research plan.

  • Bridging gaps in the existing knowledge related to their subject.
  • Reinforcing established research about their subject.
  • Introducing insights that contribute to subject understanding.

Research plan structure & template


  • What is the existing knowledge about the subject?
  • What gaps remain unanswered?
  • How will your research enrich understanding, practice, and policy?

Literature review

Expected results.

  • Express how your research can challenge established theories in your field.
  • Highlight how your work lays the groundwork for future research endeavors.
  • Emphasize how your work can potentially address real-world problems.

5 Steps to crafting an effective research plan

Step 1: define the project purpose, step 2: select the research method, step 3: manage the task and timeline, step 4: write a summary, step 5: plan the result presentation.

  • Brainstorm Collaboratively: Initiate a collective brainstorming session with peers or experts. Outline the essential questions that warrant exploration and answers within your research.
  • Prioritize and Feasibility: Evaluate the list of questions and prioritize those that are achievable and important. Focus on questions that can realistically be addressed.
  • Define Key Terminology: Define technical terms pertinent to your research, fostering a shared understanding. Ensure that terms like “church” or “unreached people group” are well-defined to prevent ambiguity.
  • Organize your approach: Once well-acquainted with your institution’s regulations, organize each aspect of your research by these guidelines. Allocate appropriate word counts for different sections and components of your research paper.

Research plan example

aside icon

  • Writing a Research Paper
  • Research Paper Title
  • Research Paper Sources
  • Research Paper Problem Statement
  • Research Paper Thesis Statement
  • Hypothesis for a Research Paper
  • Research Question
  • Research Paper Outline
  • Research Paper Summary
  • Research Paper Prospectus
  • Research Paper Proposal
  • Research Paper Format
  • Research Paper Styles
  • AMA Style Research Paper
  • MLA Style Research Paper
  • Chicago Style Research Paper
  • APA Style Research Paper
  • Research Paper Structure
  • Research Paper Cover Page
  • Research Paper Abstract
  • Research Paper Introduction
  • Research Paper Body Paragraph
  • Research Paper Literature Review
  • Research Paper Background
  • Research Paper Methods Section
  • Research Paper Results Section
  • Research Paper Discussion Section
  • Research Paper Conclusion
  • Research Paper Appendix
  • Research Paper Bibliography
  • APA Reference Page
  • Annotated Bibliography
  • Bibliography vs Works Cited vs References Page
  • Research Paper Types
  • What is Qualitative Research


Receive paper in 3 Hours!

  • Choose the number of pages.
  • Select your deadline.
  • Complete your order.

Number of Pages

550 words (double spaced)

Deadline: 10 days left

By clicking "Log In", you agree to our terms of service and privacy policy . We'll occasionally send you account related and promo emails.

Sign Up for your FREE account

FLEET LIBRARY | Research Guides

Rhode island school of design, create a research plan: research plan.

  • Research Plan
  • Literature Review
  • Ulrich's Global Serials Directory
  • Related Guides

A research plan is a framework that shows how you intend to approach your topic. The plan can take many forms: a written outline, a narrative, a visual/concept map or timeline. It's a document that will change and develop as you conduct your research. Components of a research plan

1. Research conceptualization - introduces your research question

2. Research methodology - describes your approach to the research question

3. Literature review, critical evaluation and synthesis - systematic approach to locating,

    reviewing and evaluating the work (text, exhibitions, critiques, etc) relating to your topic

4. Communication - geared toward an intended audience, shows evidence of your inquiry

Research conceptualization refers to the ability to identify specific research questions, problems or opportunities that are worthy of inquiry. Research conceptualization also includes the skills and discipline that go beyond the initial moment of conception, and which enable the researcher to formulate and develop an idea into something researchable ( Newbury 373).

Research methodology refers to the knowledge and skills required to select and apply appropriate methods to carry through the research project ( Newbury 374) .

Method describes a single mode of proceeding; methodology describes the overall process.

Method - a way of doing anything especially according to a defined and regular plan; a mode of procedure in any activity

Methodology - the study of the direction and implications of empirical research, or the sustainability of techniques employed in it; a method or body of methods used in a particular field of study or activity *Browse a list of research methodology books  or this guide on Art & Design Research

Literature Review, critical evaluation & synthesis

A literature review is a systematic approach to locating, reviewing, and evaluating the published work and work in progress of scholars, researchers, and practitioners on a given topic.

Critical evaluation and synthesis is the ability to handle (or process) existing sources. It includes knowledge of the sources of literature and contextual research field within which the person is working ( Newbury 373).

Literature reviews are done for many reasons and situations. Here's a short list:

to learn about a field of study

to understand current knowledge on a subject

to formulate questions & identify a research problem

to focus the purpose of one's research

to contribute new knowledge to a field

personal knowledge

intellectual curiosity

to prepare for architectural program writing

academic degrees

grant applications

proposal writing

academic research



Sources to consult while conducting a literature review:

Online catalogs of local, regional, national, and special libraries

meta-catalogs such as worldcat , Art Discovery Group , europeana , world digital library or RIBA

subject-specific online article databases (such as the Avery Index, JSTOR, Project Muse)

digital institutional repositories such as Digital Commons @RISD ; see Registry of Open Access Repositories

Open Access Resources recommended by RISD Research LIbrarians

works cited in scholarly books and articles

print bibliographies

the internet-locate major nonprofit, research institutes, museum, university, and government websites

search google scholar to locate grey literature & referenced citations

trade and scholarly publishers

fellow scholars and peers


Communication refers to the ability to

  • structure a coherent line of inquiry
  • communicate your findings to your intended audience
  • make skilled use of visual material to express ideas for presentations, writing, and the creation of exhibitions ( Newbury 374)

Research plan framework: Newbury, Darren. "Research Training in the Creative Arts and Design." The Routledge Companion to Research in the Arts . Ed. Michael Biggs and Henrik Karlsson. New York: Routledge, 2010. 368-87. Print.

About the author

Except where otherwise noted, this guide is subject to a Creative Commons Attribution license

source document

  Routledge Companion to Research in the Arts

  • Next: Literature Review >>
  • Last Updated: Sep 20, 2023 5:05 PM
  • URL:


What's new?

Prototype Testing

Live Website Testing

Feedback Surveys

Interview Studies

Card Sorting

Tree Testing

In-Product Prompts

Participant Management

Automated Reports

Templates Gallery

Choose from our library of pre-built mazes to copy, customize, and share with your own users

Browse all templates

Financial Services

Tech & Software

Product Designers

Product Managers

User Researchers

By use case

Concept & Idea Validation

Wireframe & Usability Test

Content & Copy Testing

Feedback & Satisfaction

Content Hub

Educational resources for product, research and design teams

Explore all resources

Question Bank

Research Maturity Model

Guides & Reports

Help Center

Future of User Research Report

The Optimal Path Podcast

Maze Guides | Resources Hub

What is UX Research: The Ultimate Guide for UX Researchers

0% complete

Essential elements of an effective UX research plan (examples + templates)

Conducting UX research without a plan is like moving to another country without knowing the language—confusing and exhausting.

To avoid wasting time and resources, it’s crucial to set achievable research goals and work on developing a research plan that’s clear, comprehensive, and aligned with your overarching business goals and research strategy.

A good UX research plan sets out the parameters for your research, and guides how you’ll gather insights to inform product development. In this chapter, we share a step-by-step guide to creating a research plan, including templates and tactics for you to try. You’ll also find expert tips from Paige Bennett, Senior User Research Manager at Affirm, and Sinéad Davis Cochrane, Research Manager at Workday.

ux research plan

What is a UX research plan?

A UX research plan—not to be confused with a UX research strategy or research design—is a plan to guide individual user experience (UX) research projects.

It's a living document that includes a detailed explanation of tactics, methods, timeline, scope, and task owners. It should be co-created and shared with key stakeholders, so everyone is familiar with the project plan, and product teams can meet strategic goals.

A UX research plan is different to a research strategy and research design in both its purpose and contents. Let’s take a look.

Research plan vs. research design vs. research strategy: What’s the difference?

While your UX research plan should be based on strategy, it’s not the same thing. Your UX strategy is a high-level document that contains goals, budget, vision, and expectations. Meanwhile, a plan is a detailed document explaining how the team will achieve those strategic goals. Research design is the form your research itself takes.

project plan in research

In short, a strategy is a guide, a plan is what drives action, and design is the action itself.

Research design

to be employed and specifics on how they’ll be used in the study (e.g., qualitative interviews, quantitative surveys, experimental trials) that will assist in data collection (sampling size) and how they will be selected

Research plan

or goals of the research that will be used to gather and analyze data of the project (like budget and personnel) required

Research strategy

What are the benefits of using a UX research plan?

Conducting research without goals and parameters is aimless. A UX research plan is beneficial for your product, user, and business—by building a plan for conducting UX research, you can:

Streamline processes and add structure

Work toward specific, measurable goals, align and engage stakeholders, save time by avoiding rework.

The structure of a research plan allows you to set timelines, expectations, and task owners, so everyone on your team is aligned and empowered to make decisions. Since there’s no second guessing what to do next or which methods to use, you’ll find your process becomes simpler and more efficient. It’s also worth standardizing your process to turn your plan into a template that you can reuse for future projects.

When you set research goals based on strategy, you’ll find it easier to track your team’s progress and keep the project in scope, on time, and on budget. With a solid, strategy-based UX research plan you can also track metrics at different stages of the project and adjust future tactics to get better research findings.

“It’s important to make sure your stakeholders are on the same page with regards to scope, timeline, and goals before you start," explains Paige Bennett, Senior User Research Manager at Affirm. That's because, when stakeholders are aligned, they're much more likely to sign off on product changes that result from UX research.

A written plan is a collaborative way to involve stakeholders in your research and turn them into active participants rather than passive observers. As they get involved, they'll make useful contributions and get a better understanding of your goals.

A UX research plan helps you save time and money quite simply because it’s easier and less expensive to make design or prototype changes than it is to fix usability issues once the product is coded or fully launched. Additionally, having a plan gives your team direction, which means they won’t be conducting research and talking to users without motive, and you’ll be making better use of your resources. What’s more, when everyone is aligned on goals, they’re empowered to make informed decisions instead of waiting for their managers’ approval.

What should a UX research plan include?

In French cuisine, the concept of mise en place—putting in place—allows chefs to plan and set up their workspace with all the required ingredients before cooking. Think of your research plan like this—laying out the key steps you need to go through during research, to help you run a successful and more efficient study.

Here’s what you should include in a UX research plan:

  • A brief reminder of the strategy and goals
  • An outline of the research objectives
  • The purpose of the plan and studies
  • A short description of the target audience, sample size, scope, and demographics
  • A detailed list of expectations including deliverables, timings, and type of results
  • An overview of the test methods and a short explanation of why you chose them
  • The test set up or guidelines to outline everything that needs to happen before the study: scenarios, screening questions, and duration of pilot tests
  • Your test scripts, questions to ask, or samples to follow
  • When and how you’ll present the results
  • Cost estimations or requests to go over budget

Collect all UX research findings in one place

Use Maze to run quantitative and qualitative research, influence product design, and shape user-centered products.

project plan in research

How to create a UX research plan

Now we’ve talked through why you need a research plan, let’s get into the how. Here’s a short step-by-step guide on how to write a research plan that will drive results.

  • Define the problem statement
  • Get stakeholders’ buy-in
  • Identify your objectives
  • Choose the right research method
  • Recruit participants
  • Prepare the brief
  • Establish the timeline
  • Decide how you’ll present your findings

1. Define the problem statement

One of the most important purposes of a research plan is to identify what you’re trying to achieve with the research, and clarify the problem statement. For Paige Bennett , Senior User Research Manager at Affirm, this process begins by sitting together with stakeholders and looking at the problem space.

“We do an exercise called FOG, which stands for ‘Fact, Observation, Guess’, to identify large gaps in knowledge,” says Paige. “Evaluating what you know illuminates questions you still have, which then serves as the foundation of the UX research project.”

You can use different techniques to identify the problem statement, such as stakeholder interviews, team sessions, or analysis of customer feedback. The problem statement should explain what the project is about—helping to define the research scope with clear deliverables and objectives.

2. Identify your objectives

Research objectives need to align with the UX strategy and broader business goals, but you also need to define specific targets to achieve within the research itself—whether that’s understanding a specific problem, or measuring usability metrics . So, before you get into a room with your users and customers, “Think about the research objectives: what you’re doing, why you’re doing it, and what you expect from the UX research process ,” explains Sinéad Davis Cochrane , Research Manager at Workday.

Examples of research objectives might be:

  • Learn at what times users interact with your product
  • Understand why users return (or not) to your website/app
  • Discover what competitor products your users are using
  • Uncover any pain points or challenges users find when navigating with your product
  • Gauge user interest in and prioritize potential new features

A valuable purpose of setting objectives is ensuring your project doesn't suffer from scope creep. This can happen when stakeholders see your research as an opportunity to ask any question. As a researcher , Sinéad believes your objectives can guide the type of research questions you ask and give your research more focus. Otherwise, anything and everything becomes a research question—which will confuse your findings and be overwhelming to manage.

Sinéad shares a list of questions you should ask yourself and the research team to help set objectives:

  • What are you going to do with this information?
  • What decisions is it going to inform?
  • How are you going to leverage these insights?

Another useful exercise to help identify research objectives is by asking questions that help you get to the core of a problem. Ask these types of questions before starting the planning process:

  • Who are the users you’re designing this for?
  • What problems and needs do they have?
  • What are the pain points of using the product?
  • Why are they not using a product like yours?

3. Get stakeholders buy-in

It’s good practice to involve stakeholders at early stages of plan creation to get everyone on board. Sharing your UX research plan with relevant stakeholders means you can gather context, adjust based on comments, and gauge what’s truly important to them. When you present the research plan to key stakeholders, remember to align on the scope of research, and how and when you’ll get back to them with results.

Stakeholders usually have a unique vision of the product, and it’s crucial that you’re able to capture it early on—this doesn’t mean saying yes to everything, but listening to their ideas and having a conversation. Seeing the UX research plan as a living document makes it much easier to edit based on team comments. Plus, the more you listen to other ideas, the easier it will be to evangelize research and get stakeholder buy-in by helping them see the value behind it.

I expect my stakeholders to be participants, and I outline how I expect that to happen. That includes observing interviews, participating in synthesis exercises, or co-presenting research recommendations.


Paige Bennett , Senior User Research Manager at Affirm

4. Choose the right research method

ux research methods

Choose between the different UX research methods to capture different insights from users.

To define the research methods you’ll use, circle back to your research objectives, what stage of the product development process you’re in, and the constraints, resources, and timeline of the project. It’s good research practice to use a mix of different methods to get a more complete perspective of users’ struggles.

For example, if you’re at the start of the design process, a generative research method such as user interviews or field studies will help you generate new insights about the target audience. Or, if you need to evaluate how a new design performs with users, you can run usability tests to get actionable feedback.

It’s also good practice to mix methods that drive quantitative and qualitative results so you can understand context, and catch the user sentiment behind a metric. For instance, if during a remote usability test, you hear a user go ‘Ugh! Where’s the sign up button?’ you’ll get a broader perspective than if you were just reviewing the number of clicks on the same test task.

Examples of UX research methods to consider include:

  • Five-second testing
  • User interviews
  • Field studies
  • Card sorting
  • Tree testing
  • Focus groups
  • Usability testing
  • Diary studies
  • Live website testing

Check out our top UX research templates . Use them as a shortcut to get started on your research.

5. Determine how to recruit participants

Every research plan should include information about the participants you need for your study, and how you’ll recruit them. To identify your perfect candidate, revisit your goals and the questions that need answering, then build a target user persona including key demographics and use cases. Consider the resources you have available already, by asking yourself:

  • Do you have a user base you can tap into to collect customer insights ?
  • Do you need to hire external participants?
  • What’s your budget to recruit users?
  • How many users do you need to interact with?

When selecting participants, make sure they represent all your target personas. If different types of people will be using a certain product, you need to make sure that the people you research represent these personas. This means not just being inclusive in your recruitment, but considering secondary personas—the people who may not be your target user base, but interact with your product incidentally.

You should also consider recruiting research participants to test the product on different devices. Paige explains: “If prior research has shown that behavior differs greatly between those who use a product on their phone versus their tablet, I need to better understand those differences—so I’m going to make sure my participants include people who have used a product on both devices.”

During this step, make sure to include information about the required number of participants, how you’ll get them to participate, and how much time you need per user. The main ways to recruit testers are:

  • Using an online participant recruitment tool like Maze Panel
  • Putting out physical or digital adverts in spaces that are relevant to your product and user
  • Reaching out to existing users
  • Using participants from previous research
  • Recruiting directly from your website or app with a tool like In-Product Prompts

5.1. Determine how you’ll pay them

You should always reward your test participants for their time and insights. Not only because it’s the right thing to do, but also because if they have an incentive they’re more likely to give you complete and insightful answers. If you’re hosting the studies in person, you’ll also need to cover your participants' travel expenses and secure a research space. Running remote moderated or unmoderated research is often considered to be less expensive and faster to complete.

If you’re testing an international audience, remember to check your proposed payment system works worldwide—this might be an Amazon gift card or prepaid Visa cards.

6. Prepare the brief

The next component of a research plan is to create a brief or guide for your research sessions. The kind of brief you need will vary depending on your research method, but for moderated methods like user interviews, field studies, or focus groups, you’ll need a detailed guide and script. The brief is there to remind you which questions to ask and keep the sessions on track.

Your script should cover:

  • Introduction: A short message you’ll say to participants before the session begins. This works as a starting point for conversations and helps set the tone for the meeting. If you’re testing without a moderator, you should also include an introductory message to explain what the research is about and the type of answers they should give (in terms of length and specificity).
  • Interview questions: Include your list of questions you’ll ask participants during the sessions. These could be examples to help guide the interviews, specific pre-planned questions, or test tasks you’ll ask participants to perform during unmoderated sessions.
  • Outro message: Outline what you'll say at the end of the session, including the next steps, asking participants if they are open to future research, and thanking them for their time. This can be a form you share at the end of asynchronous sessions.

It’s crucial you remember to ask participants for their consent. You should do this at the beginning of the test by asking if they’re okay with you recording the session. Use this space to lay out any compensation agreements as well. Then, ask again at the end of the session if they agree with you keeping the results and using the data for research purposes. If possible, explain exactly what you’ll do with their data. Double check and get your legal team’s sign-off on these forms.

7. Establish the timeline

Next in your plan, estimate how long the research project will take and when you should expect to review the findings. Even if not exact, determining an approximate timeline (e.g., two-three weeks) will enable you to manage stakeholders’ expectations of the process and results.

Many people believe UX research is a lengthy process, so they skip it. When you set up a timeline and get stakeholders aligned with it, you can debunk assumptions and put stakeholders’ minds at ease. Plus, if you’re using a product discovery tool like Maze, you can get answers to your tests within days.

8. Decide how you’ll present your findings

When it comes to sharing your findings with your team, presentation matters. You need to make a clear presentation and demonstrate how user insights will influence design and development. If you’ve conducted UX research in the past, share data that proves how implementing user insights has improved product adoption.

Examples of ways you can present your results include:

  • A physical or digital PDF report with key statistics and takeaways
  • An interactive online report of the individual research questions and their results
  • A presentation explaining the results and your findings
  • A digital whiteboard, like Miro, to display the results

In your plan, mention how you’ll share insights with the product team. For example, if you’re using Maze, you can start by emailing everyone the ready-to-share report and setting up a meeting with the team to identify how to bring those insights to life. This is key, because your research should be the guiding light for new products or updates, if you want to keep development user-centric. Taking care over how you present your findings will impact whether they’re taken seriously and implemented by other stakeholders.

Your UX research plan template: Free template + example

Whether you’re creating the plan yourself or delegating to your team, a clear UX research plan template cuts your prep time in half.

Find our customizable free UX research plan template here , and keep reading for a filled-in example.

ux research plan template

Example: Improving user adoption of a project management tool called Flows

Now, let’s go through how to fill out this template and create a UX research plan with an example.

Executive summary:

Flows aims to increase user adoption and tool engagement by 30% within the next 12 months. Our B2B project management software has been on the market for 3 years and has 25,000 active users across various industries.

By researching the current product experience with existing users, we’ll learn what works and what doesn’t in order to make adjustments to the product and experience.

Research objectives:

Objective Description
Objective 1 Identify pain points and areas of friction in the current user experience that stop adoption and engagement
Objective 2 Understand how team members currently use the tool to manage projects and collaborate
Objective 3 Explore desired features, integrations, and capabilities to enhance productivity and team effectiveness

Purpose of the plan and studies:

The purpose is to gather actionable insights into user needs, behaviors, and challenges to inform updates that will drive increased adoption and engagement of 30% for the B2B project management tool within 12 months.

Target audience, sample size, scope, and demographics:

Characteristic Details
Target audience Current customers (teams) using the project management tool
Sample size 20 teams across different client accounts
Scope Full user experience from onboarding to daily use across all tool features
Demographics Teams of 5-15 members from industries like software, marketing, construction, and consulting

Expectations, deliverables, timings, and type of results:

Deliverable Description Deadline
Deliverable 1 User journey maps highlighting friction points 3 weeks after research study completion
Deliverable 2 Competitive analysis report 4 weeks
Deliverable 3 Prioritized feature roadmap 5 weeks
Deliverable 4 Final report with key findings and recommendations 6 weeks

Research methodologies:

Method Reason
Behavioural analytics Review product stats to uncover friction points that can inform following research
Contextual inquiries (8 teams*): Observe teams using the tool in their workspace
User interviews (12 teams*) 60-min semi-structured interviews
Usability testing (5 teams*) Unmoderated remote usability tests

*Some teams will take part in more than one research session.

Research analysis methods:

We are doing a mixed methods study.

User interviews are our primary method for gathering qualitative data, and will be analyzed using thematic analysis .

  • Quantitative data will be pulled from usability tests to evaluate the effectiveness of our current design.
  • Research set up and guidelines:
  • Create baselines surveys to gauge current usage and pain points
  • Develop interview/discussion guides and usability testing scenarios
  • Pilot test materials with two teams
  • User interviews: 60 mins, semi-structured; usability tests: 90 mins
  • Findings will be presented in a research report for all stakeholders

Research scripts, questions, and samples:

User interview questions:

  • What’s your experience with Flows?
  • How does Flows fit into your workflow?
  • What is your understanding of Flows’ features?
  • What do you wish Flows could do that it currently doesn’t?

Usability test sample with Maze:

ux research plan template example

Cost estimations or budget requests/pricing:

Total estimated budget: $8,000

Item Estimated costs Notes
Participant incentives $4,000
Remote usability testing platform $1,000
Research tools & software $3,000

More free customizable templates for UX research

Whether you’re creating the plan yourself or are delegating this responsibility to your team, here are six research templates to get started:

  • UX research plan template : This editable Miro research project plan example helps you brainstorm user and business-facing problems, objectives, and questions
  • UX research brief : You need a clear brief before you conduct UX research—Milanote shares a template that will help you simplify the writing process
  • User testing synthesis : Trello put together a sample board to organize user testing notes—you can use this as a guide, but change the titles to fit your UX research purposes
  • Usability testing templates : At Maze, we’ve created multiple templates for conducting specific UX research methods—this list will help you create different remote usability tests
  • Information architecture (IA) tests template : The way you organize the information in your website or app can improve or damage the user experience—use this template to run IA tests easily
  • Feedback survey templates : Ask users anything through a survey, and use these templates to get creative and simplify creation

Everything you need to know about UX research plans

We all know that a robust plan is essential for conducting successful UX research. But, in case you want a quick refresher on what we’ve covered:

  • Using a UX research strategy as a starting point will make your plan more likely to succeed
  • Determine your research objectives before anything else
  • Use a mix of qualitative and quantitative research methods
  • Come up with clear personas so you can recruit and test a group of individuals that’s representative of your real end users
  • Involve stakeholders from the beginning to get buy-in
  • Be vocal about timelines, budget, and expected research findings
  • Use the insights to power your product decisions and wow your users; building the solution they genuinely want and need

UX research can happen at any stage of the development lifecycle. When you build products with and for users, you need to include them continuously at various stages of the process.

It’s helpful to explore the need for continuous discovery in your UX research plan and look for a tool like Maze that simplifies the process for you. We’ll cover more about the different research methods and UX research tools in the upcoming chapters—ready to go?

Elevate your UX research workflow

Discover how Maze can streamline and operationalize your research plans to drive real product innovation while saving on costs.

Frequently asked questions

What’s the difference between a UX research plan and a UX research strategy?

The difference between a UX research plan and a UX research strategy is that they cover different levels of scope and detail. A UX research plan is a document that guides individual user experience (UX) research projects. UX research plans are shared documents that everyone on the product team can and should be familiar with. A UX research strategy, on the other hand, outlines the high-level goals, expectations, and demographics of the organization’s approach to research.

What should you include in a user research plan?

Here’s what to include in a user research plan:

  • Problem statement
  • Research objectives
  • Research methods
  • Participants' demographics
  • Recruitment plan
  • User research brief
  • Expected timeline
  • How to present findings

How do you write a research plan for UX design?

Creating a research plan for user experience (UX) requires a clear problem statement and objectives, choosing the right research method, recruiting participants and briefing them, and establishing a timeline for your project. You'll also need to plan how you'll analyze and present your findings.

How do you plan a UX research roadmap?

To plan a UX research roadmap, start by identifying key business goals and user needs. Align research activities with product milestones to ensure timely insights. Prioritize research methods—like surveys, interviews, and usability tests—based on the project phase and objectives. Set clear timelines and allocate resources accordingly. Regularly update stakeholders on progress and integrate feedback to refine the roadmap continuously.

Generative Research: Definition, Methods, and Examples

  • Jira Service Management
  • Atlassian Guard
  • Company News
  • Continuous Delivery
  • Inside Atlassian
  • IT Service Management
  • Work Management
  • Project Management

Our State of Teams 2024 report is live! Check it out here .

project plan in research

How to write an effective project plan in 6 simple steps

Deanna deBara

Contributing writer

If you’re a Type A personality, project planning might sound like music to your ears. Setting deadlines, organizing tasks, and creating order out of chaos — what’s not to love?

The reality is that project planning isn’t for everyone. In one survey by Association for Project Management, 76% of project professionals said their main project was a source of stress . Poor planning, unclear responsibilities, and overallocation are often the culprits behind the stress. 

An effective project plan helps teams stay within budget, scope, and schedule, while delivering quality work. In short, it gets you to the finish line without the stress.  

What is a project plan?

A project plan, also known as a work plan, is a blueprint of your project lifecycle. It’s like a roadmap — it clearly outlines how to get from where you are now (the beginning of the project) to where you want to go (the successful completion of the project). 

“A project plan is an action plan outlining how…[to] accomplish project goals,” says Jami Yazdani , certified Project Management Professional (PMP), project coach, project management consultant, and founder of Yazdani Consulting and Facilitation . 

A comprehensive project plan includes the project schedule, project scope, due dates, and deliverables. Writing a good project plan is key for any new, complex project in the pipeline.

Why Are Project Plans Important?

Project plans allow you to visualize your entire project, from beginning to end—and develop a clear strategy to get from point A to point B. Project plans steer stakeholders in the right direction and keep team members accountable with a common baseline.  

Project plans help you stay agile

Projects are bound by what is traditionally called the “iron triangle” of project management . It means that project managers have to work within the three constraints of scope, resources (project budget and teams), and schedule. You cannot make changes to one without impacting the other two.    

Modern-day project management has shifted to a more agile approach, with a focus on quality. This means that resources and schedules remain unchanged but a fixed number of iterations (flexible scope) helps teams deliver better quality and more value. 

A project plan puts this “agile triangle” in place by mapping out resources, schedules, and the number of iterations — sprints if you’re using a Scrum framework and work in progress (WIP) limits if you’re using the Kanban methodology . 

As Yazdani points out, “Project plans help us strategize a path to project success, allowing us to consider the factors that will impact our project, from stakeholders to budget to schedule delays, and plan how to maximize or mitigate these factors.” 

Project plans provide complete visibility

A project plan, when created with a comprehensive project management software , gives you 360-degree visibility throughout the project lifecycle. 

As a project manager, you need a single source of truth on team members and their project tasks, project scope, project objectives, and project timelines. A detailed project plan gives you this visibility and helps teams stay on track.

screenshot of a Jira Work Management project board

Project plans also help to get everyone involved on the same page, setting clear expectations around what needs to be accomplished, when, and by who. 

“Project plans create a framework for measuring project progress and success,” says Yazdani. “Project plans set clear expectations for…stakeholders by outlining exactly what…will [be accomplished] and when it will be delivered.”

Project plans boost engagement and productivity

A well-written project plan clarifies how each individual team member’s contributions play into the larger scope of the project and align with company goals. When employees see how their work directly impacts organizational growth, it generates buy-in and drives engagement , which is critical to a project’s success. 

“Project plans provide…teams with purpose and direction,” says Yazdani. “Transparent project plans show team members how their individual tasks and responsibilities contribute to the overall success of the project, encouraging engagement and collaboration.”

How To Write A Project Plan in 6 Steps

Writing a project plan requires, well, planning. Ideally, the seeds for a project plan need to be sowed before internal project sign-off begins. Before that sign-off, conduct capacity planning to estimate the resources you will need and if they’re available for the duration of the project. After all, you want to set your teams up for success with realistic end dates, buffer time to recharge or catch up in case of unexpected delays, and deliver quality work without experiencing burnout .

Based on organizational capacity, you can lay down project timelines and map out scope as well as success metrics, outline tasks, and build a feedback loop into your project plan. Follow these project planning steps to create a winning plan:      

1. Establish Project Scope And Metrics

Defining your project scope is essential to protecting your iron, or agile, triangle from crumbling. Too often, projects are hit with scope creep , causing delays, budget overruns, and anxiety.

“Clearly define your project’s scope or overall purpose,” says Yazdani. “Confirm any project parameters or constraints, like budget, resource availability, and timeline,” says Yazdani.

A project purpose statement is a high-level brief that defines the what, who, and why of the project along with how and when the goal will be accomplished. But just as important as defining your project scope and purpose is defining what metrics you’re going to use to track progress.

“Establish how you will measure success,” says Yazdani. “Are there metrics, performance criteria, or quality standards you need to meet?”

Clearly defining what your project is, the project’s overall purpose, and how you’re going to measure success lays the foundation for the rest of your project plan—so make sure you take the time to define each of these elements from the get-go.

2. Identify Key Project Stakeholders 

Get clarity on the team members you need to bring the project to life. In other words, identify the key stakeholders of the project. 

“List individuals or groups who will be impacted by the project,” says Yazdani. 

In addition to identifying who needs to be involved in the project, think about how they’ll need to be involved—and at what level. Use a tool like Confluence to run a virtual session to clarify roles and responsibilities, and find gaps that need to be filled. 

Let’s say you’re managing a cross-functional project to launch a new marketing campaign that includes team members from your marketing, design, and sales departments. 

When identifying your key stakeholders, you might create different lists based on the responsibility or level of involvement with the project:

  • Decision-makers (who will need to provide input at each step of the project)
  • Managers (who will be overseeing employees within their department) 
  • Creative talent (who will be actually creating the project deliverables for the campaign) from each department. 

Give your project plan an edge by using a Confluence template like the one below to outline roles and responsibilities.

confluence template preview for roles and responsibility document

Define roles, discuss responsibilities, and clarify which tasks fall under each teammate’s purview using this Confluence template. 

Getting clarity on who needs to be involved in the project—and how they’re going to be involved—will help guide the rest of the project plan writing process (particularly when it comes to creating and assigning tasks).

3. Outline Deliverables

Now is the time to get granular.

Each project milestone comprises a series of smaller, tangible tasks that your teams need to produce. While a big-picture view keeps teams aligned, you need signposts along the way to guide them on a day-to-day or weekly basis. Create a list of deliverables that will help you achieve the greater vision of the project. 

“What will you create, build, design, produce, accomplish or deliver?” says Yazdani. “Clearly outline your project’s concrete and tangible deliverables or outcomes.” Centralize these deliverables in a Trello board with designated cards for each one, like in the example below, so you keep work moving forward.

trello board that shows tasks organized into status columns

Each card on a board represents tasks and ideas and you can move cards across lists to show progress.

Defining the concrete items you need your project to deliver will help you reverse-engineer the things that need to happen to bring those items to life—which is a must before moving on to the next step.

4. Develop Actionable Tasks

Task management is an important component of any project plan because they help employees see what exactly they need to accomplish. Drill down those deliverables into actionable tasks to assign to your team. 

You can use either Confluence or Jira for different task management needs. If you want to track tasks alongside your work, like action items from a meeting or small team projects, it’s best to use Confluence. But if a project has multiple teams and you need insight into workflows, task history, and reporting, Jira makes it easy.      

“Let your deliverables guide the work of the project,” says Yazdani. “Break down each deliverable into smaller and smaller components until you get to an actionable task.” If a major deliverable is a set of content pieces, the smaller actionable tasks would be to create topic ideas, conduct research, and create outlines for each topic.  

Once you’ve broken down all of your deliverables into manageable, assignable subtasks, analyze how each of those tasks interacts with each other. That way, you can plan, prioritize, assign, and add deadlines accordingly.  

“Highlight any dependencies between tasks, such as tasks that can’t be started until another task is complete,” says Yazdani. “List any resources you will need to accomplish these tasks.”

When a task has multiple assignees, you need to streamline the workflow in your project plan. Say the content pieces you outlined need to be edited or peer-reviewed. A couple of articles may need an interview with a subject matter expert. Lay down a stage-by-stage process of each piece of content and pinpoint when each team member comes into play so you prevent bottlenecks and adjust timeframes.     

5. Assign Tasks And Deadlines

Assign tasks to your team and collaborate with employees to set deadlines for each task. When you involve employees in setting workloads and deadlines , you increase ownership and boost the chances of delivering quality work on time.  

After all, you want to move projects forward at a steady pace, but you also want to make sure your teams stay motivated and engaged. So, when writing your project plan, make sure to “set realistic and achievable deadlines for completing tasks and deliverables,” says Yazdani. “Highlight dates that are inflexible and factor in task dependencies. Add in milestones or checkpoints to monitor progress and celebrate successes .”

project plan in research

Use Jira and Confluence to create tasks that live alongside your project plan or meeting agendas.

Once you map out all of your tasks and deadlines, you should have a clear picture of how and when your project is going to come together—and the initial writing process is just about finished.

But that doesn’t mean your project plan is complete! There’s one more key step to the process.

6. Share, Gather Feedback, And Adjust The Project Plan As Necessary

While steps 1 through 5 may make up your initial writing process, if you want your project plan to be as strong and complete as it can be, it’s important to share it with your team—and get their input on how they think it can be improved.

“Share the plan with your project team and key stakeholders, gathering feedback to make adjustments and improvements,” says Yazdani. 

A tool like Confluence helps knowledge flow freely within teams and departments, leading to better teamwork, higher collaboration, and a shared understanding of priorities. Coworkers can use comments, mentions, notifications, and co-editing capabilities to provide and discuss feedback. 

After you gather your team’s feedback —and make any necessary adjustments based on that feedback—you can consider your project plan complete. Hooray! 

But as your project progresses, things may change or evolve—so it’s important to stay flexible and make changes and adjustments as needed.

“Expect to update your plan as you gather more information, encounter changing requirements and delays, and learn from feedback and mistakes,” says Yazdani. “By using your project plan to guide your activities and measure progress, you’ll be able to refine and improve your plan as you move through the project, tweaking tasks and deadlines as deliverables are developed.”

Download a  template to create your project plan and customize it based on your needs.

Example of a simple project plan 

A project plan doesn’t have to be a complicated spreadsheet with multiple tabs and drop-down menus. It’s best to use a project planning tool like Confluence — or at least a project plan template — to make sure you cover every aspect of the project. A simple project plan includes these elements:

  • Project name, brief summary, and objective.
  • Project players or team members who will drive the project, along with their roles and responsibilities.
  • Key outcomes and due dates.
  • Project elements, ideally divided into must-have, nice-to-have and not-in-scope categories.
  • Milestones, milestone owners, and a project end date.
  • Reference material relevant to the project.

Project plan Confluence template

Best Practices For Writing Effective Project Plans

A project planning process can quickly turn into a mishmash of goals and tasks that end up in chaos but these best practices can give you a framework to create a project plan that leads to success.

Use Other Project Plans For Inspiration

There’s no need to reinvent the wheel for every new project! Instead, look to other successful project plans for inspiration—and use them as a guide when writing the plan for your project.

“Review templates and plans for similar projects, or for other projects within your organization or industry, to get ideas for structuring and drafting your own plan,” says Yazdani.

To get started, use a Trello project management template and customize it for your project plan by creating unique lists and adding cards under each list.


Build your team’s ideal workflow and mark each stage of the project plan as a list, with cards for each task. 

Get Your Team Involved In The Process

You may be in charge of spearheading the project. But that doesn’t mean that you have to—or even that you should—write the project plan alone. 

“Collaborate with your project team and key stakeholders on crafting a project plan,” says Yazdani. “Input into the project plan supports buy-in to project goals and encourages continued engagement throughout the project.”

With Confluence , you can organize project details in a centralized space and build a project plan collaboratively.

Don’t Let Perfect Be The Enemy Of The Good

You may be tempted to write (and rewrite) your project plan until you’ve got every detail mapped out perfectly. But spending too much time trying to get everything “perfect” can actually hold up the project. So don’t let perfect be the enemy of the good—and instead of getting caught up in getting everything perfect from the get-go, stay willing and flexible to adjust your project plan as you move forward.

“Focus on outcomes, not plan perfection,” says Yazdani. “While it would be awesome for the first draft of our plan to require no changes while also inspiring our team and ensuring project success, our goal shouldn’t be a perfect plan. Our goal is a plan that allows us to successfully deliver on project goals. Responsiveness to changing needs and a shifting environment is more important than plan perfection.”

Use the right tools to succeed with your project plan

Writing a project plan, especially if you’re new to the process, can feel overwhelming. But now that you know the exact steps to write one, make sure you have the tools you need to create a strong, cohesive plan from the ground up—and watch your project thrive as a result. 

Atlassian Together can help with project planning and management with a powerful combination of tools that make work flow across teams.

Guide your team to project success with Atlassian Together’s suite of products.

Advice, stories, and expertise about work life today.


Project Planning for the Beginner: Research Design

  • Defining a Topic
  • Reviewing the Literature
  • Developing a Researchable Question

Research Design

  • Planning, Data, Writing and Dissemination

What Is a Research Plan?

This refers to the overall plan for your research, and will be used by you and your supervisor to indicate your intentions for your research and the method(s) you’ll use to carry it out. It includes:

• A specification of your research questions

• An outline of your proposed research methods

• A timetable for doing the work

What Is Research Design?

The term “ research design “ is usually used in reference to experimental research, and refers to the design of your experiment. However, you will also see the term “research design” used in other types of research. Below is a list of possible research designs you might encounter or adopt for your research:

• Descriptive or exploratory (e.g., case study , naturalistic observation )

• Correlational (e.g., case-control study, observational study )

• Quasi-experimental (e.g., field experiment , quasi-experiment )

• Experimental (experiment with random allocation and a control and test group )

• Review (e.g. literature review , systematic review )

• Meta-analytic (e.g. meta-analysis )

Research Design Choices

How do i match my research method to my research question.

The method(s) you use must be capable of answering the research questions you have set. Here are some things you may have to consider:

• Often questions can be answered in different ways using different methods

• You may be working with multiple methods

• Methods can answer different sorts of questions

• Questions can be answered in different ways.

The matching of method(s) to questions always matters . Some methods work better for particular sorts of questions.

If your question is a hypothesis which must be falsifiable, you can answer it using the following possible methods:

• An experimental method using statistical methods to test your hypothesis.

• Survey data (either generated by you or secondary data) using statistical methods to test your hypothesis.

If your question requires you to describe a social context and/or process, then you can answer it using the following possible methods:

• You can use data from your own surveys and/or secondary data to carry out descriptive statistics and numerical taxonomy methods for classification .

• You can use qualitative material derived from:

• Documentary research

• Qualitative interviews

• Focus groups

• Visual research

• Ethnographic methods

• Any combination of the above may be deployed.

If your question(s) require you to make causal statements about how certain things have come to be as they are, then you might consider using the following:

• You can build quantitative causal models using techniques which derive from statistical regression analysis and seeing if the models “fit” your quantitative data set.

• You can do this through building simulations .

• You can do this by using figurational methods, particularly qualitative comparative analysis , which start either with the construction of quantitative descriptions of cases from qualitative accounts of those cases, or with an existing data set which contains quantitative descriptions of cases. 

• You can combine both approaches.

If your question(s) require you to produce interpretive accounts of human social actions with a focus on the meanings actors have attached to those actions, then you might consider using the following:

• You can use documentary resources which include accounts of action(s) and the meanings actors have attached to those actions. This is a key approach in historical research.

• You can conduct qualitative interviews .

• You can hold focus groups .

• You can do this using ethnographic observation .

• You can combine any or all of above approaches.

If your question(s) are evaluative, this could mean that you have to find out if some intervention has worked, how it has worked if it has, and why it didn’t work if it didn’t. You might then consider using the following:

• Any combination of quantitative and qualitative methods which fit the data you have.

• You should always use process tracing to generate a careful historical account of the intervention and its context(s). 

Checklist: Question to Ask When Deciding On a Method

Here are seven questions you should be able to answer about the methods you have chosen for your research. 

  • Does your method/do your methods fit the research question(s)?
  • Do you understand how the methods relate to your methodological position?
  • Do you know how to use the method(s)  ?  If not, can you learn how to use the method(s)?
  • Do you have the resources you need to use the methods? For example:

• statistical software

• qualitative data analysis software

• an adequate computer

• access to secondary data sets

• audio-visual equipment

• language training

• transport You need to work through this list and add anything else that you need.

  • If you are using multiple methods, do you know how you are going to combine them to carry out the research?
  • If you are using multiple methods, do you know how you are going to combine the  products of using them when writing up your research? 
  • << Previous: Developing a Researchable Question
  • Next: Planning, Data, Writing and Dissemination >>
  • Last Updated: May 11, 2022 2:56 PM
  • URL:

stage indicator - apply for a grant

Write Your Research Plan

In this part, we give you detailed information about writing an effective Research Plan. We start with the importance and parameters of significance and innovation.

We then discuss how to focus the Research Plan, relying on the iterative process described in the Iterative Approach to Application Planning Checklist shown at Draft Specific Aims  and give you advice for filling out the forms.

You'll also learn the importance of having a well-organized, visually appealing application that avoids common missteps and the importance of preparing your just-in-time information early.

While this document is geared toward the basic research project grant, the R01, much of it is useful for other grant types.

Table of Contents

Research plan overview and your approach, craft a title, explain your aims, research strategy instructions, advice for a successful research strategy, graphics and video, significance, innovation, and approach, tracking for your budget, preliminary studies or progress report, referencing publications, review and finalize your research plan, abstract and narrative.

Your application's Research Plan has two sections:

  • Specific Aims —a one-page statement of your objectives for the project.
  • Research Strategy —a description of the rationale for your research and your experiments in 12 pages for an R01.

In your Specific Aims, you note the significance and innovation of your research; then list your two to three concrete objectives, your aims.

Your Research Strategy is the nuts and bolts of your application, where you describe your research rationale and the experiments you will conduct to accomplish each aim. Though how you organize it is largely up to you, NIH expects you to follow these guidelines.

  • Organize using bold headers or an outline or numbering system—or both—that you use consistently throughout.
  • Start each section with the appropriate header: Significance, Innovation, or Approach.
  • Organize the Approach section around your Specific Aims.

Format of Your Research Plan

To write the Research Plan, you don't need the application forms. Write the text in your word processor, turn it into a PDF file, and upload it into the application form when it's final.

Because NIH may return your application if it doesn't meet all requirements, be sure to follow the rules for font, page limits, and more. Read the instructions at NIH’s Format Attachments .

For an R01, the Research Strategy can be up to 12 pages, plus one page for Specific Aims. Don't pad other sections with information that belongs in the Research Plan. NIH is on the lookout and may return your application to you if you try to evade page limits.

Follow Examples

As you read this page, look at our Sample Applications and More  to see some of the different strategies successful PIs use to create an outstanding Research Plan.

Keeping It All In Sync

Writing in a logical sequence will save you time.

Information you put in the Research Plan affects just about every other application part. You'll need to keep everything in sync as your plans evolve during the writing phase.

It's best to consider your writing as an iterative process. As you develop and finalize your experiments, you will go back and check other parts of the application to make sure everything is in sync: the "who, what, when, where, and how (much money)" as well as look again at the scope of your plans.

In that vein, writing in a logical sequence is a good approach that will save you time. We suggest proceeding in the following order:

  • Create a provisional title.
  • Write a draft of your Specific Aims.
  • Start with your Significance and Innovation sections.
  • Then draft the Approach section considering the personnel and skills you'll need for each step.
  • Evaluate your Specific Aims and methods in light of your expected budget (for a new PI, it should be modest, probably under the $250,000 for NIH's modular budget).
  • As you design experiments, reevaluate your hypothesis, aims, and title to make sure they still reflect your plans.
  • Prepare your Abstract (a summary of your Specific Aims).
  • Complete the other forms.

Even the smaller sections of your application need to be well-organized and readable so reviewers can readily grasp the information. If writing is not your forte, get help.

To view writing strategies for successful applications, see our Sample Applications and More . There are many ways to create a great application, so explore your options.

Within the character limit, include the important information to distinguish your project within the research area, your project's goals, and the research problem.

Giving your project a title at the outset can help you stay focused and avoid a meandering Research Plan. So you may want to launch your writing by creating a well-defined title.

NIH gives you a 200 character limit, but don’t feel obliged to use all of that allotment. Instead, we advise you to keep the title as succinct as possible while including the important information to distinguish your project within the research area. Make your title reflect your project's goals, the problem your project addresses, and possibly your approach to studying it. Make your title specific: saying you are studying lymphocyte trafficking is not informative enough.

For examples of strong titles, see our Sample Applications and More .

After you write a preliminary title, check that

  • My title is specific, indicating at least the research area and the goals of my project.
  • It is 200 characters or less.
  • I use as simple language as possible.
  • I state the research problem and, possibly, my approach to studying it.
  • I use a different title for each of my applications. (Note: there are exceptions, for example, for a renewal—see Apply for Renewal  for details.)
  • My title has appropriate keywords.

Later you may want to change your initial title. That's fine—at this point, it's just an aid to keep your plans focused.

Since all your reviewers read your Specific Aims, you want to excite them about your project.

If testing your hypothesis is the destination for your research, your Research Plan is the map that takes you there.

You'll start by writing the smaller part, the Specific Aims. Think of the one-page Specific Aims as a capsule of your Research Plan. Since all your reviewers read your Specific Aims, you want to excite them about your project.

For more on crafting your Specific Aims, see Draft Specific Aims .

Write a Narrative

Use at least half the page to provide the rationale and significance of your planned research. A good way to start is with a sentence that states your project's goals.

For the rest of the narrative, you will describe the significance of your research, and give your rationale for choosing the project. In some cases, you may want to explain why you did not take an alternative route.

Then, briefly describe your aims, and show how they build on your preliminary studies and your previous research. State your hypothesis.

If it is likely your application will be reviewed by a study section with broad expertise, summarize the status of research in your field and explain how your project fits in.

In the narrative part of the Specific Aims of many outstanding applications, people also used their aims to

  • State the technologies they plan to use.
  • Note their expertise to do a specific task or that of collaborators.
  • Describe past accomplishments related to the project.
  • Describe preliminary studies and new and highly relevant findings in the field.
  • Explain their area's biology.
  • Show how the aims relate to one another.
  • Describe expected outcomes for each aim.
  • Explain how they plan to interpret data from the aim’s efforts.
  • Describe how to address potential pitfalls with contingency plans.

Depending on your situation, decide which items are important for you. For example, a new investigator would likely want to highlight preliminary data and qualifications to do the work.

Many people use bold or italics to emphasize items they want to bring to the reviewers' attention, such as the hypothesis or rationale.

Detail Your Aims

After the narrative, enter your aims as bold bullets, or stand-alone or run-on headers.

  • State your plans using strong verbs like identify, define, quantify, establish, determine.
  • Describe each aim in one to three sentences.
  • Consider adding bullets under each aim to refine your objectives.

How focused should your aims be? Look at the example below.

Spot the Sample

Read the Specific Aims of the Application from Drs. Li and Samulski , "Enhance AAV Liver Transduction with Capsid Immune Evasion."

  • Aim 1. Study the effect of adeno-associated virus (AAV) empty particles on AAV capsid antigen cross-presentation in vivo .
  • Aim 2. Investigate AAV capsid antigen presentation following administration of AAV mutants and/or proteasome inhibitors for enhanced liver transduction in vivo .
  • Aim 3. Isolate AAV chimeric capsids with human hepatocyte tropism and the capacity for cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTL) evasion.

After finishing the draft Specific Aims, check that

  • I keep to the one-page limit.
  • Each of my two or three aims is a narrowly focused, concrete objective I can achieve during the grant.
  • They give a clear picture of how my project can generate knowledge that may improve human health.
  • They show my project's importance to science, how it addresses a critical research opportunity that can move my field forward.
  • My text states how my work is innovative.
  • I describe the biology to the extent needed for my reviewers.
  • I give a rationale for choosing the topic and approach.
  • I tie the project to my preliminary data and other new findings in the field.
  • I explicitly state my hypothesis and why testing it is important.
  • My aims can test my hypothesis and are logical.
  • I can design and lead the execution of two or three sets of experiments that will strive to accomplish each aim.
  • As much as possible, I use language that an educated person without expertise can understand.
  • My text has bullets, bolding, or headers so reviewers can easily spot my aims (and other key items).

For each element listed above, analyze your text and revise it until your Specific Aims hit all the key points you'd like to make.

After the list of aims, some people add a closing paragraph, emphasizing the significance of the work, their collaborators, or whatever else they want to focus reviewers' attention on.

Your Research Strategy is the bigger part of your application's Research Plan (the other part is the Specific Aims—discussed above.)

The Research Strategy is the nuts and bolts of your application, describing the rationale for your research and the experiments you will do to accomplish each aim. It is structured as follows:

  • Significance
  • You can either include this information as a subsection of Approach or integrate it into any or all of the three main sections.
  • If you do the latter, be sure to mark the information clearly, for example, with a bold subhead.
  • Possible other sections, for example, human subjects, vertebrate animals, select agents, and others (these do not count toward the page limit).

Though how you organize your application is largely up to you, NIH does want you to follow these guidelines:

  • Add bold headers or an outlining or numbering system—or both—that you use consistently throughout.
  • Start each of the Research Strategy's sections with a header: Significance, Innovation, and Approach.

For an R01, the Research Strategy is limited to 12 pages for the three main sections and the preliminary studies only. Other items are not included in the page limit.

Find instructions for R01s in the SF 424 Application Guide—go to NIH's SF 424 (R&R) Application and Electronic Submission Information for the generic SF 424 Application Guide or find it in your notice of funding opportunity (NOFO).

For most applications, you need to address Rigor and Reproducibility by describing the experimental design and methods you propose and how they will achieve robust and unbiased results. The requirement applies to research grant, career development, fellowship, and training applications.

If you're responding to an institute-specific program announcement (PA) (not a parent program announcement) or a request for applications (RFA), check the NIH Guide notice, which has additional information you need. Should it differ from the NOFO, go with the NIH Guide .

Also note that your application must meet the initiative's objectives and special requirements. NIAID program staff will check your application, and if it is not responsive to the announcement, your application will be returned to you without a review.

When writing your Research Strategy, your goal is to present a well-organized, visually appealing, and readable description of your proposed project. That means your writing should be streamlined and organized so your reviewers can readily grasp the information. If writing is not your forte, get help.

There are many ways to create an outstanding Research Plan, so explore your options.

What Success Looks Like

Your application's Research Plan is the map that shows your reviewers how you plan to test your hypothesis.

It not only lays out your experiments and expected outcomes, but must also convince your reviewers of your likely success by allaying any doubts that may cross their minds that you will be able to conduct the research.

Notice in the sample applications how the writing keeps reviewers' eyes on the ball by bringing them back to the main points the PIs want to make. Write yourself an insurance policy against human fallibility: if it's a key point, repeat it, then repeat it again.

The Big Three

So as you write, put the big picture squarely in your sights. When reviewers read your application, they'll look for the answers to three basic questions:

  • Can your research move your field forward?
  • Is the field important—will progress make a difference to human health?
  • Can you and your team carry out the work?

Add Emphasis

Savvy PIs create opportunities to drive their main points home. They don't stop at the Significance section to emphasize their project's importance, and they look beyond their biosketches to highlight their team's expertise.

Don't take a chance your reviewer will gloss over that one critical sentence buried somewhere in your Research Strategy or elsewhere. Write yourself an insurance policy against human fallibility: if it's a key point, repeat it, then repeat it again.

Add more emphasis by putting the text in bold, or bold italics (in the modern age, we skip underlining—it's for typewriters).

Here are more strategies from our successful PIs:

  • While describing a method in the Approach section, they state their or collaborators' experience with it.
  • They point out that they have access to a necessary piece of equipment.
  • When explaining their field and the status of current research, they weave in their own work and their preliminary data.
  • They delve into the biology of the area to make sure reviewers will grasp the importance of their research and understand their field and how their work fits into it.

You can see many of these principles at work in the Approach section of the Application from Dr. William Faubion , "Inflammatory cascades disrupt Treg function through epigenetic mechanisms."

  • Reviewers felt that the experiments described for Aim 1 will yield clear results.
  • The plans to translate those findings to gene targets of relevance are well outlined and focused.
  • He ties his proposed experiments to the larger picture, including past research and strong preliminary data for the current application. 

Anticipate Reviewer Questions

Our applicants not only wrote with their reviewers in mind they seemed to anticipate their questions. You may think: how can I anticipate all the questions people may have? Of course you can't, but there are some basic items (in addition to the "big three" listed above) that will surely be on your reviewers' minds:

  • Will the investigators be able to get the work done within the project period, or is the proposed work over ambitious?
  • Did the PI describe potential pitfalls and possible alternatives?
  • Will the experiments generate meaningful data?
  • Could the resulting data prove the hypothesis?
  • Are others already doing the work, or has it been already completed?

Address these questions; then spend time thinking about more potential issues specific to you and your research—and address those too.

For applications, a picture can truly be worth a thousand words. Graphics can illustrate complex information in a small space and add visual interest to your application.

Look at our sample applications to see how the investigators included schematics, tables, illustrations, graphs, and other types of graphics to enhance their applications.

Consider adding a timetable or flowchart to illustrate your experimental plan, including decision trees with alternative experimental pathways to help your reviewers understand your plans.

Plan Ahead for Video

If you plan to send one or more videos, you'll need to meet certain standards and include key information in your Research Strategy now.

To present some concepts or demonstrations, video may enhance your application beyond what graphics alone can achieve. However, you can't count on all reviewers being able to see or hear video, so you'll want to be strategic in how you incorporate it into your application.

Be reviewer-friendly. Help your cause by taking the following steps:

  • Caption any narration in the video.
  • Choose evocative still images from your video to accompany your summary.
  • Write your summary of the video carefully so the text would make sense even without the video.

In addition to those considerations, create your videos to fit NIH’s technical requirements. Learn more in the SF 424 Form Instructions .

Next, as you write your Research Strategy, include key images from the video and a brief description.

Then, state in your cover letter that you plan to send video later. (Don't attach your files to the application.)

After you apply and get assignment information from the Commons, ask your assigned scientific review officer (SRO) how your business official should send the files. Your video files are due at least one month before the peer review meeting.

Know Your Audience's Perspective

The primary audience for your application is your peer review group. Learn how to write for the reviewers who are experts in your field and those who are experts in other fields by reading Know Your Audience .

Be Organized: A B C or 1 2 3?

In the top-notch applications we reviewed, organization ruled but followed few rules. While you want to be organized, how you go about it is up to you.

Nevertheless, here are some principles to follow:

  • Start each of the Research Strategy's sections with a header: Significance, Innovation, and Approach—this you must do.

The Research Strategy's page limit—12 for R01s—is for the three main parts: Significance, Innovation, and Approach and your preliminary studies (or a progress report if you're renewing your grant). Other sections, for example, research animals or select agents, do not have a page limit.

Although you will emphasize your project's significance throughout the application, the Significance section should give the most details. Don't skimp—the farther removed your reviewers are from your field, the more information you'll need to provide on basic biology, importance of the area, research opportunities, and new findings.

When you describe your project's significance, put it in the context of 1) the state of your field, 2) your long-term research plans, and 3) your preliminary data.

In our Sample Applications , you can see that both investigators and reviewers made a case for the importance of the research to improving human health as well as to the scientific field.

Look at the Significance section of the Application from Dr. Mengxi Jiang , "Intersection of polyomavirus infection and host cellular responses," to see how these elements combine to make a strong case for significance.

  • Dr. Jiang starts with a summary of the field of polyomavirus research, identifying critical knowledge gaps in the field.
  • The application ties the lab's previous discoveries and new research plans to filling those gaps, establishing the significance with context.
  • Note the use of formatting, whitespace, and sectioning to highlight key points and make it easier for reviewers to read the text.

After conveying the significance of the research in several parts of the application, check that

  • In the Significance section, I describe the importance of my hypothesis to the field (especially if my reviewers are not in it) and human disease.
  • I also point out the project's significance throughout the application.
  • The application shows that I am aware of opportunities, gaps, roadblocks, and research underway in my field.
  • I state how my research will advance my field, highlighting knowledge gaps and showing how my project fills one or more of them.
  • Based on my scan of the review committee roster, I determine whether I cannot assume my reviewers will know my field and provide some information on basic biology, the importance of the area, knowledge gaps, and new findings.

If you are either a new PI or entering a new area: be cautious about seeming too innovative. Not only is innovation just one of five review criteria, but there might be a paradigm shift in your area of science. A reviewer may take a challenge to the status quo as a challenge to his or her world view.

When you look at our sample applications, you see that both the new and experienced investigators are not generally shifting paradigms. They are using new approaches or models, working in new areas, or testing innovative ideas.

After finishing the draft innovation section, check that

  • I show how my proposed research is new and unique, e.g., explores new scientific avenues, has a novel hypothesis, will create new knowledge.
  • Most likely, I explain how my project's research can refine, improve, or propose a new application of an existing concept or method.
  • Make a very strong case for challenging the existing paradigm.
  • Have data to support the innovative approach.
  • Have strong evidence that I can do the work.

In your Approach, you spell out a few sets of experiments to address each aim. As we noted above, it's a good idea to restate the key points you've made about your project's significance, its place in your field, and your long-term goals.

You're probably wondering how much detail to include.

If you look at our sample applications as a guide, you can see very different approaches. Though people generally used less detail than you'd see in a scientific paper, they do include some experimental detail.

Expect your assigned reviewers to scrutinize your approach: they will want to know what you plan to do and how you plan to do it.

NIH data show that of the peer review criteria, approach has the highest correlation with the overall impact score.

Look at the Application from Dr. Mengxi Jiang , "Intersection of polyomavirus infection and host cellular responses," to see how a new investigator handled the Approach section.

For an example of an experienced investigator's well-received Approach section, see the Application from Dr. William Faubion , "Inflammatory cascades disrupt Treg function through epigenetic mechanisms."

Especially if you are a new investigator, you need enough detail to convince reviewers that you understand what you are undertaking and can handle the method.

  • Cite a publication that shows you can handle the method where you can, but give more details if you and your team don't have a proven record using the method—and state explicitly why you think you will succeed.
  • If space is short, you could also focus on experiments that highlight your expertise or are especially interesting. For experiments that are pedestrian or contracted out, just list the method.

Be sure to lay out a plan for alternative experiments and approaches in case you get negative or surprising results. Show reviewers you have a plan for spending the four or five years you will be funded no matter where the experiments lead.

See the Application from Drs. Li and Samulski , "Enhance AAV Liver Transduction with Capsid Immune Evasion," for a strong Approach section covering potential. As an example, see section C.1.3.'s alternative approaches.

Here are some pointers for organizing your Approach:

  • Enter a bold header for each Specific Aim.
  • Under each aim, describe the first set of experiments.
  • If you get result X, you will follow pathway X; if you get result Y, you will follow pathway Y.
  • Consider illustrating this with a flowchart.

Trim the fat—omit all information not needed to make your case. If you try to wow reviewers with your knowledge, they'll find flaws and penalize you heavily. Don't give them ammunition by including anything you don't need.

As you design your experiments, keep a running tab of the following essential data on a separate piece of paper:

  • Who. A list of people who will help you for your Key Personnel section later.
  • What. A list of equipment and supplies for the experiments you plan.
  • Time. Notes on how long each step takes. Timing directly affects your budget as well as how many Specific Aims you can realistically achieve.

Jotting this information down will help you Create a Budget and complete other sections later.

After finishing a draft Approach section, check that

  • I include enough background and preliminary data to give reviewers the context and significance of my plans.
  • They can test the hypothesis (or hypotheses).
  • I show alternative experiments and approaches in case I get negative or surprising results.
  • My experiments can yield meaningful data to test my hypothesis (or hypotheses).
  • As a new investigator, I include enough detail to convince reviewers I understand and can handle a method. I reviewed the sample applications to see how much detail to use.
  • If I or my team has experience with a method, I cite it; otherwise I include enough details to convince reviewers we can handle it.
  • I describe the results I anticipate and their implications.
  • I omit all information not needed to state my case.
  • I keep track of and explain who will do what, what they will do, when and where they will do it, how long it will take, and how much money it will cost.
  • My timeline shows when I expect to complete my aims.

If you are applying for a new application, include preliminary studies; for a renewal or a revision (a competing supplement to an existing grant), prepare a progress report instead.

Describing Preliminary Studies

Your preliminary studies show that you can handle the methods and interpret results. Here's where you build reviewer confidence that you are headed in the right direction by pursuing research that builds on your accomplishments.

Reviewers use your preliminary studies together with the biosketches to assess the investigator review criterion, which reflects the competence of the research team.

Give alternative interpretations to your data to show reviewers you've thought through problems in-depth and are prepared to meet future challenges. If you don't do this, the reviewers will!

Though you may include other people's publications, focus on your preliminary data or unpublished data from your lab and the labs of your team members as much as you can.

As we noted above, you can put your preliminary data anywhere in the Research Strategy that you feel is appropriate, but just make sure your reviewers will be able to distinguish it. Alternatively, you can create a separate section with its own header.

Including a Progress Report

If you are applying for a renewal or a revision (a competing supplement to an existing grant), prepare a progress report instead of preliminary studies.

Create a header so your program officer can easily find it and include the following information:

  • Project period beginning and end dates.
  • Summary of the importance of your findings in relation to your Specific Aims.
  • Account of published and unpublished results, highlighting your progress toward achieving your Specific Aims.

Note: if you submit a renewal application before the due date of your progress report, you do not need to submit a separate progress report for your grant. However, you will need to submit it, if your renewal is not funded.

After finishing the draft, check that

  • I interpret my preliminary results critically.
  • There is enough information to show I know what I'm talking about.
  • If my project is complex, I give more preliminary studies.
  • I show how my previous experience prepared me for the new project.
  • It's clear which data are mine and which are not.

References show your breadth of knowledge of the field. If you leave out an important work, reviewers may assume you're not aware of it.

Throughout your application, you will reference all relevant publications for the concepts underlying your research and your methods.

Read more about your Bibliography and References Cited at Add a Bibliography and Appendix .

  • Throughout my application I cite the literature thoroughly but not excessively, adding citations for all references important to my work.
  • I cite all papers important to my field, including those from potential reviewers.
  • I include fewer than 100 citations (if possible).
  • My Bibliography and References Cited form lists all my references.
  • I refer to unpublished work, including information I learned through personal contacts.
  • If I do not describe a method, I add a reference to the literature.

Look over what you've written with a critical eye of a reviewer to identify potential questions or weak spots.

Enlist others to do that too—they can look at your application with a fresh eye. Include people who aren't familiar with your research to make sure you can get your point across to someone outside your field.

As you finalize the details of your Research Strategy, you will also need to return to your Specific Aims to see if you must revise. See Draft Specific Aims .

After you finish your Research Plan, you are ready to write your Abstract (called Project Summary/Abstract) and Project Narrative, which are attachments to the Other Project Information form.

These sections may be small, but they're important.

  • All your peer reviewers read your Abstract and narrative.
  • Staff and automated systems in NIH's Center for Scientific Review use them to decide where to assign your application, even if you requested an institute and study section.
  • They show the importance and health relevance of your research to members of the public and Congress who are interested in what NIH is funding with taxpayer dollars.

Be sure to omit confidential or proprietary information in these sections! When your application is funded, NIH enters your title and Abstract in the public RePORTER database.

Think brief and simple: to the extent that you can, write these sections in lay language, and include appropriate keywords, e.g., immunotherapy, genetic risk factors.

As NIH referral officers use these parts to direct your application to an institute for possible funding, your description can influence the choice they make.

Write a succinct summary of your project that both a scientist and a lay person can understand (to the extent that you can).

  • Use your Specific Aims as a template—shorten it and simplify the language.
  • In the first sentence, state the significance of your research to your field and relevance to NIAID's mission: to better understand, treat, and prevent infectious, immunologic, and allergic diseases.
  • Next state your hypothesis and the innovative potential of your research.
  • Then list and briefly describe your Specific Aims and long-term objectives.

In your Project Narrative, you have only a few sentences to drive home your project's potential to improve public health.

Check out these effective Abstracts and Narratives from our R01  Sample Applications :

  • Application from Dr. Mengxi Jiang , "Intersection of polyomavirus infection and host cellular responses"
  • Application from Dr. William Faubion , "Inflammatory cascades disrupt Treg function through epigenetic mechanisms"
  • My Project Summary/Abstract and Project Narrative (and title) are accessible to a broad audience.
  • They describe the significance of my research to my field and state my hypothesis, my aims, and the innovative potential of my research.
  • My narrative describes my project's potential to improve public health.
  • I do not include any confidential or proprietary information.
  • I do not use graphs or images.
  • My Abstract has keywords that are appropriate and distinct enough to avoid confusion with other terms.
  • My title is specific and informative.

Previous Step

Have questions.

A program officer in your area of science can give you application advice, NIAID's perspective on your research, and confirmation that your proposed research fits within NIAID’s mission.

Find contacts and instructions at When to Contact an NIAID Program Officer .


Research Project Plan Template

Research Project Plan Template

What is a Research Project Plan?

A research project plan outlines the processes and activities that need to be completed to achieve the desired results of a research project. The plan should provide a timeline for the research activities and identify any potential risks. It should also specify the resources and personnel needed, as well as the budget and timeline for the project. The plan should be both comprehensive and flexible, so that it can be modified as needed throughout the project.

What's included in this Research Project Plan template?

  • 3 focus areas
  • 6 objectives

Each focus area has its own objectives, projects, and KPIs to ensure that the strategy is comprehensive and effective.

Who is the Research Project Plan template for?

The research project plan template is designed for research teams in academic, corporate, or non-profit sectors who need to plan and execute their research projects. The template provides a structure for outlining the processes and activities that must be completed in order to achieve the desired results of the research project. The template is designed to be comprehensive and flexible, allowing for modifications as needed throughout the project.

1. Define clear examples of your focus areas

A focus area is a specific area or topic that a research team is investigating. The focus area should be clearly defined and specific, so that the research team can develop objectives, projects, and KPIs that are relevant to the research project. Examples of focus areas could include developing new technologies, understanding customer behavior, or studying the effects of a particular policy.

2. Think about the objectives that could fall under that focus area

Objectives are the goals that a research team hopes to achieve by completing the research project. Objectives should be specific and measurable, and should be attainable within the timeline and budget of the research project. Examples of objectives could include developing a new technology, understanding customer behaviors, or studying the effects of a particular policy.

3. Set measurable targets (KPIs) to tackle the objective

Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) are measurable targets that are used to evaluate the progress of a research project. KPIs should be specific and measurable, and should be established in order to track progress towards the objectives of the research project. Examples of KPIs could include product development timelines, customer satisfaction surveys, or policy implementation reviews.

4. Implement related projects to achieve the KPIs

Projects are the activities that need to be completed in order to achieve the objectives of the research project. Projects should be specific and achievable, and should be completed within the timeline and budget of the research project. Examples of projects could include running customer surveys, conducting interviews, or collecting data.

5. Utilize Cascade Strategy Execution Platform to see faster results from your strategy

The Cascade Strategy Execution Platform is a comprehensive software that helps research teams plan, manage, and track their research projects. The platform provides tools for project management, tracking KPIs, and monitoring progress. It also helps teams visualize their data and collaborate on initiatives. With Cascade, teams can save time and resources, and get faster results from their strategies.

  • Privacy Policy

Research Method

Home » Research Project – Definition, Writing Guide and Ideas

Research Project – Definition, Writing Guide and Ideas

Table of Contents

Research Project

Research Project

Definition :

Research Project is a planned and systematic investigation into a specific area of interest or problem, with the goal of generating new knowledge, insights, or solutions. It typically involves identifying a research question or hypothesis, designing a study to test it, collecting and analyzing data, and drawing conclusions based on the findings.

Types of Research Project

Types of Research Projects are as follows:

Basic Research

This type of research focuses on advancing knowledge and understanding of a subject area or phenomenon, without any specific application or practical use in mind. The primary goal is to expand scientific or theoretical knowledge in a particular field.

Applied Research

Applied research is aimed at solving practical problems or addressing specific issues. This type of research seeks to develop solutions or improve existing products, services or processes.

Action Research

Action research is conducted by practitioners and aimed at solving specific problems or improving practices in a particular context. It involves collaboration between researchers and practitioners, and often involves iterative cycles of data collection and analysis, with the goal of improving practices.

Quantitative Research

This type of research uses numerical data to investigate relationships between variables or to test hypotheses. It typically involves large-scale data collection through surveys, experiments, or secondary data analysis.

Qualitative Research

Qualitative research focuses on understanding and interpreting phenomena from the perspective of the people involved. It involves collecting and analyzing data in the form of text, images, or other non-numerical forms.

Mixed Methods Research

Mixed methods research combines elements of both quantitative and qualitative research, using multiple data sources and methods to gain a more comprehensive understanding of a phenomenon.

Longitudinal Research

This type of research involves studying a group of individuals or phenomena over an extended period of time, often years or decades. It is useful for understanding changes and developments over time.

Case Study Research

Case study research involves in-depth investigation of a particular case or phenomenon, often within a specific context. It is useful for understanding complex phenomena in their real-life settings.

Participatory Research

Participatory research involves active involvement of the people or communities being studied in the research process. It emphasizes collaboration, empowerment, and the co-production of knowledge.

Research Project Methodology

Research Project Methodology refers to the process of conducting research in an organized and systematic manner to answer a specific research question or to test a hypothesis. A well-designed research project methodology ensures that the research is rigorous, valid, and reliable, and that the findings are meaningful and can be used to inform decision-making.

There are several steps involved in research project methodology, which are described below:

Define the Research Question

The first step in any research project is to clearly define the research question or problem. This involves identifying the purpose of the research, the scope of the research, and the key variables that will be studied.

Develop a Research Plan

Once the research question has been defined, the next step is to develop a research plan. This plan outlines the methodology that will be used to collect and analyze data, including the research design, sampling strategy, data collection methods, and data analysis techniques.

Collect Data

The data collection phase involves gathering information through various methods, such as surveys, interviews, observations, experiments, or secondary data analysis. The data collected should be relevant to the research question and should be of sufficient quantity and quality to enable meaningful analysis.

Analyze Data

Once the data has been collected, it is analyzed using appropriate statistical techniques or other methods. The analysis should be guided by the research question and should aim to identify patterns, trends, relationships, or other insights that can inform the research findings.

Interpret and Report Findings

The final step in the research project methodology is to interpret the findings and report them in a clear and concise manner. This involves summarizing the results, discussing their implications, and drawing conclusions that can be used to inform decision-making.

Research Project Writing Guide

Here are some guidelines to help you in writing a successful research project:

  • Choose a topic: Choose a topic that you are interested in and that is relevant to your field of study. It is important to choose a topic that is specific and focused enough to allow for in-depth research and analysis.
  • Conduct a literature review : Conduct a thorough review of the existing research on your topic. This will help you to identify gaps in the literature and to develop a research question or hypothesis.
  • Develop a research question or hypothesis : Based on your literature review, develop a clear research question or hypothesis that you will investigate in your study.
  • Design your study: Choose an appropriate research design and methodology to answer your research question or test your hypothesis. This may include choosing a sample, selecting measures or instruments, and determining data collection methods.
  • Collect data: Collect data using your chosen methods and instruments. Be sure to follow ethical guidelines and obtain informed consent from participants if necessary.
  • Analyze data: Analyze your data using appropriate statistical or qualitative methods. Be sure to clearly report your findings and provide interpretations based on your research question or hypothesis.
  • Discuss your findings : Discuss your findings in the context of the existing literature and your research question or hypothesis. Identify any limitations or implications of your study and suggest directions for future research.
  • Write your project: Write your research project in a clear and organized manner, following the appropriate format and style guidelines for your field of study. Be sure to include an introduction, literature review, methodology, results, discussion, and conclusion.
  • Revise and edit: Revise and edit your project for clarity, coherence, and accuracy. Be sure to proofread for spelling, grammar, and formatting errors.
  • Cite your sources: Cite your sources accurately and appropriately using the appropriate citation style for your field of study.

Examples of Research Projects

Some Examples of Research Projects are as follows:

  • Investigating the effects of a new medication on patients with a particular disease or condition.
  • Exploring the impact of exercise on mental health and well-being.
  • Studying the effectiveness of a new teaching method in improving student learning outcomes.
  • Examining the impact of social media on political participation and engagement.
  • Investigating the efficacy of a new therapy for a specific mental health disorder.
  • Exploring the use of renewable energy sources in reducing carbon emissions and mitigating climate change.
  • Studying the effects of a new agricultural technique on crop yields and environmental sustainability.
  • Investigating the effectiveness of a new technology in improving business productivity and efficiency.
  • Examining the impact of a new public policy on social inequality and access to resources.
  • Exploring the factors that influence consumer behavior in a specific market.

Characteristics of Research Project

Here are some of the characteristics that are often associated with research projects:

  • Clear objective: A research project is designed to answer a specific question or solve a particular problem. The objective of the research should be clearly defined from the outset.
  • Systematic approach: A research project is typically carried out using a structured and systematic approach that involves careful planning, data collection, analysis, and interpretation.
  • Rigorous methodology: A research project should employ a rigorous methodology that is appropriate for the research question being investigated. This may involve the use of statistical analysis, surveys, experiments, or other methods.
  • Data collection : A research project involves collecting data from a variety of sources, including primary sources (such as surveys or experiments) and secondary sources (such as published literature or databases).
  • Analysis and interpretation : Once the data has been collected, it needs to be analyzed and interpreted. This involves using statistical techniques or other methods to identify patterns or relationships in the data.
  • Conclusion and implications : A research project should lead to a clear conclusion that answers the research question. It should also identify the implications of the findings for future research or practice.
  • Communication: The results of the research project should be communicated clearly and effectively, using appropriate language and visual aids, to a range of audiences, including peers, stakeholders, and the wider public.

Importance of Research Project

Research projects are an essential part of the process of generating new knowledge and advancing our understanding of various fields of study. Here are some of the key reasons why research projects are important:

  • Advancing knowledge : Research projects are designed to generate new knowledge and insights into particular topics or questions. This knowledge can be used to inform policies, practices, and decision-making processes across a range of fields.
  • Solving problems: Research projects can help to identify solutions to real-world problems by providing a better understanding of the causes and effects of particular issues.
  • Developing new technologies: Research projects can lead to the development of new technologies or products that can improve people’s lives or address societal challenges.
  • Improving health outcomes: Research projects can contribute to improving health outcomes by identifying new treatments, diagnostic tools, or preventive strategies.
  • Enhancing education: Research projects can enhance education by providing new insights into teaching and learning methods, curriculum development, and student learning outcomes.
  • Informing public policy : Research projects can inform public policy by providing evidence-based recommendations and guidance on issues related to health, education, environment, social justice, and other areas.
  • Enhancing professional development : Research projects can enhance the professional development of researchers by providing opportunities to develop new skills, collaborate with colleagues, and share knowledge with others.

Research Project Ideas

Following are some Research Project Ideas:

Field: Psychology

  • Investigating the impact of social support on coping strategies among individuals with chronic illnesses.
  • Exploring the relationship between childhood trauma and adult attachment styles.
  • Examining the effects of exercise on cognitive function and brain health in older adults.
  • Investigating the impact of sleep deprivation on decision making and risk-taking behavior.
  • Exploring the relationship between personality traits and leadership styles in the workplace.
  • Examining the effectiveness of cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) for treating anxiety disorders.
  • Investigating the relationship between social comparison and body dissatisfaction in young women.
  • Exploring the impact of parenting styles on children’s emotional regulation and behavior.
  • Investigating the effectiveness of mindfulness-based interventions for treating depression.
  • Examining the relationship between childhood adversity and later-life health outcomes.

Field: Economics

  • Analyzing the impact of trade agreements on economic growth in developing countries.
  • Examining the effects of tax policy on income distribution and poverty reduction.
  • Investigating the relationship between foreign aid and economic development in low-income countries.
  • Exploring the impact of globalization on labor markets and job displacement.
  • Analyzing the impact of minimum wage laws on employment and income levels.
  • Investigating the effectiveness of monetary policy in managing inflation and unemployment.
  • Examining the relationship between economic freedom and entrepreneurship.
  • Analyzing the impact of income inequality on social mobility and economic opportunity.
  • Investigating the role of education in economic development.
  • Examining the effectiveness of different healthcare financing systems in promoting health equity.

Field: Sociology

  • Investigating the impact of social media on political polarization and civic engagement.
  • Examining the effects of neighborhood characteristics on health outcomes.
  • Analyzing the impact of immigration policies on social integration and cultural diversity.
  • Investigating the relationship between social support and mental health outcomes in older adults.
  • Exploring the impact of income inequality on social cohesion and trust.
  • Analyzing the effects of gender and race discrimination on career advancement and pay equity.
  • Investigating the relationship between social networks and health behaviors.
  • Examining the effectiveness of community-based interventions for reducing crime and violence.
  • Analyzing the impact of social class on cultural consumption and taste.
  • Investigating the relationship between religious affiliation and social attitudes.

Field: Computer Science

  • Developing an algorithm for detecting fake news on social media.
  • Investigating the effectiveness of different machine learning algorithms for image recognition.
  • Developing a natural language processing tool for sentiment analysis of customer reviews.
  • Analyzing the security implications of blockchain technology for online transactions.
  • Investigating the effectiveness of different recommendation algorithms for personalized advertising.
  • Developing an artificial intelligence chatbot for mental health counseling.
  • Investigating the effectiveness of different algorithms for optimizing online advertising campaigns.
  • Developing a machine learning model for predicting consumer behavior in online marketplaces.
  • Analyzing the privacy implications of different data sharing policies for online platforms.
  • Investigating the effectiveness of different algorithms for predicting stock market trends.

Field: Education

  • Investigating the impact of teacher-student relationships on academic achievement.
  • Analyzing the effectiveness of different pedagogical approaches for promoting student engagement and motivation.
  • Examining the effects of school choice policies on academic achievement and social mobility.
  • Investigating the impact of technology on learning outcomes and academic achievement.
  • Analyzing the effects of school funding disparities on educational equity and achievement gaps.
  • Investigating the relationship between school climate and student mental health outcomes.
  • Examining the effectiveness of different teaching strategies for promoting critical thinking and problem-solving skills.
  • Investigating the impact of social-emotional learning programs on student behavior and academic achievement.
  • Analyzing the effects of standardized testing on student motivation and academic achievement.

Field: Environmental Science

  • Investigating the impact of climate change on species distribution and biodiversity.
  • Analyzing the effectiveness of different renewable energy technologies in reducing carbon emissions.
  • Examining the impact of air pollution on human health outcomes.
  • Investigating the relationship between urbanization and deforestation in developing countries.
  • Analyzing the effects of ocean acidification on marine ecosystems and biodiversity.
  • Investigating the impact of land use change on soil fertility and ecosystem services.
  • Analyzing the effectiveness of different conservation policies and programs for protecting endangered species and habitats.
  • Investigating the relationship between climate change and water resources in arid regions.
  • Examining the impact of plastic pollution on marine ecosystems and biodiversity.
  • Investigating the effects of different agricultural practices on soil health and nutrient cycling.

Field: Linguistics

  • Analyzing the impact of language diversity on social integration and cultural identity.
  • Investigating the relationship between language and cognition in bilingual individuals.
  • Examining the effects of language contact and language change on linguistic diversity.
  • Investigating the role of language in shaping cultural norms and values.
  • Analyzing the effectiveness of different language teaching methodologies for second language acquisition.
  • Investigating the relationship between language proficiency and academic achievement.
  • Examining the impact of language policy on language use and language attitudes.
  • Investigating the role of language in shaping gender and social identities.
  • Analyzing the effects of dialect contact on language variation and change.
  • Investigating the relationship between language and emotion expression.

Field: Political Science

  • Analyzing the impact of electoral systems on women’s political representation.
  • Investigating the relationship between political ideology and attitudes towards immigration.
  • Examining the effects of political polarization on democratic institutions and political stability.
  • Investigating the impact of social media on political participation and civic engagement.
  • Analyzing the effects of authoritarianism on human rights and civil liberties.
  • Investigating the relationship between public opinion and foreign policy decisions.
  • Examining the impact of international organizations on global governance and cooperation.
  • Investigating the effectiveness of different conflict resolution strategies in resolving ethnic and religious conflicts.
  • Analyzing the effects of corruption on economic development and political stability.
  • Investigating the role of international law in regulating global governance and human rights.

Field: Medicine

  • Investigating the impact of lifestyle factors on chronic disease risk and prevention.
  • Examining the effectiveness of different treatment approaches for mental health disorders.
  • Investigating the relationship between genetics and disease susceptibility.
  • Analyzing the effects of social determinants of health on health outcomes and health disparities.
  • Investigating the impact of different healthcare delivery models on patient outcomes and cost effectiveness.
  • Examining the effectiveness of different prevention and treatment strategies for infectious diseases.
  • Investigating the relationship between healthcare provider communication skills and patient satisfaction and outcomes.
  • Analyzing the effects of medical error and patient safety on healthcare quality and outcomes.
  • Investigating the impact of different pharmaceutical pricing policies on access to essential medicines.
  • Examining the effectiveness of different rehabilitation approaches for improving function and quality of life in individuals with disabilities.

Field: Anthropology

  • Analyzing the impact of colonialism on indigenous cultures and identities.
  • Investigating the relationship between cultural practices and health outcomes in different populations.
  • Examining the effects of globalization on cultural diversity and cultural exchange.
  • Investigating the role of language in cultural transmission and preservation.
  • Analyzing the effects of cultural contact on cultural change and adaptation.
  • Investigating the impact of different migration policies on immigrant integration and acculturation.
  • Examining the role of gender and sexuality in cultural norms and values.
  • Investigating the impact of cultural heritage preservation on tourism and economic development.
  • Analyzing the effects of cultural revitalization movements on indigenous communities.

About the author

' src=

Muhammad Hassan

Researcher, Academic Writer, Web developer

You may also like

Data Verification

Data Verification – Process, Types and Examples

Appendix in Research Paper

Appendix in Research Paper – Examples and...

Evaluating Research

Evaluating Research – Process, Examples and...


Thesis – Structure, Example and Writing Guide

Research Techniques

Research Techniques – Methods, Types and Examples

Research Results

Research Results Section – Writing Guide and...


How to Plan and Conduct a Research Project: 12 Simple Steps

Let’s have a brief and clear discussion on what we should do for achieving success in our research project.

Many of us have a clear research topic of mind but some are also there who come up with various ideas. When we are in pressure, we often get panicked and anxious, therefore we should select topic well before time by following ways.

Now-a-days many things are available online from internet. Websites like  Google ,  PubMed ,  Scopus ,  Science Direct  and others are some of the best learning sources and provides latest information of research. We can search many related topics and finalize a plan.

This step will include strategies to manage the time and how effectively we carry out all tasks. A plan should be made in such a way that it should allocate required time for each and every task. For this we have to see how much total time we have and accordingly we will divide time for each task. It is vital to remain as much realistic as we can about the timing each task will take. The more focused we will remain at the planning stage the more hours we can save while carrying out task. Better to note down about all the resources we need in each stage like how much time we should spend in  library , working hours, equipment lists, space required etc.

6 thoughts on “How to Plan and Conduct a Research Project: 12 Simple Steps”

We are a group of volunteers and starting a new scheme in our community. Your website offered us with valuable info to work on. You have done an impressive job and our whole community will be thankful to you.|

Very impressive

I find the explanation given very informative.


excellent work

your planning is very helpful for me. please this written planning doc file send me.

Leave a Comment Cancel reply

Research Projects Planning and Managing

  • January 2018
  • In book: Academic Guidebook for Young Researchers
  • Publisher: University of Nis, Nis, Serbia

Dejan Bokonjić at University of East Sarajevo

  • University of East Sarajevo

Sinisa Berjan at Faculty of Agriculture, University of East Sarajevo

  • Faculty of Agriculture, University of East Sarajevo
  • This person is not on ResearchGate, or hasn't claimed this research yet.

Discover the world's research

  • 25+ million members
  • 160+ million publication pages
  • 2.3+ billion citations
  • Recruit researchers
  • Join for free
  • Login Email Tip: Most researchers use their institutional email address as their ResearchGate login Password Forgot password? Keep me logged in Log in or Continue with Google Welcome back! Please log in. Email · Hint Tip: Most researchers use their institutional email address as their ResearchGate login Password Forgot password? Keep me logged in Log in or Continue with Google No account? Sign up

project plan in research

How to Create a Realistic Project Plan with Templates & Examples

project plan in research

As a project manager, a huge part of your role is to write project plans that help you keep projects on track. But that’s not all a project plan should do. 

A project plan is arguably the most important document you’ll create for a project. At its core, a plan should communicate your project approach and the process your team will use to manage the project according to scope.

Let’s take a closer look at how you can develop a rock-solid planning process that guides your team and projects to success.

What is a project plan?

Project plan example: what to include, why you should always write a project plan, 5 steps to an effective project planning process, how to create a project plan in teamgantt, free project plan templates.

A project plan is a document that maps out the tasks, effort, timing, and resources needed to meet project goals within a predefined scope. It’s often presented in the form of a gantt chart because it’s easy to visualize the project timeline and ensure work stays on track.

Any solid project management plan should answer the following questions:

  • What are the major deliverables?
  • How will we get to those deliverables and the deadline?
  • Who’s on the project team, and what role will they play in those deliverables?
  • Which stakeholders need to provide feedback on deliverables, and when?
  • When will the team meet milestones?

A project plan communicates this information in a simple, straightforward way so everyone clearly understands the objectives and how they contribute to project success. It may also be accompanied by other planning documents, such as a project charter , risk assessment , or communication plan .

While no two project plans are alike, they all share the same common building blocks. Be sure to include the following components in any project plan you create:

  • Project tasks : A detailed list of work to be done organized by project phase, process step, or work group
  • Project schedule : A visual timeline of task start dates, durations, and deadlines, with clear progress indicators
  • Key milestones : Major events, dates, decisions, and deliverables used for tracking forward progress
  • Dependencies : A line connecting tasks that need to happen in a certain order
  • Resources : Assignments that indicate the person or team responsible for completing a task

Here’s a simple example of what a project plan looks like with these basic elements highlighted:

An example of a project plan in gantt chart format with the following components highlighted: project tasks, project schedule, key milestones, dependencies, and resources.

Some people don’t understand the power of a good project plan. If you feel pressured to skip the plan and jump right into the work, remind your team and stakeholders that having a plan benefits everyone by making it easier to:

  • Build consensus before work begins : A detailed project plan ensures everyone has a clear understanding of—and agrees on—the overall process, scope, staffing, and even communications from the outset. That goes a long way in keeping project confusion and pop-up requests from gumming up the works.
  • Avoid scheduling conflicts : Project plans enable you to organize tasks so it’s clear who's responsible for what and when. If your team is juggling multiple projects, you can cross-reference other plans to see who’s available to take on new work before committing to a timeline.
  • Monitor project goals and scope : When new tasks creep in, it’s easy to lose sight of the original objectives. Spelling out the work you need to complete in a time-based plan keeps project goals front and center so you can ensure project scope stays intact.  ‍
  • Hold your team and stakeholders accountable : A good project plan sets expectations around the process and pacing you'll follow each step of the way. When plans are shared with teams and stakeholders, it keeps folks honest about what is—or isn’t—happening and forces you to resolve issues in a timely way.

Easy drag and drop features with templates for faster scheduling. Plan a project in minutes, collaborate easily as a team, and switch to calendar and list views in a single click.

project plan in research

Poor planning can lead to some pretty ugly consequences—from missed deadlines and budget overages to team burnout and client frustration. That’s why it’s important to establish a solid process you can use to plan any project. 

Planning a project doesn’t have to be difficult. These basic project planning steps can help you write a plan that’s both realistic and on target.

A chart that outlines 5 steps of the project planning process: 1. Discover & define; 2. Outline & draft; 3. Formalize & format; 4. Present & confirm; 5. Execute & adjust

  • Start with project discovery & definition
  • Draft a rough outline of your plan
  • Formalize your project management plan
  • Present & confirm your plan
  • Execute your plan & adjust as needed

Step 1: Start with project discovery and definition

A project plan is more than a dry document with dates. It’s the story of your project, and you don’t want it to be a tall tale! So make sure you know all the facts before you start creating a project plan.

Understand the project scope and value

Understanding the ins and outs of the project will help you determine the best process and identify any snags that might get in the way of success. Conduct your own research to dig deeper on:

  • Project goals and outcomes
  • Partnerships and outlying dependencies
  • Potential issues and risks

Review the scope of work , and dive into any documents or communications relevant to the project (maybe an RFP or notes from sales calls or client meetings). Be thorough in your research to uncover critical project details, and ask thoughtful questions before you commit to anything. 

Interview key stakeholders

If you want to dazzle stakeholders with a stellar project delivery, you’ve got to know how they work and what they expect. Schedule time with your main project contact, and ask them some tough questions about process, organizational politics, and general risks before creating a project plan. 

This will give project stakeholders confidence that your team has the experience to handle any difficult personality or situation. It also shows you care about the success of the project from the start.

Be sure to discuss these things with your stakeholders:

  • Product ownership and the decision-making process
  • Stakeholder interest/involvement levels
  • Key outages, meetings, deadlines, and driving factors
  • Related or similar projects, goals, and outcomes
  • The best way to communicate with partners and stakeholders

See a list of sample interview questions to ask stakeholders so you can develop better project plans.

Get to know your team

The last step in the research phase is to take time to learn more about the people who’ll be responsible for the work. Sit down with your team and get to know their:

  • Collaboration and communication styles
  • Availability and workload

Understanding these basics about your team will help you craft a thoughtful plan that takes their work styles and bandwidth into consideration. After all, a happy team delivers better projects.

Step 2: Draft a rough outline of your plan

Now that you’ve gathered the basic project details, the next step is to knock out a rough draft of your plan. Take some time to think about the discussions you had in the pre-planning phase and the approach your team might take to meet the project goals.

Sketch out the main components of your project plan

Sit down with a pen and paper (or a whiteboard), and outline how the project should work at a high level. Be sure you have a calendar close by to check dates.

If you’re at a loss for where to begin, start with the who, what, when, and how of the project. A first outline can be very rough and might look something like a work breakdown structure . Make sure your project outline includes the following components:

  • Deliverables and the tasks required to create them
  • Your client’s approval process
  • Timeframes associated with tasks/deliverables
  • Ideas on resources needed for tasks/deliverables
  • A list of the assumptions you’re making in the plan
  • A list of absolutes as they relate to the project budget and/or deadlines

Considering these elements will help you avoid surprises—or at least minimize them. And remember, you’re doing this as a draft so you can use it as a conversation-starter for your team. It’s not final yet!

Get input from your team on process, effort, and timing

You don’t want to put yourself or your team in an awkward position by not coming to a consensus on the approach before presenting it to your client. That's why a project manager can’t be the only one writing a project plan.

Once you’ve created a basic project outline, take those rough ideas and considerations to your team. This enables you to invite discussion about what might work rather than simply dictating a process. After all, every project must begin with clear communication of the project goals and the effort required to meet them. 

Be sure to get input from your team on how they can complete the tasks at hand without killing the budget and the team’s morale. As a project manager, you can decide on Agile vs. Waterfall approaches , but when it comes down to it, you need to know that the team can realistically execute the plan.

You can also use this review time to question your own thinking and push the team to take a new approach to the work. For example, if you’re working on a digital product, could designers start creating visual concepts while the wireframes are being developed? Or can you have two resources working on the same task at once?

Running ideas by the team and having an open dialogue about the approach not only helps you build a more accurate project plan. It gets everyone thinking about the project in the same terms. This type of buy-in and communication builds trust and gets people excited about working together to solve a goal. It can work wonders for the greater good of your team and project.

Step 3: Formalize your project management plan

You should feel comfortable enough at this point to put together a rock-solid project schedule using whatever tool works for you. 

Build out a detailed project schedule that’s easy to read

Any good online project planning tool will help you formalize your thoughts and lay them out in a consistent, visual format that’s easy to follow and track. (Ahem, TeamGantt works nicely for a lot of happy customers. ) 

Make sure tasks have clear start and end dates so there’s no question when work needs to happen to hit project deadlines. Organize work into phases, and use labels and/or color-coding to improve scannability. The easier your project plan is to understand at a glance, the better!

See how to create a project plan in TeamGantt

Consider how your team likes to work

Be as flexible as possible when it comes to how your project plan is presented. There's no absolute when it comes to how to format your plan as long as you and your team understand what goes into one.

Remember, people absorb information differently. While you might be partial to a gantt chart, others might prefer to view tasks in a list, calendar, or even a kanban board. You can make all of those variations work if you’ve taken the steps to create a solid plan.

For example, here’s an Agile project plan we built that lists each sprint as its own task group with milestones for sprint planning and deployment.

Agile project plan example with 2 sprints scheduled on a timeline

And here’s what that same project plan looks like if you turn it into a kanban board in TeamGantt. Simply click the Board tab and set up your columns so your team can manage their daily workflows more easily.

Sample Agile project plan in a kanban board view with columns for to do, in progress, and done

If your team currently prefers spreadsheets and isn’t quite ready to use TeamGantt yet, try our free Excel gantt chart template .

Step 4: Present and confirm your plan

You’re almost finished! Now it’s time to do your due diligence. It’s easy to throw stuff in a plan, but you have to make sure you get it right.

Run your final plan by your internal team

Your team needs to know the reality of your plan as it stands after you’ve built it out in TeamGantt. And you want to be sure they’re comfortable committing to the details. If they don’t, things will quickly fall apart!

Always review your final plan with your team before delivering it to stakeholders. Why? Because things like dates and tasks—and even assignments—will shift as you formalize the rough sketch of your plan. 

Here are a few things you’ll want to discuss with your team as you review the final plan together:

  • Review times
  • Team work times
  • Dependencies
  • Time off, meetings, and milestones
  • The final deadline
  • Any assumptions you’ve made
  • Major changes since your last talk

There’s nothing more embarrassing than delivering a plan with an error or a promise you can’t keep. Taking a few minutes to get buy-in from your team will give everyone peace of mind about your plan.

Review your project plan with stakeholders

Once you’ve confirmed the plan with your team and have their full sign-off, you’re ready to share your project plan with stakeholders . 

When delivering your project plan, make sure you provide an executive summary. This might come in the form of a project brief . A short recap of the overall methodology, resources, assumptions, deadlines, and related review times will help you convey what the plan means to the project and everyone involved.

Project plans can be daunting, so schedule time to present your project plan to stakeholders at a high level. Here are some things you’ll want to point out about your plan during this review:

  • Overall process and pacing
  • Major deliverables and timing
  • The time they’ll have to review deliverables
  • Overall timing for task groups or phases
  • How far off you are from the deadline
  • Wiggle room on the final deadline

If a stakeholder is interested in the day-to-day details, feel free to walk them through the plan line by line. Otherwise, start by explaining overall sections or phases, and be sure to come back to your plan at intervals throughout the project to remind them of tasks, next steps, and overall progress.

Step 5: Execute your plan and adjust as needed

Some projects are smooth and easy to manage, and others are a complete nightmare that wake you up at 3 a.m. every other night. Thankfully, having a solid project plan is your best defense against project chaos once work gets underway.

Keep in mind that project plans are living documents. Projects change constantly, and someone has to stay on top of—and document—that change. Remember to:

  • Update your plan regularly as work progresses and things change
  • Communicate changes to your team, partners, and stakeholders
  • Monitor and communicate risks as your project evolves

Ready to plan your project in TeamGantt? Follow these easy steps to build a plan that’s structured well and includes the elements you need for project success.

1. Enter your basic project details.

To create a new project plan in TeamGantt, click the New Project button in the upper right corner of the My Projects screen. Then enter your project name and start date, and select the days of the week you want to include in your plan. Click Create New Project to move on to the next step.

Example of the project creation screen in TeamGantt

2. List out your project tasks and milestones.

Now the real planning fun begins! Enter all the different tasks it will take to get the job done. If there are any key meetings, deliverable deadlines, or approvals, add those as milestones in your project plan.

List of tasks organized into 2 task groups in a project plan

3. Organize tasks into subgroups. 

Scrolling through one long list of tasks can be mind-numbing, even to the best of us. Break tasks down into phases or sections to ensure your project plan is easy to read and understand. 

4. Add task durations and milestone dates to the project timeline.

A visual project plan makes it easy to see exactly what needs to get done by when. Make sure every task has a start and end date so nothing falls through the cracks. TeamGantt’s drag and drop feature makes this planning step quick and easy.

Example of TeamGantt's drag and drop scheduling for task durations

5. Connect related tasks with dependencies.

Adding dependencies between tasks ensures work gets done in the right order and also helps you plan for delay risks. If your plan shifts and you need to move tasks around, dependencies speed up the process.

Example of a dependency line connecting a task assigned to Peggy to a subsequent task assigned to Don

6. Assign responsible team members to tasks.

That way there’s no confusion about who’s doing what, and your team can update and manage their daily tasks . Don’t forget to check team availability along the way to avoid overloading anyone with too much work.

Task assignment in TeamGantt

7. Use the RACI chart to define task roles more clearly.

This feature takes accountability one step further by letting you assign more specific roles to each task: Responsible , Accountable , Consulted , and Informed . Learn how RACI charts work and what each role means.

Example of RACI assignments in TeamGantt for a digital marketing campaign project plan

8. Add hourly estimates and/or points to each task. 

This makes it easy to see the lift each task involves at a glance. Including hourly estimates in your project plan also enables you to manage workloads and track overages more accurately.

Example of estimated hours for tasks in a project plan with actual vs estimated hours progress indicators

9. Color-code tasks for better scannability.

You can use colors to categorize tasks by project phase, priority, department, or team member—whatever makes visual sense to you and your team.

Example of color selection menu in TeamGantt for color-coding taskbars on the timeline

10. Add notes to clarify tasks or spell out important details.

There’s no such thing as too much information if it means your team has what they need to deliver quality work on time. Use the Notes section of your Discussion tab to enter any pertinent details your team will find helpful.

Task detail window example with notes on scope and word count, as well as a creative brief attached to the task

11. Upload important documents to the project.

This ensures project files are accessible to everyone in a centralized hub.  For example, you might attach your creative brief to the project so your content and design teams have clear direction for completing their deliverables.

If you’re planning a project for the first time or taking on a totally new type of project, you might be struggling to get your plan off the ground. We created a simple project management plan template to help you get started.

TeamGantt gives you the ability to quickly and easily build and adjust your plan using drag and drop scheduling. Plus, it comes with customizable views to fit every team member’s work style. 

Try our basic project plan template for free!

Basic project plan template in TeamGantt with placeholder tasks that can easily be customized

Looking for more specific project plan examples to jumpstart your process? Use these project planning templates to generate ideas and save time building out your plan:

  • Construction project plan template
  • Event planning template
  • Strategic marketing plan template
  • Tactical marketing plan template
  • Software development plan template
  • Video production schedule template
  • Website project plan template

Plan your next project in minutes

Discover just how easy project planning can be with TeamGantt. Create your first gantt chart for free!

project plan in research

Frequently asked questions

What is a research project.

A research project is an academic, scientific, or professional undertaking to answer a research question . Research projects can take many forms, such as qualitative or quantitative , descriptive , longitudinal , experimental , or correlational . What kind of research approach you choose will depend on your topic.

Frequently asked questions: Writing a research paper

The best way to remember the difference between a research plan and a research proposal is that they have fundamentally different audiences. A research plan helps you, the researcher, organize your thoughts. On the other hand, a dissertation proposal or research proposal aims to convince others (e.g., a supervisor, a funding body, or a dissertation committee) that your research topic is relevant and worthy of being conducted.

Formulating a main research question can be a difficult task. Overall, your question should contribute to solving the problem that you have defined in your problem statement .

However, it should also fulfill criteria in three main areas:

  • Researchability
  • Feasibility and specificity
  • Relevance and originality

Research questions anchor your whole project, so it’s important to spend some time refining them.

In general, they should be:

  • Focused and researchable
  • Answerable using credible sources
  • Complex and arguable
  • Feasible and specific
  • Relevant and original

All research questions should be:

  • Focused on a single problem or issue
  • Researchable using primary and/or secondary sources
  • Feasible to answer within the timeframe and practical constraints
  • Specific enough to answer thoroughly
  • Complex enough to develop the answer over the space of a paper or thesis
  • Relevant to your field of study and/or society more broadly

Writing Strong Research Questions

A research aim is a broad statement indicating the general purpose of your research project. It should appear in your introduction at the end of your problem statement , before your research objectives.

Research objectives are more specific than your research aim. They indicate the specific ways you’ll address the overarching aim.

Once you’ve decided on your research objectives , you need to explain them in your paper, at the end of your problem statement .

Keep your research objectives clear and concise, and use appropriate verbs to accurately convey the work that you will carry out for each one.

I will compare …

Your research objectives indicate how you’ll try to address your research problem and should be specific:

Research objectives describe what you intend your research project to accomplish.

They summarize the approach and purpose of the project and help to focus your research.

Your objectives should appear in the introduction of your research paper , at the end of your problem statement .

The main guidelines for formatting a paper in Chicago style are to:

  • Use a standard font like 12 pt Times New Roman
  • Use 1 inch margins or larger
  • Apply double line spacing
  • Indent every new paragraph ½ inch
  • Include a title page
  • Place page numbers in the top right or bottom center
  • Cite your sources with author-date citations or Chicago footnotes
  • Include a bibliography or reference list

To automatically generate accurate Chicago references, you can use Scribbr’s free Chicago reference generator .

The main guidelines for formatting a paper in MLA style are as follows:

  • Use an easily readable font like 12 pt Times New Roman
  • Set 1 inch page margins
  • Include a four-line MLA heading on the first page
  • Center the paper’s title
  • Use title case capitalization for headings
  • Cite your sources with MLA in-text citations
  • List all sources cited on a Works Cited page at the end

To format a paper in APA Style , follow these guidelines:

  • Use a standard font like 12 pt Times New Roman or 11 pt Arial
  • If submitting for publication, insert a running head on every page
  • Apply APA heading styles
  • Cite your sources with APA in-text citations
  • List all sources cited on a reference page at the end

No, it’s not appropriate to present new arguments or evidence in the conclusion . While you might be tempted to save a striking argument for last, research papers follow a more formal structure than this.

All your findings and arguments should be presented in the body of the text (more specifically in the results and discussion sections if you are following a scientific structure). The conclusion is meant to summarize and reflect on the evidence and arguments you have already presented, not introduce new ones.

The conclusion of a research paper has several key elements you should make sure to include:

  • A restatement of the research problem
  • A summary of your key arguments and/or findings
  • A short discussion of the implications of your research

Don’t feel that you have to write the introduction first. The introduction is often one of the last parts of the research paper you’ll write, along with the conclusion.

This is because it can be easier to introduce your paper once you’ve already written the body ; you may not have the clearest idea of your arguments until you’ve written them, and things can change during the writing process .

The way you present your research problem in your introduction varies depending on the nature of your research paper . A research paper that presents a sustained argument will usually encapsulate this argument in a thesis statement .

A research paper designed to present the results of empirical research tends to present a research question that it seeks to answer. It may also include a hypothesis —a prediction that will be confirmed or disproved by your research.

The introduction of a research paper includes several key elements:

  • A hook to catch the reader’s interest
  • Relevant background on the topic
  • Details of your research problem

and your problem statement

  • A thesis statement or research question
  • Sometimes an overview of the paper

Ask our team

Want to contact us directly? No problem.  We  are always here for you.

Support team - Nina

Our team helps students graduate by offering:

  • A world-class citation generator
  • Plagiarism Checker software powered by Turnitin
  • Innovative Citation Checker software
  • Professional proofreading services
  • Over 300 helpful articles about academic writing, citing sources, plagiarism, and more

Scribbr specializes in editing study-related documents . We proofread:

  • PhD dissertations
  • Research proposals
  • Personal statements
  • Admission essays
  • Motivation letters
  • Reflection papers
  • Journal articles
  • Capstone projects

Scribbr’s Plagiarism Checker is powered by elements of Turnitin’s Similarity Checker , namely the plagiarism detection software and the Internet Archive and Premium Scholarly Publications content databases .

The add-on AI detector is powered by Scribbr’s proprietary software.

The Scribbr Citation Generator is developed using the open-source Citation Style Language (CSL) project and Frank Bennett’s citeproc-js . It’s the same technology used by dozens of other popular citation tools, including Mendeley and Zotero.

You can find all the citation styles and locales used in the Scribbr Citation Generator in our publicly accessible repository on Github .

  • Product overview
  • All features
  • App integrations


  • project icon Project management
  • Project views
  • Custom fields
  • Status updates
  • goal icon Goals and reporting
  • Reporting dashboards
  • workflow icon Workflows and automation
  • portfolio icon Resource management
  • Time tracking
  • my-task icon Admin and security
  • Admin console
  • asana-intelligence icon Asana AI
  • list icon Personal
  • premium icon Starter
  • briefcase icon Advanced
  • Goal management
  • Organizational planning
  • Campaign management
  • Creative production
  • Content calendars
  • Marketing strategic planning
  • Resource planning
  • Project intake
  • Product launches
  • Employee onboarding
  • View all uses arrow-right icon
  • Project plans
  • Team goals & objectives
  • Team continuity
  • Meeting agenda
  • View all templates arrow-right icon
  • Work management resources Discover best practices, watch webinars, get insights
  • What's new Learn about the latest and greatest from Asana
  • Customer stories See how the world's best organizations drive work innovation with Asana
  • Help Center Get lots of tips, tricks, and advice to get the most from Asana
  • Asana Academy Sign up for interactive courses and webinars to learn Asana
  • Developers Learn more about building apps on the Asana platform
  • Community programs Connect with and learn from Asana customers around the world
  • Events Find out about upcoming events near you
  • Partners Learn more about our partner programs
  • Support Need help? Contact the Asana support team
  • Asana for nonprofits Get more information on our nonprofit discount program, and apply.

Featured Reads

project plan in research

  • Project planning |
  • What is project planning? (Plus, 7 ste ...

What is project planning? (Plus, 7 steps to write a successful project plan)

Julia Martins contributor headshot

Organize your projects with project plans to keep things on track—before you even start. A project plan houses all the necessary details of your project, such as goals, tasks, scope, deadlines, and deliverables. This shows stakeholders a clear roadmap of your project, ensures you have the resources for it, and holds everyone accountable from the start. In this article, we teach you the seven steps to create your own project plan.

Project plans are essential to keeping your project organized and on track. A great project plan will help you kick off your work with all the necessary pieces—from goals and budgets to milestones and communication plans—in one place. Save yourself time (and a few headaches) by creating a work plan that will make your project a success.

What is project planning?

Project planning is the second stage in the project management process, following project initiation and preceding project execution. During the project planning stage, the project manager creates a project plan, which maps out project requirements. The project planning phase typically includes setting project goals, designating project resources, and mapping out the project schedule.

What is a project plan?

If you're still unsure about what a project plan is, here's how it differs from other project elements:

Project plan vs. work plan: A project plan and a work plan are the same thing. Different teams or departments might prefer one term or another—but they both ultimately describe the same thing: a list of big-picture action steps you need to take to hit your  project objectives .

Project plan vs. project charter: A project charter is an outline of your project. Mostly, you use project charters to get signoff from key stakeholders before you start. Which means your project charter comes before your project plan. A project charter is an outline of a simple project plan—it should only include your project objectives, scope, and responsibilities. Then, once your charter has been approved, you can create a project plan to provide a more in-depth blueprint of the key elements of your project.

Project plan vs. project scope: Your project scope defines the size and boundaries of your project. As part of your project plan, you should outline and share the scope of your project with all project stakeholders. If you’re ever worried about scope creep , you can refer back to your pre-defined scope within your project plan to get back on track.

Project plan vs. agile project: Agile project management is a framework to help teams break work into iterative, collaborative components . Agile frameworks are often run in conjunction with scrum and sprint methodologies. Like any project, an Agile project team can benefit from having a project plan in place before getting started with their work.

Project plan vs. work breakdown structure: Similar to a project plan, your work breakdown structure (WBS) helps you with project execution. While the project plan focuses on every aspect of your project, the WBS is focused on deliverables—breaking them down into sub-deliverables and project tasks. This helps you visualize the whole project in simple steps. Because it’s a visual format, your WBS is best viewed as a Gantt chart (or timeline), Kanban board , or calendar—especially if you’re using project management software .

Why are project plans important?

Project plans set the stage for the entire project. Without one, you’re missing a critical step in the overall project management process . When you launch into a project without defined goals or objectives, it can lead to disorganized work, frustration, and even scope creep. A clear, written project management plan provides a baseline direction to all stakeholders, while also keeping everyone accountable. It confirms that you have the resources you need for the project before it actually begins.

A project plan also allows you, as the person in charge of leading execution, to forecast any potential challenges you could run into while the project is still in the planning stages. That way, you can ensure the project will be achievable—or course-correct if necessary. According to a study conducted by the  Project Management Institute , there is a strong correlation between project planning and project success—the better your plan, the better your outcome. So, conquering the planning phase also makes for better project efficiency and results.

[Product UI] Brand campaign project plan in Asana, spreadsheet-style list (Lists)

7 steps to write a project plan to keep you on track

To create a clear project management plan, you need a way to track all of your moving parts . No matter what type of project you’re planning, every work plan should have:

Goals and project objectives

Success metrics

Stakeholders and roles

Scope and budget

Milestones , deliverables , and project dependencies

Timeline and schedule

Communication plan.

Not sure what each of these mean or should look like? Let’s dive into the details:

Step 1: Define your goals and objectives

You’re working on this project plan for a reason—likely to get you, your team, or your company to an end goal. But how will you know if you’ve reached that goal if you have no way of measuring success?

Every successful project plan should have a clear, desired outcome. Identifying your goals provides a rationale for your project plan. It also keeps everyone on the same page and focused on the results they want to achieve. Moreover, research shows that employees who know how their work is contributing to company objectives are 2X as motivated . Yet only 26% of employees have that clarity. That’s because most goal-setting happens separate from the actual work. By defining your goals within your work plan, you can connect the work your team is doing directly to the project objectives in real-time.

What's the difference between project goals and project objectives?

In general, your project goals should be higher-level than your project objectives. Your project goals should be SMART goals that help you measure project success and show how your project aligns with business objectives . The purpose of drafting project objectives, on the other hand, is to focus on the actual, specific deliverables you're going to achieve at the end of your project. Your project plan provides the direction your team needs to hit your goals, so you can create a workflow that hits project objectives.

Your project  plan  provides the direction your team needs to hit your goals, by way of your project objectives. By incorporating your goals directly into your planning documentation, you can keep your project’s North Star on hand. When you’re defining your project scope, or outlining your project schedule, check back on your goals to make sure that work is in favor of your main objectives.

Step 2: Set success metrics

Once you’ve defined your goals, make sure they’re measurable by setting key success metrics. While your goal serves as the intended result, you need success metrics to let you know whether or not you’re performing on track to achieve that result. The best way to do that is to set  SMART goals . With SMART goals, you can make sure your success metrics are clear and measurable, so you can look back at the end of your project and easily tell if you hit them or not.

For example, a goal for an event might be to host an annual 3-day conference for SEO professionals on June 22nd. A success metric for that goal might be having at least 1,000 people attend your conference. It’s both clear and measurable.

Step 3: Clarify stakeholders and roles

Running a project usually means getting  collaborators  involved in the execution of it. In your project management plan, outline which team members will be a part of the project and what each person’s role will be. This will help you decide who is responsible for each task (something we’ll get to shortly) and let stakeholders know how you expect them to be involved.

During this process, make sure to define the various roles and responsibilities your stakeholders might have. For example, who is directly responsible for the project’s success? How is your project team structured (i.e. do you have a project manager, a project sponsor , etc.)? Are there any approvers that should be involved before anything is finalized? What cross-functional stakeholders should be included in the project plan? Are there any  risk management factors  you need to include?

Consider using a system, such as a  RACI chart , to help determine who is driving the project forward, who will approve decisions, who will contribute to the project, and who needs to remain informed as the project progresses.

Then, once you’ve outlined all of your roles and stakeholders, make sure to include that documentation in your project plan. Once you finalize your plan, your work plan will become your cross-functional source of truth.

Step 4: Set your budget

Running a project usually costs money. Whether it’s hiring freelancers for content writing or a catering company for an event, you’ll probably be spending some cash.

Since you’ve already defined your goals and stakeholders as part of your project plan, use that information to establish your budget. For example, if this is a cross-functional project involving multiple departments, will the departments be splitting the project cost? If you have a specific goal metric like event attendees or new users, does your proposed budget support that endeavor?

By establishing your project budget during the project planning phase (and before the spending begins), you can get approval, more easily track progress, and make smart, economical decisions during the implementation phase of your project. Knowing your budget beforehand helps you with resource management , ensuring that you stay within the initial financial scope of the project. Planning helps you determine what parts of your project will cost what—leaving no room for surprises later on.

Step 5: Align on milestones, deliverables, and project dependencies

An important part of planning your project is setting milestones, or specific objectives that represent an achievement. Milestones don’t require a start and end date, but hitting one marks a significant accomplishment during your project. They are used to measure progress. For example, let’s say you’re working to develop a  new product for your company . Setting a milestone on your project timeline for when the prototype is finalized will help you measure the progress you’ve made so far.

A project deliverable , on the other hand, is what is actually produced once you meet a milestone. In our product development example, we hit a milestone when we produced the deliverable, which was the prototype. You can also use project dependencies —tasks that you can’t start until others are finished. Dependencies ensure that work only starts once it’s ready. Continuing the example, you can create a project dependency to require approval from the project lead before prototype testing begins.  

If you’re using our free project plan template , you can easily organize your project around deliverables, dependencies, and milestones. That way, everyone on the team has clear visibility into the work within your project scope, and the milestones your team will be working towards.

Step 6: Outline your timeline and schedule

In order to achieve your project goals, you and your stakeholders need clarity on your overall project timeline and schedule. Aligning on the time frame you have can help you better prioritize during strategic planning sessions.

Not all projects will have clear-cut timelines. If you're working on a large project with a few unknown dates, consider creating a  project roadmap  instead of a full-blown project timeline. That way, you can clarify the order of operations of various tasks without necessarily establishing exact dates.

Once you’ve covered the high-level responsibilities, it’s time to focus some energy on the details. In your  work plan template , start by breaking your project into tasks, ensuring no part of the process is skipped. Bigger tasks can even be broken down into smaller subtasks, making them more manageable.

Then, take each task and subtask, and assign it a start date and end date. You’ll begin to visually see everything come together in a  cohesive project timeline . Be sure to add stakeholders, mapping out who is doing what by when.

[Product UI] Brand campaign project in Asana, Gantt chart-style view (Timeline)

Step 7: Share your communication plan

We’ve established that most projects include multiple stakeholders. That means communication styles will vary among them. You have an opportunity to set your expectations up front for this particular project in your project plan. Having a communication plan is essential for making sure everyone understands what’s happening, how the project is progressing, and what’s going on next. And in case a roadblock comes up, you’ll already have a clear communication system in place.

As you’re developing your communication plan, consider the following questions:

How many project-related meetings do you need to have? What are their goals?

How will you manage project status updates ? Where will you share them?

What tool will you use to manage the project and communicate progress and updates?

[inline illustration] Communication plan for brand campaign in Asana (example)

Like the other elements of your project plan, make sure your communication plan is easily accessible within your project plan. Stakeholders and cross-functional collaborators should be able to easily find these guidelines during the planning and execution phases of your project. Using project planning tools or task management software that integrates with apps like Slack and Gmail can ensure all your communication happens in one easily accessible place. 

Example project plan

Next, to help you understand what your project management plan should look like, here are two example plans for marketing and design projects that will guide you during your own project planning.

Project plan example: annual content calendar

Let’s say you’re the Content Lead for your company, and it’s your responsibility to create and deliver on a content marketing calendar for all the content that will be published next year. You know your first step is to build your work plan. Here’s what it might look like:

Goals and success metrics

You establish that your goal for creating and executing against your content calendar is to increase engagement by 10%. Your success metrics are the open rate and click through rate on emails, your company’s social media followers, and how your pieces of content rank on search engines.

Stakeholders and each person’s role

There will be five people involved in this project.

You, Content Lead: Develop and maintain the calendar

Brandon and Jamie, Writers: Provide outlines and copy for each piece of content

Nate, Editor: Edit and give feedback on content

Paula, Producer: Publish the content once it’s written and edited

Your budget for the project plan and a year’s worth of content is $50,000.

Milestones and deliverables

Your first milestone is to finish the content calendar, which shows all topics for the year. The deliverable is a sharable version of the calendar. Both the milestone and the deliverables should be clearly marked on your project schedule.

You’ve determined that your schedule for your content calendar project plan will go as follows:

October 15 - November 1: The research phase to find ideas for topics for content

November 2 - November 30: Establish the topics you’ll write about

December 1 - January 1: Build the calendar

January 1 - December 31: Content will be written by Brandon and Jamie, and edited by Nate, throughout the year

January 16 - December 31: Paula will begin publishing and continue to do so on a rolling basis throughout the year.

You’ll have a kick-off meeting and then monthly update meetings as part of your communication plan. Weekly status updates will be sent on Friday afternoons. All project-related communication will occur within a  project management tool .

How ClassPass manages project plans from start to finish

Kerry Hoffman, Senior Project Manager of Marketing Operations at  ClassPass , oversees all marketing projects undertaken by the creative, growth, and content teams. Here are her top three strategies for managing project plans:

Identify stakeholders up front: No matter the size of the project, it’s critical to know who the stakeholders are and their role in the project so you ensure you involve the right people at each stage. This will also make the review and approval process clear before the team gets to work.

Agree on how you want to communicate about your project: Establish where and when communication should take place for your project to ensure that key information is captured in the right place so everyone stays aligned.

Be adaptable and learn other people’s working styles: Projects don’t always go according to plan, but by implementing proper integration management you can keep projects running smoothly. Also, find out how project members like to work so you take that into account as you create your plan. It will help things run smoother once you begin executing.

Write your next project plan like a pro

Congratulations—you’re officially a work planning pro. With a few steps, a little bit of time, and a whole lot of organization, you’ve successfully written a project plan.

Keep yourself and your team on track, and address challenges early by using project planning software like Asana . Work through each of the steps of your project plan with confidence, and streamline your communications with the team.

Related resources

project plan in research

Cost control: How to monitor project spending to increase profitability

project plan in research

How to use a feasibility study in project management

project plan in research

How to track utilization rate and drive team profitability

project plan in research

How to accomplish big things with long-term goals

project plan in research

  • Health Equity
  • Managed Care
  • Maternal & Early Childhood Health
  • Rural Health
  • Unwinding the PHE
  • State Data Hub
  • Research & Reports
  • Comments on Federal Regulations
  • Faculty and Staff

Project 2025 Blueprint Also Includes Draconian Cuts to Medicaid

  • share this post on Facebook
  • share this post on Twitter
  • share this post on LinkedIn
  • share this post through Email

Last year, conservative organizations led by the Heritage Foundation unveiled a “Project 2025” policy agenda for a potential second term of the Trump Administration. While the overall Project 2025 plan has received growing media attention in recent weeks, its proposals to radically restructure and deeply cut Medicaid have largely flown under the radar. While lacking in any detail, the Project 2025 Medicaid proposals would generally mirror those included in the Republican Study Committee (RSC) fiscal year 2025 budget plan released in March, on which I have previously written .

How would the Project 2025 plan cut Medicaid?

  • The Project 2025 plan would convert federal Medicaid funding to block grants or per capita caps. Under the current federal-state financial partnership, the federal government pays a fixed percentage of states’ Medicaid costs, whatever those costs are. In contrast, under block grants and per capita caps, federal funding would be capped , with states receiving only a fixed amount of federal Medicaid funding either in the aggregate or on a per-beneficiary basis, irrespective of states’ actual costs. While the plan does not specify how the block grants or per capita caps would be initially set or how they would be annually adjusted, such funding caps are typically designed to fail to keep pace with expected enrollment and/or health care cost growth in order to deeply cut federal Medicaid spending over time, relative to current law. The caps would also fail to account for any unexpected cost growth such as from a recession, natural disaster, public health emergency or a new, costly drug therapy.
  • The Project 2025 plan purports to establish a “more balanced or blended” federal Medicaid matching rate (FMAP) and would replace “the enhanced match rate with a fairer and more rational match rate.” While the plan does not offer any further explanation, this likely entails proposals similar to those included in the RSC budget plan. For example, the RSC budget plan would cut the FMAP to a uniform 50 percent for all states, beneficiaries, services and functions. Currently, states with lower relative average per-capita income receive higher regular FMAPs than states with the highest average per-capita income who receive the minimum FMAP of 50 percent. In fiscal year 2025, Mississippi’s regular FMAP will equal 76.9 percent. This will also affect the territories; for example, in 2025, Puerto Rico’s FMAP will equal 76 percent and the other territories’ FMAP will equal 83 percent. Moreover, under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the FMAP for the Medicaid expansion is set at an enhanced rate of 90 percent on a permanent basis and certain administrative functions, such as upgrades of state Medicaid claims and eligibility computer systems are also eligible for a 90 percent FMAP. This means that the federal government will not only set caps on federal Medicaid funding through block grants and per capita caps but also require states to pay a much larger share of Medicaid costs below such caps.
  • Like the RSC budget plan, the Project 2025 plan would appear to eliminate state use of provider taxes, which nearly all states use to finance a portion of the state share of Medicaid costs. Without provider taxes, states would likely be unable to even draw down all of their highly inadequate Medicaid block grant or per capita cap amounts because they will be unable to generate sufficient alternative revenues to finance their contribution to the cost of their Medicaid programs (up to the federal funding cap).
  • The Project 2025 plan would eliminate many existing federal Medicaid beneficiary protections and requirements. For example, it would set time limits on Medicaid coverage and impose lifetime caps on benefits, which are now prohibited. It would also allow states to increase premiums and cost-sharing above current limits and to also presumably impose premiums and cost-sharing on beneficiaries like children and pregnant people who are now exempt. The plan would also eliminate mandatory benefits in Medicaid, which would allow states, for example, to drop coverage of nursing home care and the Early Periodic Diagnostic Screening and Treatment (EPSDT) benefit for children. On long-term services and supports (LTSS), the plan proposes to allow states to redesign “eligibility, financing and service delivery” though it is unclear what cuts that would entail. It also appears to permit states to eliminate coverage of nursing home care and other LTSS services for some of those who now spend down their assets to become eligible under current law. It is unclear whether the plan would also eliminate minimum income eligibility levels, such as for children, parents, seniors and people with disabilities. However, the RSC plan, for example, would eliminate minimum income eligibility for children and would appear to allow states to no longer have to cover any non-elderly non-disabled parents.
  • The Project 2025 plan would encourage the federal government and states to impose more red tape and make it harder for eligible individuals and families to apply for, enroll in, and renew their Medicaid coverage. It would allow states to impose onerous work reporting requirements. In addition, while there is no detail, the plan would require “more robust eligibility determinations” which would have the effect of reducing participation among people eligible for Medicaid. It also would “strengthen asset test determinations within Medicaid.” It is unclear if this entails not just more burdensome paperwork and verification associated with counting assets but also reimposing asset tests for populations such as children, parents and other adults who are not currently subject to such asset eligibility requirements.
  • The Project 2025 plan would establish an option for individuals to convert their Medicaid coverage into a voucher, presumably for the purchase of coverage in the private insurance market, even though such coverage would likely be far less affordable and provide a much less generous benefits package than what Medicaid provides today. (Moreover, private insurance does not offer comparable, comprehensive benefits that Medicaid does, including EPSDT, LTSS and a prescription drug benefit that guarantees an open formulary.) States would also be given the option to finance coverage through a high-deductible private insurance plan tied to a Health Savings Account instead of providing Medicaid benefits, under which individuals would have to pay for health care items and services themselves. There would be no guarantee that the funds deposited in their accounts would be sufficient to pay for deductibles and needed care, especially because individuals would likely have to pay for items and services at the highest self-pay prices.
  • The Project 2025 plan would appear to largely sweep away existing federal oversight of state Medicaid programs. For example, payment reforms could be made without state plan amendments or waivers. The only standards would be some broad federal indicators like “cost effectiveness and health measures like quality, health improvement and wellness.” However, in the case of reproductive health, the plan would instead impose new stringent federal requirements, including prohibiting Planned Parenthood from receiving federal Medicaid funding, prohibiting Medicaid waiver coverage of travel to obtain an abortion and cutting Medicaid funding for states that require abortion coverage in their private insurance plans (outside of Medicaid).
  • The Project 2025 plan does not include any cost estimates of the severe Medicaid cuts envisioned under the plan. But the similar RSC budget plan can give a sense of the potential magnitude of the Project 2025 plan’s draconian Medicaid cuts. According to the budget summary tables in the similar RSC budget plan, together with a related proposal that would appear to block grant the Affordable Care Act’s marketplace subsidies, block granting Medicaid and instituting the other Medicaid cuts included in the RSC budget would cut federal spending by $4.5 trillion over 10 years. That constitutes a 7 percent cut, relative to the Congressional Budget Office’s February 2024 baseline spending levels for Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) and ACA marketplace subsidies for fiscal years 2025-2034. By the tenth year (2034), the cut would equal a 57 percent reduction.

With such drastic cuts in federal funding — along with restrictions on how states can finance their share of Medicaid costs — states would face a massive cost-shift from the federal government for their Medicaid programs. They would have no choice but to institute truly draconian cuts to eligibility, benefits and provider reimbursement rates. Such cuts would be furthered by the dramatic rollback of existing federal beneficiary protections and requirements, including those related to benefits and cost-sharing. This, in turn, would likely drive tens of millions into the ranks of the uninsured and underinsured and severely reduce access to health care and long-term services and supports needed by low-income children, families, seniors, people with disabilities and other adults. Moreover, because Medicaid is the largest source of federal funding for states, capping Medicaid would also likely lead to deep, damaging budget cuts to other state spending like for K-12 education.

project plan in research

Subscribe to Updates from our Team

2024 survey of medicaid and chip eligibility, enrollment, and renewal policies shows gains in child and maternal health coverage.

project plan in research

Back to Basics: Effective State Medicaid and CHIP Outreach to Families Doesn’t Need to be Complicated

A look at medicaid and chip eligibility, enrollment, and renewal policies during the unwinding of continuous enrollment and beyond,

cyber eye

The CIA’s Covert Plan to Deploy an Army of Super Spies With Psychic Powers to Uncover Enemy Secrets

Any weapon or intelligence tool developed under the “Stargate” program would be too valuable—and too dangerous—for public release.

As Harold Puthoff, a physicist with the Stanford Research Institute, witnessed the output from his magnetometer changing, he was mind-blown. There was no physical explanation for the reading changing the way it did. And as soon as Puthoff asked Swann to stop thinking about the apparatus, the unexplained changes in the magnetic field abruptly stopped.

“These phenomena are real. Psychic phenomena are real,” Dean Radin , Ph.D., chief scientist at the California-based nonprofit Institute of Noetic Sciences, tells Popular Mechanics . He’s been examining parapsychology, or the study of psychic events, for the past four decades.

And in the early 1970s—in the midst of the Cold War against the Soviet Union—the U.S. government agreed.

By the time Puthoff and his colleague Russel Targ, another physicist at the Stanford Research Institute (now known as SRI International), presented their results at an international meeting on quantum physics and parapsychology, the CIA had already begun working with SRI to perform top-secret research on paranormal phenomena—primarily “remote viewing” for intelligence collection. Remote viewing refers to a type of extra-sensorial perception that involves using the mind to “see” or manipulate distant objects, people, events, or other information that are hidden from physical view.

By the mid-1980s, the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) took the program over, calling it “Stargate.” DIA had three main goals for its research:

  • Determine how to apply remote viewing to intelligence gathering against foreign targets;
  • Figure out how other countries could be doing the same thing and using it against the U.S.; and
  • Perform laboratory experiments to find ways to improve remote viewing for use in the intelligence field

The program was about as clandestine as it gets. Radin, who served as a visiting scientist on the Stargate program, says security personnel would brief him and his colleagues about the incredible sensitivity of their highly classified work every two weeks, and ask them if they had any reason to believe that anyone outside of the project knew anything about it.

“You had to become a professional paranoid, essentially. It was very uncomfortable for me,” Radin says.

He remembers asking one of his supervisors what would happen if they had a breakthrough—say, coming up with a drug to make someone super psychic. The response was immediate. “It would disappear and you would never be able to talk about it again,” Radin recalls, “which is antithetical to the whole scientific process, but I also understood why.” Any weapon or intelligence tool developed under Stargate would have presumably been too valuable and too dangerous for public release.

documents from stargate project

The DIA continued the project until the mid-1990s, when the CIA began declassifying its documents on remote viewing research to facilitate an external review of the project, and the DIA quickly followed suit. In June 1995, the CIA asked The American Institutes for Research (AIR)—an Arlington, Virginia-based nonprofit tasked with evaluating and providing technical assistance in behavioral and social science research—to conduct an external review of the Stargate program .

To present a balanced review of the scientific credibility of the program, AIR asked two researchers with opposing perspectives on parapsychology to write the report: Jessica Utts , Ph.D., an accomplished statistician and now professor emerita at the University of California, Irvine, who views parapsychology as a promising science; and Ray Hyman , Ph.D., a renowned psychologist and now professor emeritus at the University of Oregon, who is a noted skeptic and critic of parapsychology.

.css-2l0eat{font-family:UnitedSans,UnitedSans-roboto,UnitedSans-local,Helvetica,Arial,Sans-serif;font-size:1.625rem;line-height:1.2;margin:0rem;padding:0.9rem 1rem 1rem;}@media(max-width: 48rem){.css-2l0eat{font-size:1.75rem;line-height:1;}}@media(min-width: 48rem){.css-2l0eat{font-size:1.875rem;line-height:1;}}@media(min-width: 64rem){.css-2l0eat{font-size:2.25rem;line-height:1;}}.css-2l0eat b,.css-2l0eat strong{font-family:inherit;font-weight:bold;}.css-2l0eat em,.css-2l0eat i{font-style:italic;font-family:inherit;} “THESE PHENOMENA ARE REAL. PSYCHIC PHENOMENA ARE REAL.”

“They sent us these boxes full of reports and papers and told us we had one summer to write this report,” Utts tells Popular Mechanics . She and Hyman separately reviewed dozens of Stargate experiments while also taking into account data from the broader scientific community at the time.

The reviewers’ individual conclusions were as expected. Utts found the statistics compelling, and believed the studies provided strong evidence that remote viewing is a human capability. One of the things she found most convincing was that the results seen across studies in different laboratories were all very similar. “And it was all statistically significant,” she says, “so that’s really hard to explain by chance, or cheating, or coincidence, or fluke.”

To that extent, Hyman agreed with Utts, but it wasn’t enough to convince him that remote viewing is real. He found what he considered to be potential flaws in the experimental methods, such as using the same person to judge psychic ability in each trial, and determined that the experimental results were not consistent enough with experiments outside the program. Nonetheless, he wrote in the final report: “The case for psychic functioning seems better than it ever has been. The contemporary findings along with the output of the [Stargate] program do seem to indicate that something beyond odd statistical hiccups is taking place.”

Despite what may be viewed as an optimistic review, the Stargate program no longer exists, and as far as we know, the U.S. government hasn’t continued such research. “I’m sorry it ended, because I really do think that there’s much more to be discovered there,” Utts says.

But maybe it hasn’t ended. Maybe it’s just top secret. Only a true psychic would know.

Headshot of Kimberly Hickok

Kimberly is a freelance science writer with a degree in marine biology from Texas A&M University, a master's degree in biology from Southeastern Louisiana University and a graduate certificate in science communication from the University of California, Santa Cruz. Her work has been published by NBC, Science, Live Science, and many others. Her favorite stories are about health, animals and obscurities.  

preview for Popular Mechanics All Sections

.css-cuqpxl:before{padding-right:0.3125rem;content:'//';display:inline;} Pop Mech Pro: Science .css-xtujxj:before{padding-left:0.3125rem;content:'//';display:inline;}

coffin on stage with red flowers on top and dramatic red curtains in the background

Every Single Cell in Your Body Could Be Conscious

life extension

How to Live Forever, or Die Trying

abstract light in a tunnel

A Groundbreaking Discovery For Interstellar Travel

futuristic lab equipment in a pool of water

Dark Matter Could Unlock a Limitless Energy Source

nebula with womans face

The Source of All Consciousness May Be Black Holes

a frozen human brain inside a spinning ice cube 3d illustration

Could Freezing Your Brain Help You Live Forever?

multicolored painted nebula

The Universe Could Be Eternal, This Theory Says

human hands stretched out to the burning sun, ethereal and unreal concepts of universe, spiritual and natural powers otherwise, fires burning down the past life, natural disaster, climate change and global warming, inferno, hell and chaos ultimate conceptual shot

Immortality Is Impossible Until We Beat Physics

speed motion data in tunnel

How Vacuum Energy Could Help Us Reach Light Speed

a planet with stars and a galaxy

Could the Chair You Sit on Have a Soul?

conceptual image of skyscrapers made of trees

Here’s How We Could Live in Trees


  1. FREE 26+ Research Plan Samples in PDF

    project plan in research

  2. FREE 12+ Sample Research Project Templates in PDF

    project plan in research

  3. Research Design Plan Template Five Ingenious Ways You Can Do With

    project plan in research

  4. 8+ Research Project Plan Templates

    project plan in research

  5. Developing a Five-Year Research Plan

    project plan in research

  6. 35+ SAMPLE Research Plan Templates in PDF

    project plan in research


  1. Creating a research proposal

  2. Conclusion Confidence: Leaving a Lasting Impression #irfannawaz #phd #research

  3. Project Introduction and Project Plan

  4. Wo 3 Aankhen Jin Par Jahannam Ki Aag Haram Hai #irfannawaz #hadees #isalamishorts #video

  5. Project Plan Novel_Creative Writing

  6. Easy Tips For Writing Your Research Plan


  1. How to Write a Research Plan: A Step by Step Guide

    Here's an example outline of a research plan you might put together: Project title. Project members involved in the research plan. Purpose of the project (provide a summary of the research plan's intent) Objective 1 (provide a short description for each objective) Objective 2. Objective 3.

  2. How To Write a Research Plan (With Template and Examples)

    If you want to learn how to write your own plan for your research project, consider the following seven steps: 1. Define the project purpose. The first step to creating a research plan for your project is to define why and what you're researching. Regardless of whether you're working with a team or alone, understanding the project's purpose can ...

  3. How to plan a research project

    Because the focus of this Guide is on planning a research project, as opposed to conducting a research project, this section won't delve into the details of data-collection or analysis; those steps happen after you plan the project. In addition, the topic is vast: year-long doctoral courses are devoted to data and analysis.

  4. How to Write a Research Proposal

    A research aim is a broad statement indicating the general purpose of your research project. It should appear in your introduction at the end of your problem statement, ... The best way to remember the difference between a research plan and a research proposal is that they have fundamentally different audiences. A research plan helps you, the ...

  5. How to Write a Research Plan

    A research plan is a comprehensive documented outline of your entire project, encompassing the research process and the anticipated outcomes. This strategic document aids in defining objectives, summarizing the necessary steps to achieve them, and detailing the requirements for obtaining conclusive results.

  6. Sage Research Methods

    This tool is designed to guide you through your research project. First, think about what stage you're at in your research. If you've already gotten started, click on the stage below that best describes where you are. If you're just starting out, it might be helpful to read more about why we do research before getting started. We found other ...

  7. Research Plan

    A research plan is a framework that shows how you intend to approach your topic. The plan can take many forms: a written outline, a narrative, a visual/concept map or timeline. It's a document that will change and develop as you conduct your research. Components of a research plan. 1. Research conceptualization - introduces your research question.

  8. A Beginner's Guide to Starting the Research Process

    The proposal outlines the context, relevance, purpose, and plan of your research. As well as outlining the background, problem statement, and research questions, the proposal should also include a literature review that shows how your project will fit into existing work on the topic. The research design section describes your approach and ...

  9. Essential Elements to Create a UX Research Plan

    6. Prepare the brief. The next component of a research plan is to create a brief or guide for your research sessions. The kind of brief you need will vary depending on your research method, but for moderated methods like user interviews, field studies, or focus groups, you'll need a detailed guide and script.

  10. What Is a Research Design

    Step 1: Consider your aims and approach. Step 2: Choose a type of research design. Step 3: Identify your population and sampling method. Step 4: Choose your data collection methods. Step 5: Plan your data collection procedures. Step 6: Decide on your data analysis strategies. Other interesting articles.

  11. How to write an effective project plan in 6 simple steps

    A simple project plan includes these elements: Project name, brief summary, and objective. Project players or team members who will drive the project, along with their roles and responsibilities. Key outcomes and due dates. Project elements, ideally divided into must-have, nice-to-have and not-in-scope categories.

  12. LibGuides: Project Planning for the Beginner: Research Design

    What Is a Research Plan? This refers to the overall plan for your research, and will be used by you and your supervisor to indicate your intentions for your research and the method(s) you'll use to carry it out. It includes: • A specification of your research questions • An outline of your proposed research methods

  13. Write Your Research Plan

    Review and Finalize Your Research Plan; Abstract and Narrative; Research Plan Overview and Your Approach. Your application's Research Plan has two sections: Specific Aims—a one-page statement of your objectives for the project. Research Strategy—a description of the rationale for your research and your experiments in 12 pages for an R01.

  14. User Research Plans: How-To Write [with Template]

    The 7 core components of a user research plan: The background of the research project detailing why we are conducting this study. This can also include the internal stakeholders involved. The objectives and goals of the research, what the teams want to learn from the research, or what they would like the outcome to be.

  15. Research Project Plan Template

    The research project plan template is designed for research teams in academic, corporate, or non-profit sectors who need to plan and execute their research projects. The template provides a structure for outlining the processes and activities that must be completed in order to achieve the desired results of the research project. The template is ...

  16. Research Project

    The first step in any research project is to clearly define the research question or problem. This involves identifying the purpose of the research, the scope of the research, and the key variables that will be studied. Develop a Research Plan. Once the research question has been defined, the next step is to develop a research plan.

  17. How to Plan and Conduct a Research Project: 12 Simple Steps

    Let's have a brief and clear discussion on what we should do for achieving success in our research project. Well! For planning and conduction we have to go through following steps. Planning. 1. Topic selection. Many of us have a clear research topic of mind but some are also there who come up with various ideas.

  18. Writing a Research Plan

    The research plan, however, serves another, very important function: It contributes to your development as a scientist. Your research plan is a map for your career as a research science professional. As will become apparent later in this document, one of the functions of a research plan is to demonstrate your intellectual vision and aspirations.

  19. (PDF) Research Projects Planning and Managing

    Research Projects Planning and Managing. January 2018. In book: Academic Guidebook for Young Researchers. Publisher: University of Nis, Nis, Serbia. Authors: Dejan Bokonjić. University of East ...

  20. PDF Developing a Research Action Plan for Your Organization

    Introduction. The Action Plan is a guide to planning for change, and it describes: . A clear picture of where you are currently, where you are going, and where you want to be in 3-5 years. How you are going to get there. Who and what are involved. Elements of the Action Plan. Goal(s) Objectives.

  21. How to Create a Realistic Project Plan: Templates & Examples

    To create a new project plan in TeamGantt, click the New Project button in the upper right corner of the My Projects screen. Then enter your project name and start date, and select the days of the week you want to include in your plan. Click Create New Project to move on to the next step. 2.

  22. What is a research project?

    A research project is an academic, scientific, or professional undertaking to answer a research question. Research projects can take many forms, such as qualitative or quantitative, descriptive, longitudinal, experimental, or correlational. What kind of research approach you choose will depend on your topic.

  23. What Is Project Planning? How Write a Project Plan [2024] • Asana

    Project planning is the second step in the project process, when you create your project plan. Learn what to include and see examples to get you started. ... October 15 - November 1: The research phase to find ideas for topics for content. November 2 - November 30: Establish the topics you'll write about. December 1 - January 1: ...

  24. Project 2025

    Project 2025, also known as the Presidential Transition Project, is a collection of conservative policy proposals from The Heritage Foundation to reshape the United States federal government in the event of a Republican Party victory in the 2024 presidential election. Established in 2022, the project aims to recruit tens of thousands of conservatives to the District of Columbia to replace ...

  25. Project 2025 Blueprint Also Includes Draconian Cuts to Medicaid

    Last year, conservative organizations led by the Heritage Foundation unveiled a "Project 2025" policy agenda for a potential second term of the Trump Administration. While the overall Project 2025 plan has received growing media attention in recent weeks, its proposals to radically restructure and deeply cut Medicaid have largely flown under the radar.

  26. The Stargate Project: The CIA's Plan to Deploy an Army of Super Spies

    The DIA continued the project until the mid-1990s, when the CIA began declassifying its documents on remote viewing research to facilitate an external review of the project, and the DIA quickly ...