In this series of “Spotlight on…” posts, we’ll be delving into the detail of the descriptors in Vitae‘s Researcher Development Framework (RDF). Each one of the sixty-three descriptors is a characteristic of an excellent researcher, and we’ll be looking at how UoB PGRs can develop these characteristics.
Effective project planning and delivery involves a wide range of skills and strategies which underpin a multitude of research activities. In research, projects can vary from small-scale activities (such as a pilot study or organising a research-related event) to very large-scale, multi-team endeavours (such as clinical trials). While smaller projects can be successfully delivered with ad hoc planning, larger projects require a more rigorous approach.
The RDF puts project planning and delivery in domain C (research governance and organisation) and sub-domain C2 (research management) and the five phases of development for this descriptor are:
- Applies effective project management through the setting of research goals, intermediate milestones and prioritisation of activities; Acts on decisions agreed with supervisor/line manager and delivers results.
- Independently defines a manageable research project; Understands project management cycles and is able to draw on a range of project management techniques and tools; Allows for wider public access to and long-term preservation of research information/findings; Manages problems and conflict.
- Defines large research projects, draws up long-term plans for research; Uses range of project management strategies; Clarifies priorities; sets expectations,keeps project on track.
- – 5. Effectively manages multiple research projects and both the research agenda and bureaucracy for various projects; Able to take unpopular but evidence-based appropriate decisions.
Note that this descriptor is also closely related to B2.1 Preparation and prioritisation.
As PGRs, we are looking to develop our project planning and delivery through phases 1 and 2, but in this descriptor that already encompasses a lot!
- We have touched on setting effective goals in the context of writing before, but the principles of SMART goal-setting discussed there are transferable to all goals.
- We have also discussed various tools and strategies you can use to identify milestones and prioritise your work, such as mind maps, visualisations, Gantt charts and to-do lists. All of these tools will (hopefully!) help you deliver results as you progress towards your overall research goals.
- A key tool for ensuring successful delivery of your project is risk management.
- For a more in-depth understanding of project management techniques and how they can be applied in the research context, there is an online Canvas module.
- Ensuring that there is wider public access to and long-term preservation of your research outputs requires you to brush up your knowledge and activity around publication and research data management and sharing. For the latter, particularly if you are handling sensitive data, you can find out more via the CANVAS course and Library Services’ information pages.
Ultimately, don’t forget: Proper Planning and Preparation Prevents Poor Performance.
How have you applied project management techniques to your research? Which aspects of project planning would you like to know more about?