A research plan can be used to help you document and organize your thinking on your research objective and planned activities. It also can be used to support conversation with your mentor(s), and as a “self-check” so you can monitor your progress towards your self-identified goals, and adjust your use of resources (e.g., your time) as needed. A research plan may also assist you in recognizing (and taking advantage of) new opportunities that better address your long term goals, and resisting (and turning down) activities that, while interesting, do not meaningfully address the goals you have identified as most important to you. Your research plan should outline the line of research that is most important to you, and would typically include 4-7 projects over a 5 year span. Also, for the purposes of this activity, just outline research activities, do not list teaching and service activities.
The research plan should provide enough information that you can use it to assist in planning, but not so much information that it is hard for you to see the relationship among items. There is no “official” length, but it would seem to be appropriate to have a document that is 2-3 pages in length. For your information, it is becoming more common to be asked to include a five-year research plan as part of the job application process at R-1 institutions.
A research plan should address the following elements. I have provided suggested lengths for the different section.
Introduction and Rationale (1 page)
- What is your goal in the next 5 years? (1-2 sentences)
- should be interesting and ambitious but achievable
- What is the challenge you will address ? (1 paragraph)
- should be big enough to be of interest to others in your field
- What is known about the challenge? (1 paragraph)
- both potential challenges and solutions
- What do we need to know to effectively address the challenge? (1 paragraph)
- basic research?
- applied research?
Research Plan (2 pages)
- How could research over a five-year period result in meaningful progress to address the problem?
- For each project, list
- Research question(s)
- relationships to previous and future research
- Design, participants, methods, independent variable, dependent variable,
- Supports needed
- What lab resources (students? technology? release time? travel? ) will be needed, how will this be paid for
- What grants will be written?
- What publications will be written as a result of this work?
- At what conferences will this work be presented?
- Research question(s)
Timeline Summary (1 page)
- A summary showing when and how projects will be prepared, conducted, and disseminated