How to Prepare a PhD Research Plan/Schedule?

PhD research plan is a structured schedule for completing different objectives and milestones during a given timeframe. Scholars are usually unaware of it. Let us find out how to prepare it. 

Between March 2021 to 2022, I read almost 15 different research proposals from students (for their projects) and only a single one, I found, with a comprehensive research plan for 3 years. Which is still not, kind of practical, probably copied from other students. 

Such entities are not known to over 90% of students, if some know that because their university asked for but unfortunately, this basic procedure lacks penetration among students. I don’t know the exact reason, but students lack a basic understanding of the research process. 

Meaning, that they don’t know or perhaps don’t complete their course work needly. PhD research requires many documents, SOPs and write-ups, before even starting it. For example, a rough research plan, research proposal, initial interview, competence screening, grant proposal and so on. 

However, the requirement varies among universities and thus knowledge regarding basic procedures often also varies among students. So I’m not blaming students but certainly, it is the fault of the university side, as well.  

When you come up with a research proposal with a research schedule or entire plant, certainly it will create a positive image and good reputation. So it is important. But how to prepare it? 

Hey, there I’m Dr Tushar, a PhD tutor and coach. In this article, we will understand how we can prepare a structured plan for the PhD research and how to execute it. 

So let’s get started.  

How to prepare a PhD research plan/schedule?

A PhD research plan or schedule can be prepared using the GANTT chart which includes a month, semester or year-wise planning of the entire PhD research work. 

First, enlist goals and objectives.

It’s not about your research objective enlisted in your proposal. I’m talking about the objectives of your PhD. Take a look at some of the objectives.

Note that these are all the objectives that should be completed during the PhD, but not limited to a specific subject. Note you have to show how you can complete or achieve each objective during the entire tenure of your work. 

And that is what the plan/schedule is all about. Next, explain the time duration. The time required to complete each goal, roughly. For example, a semester or a year to complete the course work or 4 to 8 months for completion of ethical approval. 

Now two things must be known to you, at this point in time. 

  • First, enlist the time required to complete each objective, as aforementioned. 
  • Second, what goals would you complete during each semester?

For instance, course work takes a semester to complete, but during the period a scholar can also craft their PhD research title, research proposal, ethical approval and grant proposals. 

Now it is also crucial to know that there is no time bound to complete goals, but it should be completed as you explained. Let’s say you can plant it for 3 years, 4 or even 5 years depending on the weightage of your work. 

In summary, the answer to the question of how to prepare a research plan is, 

  • Enlist your goals or objectives. 
  • Decide the time required to complete each goal.
  • Prepare a GANTT chart.  

Now you have prepared zero-date planning for your research but how to present it? The answer is a GANTT chart.   

GANTT chart for PhD research plan: 

GANTT chart is a task manager and graphical presentation of how and how many tasks are completed or should be completed against a given time duration. Take a look at the image below. 

The example of the GANTT chart.

How can you prepare one?

Open MS Excel (on Windows) or numbers (on Mac).

Enlist goals or objectives in a column. 

Enlist years (duration of PhD) in a row and bifurcate them into individual semesters. You can also prepare a month-wise plan, that’s totally up to you. In my opinion, semester-wise planning is good because research is a lengthy and time-consuming process. So monthly planning would not work. 

To make a chart more attractive and readable use colors, as I used. Now mark a ‘cell’ against a column and row showing the objective which you are going to complete in a semester. Take a look. 

After the end of this, your GANTT chart would look like this. 

A screenshot of an ideal GANTT chart.

You can prepare a month-wise planning, individual semester-wise planning and goal-wise planning etc. I will explain these things in upcoming articles on 5 different types of GANTT charts for PhD.  

Custom writing services: 

If you find difficulties in preparing a research plan, synopsis, proposal or GANTT chart. We can work on behalf of you. Our costume services are, 

  • Synopsis writing 
  • Project writing 
  • Research proposal writing 
  • Research planning and GANTT chart preparation. 

You can contact us at [email protected] or [email protected] to get more information. 

Wrapping up: 

Planning and executing a research schedule are two different things. Oftentimes, students just prepare as per the requirements and then do work as per their convenience. Then they are stuck in one place and just work around the time. 

Plan things. Make your own GANTT chart, put it on your work table or stick it on a wall so that you can see it daily. Try to achieve each goal in time. Trust me things will work and you will complete your PhD before anyone else.  

Dr Tushar Chauhan

Dr. Tushar Chauhan is a Scientist, Blogger and Scientific-writer. He has completed PhD in Genetics. Dr. Chauhan is a PhD coach and tutor.

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Sample timetables

June-August 2016 | Data collection: OA effects on GRS to sucrose

September-December 2016 | Data collection: OA effects on learning and memory

January-February 2017 | Analysis of data and interpretation of results: potential follow-up experiment on how OA affects pollen-based learning

March 2017 | Analysis of data and interpretation of results: begin writing

April-May 2017 | Continued writing; presentation of thesis

The initial matings for this experiment will be completed by early November. Data on survival, developmental time, and adult morphological traits will be collected as nymphs reach adulthood, predicted to finish by the end of December. January through mid - March will be devoted to assessing male and female reproductive traits and analyzing the data. March through April will be used to complete data analyses and create the poster for the Nevada Undergraduate Research Symposium.

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How to Create a Research Timeline for Your Thesis

How to Create a Research Timeline for Your Thesis

  • 5-minute read
  • 21st May 2023

Beginning a dissertation can feel both thrilling and overwhelming. One of the best things you can do to prepare for the exciting journey of doing a dissertation is to design a comprehensive timeline as your guide. Here we will take you step by step through creating your thesis timeline and provide some example templates, so you’ll be well-prepared to begin your dissertation work.

Reasons for Creating a Timeline

There are many benefits to crafting a detailed dissertation timeline. In addition to helping with time management and meeting crucial deadlines, your timeline will also help you stay motivated by reviewing the tasks you have completed as you progress. A thorough timeline will be valuable during your dissertation proposal and useful if you are applying for grants or other additional funding.

Ste0ps for Creating a Timeline for Your Thesis:

  • Research and record all requirements and deadlines.

Before you write out your timeline, ensure you know all of your program’s requirements and deadlines. Academic institutions often require you to complete your dissertation within a specified timeframe.

There are likely several recommended or mandatory deadlines for approval of certain items by your adviser (and possibly the rest of your committee members). Gather all these dates beforehand so you can allot an appropriate amount of time to meet your deadlines.

It will be beneficial to meet with your adviser to understand when you are expected to complete the major phases of your dissertation work and to confirm that there aren’t any other requirements or deadlines that you may not be aware of.

  • List all of your tasks and bundle them into phases.

Now that you’ve assembled your dates, working backward from your deadlines is a good rule of thumb. List all of the required tasks that must be completed to meet each milestone, from coming up with your research questions to writing each chapter of your dissertation .

Even though your list will be unique to your research project, it can help to refer to a thesis checklist . It’s also helpful to assemble tasks into different phases (e.g., dissertation proposal, research recruitment). Grouping tasks into phases gives anyone looking at your timeline a quick overview of your research plan.

  • Organize your tasks into a schedule and assign task deadlines.

Now it’s time to build your timeline. There are many different free templates available online, from straightforward lists of deliverables to colorful options with room for notes and customization.

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A popular organizational approach for thesis timelines is a Gantt chart , which is a type of bar chart often used in project management in which the length of the bar corresponds to the time the task will take. The best choice for you will depend on the specifics of your research study and personal preferences. Whichever option you select, make sure you can easily edit and revise it as need be.

Sanity-Saving Tips:

●  Pay attention to your work style. Some people are more productive when writing in short bursts, while others write better after taking time to get into the zone. Some people choose to start writing parts of their thesis while still conducting research, while others prefer to focus on one phase at a time. Set yourself up for success by reflecting on what type of schedule will help you create the best quality work.

●  Schedule breaks. Almost everyone will work better after a well-deserved break. Make sure to schedule regular breaks into your timeline, as well as provide enough time to sleep, eat well, and do anything else you need to do to safeguard your well-being. 

●  Always have a plan B. Your dissertation is an extensive endeavor with many moving parts. It’s impossible to anticipate and plan for every conceivable event, but it’s helpful to expect something may occur that will cause a deviation from your original timeline. Perhaps study recruitment takes longer than you expected, or one of your committee members gets sick and you have to postpone your dissertation proposal. After you draft your timeline, check that it is not so strict that any disruption will cause a total derailment of your plan. Aim to strike a balance between goals that will inspire you to progress steadfastly and have some leeway in your timeline for the inevitable curveball that life will throw at you somewhere along the way.

Following these three steps will help you draft a timeline to steer the course of your dissertation work: research and record all requirements and deadlines; work backward from your dissertation deadline and assemble your task lists; and organize your tasks into a timeline.

Don’t forget to include ample time for editing and proofreading your dissertation . And if you are interested in any help from us, you can try a sample of our services for free . Best of luck in writing your dissertation!

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  • How to Write a Research Proposal | Examples & Templates

How to Write a Research Proposal | Examples & Templates

Published on October 12, 2022 by Shona McCombes and Tegan George. Revised on November 21, 2023.

Structure of a research proposal

A research proposal describes what you will investigate, why it’s important, and how you will conduct your research.

The format of a research proposal varies between fields, but most proposals will contain at least these elements:


Literature review.

  • Research design

Reference list

While the sections may vary, the overall objective is always the same. A research proposal serves as a blueprint and guide for your research plan, helping you get organized and feel confident in the path forward you choose to take.

Table of contents

Research proposal purpose, research proposal examples, research design and methods, contribution to knowledge, research schedule, other interesting articles, frequently asked questions about research proposals.

Academics often have to write research proposals to get funding for their projects. As a student, you might have to write a research proposal as part of a grad school application , or prior to starting your thesis or dissertation .

In addition to helping you figure out what your research can look like, a proposal can also serve to demonstrate why your project is worth pursuing to a funder, educational institution, or supervisor.

Research proposal length

The length of a research proposal can vary quite a bit. A bachelor’s or master’s thesis proposal can be just a few pages, while proposals for PhD dissertations or research funding are usually much longer and more detailed. Your supervisor can help you determine the best length for your work.

One trick to get started is to think of your proposal’s structure as a shorter version of your thesis or dissertation , only without the results , conclusion and discussion sections.

Download our research proposal template

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See an example

example of timetable in research plan

Writing a research proposal can be quite challenging, but a good starting point could be to look at some examples. We’ve included a few for you below.

  • Example research proposal #1: “A Conceptual Framework for Scheduling Constraint Management”
  • Example research proposal #2: “Medical Students as Mediators of Change in Tobacco Use”

Like your dissertation or thesis, the proposal will usually have a title page that includes:

  • The proposed title of your project
  • Your supervisor’s name
  • Your institution and department

The first part of your proposal is the initial pitch for your project. Make sure it succinctly explains what you want to do and why.

Your introduction should:

  • Introduce your topic
  • Give necessary background and context
  • Outline your  problem statement  and research questions

To guide your introduction , include information about:

  • Who could have an interest in the topic (e.g., scientists, policymakers)
  • How much is already known about the topic
  • What is missing from this current knowledge
  • What new insights your research will contribute
  • Why you believe this research is worth doing

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As you get started, it’s important to demonstrate that you’re familiar with the most important research on your topic. A strong literature review  shows your reader that your project has a solid foundation in existing knowledge or theory. It also shows that you’re not simply repeating what other people have already done or said, but rather using existing research as a jumping-off point for your own.

In this section, share exactly how your project will contribute to ongoing conversations in the field by:

  • Comparing and contrasting the main theories, methods, and debates
  • Examining the strengths and weaknesses of different approaches
  • Explaining how will you build on, challenge, or synthesize prior scholarship

Following the literature review, restate your main  objectives . This brings the focus back to your own project. Next, your research design or methodology section will describe your overall approach, and the practical steps you will take to answer your research questions.

To finish your proposal on a strong note, explore the potential implications of your research for your field. Emphasize again what you aim to contribute and why it matters.

For example, your results might have implications for:

  • Improving best practices
  • Informing policymaking decisions
  • Strengthening a theory or model
  • Challenging popular or scientific beliefs
  • Creating a basis for future research

Last but not least, your research proposal must include correct citations for every source you have used, compiled in a reference list . To create citations quickly and easily, you can use our free APA citation generator .

Some institutions or funders require a detailed timeline of the project, asking you to forecast what you will do at each stage and how long it may take. While not always required, be sure to check the requirements of your project.

Here’s an example schedule to help you get started. You can also download a template at the button below.

Download our research schedule template

If you are applying for research funding, chances are you will have to include a detailed budget. This shows your estimates of how much each part of your project will cost.

Make sure to check what type of costs the funding body will agree to cover. For each item, include:

  • Cost : exactly how much money do you need?
  • Justification : why is this cost necessary to complete the research?
  • Source : how did you calculate the amount?

To determine your budget, think about:

  • Travel costs : do you need to go somewhere to collect your data? How will you get there, and how much time will you need? What will you do there (e.g., interviews, archival research)?
  • Materials : do you need access to any tools or technologies?
  • Help : do you need to hire any research assistants for the project? What will they do, and how much will you pay them?

If you want to know more about the research process , methodology , research bias , or statistics , make sure to check out some of our other articles with explanations and examples.


  • Sampling methods
  • Simple random sampling
  • Stratified sampling
  • Cluster sampling
  • Likert scales
  • Reproducibility


  • Null hypothesis
  • Statistical power
  • Probability distribution
  • Effect size
  • Poisson distribution

Research bias

  • Optimism bias
  • Cognitive bias
  • Implicit bias
  • Hawthorne effect
  • Anchoring bias
  • Explicit bias

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 …

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.

A PhD, which is short for philosophiae doctor (doctor of philosophy in Latin), is the highest university degree that can be obtained. In a PhD, students spend 3–5 years writing a dissertation , which aims to make a significant, original contribution to current knowledge.

A PhD is intended to prepare students for a career as a researcher, whether that be in academia, the public sector, or the private sector.

A master’s is a 1- or 2-year graduate degree that can prepare you for a variety of careers.

All master’s involve graduate-level coursework. Some are research-intensive and intend to prepare students for further study in a PhD; these usually require their students to write a master’s thesis . Others focus on professional training for a specific career.

Critical thinking refers to the ability to evaluate information and to be aware of biases or assumptions, including your own.

Like information literacy , it involves evaluating arguments, identifying and solving problems in an objective and systematic way, and clearly communicating your ideas.

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.

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Planning your PhD research: A 3-year PhD timeline example

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Planning out a PhD trajectory can be overwhelming. Example PhD timelines can make the task easier and inspire. The following PhD timeline example describes the process and milestones of completing a PhD within 3 years.

Elements to include in a 3-year PhD timeline

The example scenario: completing a phd in 3 years, example: planning year 1 of a 3-year phd, example: planning year 2 of a 3-year phd, example: planning year 3 of a 3-year phd, example of a 3 year phd gantt chart timeline, final reflection.

Every successful PhD project begins with a proper plan. Even if there is a high chance that not everything will work out as planned. Having a well-established timeline will keep your work on track.

What to include in a 3-year PhD timeline depends on the unique characteristics of a PhD project, specific university requirements, agreements with the supervisor/s and the PhD student’s career ambitions.

For instance, some PhD students write a monograph while others complete a PhD based on several journal publications. Both monographs and cumulative dissertations have advantages and disadvantages , and not all universities allow both formats. The thesis type influences the PhD timeline.

Furthermore, PhD students ideally engage in several different activities throughout a PhD trajectory, which link to their career objectives. Regardless of whether they want to pursue a career within or outside of academia. PhD students should create an all-round profile to increase their future chances in the labour market. Think, for example, of activities such as organising a seminar, engaging in public outreach or showcasing leadership in a small grant application.

The most common elements included in a 3-year PhD timeline are the following:

  • Data collection (fieldwork, experiments, etc.)
  • Data analysis
  • Writing of different chapters, or a plan for journal publication
  • Conferences
  • Additional activities

The whole process is described in more detail in my post on how to develop an awesome PhD timeline step-by-step .

Many (starting) PhD students look for examples of how to plan a PhD in 3 years. Therefore, let’s look at an example scenario of a fictional PhD student. Let’s call her Maria.

Maria is doing a PhD in Social Sciences at a university where it is customary to write a cumulative dissertation, meaning a PhD thesis based on journal publications. Maria’s university regulations require her to write four articles as part of her PhD. In order to graduate, one article has to be published in an international peer-reviewed journal. The other three have to be submitted.

Furthermore, Maria’s cumulative dissertation needs an introduction and conclusion chapter which frame the four individual journal articles, which form the thesis chapters.

In order to complete her PhD programme, Maria also needs to complete coursework and earn 15 credits, or ECTS in her case.

Maria likes the idea of doing a postdoc after her graduation. However, she is aware that the academic job market is tough and therefore wants to keep her options open. She could, for instance, imagine to work for a community or non-profit organisation. Therefore, she wants to place emphasis on collaborating with a community organisation during her PhD.

You may also like: Creating awesome Gantt charts for your PhD timeline

Most PhD students start their first year with a rough idea, but not a well-worked out plan and timeline. Therefore, they usually begin with working on a more elaborate research proposal in the first months of their PhD. This is also the case for our example PhD student Maria.

  • Months 1-4: Maria works on a detailed research proposal, defines her research methodology and breaks down her thesis into concrete tasks.
  • Month 5 : Maria follows a short intensive course in academic writing to improve her writing skills.
  • Months 5-10: Maria works on her first journal paper, which is based on an extensive literature review of her research topic. At the end of Month 10, she submits the manuscript. At the same time, she follows a course connected to her research topic.
  • Months 11-12: Maria does her data collection.

example of timetable in research plan

Maria completed her first round of data collection according to plan, and starts the second year of her PhD with a lot of material. In her second year, she will focus on turning this data into two journal articles.

  • Months 1-2: Maria works on her data analysis.
  • Months 3-7: Maria works on her second journal paper.
  • Month 7: Maria attends her first conference, and presents the results of her literature-review paper.
  • Month 8: Maria received ‘major revisions’ on her first manuscript submission, and implements the changes in Month 8 before resubmitting her first journal paper for publication.
  • Month 9: Maria follows a course on research valorisation to learn strategies to increase the societal impact of her thesis.
  • Months 9-12: Maria works on her third journal paper. She uses the same data that she collected for the previous paper, which is why she is able to complete the third manuscript a bit faster than the previous one.

example of timetable in research plan

Time flies, and Maria finds herself in the last year of her PhD. There is still a lot of work to be done, but she sticks to the plan and does her best to complete her PhD.

  • Month 1: Maria starts a second round of data collection, this time in collaboration with a community organisation. Together, they develop and host several focus groups with Maria’s target audience.
  • Month 2: Maria starts to analyse the material of the focus group and develops the argumentation for her fourth journal paper.
  • Month 3: Maria presents the results of her second journal paper at an international conference. Furthermore, she helps out her supervisor with a grant application. They apply for funding to run a small project that is thematically connected to her PhD.
  • Months 4-9: Maria writes her fourth and final journal article that is required for her PhD.
  • Month 10: Maria writes her thesis introduction .
  • Month 11: Maria works on her thesis conclusion.
  • Month 12 : Maria works on the final edits and proof-reading of her thesis before submitting it.

example of timetable in research plan

Combining the 3-year planning for our example PhD student Maria, it results in the following PhD timeline:

example of timetable in research plan

Creating these PhD timelines, also called Gantt charts, is easy. You can find instructions and templates here.

Completing a PhD in 3 years is not an easy task. The example of our fictional PhD student Maria shows how packed her timeline is, and how little time there is for things to go wrong.

In fact, in real life, many PhD students spend four years full-time to complete a PhD based on four papers, instead of three. Some extend their studies even longer.

Furthermore, plan in some time for thesis editing, which is a legitimate practice and can bring your writing to the next level. Finding a reputable thesis editor can be challenging, so make sure you make an informed choice.

Finishing a PhD in 3 years is not impossible, but it surely is not easy. So be kind to yourself if things don’t work out entirely as planned, and make use of all the help you can get.

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example of timetable in research plan

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Developing a Research Plan and Timeline (English III Research)

Introduction, narrowing your topic, gathering sources, creating a working bibliography, creating your timeline.

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  • A Research Guide
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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

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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 NIAID will accept your application.

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


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Top 10 Research Plan Templates with Samples and Examples

Top 10 Research Plan Templates with Samples and Examples

Mohammed Sameer


"Research is creating new knowledge."- Neil Armstrong

When we dwell on what we enjoy most about our work — what excites us, what inspires us, what sparks the next big "a-ha" moment — we seldom consider processes or documentation.

But when we reflect on what frustrates us about our work—"next steps" that get delayed, projects that feel unfocused, minor details that obstruct our plans—we frequently blame processes and documentation.

To figure a way out of the dilemma, consider using a research plan to structure your work. 

Even if you don't use a research plan on a regular basis or are unaware of what it means, it can help your next project run more smoothly.

This blog shows you how to write a research plan in a jiffy (with templates) that can save you hours of work, on balance. 

A research plan template is a concise reference point for your project's timeline, goals, key players, and objectives.

Research plan templates provide an overview of the initiative and serve as a project kick-off document. Its beauty lies in its ability to keep your team on track, to ensure that overarching goals are well-defined and agreed upon, and to ensure that the research meets those goals.

Let's explore our top 10 research plan templates .

Template 1: Business Research Plan PPT Template

Framing a successful business research plan involves dealing with many headaches. A well-structured PPT Template is the answer in all cases. SlideTeam presents a business research plan design that explains project context and objectives, a plan of action, and a timeline to track progress. Download now.

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Template 2: Business Marketing Research Plan PPT Framework

Here’s a six-step business marketing research plan that every company needs. It helps you:

  • Know your Business
  • Identify your Target Market
  • Analyze Competitors
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Business Marketing Plan Research Implement Results PPT Template

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Template 3: Timeframe for Business Research Plan

Construct a relevant timeframe for your business research plan using this illustrative template. It has multiple stages, including Industry Profiling, Market Assessment, Customer Persona, and Market Entry Strategies. Each stage is allotted a time frame (in weeks) to ensure your research plan is progressing. Get it now.

Timeframe for Business Research Plan Services PPT Template

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Template 4: Marketing Research Plan PPT Design

Using our template, perform an in-depth examination of how your product or service will perform in a specified area. It facilitates an analysis of the market and an assessment of the demand for your product or service. With the help of the template, you can even get to evaluate competitors. Get it now.

Marketing Research Plan PPT Template

Template 5: Customer Research Plan PPT Template

Building a customer research plan from scratch will seem like a mountain to climb. With this PPT Template, you can avoid this struggle. It has five detailed steps that encompass the core of a customer research plan:

  • Identify the Problem
  • Develop the Research Plan
  • Conduct Research
  • Analyze and Report Findings
  • Take Action in terms of Budget, Personnel, etc.

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Customer Research Process with Plan PPT Template

Template 6: Developing the Research Plan Timeline PPT Template

Developing the research plan timeline is a methodical process that necessitates keen attention and effort. Our template makes it easy. From developing the research plan, collecting information, presenting findings, and analyzing information, our template covers every conceivable scenario. Get it now.

Developing The Research Plan Timeline Powerpoint Presentation Templates

Template 7: Our Market Research Plan PPT Template

Present your organization’s month-wise activities concerning the market research plan. It is designed to foster simplicity and highlights how your market research activities are performing against set targets. You can assign colors to individual activities, which eliminates the risk of duplicacy. Grab it now.

Our Market Research Plan PowerPoint Slide Template

Template 8: Business Marketing Research Plan PPT Template

Business marketing research plans can be troublesome to prepare. With our predesigned PPT Template, you can breathe easy knowing everything concerning your research plan is in place. It helps you build a robust infrastructure of your research plan and reevaluate every critical piece to ensure ideal results. Get it now.

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Template 9: Shopper Journey Need Desire Research Plan

This predesigned PowerPoint Presentation helps you prepare an inclusive flowchart encompassing the shoppers’ journey giving special attention to their needs and desires. It also emphasizes the importance of loyalty and experience throughout the journey of these shoppers. This template offers you insights you need to build your research plan. Download it now.

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Template 10: Market Research Business Plan Diagram

This four-phase market research business plan is a must-have for every enterprise. This is a four-stage process: Exploration, Design and Development, Planning, and Implementation. Each phase has a space for writing a brief where you can highlight points for your audience. The goal of this template is to allow you to conduct market research and make it easier to comprehend the viability of your plans. Download now.

Market Research Business Plan Diagram PPT Template

Summing It Up

Your user research plan is a blueprint for your research project. It's the most straightforward way to set expectations, solicit feedback, and generate enthusiasm and support for your research.

A solid research plan can go a long way toward ensuring a solid research project, whether it actively guides your interviews or provides an active structure for organizing your thoughts.

FAQs on Research Plan Templates

What is a research plan.

A research plan is a framework that outlines your approach to your topic. A written outline, a narrative, a visual/concept map, or a timeline are all examples of plans. It is a living document that evolves as you conduct your research.

Components of a research plan:

  • Research conceptualization - presents your research question.
  • Research methodology - describes how you intend to approach the research question.
  • Literature review, critical evaluation, and synthesis - a methodical approach to locating, reviewing, and evaluating relevant work (texts, exhibitions, critiques, etc.)
  • Communication - directed at a specific audience, demonstrating evidence of your investigation

How do you write a research plan?

Steps to writing a research plan:

  • Define the project's goal
  • Determine individual objectives
  • Choose a research method
  • Organize participants and assign tasks
  • Create a project synopsis
  • Make a realistic timetable
  • Determine how you will present your findings

What are the 5 elements of research?

The systematic investigation of discovering new knowledge or contributing to generalized knowledge is known as research. It adheres to a specific structure that is specified in the research design. For research to be successful, elements that aid in problem-solving must be included. Here are some examples of good research design elements that produce excellent results:

  • Statement of purpose
  • Methods of data collection
  • Techniques for analyzing research data
  • Methodologies of research
  • Research difficulties
  • Prerequisites for conducting research
  • The appropriate time for the research study
  • Analysis measurement

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

A research proposal is a medium by which a researcher introduces the research problem and communicates the need for research. It is imperative in the application process. It provides a snapshot of the questions that the researcher hopes to answer using the research. It specifies the researcher's methodology during the research process.

On the other hand, a research report is the culmination of the research effort. It's an excellent way to explain the research and its findings to a group of people. It is the result of a study conducted during the research process.

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What is UX Research: The Ultimate Guide for UX Researchers

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How to create a UX research plan (examples, tactics, and 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 —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.

While the UX research plan should be based on strategy, it’s not the same thing. A 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. In short, a strategy is a guide, but a plan is what drives action.

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.

example of timetable in research plan

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 stakeholders to 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 data?
  • 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’s 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.

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. The UX research strategy, on the other hand, outlines the high-level goals, expectations, and demographics of the discovery.

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.

Generative Research: Definition, Methods, and Examples

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Timeline Templates

11+ research timeline templates.

When it comes to making a dissertation, or a thesis, it means spending lots of time doing research, looking through case study after case study, and going to school. With all these tasks, you need to plan them all out in a timeline. A research timeline template is a reliable source for any professionals and students who are at the task of writing a research. As years go by, making research becomes easy with the help of the newest innovation under Plan Project Timeline Templates that is accessible online. Here, setting your sample plans for the research paper is well outlined and a manageable way to accomplish where users can have an idea on how to create a perfect research template equipped with useful tools. With our templates, you will be able to make a timeline for your research. We have a variety of samples whether it’s for 3-year research or one for a master’s degree, all of which can help you get the job done!

example of timetable in research plan

Simple Research Timeline Template

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Sample Research Timeline Template

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Research Proposal Timeline Gantt Chart Template

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Free Research Project Schedule Timeline Template

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Free Research Proposal 3 Year Case Study Timeline Template

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Free Qualitative Research Timeline Visualizing Template

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Free Action Research Timetable Timeline Template

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How to Make Research Timeline Plan

What are involved in research timeline plan.

  • Setting up the main objectives and the research basic template questions is the primary thing to start so you will know what you must do and how you can do it for the research paper you have.
  • The timeline layout you will have can confirm whether the research topic and method you will use are correct. There is always a factual basis for each research question and the means to solve must be viable too.
  • The professional schedule that will be used, must be following the methodology that will be applied in the research paper.

Tips for Using Research Timeline Template

  • The free templates must be following the overview of the scope and duration of the research process.
  • Have the sample template that is suitable for the research paper you are working on, as every research has its timetable to follow
  • Make sure that all that is written in the timeline in PDF can be worked on based on the time given and can be completed by the researchers to meet their deadline.

Here’s How We Can Help

More in timeline templates, editable research flowchart template, research poster template for keynote, education research agenda template, research agenda template, legal research methodology ppt template, medical research template, research template, qualitative research template, psychology research template, college research template.

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example of timetable in research plan

  • Developing a Research Question

by acburton | Mar 22, 2024 | Resources for Students , Writing Resources

Selecting your research question and creating a clear goal and structure for your writing can be challenging – whether you are doing it for the first time or if you’ve done it many times before. It can be especially difficult when your research question starts to look and feel a little different somewhere between your first and final draft. Don’t panic! It’s normal for your research question to change a little (or even quite a bit) as you move through and engage with the writing process. Anticipating this can remind you to stay on track while you work and that it’ll be okay even if the literature takes you in a different direction.

What Makes an Effective Research Question?

The most effective research question will usually be a critical thinking question and should use “how” or “why” to ensure it can move beyond a yes/no or one-word type of answer. Consider how your research question can aim to reveal something new, fill in a gap, even if small, and contribute to the field in a meaningful way; How might the proposed project move knowledge forward about a particular place or process? This should be specific and achievable!

The CEWC’s Grad Writing Consultant Tariq says, “I definitely concentrated on those aspects of what I saw in the field where I believed there was an opportunity to move the discipline forward.”

General Tips

Do your research.

Utilize the librarians at your university and take the time to research your topic first. Try looking at very general sources to get an idea of what could be interesting to you before you move to more academic articles that support your rough idea of the topic. It is important that research is grounded in what you see or experience regarding the topic you have chosen and what is already known in the literature. Spend time researching articles, books, etc. that supports your thesis. Once you have a number of sources that you know support what you want to write about, formulate a research question that serves as the interrogative form of your thesis statement.

Grad Writing Consultant Deni advises, “Delineate your intervention in the literature (i.e., be strategic about the literature you discuss and clear about your contributions to it).”

Start Broadly…. then Narrow Your Topic Down to Something Manageable

When brainstorming your research question, let your mind veer toward connections or associations that you might have already considered or that seem to make sense and consider if new research terms, language or concepts come to mind that may be interesting or exciting for you as a researcher. Sometimes testing out a research question while doing some preliminary researching is also useful to see if the language you are using or the direction you are heading toward is fruitful when trying to search strategically in academic databases. Be prepared to focus on a specific area of a broad topic.

Writing Consultant Jessie recommends outlining: “I think some rough outlining with a research question in mind can be helpful for me. I’ll have a research question and maybe a working thesis that I feel may be my claim to the research question based on some preliminary materials, brainstorming, etc.” — Jessie, CEWC Writing Consultant

Try an Exercise

In the earliest phase of brainstorming, try an exercise suggested by CEWC Writing Specialist, Percival! While it is normally used in classroom or workshop settings, this exercise can easily be modified for someone working alone. The flow of the activity, if done within a group setting, is 1) someone starts with an idea, 2) three other people share their idea, and 3) the starting person picks two of these new ideas they like best and combines their original idea with those. The activity then begins again with the idea that was not chosen. The solo version of this exercise substitutes a ‘word bank,’ created using words, topics, or ideas similar to your broad, overarching theme. Pick two words or phrases from your word bank, combine it with your original idea or topic, and ‘start again’ with two different words. This serves as a replacement for different people’s suggestions. Ideas for your ‘word bank’ can range from vague prompts about mapping or webbing (e.g., where your topic falls within the discipline and others like it), to more specific concepts that come from tracing the history of an idea (its past, present, future) or mapping the idea’s related ideas, influences, etc. Care for a physics analogy? There is a particle (your topic) that you can describe, a wave that the particle traces, and a field that the particle is mapped on.

Get Feedback and Affirm Your Confidence!

Creating a few different versions of your research question (they may be the same topic/issue/theme or differ slightly) can be useful during this process. Sharing these with trusted friends, colleagues, mentors, (or tutors!) and having conversations about your questions and ideas with other people can help you decide which version you may feel most confident or interested in. Ask colleagues and mentors to share their research questions with you to get a lot of examples. Once you have done the work of developing an effective research question, do not forget to affirm your confidence! Based on your working thesis, think about how you might organize your chapters or paragraphs and what resources you have for supporting this structure and organization. This can help boost your confidence that the research question you have created is effective and fruitful.

Be Open to Change

Remember, your research question may change from your first to final draft. For questions along the way, make an appointment with the Writing Center. We are here to help you develop an effective and engaging research question and build the foundation for a solid research paper!

Example 1: In my field developing a research question involves navigating the relationship between 1) what one sees/experiences at their field site and 2) what is already known in the literature. During my preliminary research, I found that the financial value of land was often a matter of precisely these cultural factors. So, my research question ended up being: How do the social and material qualities of land entangle with processes of financialization in the city of Lahore. Regarding point #1, this question was absolutely informed by what I saw in the field. But regarding point #2, the question was also heavily shaped by the literature. – Tariq

Example 2: A research question should not be a yes/no question like “Is pollution bad?”; but an open-ended question where the answer has to be supported with reasons and explanation. The question also has to be narrowed down to a specific topic—using the same example as before—”Is pollution bad?” can be revised to “How does pollution affect people?” I would encourage students to be more specific then; e.g., what area of pollution do you want to talk about: water, air, plastic, climate change… what type of people or demographic can we focus on? …how does this affect marginalized communities, minorities, or specific areas in California? After researching and deciding on a focus, your question might sound something like: How does government policy affect water pollution and how does it affect the marginalized communities in the state of California? -Janella

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Details of $1.2 Trillion Spending Bill Emerge as Partial Shutdown Looms

Tucked inside a massive measure to fund the government through the fall are several initiatives sought by members of both parties. Aides are still writing the legislative language.

example of timetable in research plan

By Catie Edmondson

Reporting from Capitol Hill

Congressional aides raced on Tuesday to draw up the text of a bipartisan $1.2 trillion spending deal to fund the government through September.

While President Biden, Republicans and Democrats have all endorsed the agreement, they had yet to release its details and it was not clear whether Congress would be able to complete action on it in time to avert a brief partial government shutdown over the weekend.

Still, lawmakers in both parties were already touting what they would get out of the legislation, which wraps six spending measures into one huge package.

“The final product is something that we were able to achieve a lot of key provisions and wins and a move in the direction that we want, even with our tiny, historically small majority,” Speaker Mike Johnson said on Wednesday.

In a closed-door meeting with Republicans on Tuesday morning, Mr. Johnson cited the inclusion of provisions his party wanted, including funding for additional detention beds run by Immigration and Customs Enforcement and cutting off aid to the main United Nations agency that provides aid to Palestinians.

Democrats secured a long-sought deal to create 12,000 new special visas for Afghans who had worked for the United States in Afghanistan; a one-year reauthorization of PEPFAR, the U.S. government’s effort to address H.I.V. globally; and funding boosts for federal child care and education programs.

Here’s a look at what we know so far about the legislation, which would fund the Pentagon, the Department of Homeland Security, the State Department and health agencies.

It boosts funding for immigration detention beds.

The legislation funds roughly 8,000 more beds than last year’s bill, a win House Republicans have touted. Congress funded 34,000 beds through the fall of 2023, but under the stopgap measure currently funding the department, the number of beds rose to about 42,000. Negotiators agreed to keep funding flowing to support that higher number.

The bill would bar funding for the main aid agency for Palestinians.

The legislation would bar funding from going to UNRWA , the main U.N. agency that provides aid to Palestinians in Gaza, through March 2025, creating a shortfall of hundreds of millions of dollars for the agency.

It extends a pause in funding that the White House and lawmakers from both major U.S. parties supported after Israel accused at least 12 UNRWA employees in January of participating in the Oct. 7 attack on southern Israel led by Hamas.

It would boost funding for child care and health research.

In a closed-door meeting, Representative Rosa DeLauro of Connecticut, the top Democrat on the Appropriations Committee, told lawmakers that Democrats had won spending increases for federal child care and education programs, including Head Start. She also touted increases to funding for cancer and Alzheimer’s research, and for the federal suicide hotline, according to a person familiar with her presentation.

It includes a one-year reauthorization of PEPFAR, which helps bankroll global efforts to fight the spread of AIDS. Congress had been gridlocked on reauthorizing the program, parts of which expired in the fall, amid concerns among Republicans that some of the health organizations that fight AIDS also provide abortion services.

Democrats also staved off the inclusion of Republican efforts to slash funding for Title I, a program run by the Education Department to support low-income students and schools.

It includes a series of conservative G.O.P. policy mandates.

House Republicans also won the inclusion of several provisions aimed at addressing conservative cultural grievances. For instance, the bill would bar U.S. diplomatic facilities from flying any flag other than the American one overhead — an attempt to prevent embassies and other official buildings from flying gay or transgender pride flags. It also contains a prohibition on a federal ban on gas stoves, an idea the Biden administration has said it is not pursuing but which prompted outrage among Republicans when a commissioner of the Consumer Product Safety Commission suggested could be ripe for future regulatory action.

The Hyde Amendment, a measure banning federal funding for abortion that was first included in spending legislation in 1976 and has been renewed virtually every year since, also is in the bill. But Democrats blocked Republicans from imposing any other anti-abortion measures.

The legislation cuts foreign aid.

The funding levels adhere to the debt limit and spending deal negotiated last year by President Biden and the speaker at the time, Kevin McCarthy, keeping spending on domestic programs essentially flat — even as funding for veterans’ programs continues to grow and military spending increases slightly.

That translated to cuts in other areas, including to foreign aid.

In the closed-door meeting, Mr. Johnson said that Republicans had secured a 6 percent cut to foreign aid programs. It was not immediately clear which programs would bear the brunt.

Catie Edmondson covers Congress for The Times. More about Catie Edmondson

A Divided Congress: Latest News and Analysis

Ukraine Aid: Speaker Mike Johnson has expressed a personal desire to send aid to Ukraine despite voting against it repeatedly. Now, he appears to be in search of the least politically damaging way to do it .

Spending Bill: A  bipartisan spending package  approved by Congress ended the prospect of a government shutdown. But the legislation also represented a major defeat for ultraconservatives in the House, who immediately turned on Johnson .

A Dwindling Majority: Representative Mike Gallagher, Republican of Wisconsin, announced that he would resign from Congress months earlier than expected on April 19, bringing the already minuscule G.O.P. majority down to a lonely one vote .

An Invite for Netanyahu: Johnson said that he planned to invite Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel to address Congress, moving to welcome a leader who has become a flashpoint for partisan disagreement  over the war in Gaza.

TikTok Ban: After a bill that would force TikTok’s Chinese parent company to sell the app or face a nationwide ban sailed through the House  at breakneck speed, its progress has slowed in the Senate .


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    We are here to help you develop an effective and engaging research question and build the foundation for a solid research paper! Examples. Example 1: In my field developing a research question involves navigating the relationship between 1) what one sees/experiences at their field site and 2) what is already known in the literature. During

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    March 20, 2024, 3:21 p.m. ET. Congressional aides raced on Tuesday to draw up the text of a bipartisan $1.2 trillion spending deal to fund the government through September. While President Biden ...