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How to Develop a Work Project Plan
Developing a work plan helps to articulate the steps required for achieving a goal. These plans help simplify the process when things get too complicated. Many companies use work project plans, and these guidelines explain how to create them.
What Is a Work Project Plan?
A project plan is a document that represents and specifies the goals, objectives and tactics of a program or project, as well as its tasks, leading activities, timing, sequencing and who will be responsible for everything. It sets demonstrable objectives with measurable objectives that are possible to be transformed into concrete actions. When team collaboration is effective, a work plan project document can act as a tool for guidance to help companies realize outcomes. Many companies use project plan templates to help them develop their work project plans from beginning to end.
Create an Outline
The work project plan should consist of an outline that’s broken down into goals, strategies, objectives and tactics. In this way, you’ll be able to better determine the overall outcome for success. Your goal should state the mission of your project. When outlining your strategies, you should focus on your goals and what you need to achieve them. Your objectives tie into your strategies in the form of deliverables. For example, if you want to make your business more profitable, an objective could be reducing marketing costs, and the strategy for that could be achieving a reduction of 25 percent per acquisition. The tactics you add to your outline are the checklists you’re using to achieve your goals, strategies and objectives.
Define Your Goals
Create a clear and concise definition of your goals so that you can develop your work plan project around specific goals. Defining your goals as narrowly as possible will help you develop an understanding of your overall needs. In doing so, you’ll ensure that deadlines will met, the project will stay on track, there will be enough resources available and the task will be completed. You’ll see more success if you keep your work project plan organized, plan it around your team and make sure it’s not designed solely around the project’s process.
Measure Your Team’s Progress
When you’re working on developing a work project plan, you need to remember to measure your team’s progress. You’ll be responsible for looking at the work they’ve accomplished, as well as what they still need to do to reach their goals. However, it is important to note that looking at too much information will muddle the results. So don’t focus too much on the results. Instead, focus on the project itself.
Planning Activities and Resource Management
Utilize planning worksheets to develop step-by-step activities and tasks for your team to follow throughout the project. Use an outline or template to create these worksheets, like a health and safety plan template or a campaign plan template. Assign specific activities to team members to help meet the objectives of your work project plan. Also look at how you’re managing your resources. For example, if you’re working on a project that calls for 25 people and your team currently consists of 15, you’ll need to recruit temporary workers (perhaps using a recruitment plan template) or be strategic with how the work is assigned to each member of your team.
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- Volume 34, Issue 1
- Stages in the development of a research project: putting the idea together
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- Roger G Eston ,
- Ann V Rowlands
- School of Sport, Health and Exercise Sciences, University of Wales, Bangor LL57 2EN, Wales, United Kingdom
- Correspondence to: Dr R G Eston.
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The purpose of this paper is to provide an overview of the process and stages involved in developing a research idea from its inception to realisation. It is not designed to be an all encompassing summary of the research process. It fprovides a brief guide to the most common sequence of stages involved in the development of a research idea into a viable research proposal. Useful references for further reading on important issues that are beyond the scope of this article are also provided.
Familiarity with the topic
Reviewing the literature.
Most literature searches begin with one of the many electronic databases available, using the author's name or a combination of carefully selected keywords. Individual databases are limited as to which journals are listed. Within sports and exercise science, Sports Discus and Medline are widely used. To avoid missing pertinent articles, it is suggested that a number of electronic databases are searched. Medline covers biomedically orientated journals, Sports Discus covers sport and exercise orientated sources, and the Science Citation Index covers scientific articles in general. In addition, the National Sports Medicine Institute has recently released the Sports Medicine and Related Topics (SMART) database of journal articles, which covers all aspects of sports and exercise science and medicine from 1985. Addresses for these databases on the internet are: for Medline, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/PubMed/medline.html; for the Science Citation Index (United Kingdom higher education institutions only), http://www.bids.ac.uk/; for SMART, http://smart.nsmi.org.uk .
Most universities offering courses in sports and exercise science courses have access to Sports Discus available on a centrally accessed CD-ROM. Further relevant papers may be obtained by studying their reference lists. Papers that provide a critical review of the topic are also very useful. Many journals such as Sports Medicine specialise in reviews, although these can also be found in other mainstream journals such as the British Journal of Sports Medicine, Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise , and Journal of Sports Sciences . If the library does not hold a particular journal, it should be possible to obtain issues through the university's interlibrary loan service, although this is expensive and may limit the number of papers obtained.
When writing a review paper or conducting a more sophisticated empirically based review, such as a meta-analysis, it is important to endeavour to obtain all papers asking a given research question, 2 whether they are published or not. Although this may not be practically possible, the researcher should be careful not to select only those papers that are easiest to obtain as this may bias the review. Hence, further steps should be taken to obtain more elusive papers and/or obtain a random selection of relevant papers. Rosenthal 3 has written a comprehensive paper on bibliographic retrieval for researchers wishing to conduct a meta-analysis.
The research hypothesis and rationale
The typical empirical journal article and research proposal commences with a brief literature review to provide the background and rationale for the research. Questions that remain unanswered, or findings that need clarifying, are often highlighted here. This leads into explicit statements about the importance and necessity of the planned research.
Once the research problem has been stated, the hypothesis is normally presented. 4 However, often, hypotheses are not stated in research papers, primarily because of authors' assumptions that the reader can implicitly determine the hypotheses being tested from the description of the purpose or statement of the problem, which is most commonly stated at the end of the introduction. 1
The expected results form the research hypothesis. For example, it may be hypothesised that the mean cholesterol levels of trained men are lower than those of sedentary men. This is a research hypothesis, as it states what the results are expected to be. Conversely, the null hypothesis often states what the researcher does not expect to be the case. Its purpose is for use in the statistical test of reliability of results. It usually, although not always, 1 states that there are no differences between treatments, or that there is no relation between variables. 4 For example, the null hypothesis for the above study may state that there is no difference between the mean cholesterol levels of trained and sedentary men. If the null hypothesis were true, any observed differences would be due to chance alone, and the statistically non-significant differences that existed in the sample would not be inferred to exist in the population. Huck and Cormier 1 (chapters 7 and 8) give a detailed description of the different forms of hypotheses and the stages of hypothesis testing.
The design of the study
A study should be designed to answer the research question being asked. A thorough evaluation of the literature can help the researcher avoid repeating design mistakes that have been made in the past. Theoretically, research studies should become better and better with time as past mistakes are rectified and studies become more and more robust. However, this is generally not the case as in reality each study is a new and novel endeavour. 5
TYPES OF STUDY
As in medical research, broadly speaking the types of study used in sports science research can be split into two groups: observational and experimental. 5
In observational studies, the participants receive no treatment or experimental manipulation. As the name suggests, the variables of interest are recorded from the participant with no attempt to influence the variables in any way. This is a descriptive study. In observational studies, the researcher analyses the data with the aim of determining differences or relations between variables and reasons why they do or do not exist. In experimental studies, the effect of treatment or manipulation of the independent variable is examined. 5 Examples of observational studies include those that have recorded skinfold levels and other estimates of body fat, 6– 9 or the measurement of body fat and physical activity in children to assess whether there is a relation between the two. 10, 11 In the latter examples, if the participants had received an aerobic training programme to assess the effects on body fat, the independent variable in the study would have been directly manipulated and the study would be experimental in nature. 12
If the study has an experimental design—that is, one of the independent variables is to be manipulated, it is important to be sure that any observed changes in the dependent variable—for example, power output—are due to the experimental treatment—for example, creatine ingestion—and not due to chance, growth, learning, or other extraneous factors. For example, in a study to investigate the effects of creatine supplementation on maximal anaerobic capacity—for example, that of Worth et al 13 —a control group was necessary to separate the treatment effect from any other causes that may have improved performance. A placebo group was also included in the above study to determine whether any improvement in performance was due to the creatine supplementation or to a psychological effect. 4
There are situations in which the inclusion of a placebo is not possible. For example, in studies in which the treatment is obvious to the participant (and the investigator). An example of this is a study to examine the effects of cryotherapy on exercise induced muscle damage and the soreness that accompanies it—for example, the study of Eston and Peters. 14 In this study, the control group had no treatment for the symptoms of delayed onset muscle soreness, while the treatment group received cryotherapy by immersing the damaged arm in cool water for a limited period of time on several occasions after the eccentric exercise bout. It was not possible to have a placebo group in this study because it would be very clear to the participants what treatment they were receiving.
Repeated measures and independent groups design
Experimental studies can be conducted using separate groups for treatment, control, and placebo conditions (independent groups design) or by using the same group for all conditions (repeated measures design). The option chosen depends on the design of the experiment. There are advantages and disadvantages to each method.
REPEATED MEASURES DESIGN
In a repeated measures design, the same group is tested under all conditions. The experiment is more powerful, as the within group variability due to individual differences is removed 15 and thus the number of participants (n) in each condition can be smaller than if separate groups are required for each condition. However, the commitment required from each participant is greater. In addition, there may need to be a large gap between conditions because there may be long lasting effects that may remain during the subsequent condition. For example, if the treatment is a drug, it may remain in the participant's system after the drug course has finished. It is important that the drug is completely flushed out from the system or it may affect the results from the control or placebo condition. An example of this type of study is that of Head et al . 16 In this study, all participants received two types of β-blockers and a placebo for five days in a double blind randomised cross over design. A minimum of two days was allowed for wash out.
For many studies a repeated measures design is the best tool for tackling the research question. In a study of this nature, in which the same group of participants are exposed to several conditions, it is essential that the order in which they are exposed to the conditions is randomised. 4 This helps control for any learning effect or acclimatisation related to the testing procedure. For example, when the effects of practice in using ratings of perceived exertion (RPE) to regulate exercise intensity were assessed, healthy 17 and blind participants 18 performed bouts of exercise at randomised RPEs.
INDEPENDENT GROUPS DESIGN
If two or more independent groups are used in a study, the groups should be similar except for the factor that is being investigated. For example, if the treatment group is comprised of young men, the control group should also consist of young men, not older men or young women. Ideally the participants should only differ with respect to the variable of interest. The method of allocating participants to groups must not be affected by the characteristics of the participants, therefore each participant should have an equal chance of being in any group. Bland 5 (chapter 2) describes various methods of randomly allocating participants to groups. There are numerous examples of random assignment of participants to independent groups—for example, Doyle and Parfitt 19 and Ehrlich and Haber. 20
The equivalence of the groups with respect to various measures can be checked before treatment by simple independent groups t tests or, in the case of more than two groups, by a one way analysis of variance. Provided that there is sufficient power to detect differences that are meaningful, these tests can provide an assurance of the equivalence of the groups. Alternatively, but less commonly, the investigators may adjust the scores after treatment on the basis of differences in the groups' scores before the test by using analysis of covariance procedures—for example, the study of Eston et al . 21 In this study, scores on muscle strength after treatment were adjusted for each group using the score obtained before the test as the covariate. 22 This reduced the possibility of the scores obtained after treatment being influenced by initial group differences.
When independent groups are used, the commitment required from the participant is less. Normally, he/she will experience the procedure only once. The time taken is therefore less, as all groups may be studied simultaneously. However, the design is less powerful, as the within group variability is greater because of individual differences between groups. 15 This implies that more participants per group are necessary (in comparison with a repeated measures design) for the design to have sufficient power.
MIXED MODEL DESIGN
Perhaps the most commonly used experimental design in sports and exercise science research is the mixed model analysis of variance. This contains at least one repeated measures factor and one independent groups factor. A typical example of this would be an experimental study that compares effects before and after treatment. For example, the effects of aerobics training on peak oxygen uptake and submaximal heart rate measures in girls, 23 or the effects of a prophylactic anti-inflammatory drug on muscle soreness after strenuous eccentric exercise—for example, the study of Semark et al . 24 In both of these studies, the participants were randomly assigned to an experimental group and a control group. In the latter study, the control group received a placebo. There are many other examples of the mixed model type of study.
Blind/double blind studies
In a single blind study, participants do not know whether they are receiving the placebo or the experimental treatment. A double blind study is when the tester also does not know what treatment the participant is receiving. This strengthens the design as it also reduces the tester's potential influence on the participants' results. Hence, neither the participant's nor the tester's expectations of the effects of the treatment should affect the outcome of the study. This is obviously important in studies to determine the effects of orally administered substances on performance, such as in the study by Head et al , 16 which assessed the effects of two different types of β-blocker on exercise metabolism, or in studies to assess the effects of oral creatine supplementation on anaerobic capacity. 13
Power of the study
There is increasing criticism about the lack of statistical power of papers published in sports and exercise science and psychology journals. 25 – 27 Statistical power refers to the probability of rejecting the null hypothesis—that is, the probability that the study will lead to significant results. 26 If the null hypothesis is false but not rejected, a type 2 error is incurred. Cohen 26 suggested that a power of 0.80 is adequate when an alpha is set at 0.05—that is, the risk of type 1 error, which is rejection of the null hypothesis when it is true, is 0.05. This means that the risk of a type 2 error is 0.20.
An important consideration in relation to the statistical power of the study is the magnitude of the relation or treatment effect. This is known as the effect size. When calculated a priori, this quantifies the degree to which the investigator believes the null hypothesis to be false. 26 Each statistical test has an effect size index, which ranges from zero upwards and is scale free. 26 For example, the effect size index for a correlation is simply r ; no conversion is necessary. For assessment of the difference between two sample means, Cohen's d , Hedges g , or Glass's Δ can be used. These divide the difference between two means by a standard deviation (see Rosenthal, 28 p 35). Formulae are available for converting other test statistics—for example, t test, one way analysis of variance, and χ 2 results—into effect size indexes (see Rosenthal, 28 p 19).
To evaluate an effect size, some idea of its scale is needed. 26 Effect sizes are often described as small, medium, and large. Correlations ( r ) equalling 0.1, 0.3, and 0.5 and Cohen's d equalling 0.2, 0.5, and 0.8 equate to small, medium, and large effect sizes respectively. A table detailing the magnitude of other effect size indexes equal to small, medium, and large effect sizes is presented in Cohen. 26 The smaller the expected effect size, the larger the sample size necessary if the study is to have sufficient power to detect that effect size.
An example of a study in which the effect size may be medium, could be one to assess the effects of habitual physical activity on body fat in children—for example, that of Rowlands et al . 10 In this study, there was a moderate correlation between habitual physical activity and body fat, corresponding to a medium effect size. A large effect size may be expected in a study to assess the effects of a very low energy diet on body fat in overweight women; an example is the study of Eston et al . 29 In this study, a greatly reduced energy intake (daily intake 1695 kJ a day for six weeks) resulted in a substantial decrease in total body mass and percentage body fat.
The effect size should be estimated during the design stage of a study. This allows the determination of the sample size required to give adequate power for a given alpha. Hence, the study can be designed to ensure it has sufficient power to detect the effect of interest—that is, minimising type 2 error. A simple table detailing sample sizes necessary to detect small, medium, and large effect sizes, with a power of 0.80 and an alpha of 0.05, is presented in Cohen. 26 This table covers eight statistical tests including the difference between independent means, product-moment correlation, χ 2 , and one way analysis of variance. More detailed descriptions of power analysis and methods for determining the sample size necessary in more complex tests can be found in the texts by Cohen 30 and Stevens. 15 Power calculations can also be carried out on interactive sites on the internet—for example, http://members.aol.com/johnp71/javastat.html#Power .
When empirical data are available, this can sometimes be used to estimate the effect size for a study. However, for some research questions it is difficult to find enough information to estimate the expected effect size. Here, the expected effect size may be difficult to calculate because of the limited number of studies that provide empirical information on the topic, or there may be insufficient detail provided in the results of the relevant studies. To enable comparison of effect sizes from studies that differ in sample size, it is recommended that, in addition to reporting the test statistic and p value, the appropriate effect size index is also reported.
A review of 108 articles published in the Australian Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport (AJMS; now The Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport ) in 1996 or 1997 showed that the median power to detect small, medium, and large effect sizes was 0.10, 0.46, and 0.84 respectively. 27 No study had adequate power to detect a small effect size, 38% had adequate power to detect a medium effect size, and 75% had adequate power to detect a large effect size. It is clear that, as recently as two to three years ago, the power of studies was often not being considered at the design stage of a study, if at all.
A further consideration in the design of a study involves the ethics of the testing procedures. Some journals will not accept papers unless the study has had ethics approval from a recognised ethics committee. The ethical implications of the study are dependent on the procedures to be undertaken and the nature of the participants. For example, the British Association of Sport and Exercise Sciences (BASES) recommend that ethical clearance should be obtained before imposing unusual or severe psychological or physiological stress, administering any ergogenic aid, working with clients with disabilities, or using biopsy or venepuncture techniques. 31 The above list is not complete, and where there is any doubt cases should be looked at individually. Certain procedures that may be approved for adult participants may not be approved for children. Children are recognised as a vulnerable group with a limited comprehension capacity. 32 Consequently, they are unable legally to give consent. However, it is generally accepted that parents/guardians can give parental permission, and children who are old enough can choose whether or not to participate. Rowland 32 (chapter 5) presents a thorough discussion on the ethical aspects of research with children.
Whether the participants are children or not, the relevance of each of the measures or treatments should be considered during the design stage of the research. There should be a clear and justifiable rationale for the necessity of invasive procedures, particularly if there are valid alternative and non-invasive measures available. The frequency of the invasive procedures and the effect this has on the participants should be considered.
A further ethical consideration involves the denial of potentially beneficial treatment. For example, in an experimental design there may be one group of participants who receive the treatment, one group who receive the placebo, and one group who receive the control treatment. Those who receive the placebo will, by definition, think they are receiving the treatment. In this case, both the placebo and control group have been denied the treatment. It is important to consider the ethics of denying these groups the treatment, particularly if the treatment is expected to be beneficial. This does not arise in a repeated measures design as all participants are exposed to all treatments.
A possible solution is to offer all groups the treatment after the study. This would not be possible with some studies—for example, when the purpose of the treatment is to reduce the symptoms of delayed onset muscle soreness, because the symptoms would have dissipated by the end of the study. However, if the effects of an ergogenic aid were studied, the participants may volunteer because they believe they will have the opportunity to benefit from the ergogenic aid. In this situation it would be possible to offer the aid to all participants after the study. Ethically, this may be preferable to withholding the treatment from two thirds of the volunteers. It may also prevent participants from withdrawing from a study which they consider is providing little or no benefit to them.
This issue becomes increasingly important if the treatment is for a medical condition or for rehabilitation. This is a common scenario in clinical trials. It has been argued that withholding a potentially beneficial treatment from patients is ethically justified, as any biologically active treatment is also potentially harmful. Hence, the benefits need to be conclusively demonstrated in properly controlled trials before general administration. 5 The ethics of withholding treatment clearly depend on the type of treatment and participants involved.
Before a study is embarked on, it is necessary to ensure that the study is viable. This involves making a realistic assessment of the costs, time, and availability of the participants. If there is an application for funding, these details have to be approved by the host institution and the funding body. Costs will be related to the sample size, duration of the study, equipment needed, consumables, research assistants or other staff, travel, conference presentations, and institutional overheads.
tk;3The facilities available for conducting the research also need to be considered. If the study is laboratory based, it may be necessary to book laboratory time relatively early, as many people typically share laboratory facilities. This can only be achieved if a reasonably accurate estimate of the laboratory time needed to conduct the research is known. A pilot study can help answer these questions, identify problems, and prevent or limit methodological faults in the main study. Piloting procedures are an essential part of preparing a study. 4
Most studies within sports science and sports medicine require human participants. It is important to consider how these participants will be obtained and how representative of the relevant population they are. It may be necessary to advertise or send letters to request participation. If this is so, consideration should be given as to where to advertise, or where to obtain addresses of potential participants. For example, an advertisement in a leisure centre is likely to attract a different type of participant from a similar advertisement in a doctors surgery or outpatients clinic. The methods of obtaining participants will be largely determined by the population the sample is supposed to represent. For some studies, it is acceptable to use the most convenient sample of sports and exercise science undergraduates, but this is not appropriate for all proposed research.
During the planning stages of the study, the potential benefits should be considered. The expected outcomes are strongly linked with the literature review, hypothesis, and rationale. A useful exercise is to plot a graph of the expected outcomes for each group. This also helps to identify the most appropriate statistical analysis of the prospective data. An assessment of the expected outcomes and the potential value of these outcomes will help show whether or not the study is worth while.
We have considered some of the most important factors involved in designing a viable study that will adequately address the research question. Although we do not profess to be experts in all aspects of the above, we have learned through experience that attention to many of the above points will help to avoid frustration during the experimental process and when the study is presented for external review and subsequent presentation and publication. Good luck in your research.
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- ↵ Thomas JR, Nelson JK. Research methods in physical activity . Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics, 1990.
- ↵ Bland M. An introduction to medical statistics , 2nd ed. Oxford: Oxford Medical Publications, Oxford University Press, 1996.
- ↵ Durnin JVGA, Womersley J. Body fat assessed from total body density and its estimation from skinfold thickness: measurements on 481 men and women aged from 16 to 72 years. Br J Nutr 1974 ; 32 : 77 –97. OpenUrl CrossRef PubMed Web of Science
- Jackson AS, Pollock ML. Generalized equations for predicting body density of men. Br J Nutr 1978 ; 40 : 497 –504. OpenUrl CrossRef PubMed Web of Science
- Eston, RG, Fu F. Fung L. Validity of conventional anthropometric techniques for estimating body composition in Chinese adults. Br J Sports Med 1995 ; 29 : 52 –6. OpenUrl Abstract / FREE Full Text
- ↵ Eston RG, Evans R, Fu F. Estimation of body composition in Chinese and British males by ultrasonic assessment of segmental adipose tissue volume. Br J Sports Med 1994 ; 28 : 9 –13. OpenUrl Abstract / FREE Full Text
- ↵ Rowlands AV, Eston RG, Ingledew DK. The relationship between activity levels, body fat and aerobic fitness in 8–10 year old children. J Appl Physiol 1999 ; 86 : 1428 –35. OpenUrl Abstract / FREE Full Text
- ↵ Taylor W, Baranowski T. Physical activity, cardiovascular fitness and adiposity in children. Res Q Exerc Sport 1991 ; 62 : 157 –63. OpenUrl PubMed Web of Science
- ↵ Epstein LH, Wing RR, Koeske R, et al . Comparison of lifestyle change and programmed aerobic exercise on weight and fitness changes in obese children. Behavioural Therapy 1982 ; 13 : 651 –65. OpenUrl CrossRef Web of Science
- ↵ Worth SJ, Eston RG, Lemmey AB. Effects of oral creatine supplementation on anaerobic capacity in young trained men and women. J Sports Sci 1999 ; 17 : 565 –6P. OpenUrl
- ↵ Eston RG, Peters D. Effects of cold water immersion on the symptoms of exercise-induced muscle damage. J Sports Sci 1999 ; 17 : 231 –8. OpenUrl CrossRef PubMed Web of Science
- ↵ Stevens J. Applied multivariate statistics for the social sciences , 3rd ed. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 1996.
- ↵ Head A, Maxwell S, Kendall MJ. Exercise metabolism in healthy volunteers taking celipropol, atenelol and placebo. Br J Sports Med 1997 ; 31 : 120 – 5. OpenUrl Abstract / FREE Full Text
- ↵ Eston RG, Williams JG. Reliability of ratings of perceived effort for regulation of exercise intensity. Br J Sports Med 1988 ; 22 : 153 –5. OpenUrl Abstract / FREE Full Text
- ↵ Buckley JP, Eston RG, Sims JW, et al . Reliability of regulating exercise intensity using a braille ratings of perceived exertion scale with blind subjects. Med Sci Sports Exerc 1999 ; 31 : S113 . OpenUrl
- ↵ Doyle J, Parfitt G. The effect of induced mood states on performance profile areas of perceived need. J Sports Sci 1999 ; 17 : 115 –27. OpenUrl PubMed Web of Science
- ↵ Erhlich D, Haber P. Influence of acupuncture on physical performance capacity and haemodynamic parameters. Int J Sports Med 1992 ; 13 : 486 –91. OpenUrl CrossRef PubMed Web of Science
- ↵ Eston RG, Finney S, Baltzopoulos V, et al . Muscle soreness and strength loss changes after downhill running following a prior bout of isokinetic eccentric exercise. J Sports Sci 1996 ; 14 : 291 –9. OpenUrl CrossRef PubMed
- ↵ Vincent WJ. Statistics in kinesiology . Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics, 1995:189.
- ↵ Welsman JR, Armstrong N, Withers S. Responses of young girls to two modes of aerobic training. Br J Sports Med 1997 ; 31 : 139 –42. OpenUrl Abstract / FREE Full Text
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Project Management for Research
The tools you need to make your research project a success.
This toolkit includes a variety of tools for managing your research projects including recommendations for general project management software and tools to help you and your team manage activities from grant writing to implementation and project closeout.
Explore the toolkit below:
Grant Writing + Project Development
A Gantt Chart is a popular project management tool; it is a type of bar chart that illustrates a project’s schedule. The chart allows for organizing and viewing project activities and tasks against pre-established timeframes.
Gantt Chart Template Gantt Chart Instructions Gantt Chart Example
Graphic display of the flow or sequence of events that a product or service follows; it shows all activities, decision points, rework loops and handoffs.
Process maps allow the team to visualize the process and come to agreement on the steps of a process as well as examine which activities are duplicated. Process maps are used to:
- Capture current and new process information
- Identify the flow of a process
- Identify responsibility of different business functions
- Clearly show hand-off between functions
- Identify value added and non-value added activities
- Train team members in new process
Process Map Template Process Mapping Guide Process Map Example 1 Process Map Example 2
The Data Management Plan (DMP) defines the responsibilities related to the entry, ownership, sharing, validation, editing and storage of primary research data.
A data management plan must not only reflect the requirements of the protocol/project but also comply with applicable institutional, state and federal guidelines and regulations. The DMP Tool details your agencies expectations, has suggested language for REDCap and exports a properly formatted plan.
DMP Tool NIH Data Management & Sharing (DMS) Policy
The Project Charter's purpose is to define at a high level what the Project Team will deliver, what resources are needed and why it is justified.
The Project Charter also represents a commitment to dedicate the necessary time and resources to the project. It can be especially useful when organizing a multi-disciplinary, internally funded team. The document should be brief (up to three pages maximum).
Project Charter Template Project Charter Instructions Project Charter Example
Milestones are an effective way to track major progress in your research project.
A Gantt Chart is an effective tool for setting and tracking milestones and deliverables. It is a type of bar chart that illustrates a project’s schedule.
The proposal budget should be derived directly from the project description.
The proposal budget should follow the format specified by the sponsor. The Office of Sponsored Programs Budget Preparation webpages provide descriptions of the standard budget categories, lists of typical components of those categories, Ohio State rates where appropriate and other details to help ensure your budget is complete. Budget Preparation Resources from Office of Research The 398 grant form from the NIH is a template that includes standard categories required for an NIH grant (and many others) that you can use to develop a preliminary budget.
PHS 398 Forms PHS 398 Budget form for Initial Project Period Template PHS 398 Budget Form for Entire Proposal Project Template
The Risk Assessment and Mitigation Plan first assists the research team in anticipating risk that may occur during the research project before it happens.
The plan then specifies when to act to mitigate risk by defining thresholds and establishing action plans to follow. As a fundamental ethical requirement research risks are to be minimized to the greatest extent possible for all research endeavors. This includes not only prompt identification measures but also response, reporting and resolution. Risk Assessment and Mitigation Plan Template Risk Assessment and Mitigation Plan Example
The Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) organizes the research project work into manageable components.
It is represented in a hierarchical decomposition of the work to be executed by the research project team. It visually defines the scope into manageable chunks that the team can understand. WBS Instructions and Template WBS Structure Example
A Gantt Chart is a popular project management tool; it is a type of bar chart that illustrates a project’s schedule.
The chart allows for organizing and viewing project activities and tasks against pre-established timeframes. A Gantt Chart can also be used for tracking milestones and major progresses within your research project.
The purpose is to define at a high level what the Project Team will deliver, what resources are needed and why it is justified.
It is represented in a hierarchical decomposition of the work to be executed by the research project team. It visually defines the scope into manageable chunks that the team can understand. WBS Instructions + Template WBS Structure Example
A communications plan facilitates effective and efficient dissemination of information to the research team members and major stakeholders in the research project.
It describes how the communications will occur; the content, security, and privacy of those communications; along with the method of dissemination and frequency.
Communications Plan Template Communications Plan Example
The Data Management Plan (DMP) defines the responsibilities related to the entry, ownership, sharing, validation, editing, and storage of primary research data.
A data management plan must not only reflect the requirements of the protocol/project but also comply with applicable institutional, state, and federal guidelines and regulations. The DMP Tool details your agencies expectations, has suggested language for REDCap, and exports a properly formatted plan.
DMP Tool DMP Tool Instructions Ohio State Research Guide: Data
The chart allows for organizing and viewing project activities and tasks against pre-established timeframes. Gantt Chart Template Gantt Chart Instructions Gantt Chart Example
This tool helps you capture details of issues that arise so that the project team can quickly see the status and who is responsible for resolving it.
Further, the Issue Management Tool guides you through a management process that gives you a robust way to evaluate issues, assess their impact, and decide on a plan for resolution.
Issue Management Tool Template Issue Management Tool Instructions Issue Management Example
A Pareto Chart is a graphical tool that helps break down a problem into its parts so that managers can identify the most frequent, and thus most important, problems.
It depicts in descending order (from left to right) the frequency of events being studied. It is based on the Pareto Principle or “80/20 Rule”, which says that roughly 80% of problems are caused by 20% of contributors. With the Pareto Principle Project Managers solve problems by identifying and focusing on the “vital few” problems. Managers should avoid focusing on “people” problems. Problems are usually the result of processes, not people.
Pareto Chart Template Pareto Chart Instructions Pareto Chart Example
Closeout, Transfer + Application
Completing a project means more than finishing the research.
There remain financial, personnel, reporting, and other responsibilities. These tasks typically need to be completed within a timeline that begins 60 to 90 days before the project end date and 90 days after. Specifics will vary depending on the project and the funding source. The Office of Sponsored Programs “Project Closeout” webpage provides a description closeout issues, a list of PI Responsibilities and other details to help ensure your project is in fact complete. Project Closeout Checklist Project Closeout Resources from Office of Research
A communications plan facilitates effective and efficient dissemination of information to the research team members and major stakeholders in the research project.
It describes how the communications will occur; the content, security and privacy of those communications; along with the method of dissemination and frequency.
Project Management Software
An open-source project management software similar to Microsoft Project.
OpenProject has tools to create dashboards, Gantt Charts, budgets, and status reports. Activities can be assigned to team members and progress monitored. OpenProject also has a tool for Agile Project Management. While the software is free, OpenProject must be installed and maintained on a local server and there will probably be costs associated with this. Talk to your departmental or college IT staff.
A secure, web-based project management system.
Basecamp offers an intuitive suite of tools at a minimal cost: ~$20/month or free for teachers. Basecamp facilitates collaboration between research team members with features such as to-do lists, messaging, file sharing, assignment of tasks, milestones, due dates and time tracking.
A project management tool that organizes tasks, activities, responsibilities and people on projects.
Trello can help manage research projects by keeping everyone on time and on task. It uses a distinctive interface based on cards and lists and may be especially useful for smaller projects.
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Illustration by James Round
How to plan a research project
Whether for a paper or a thesis, define your question, review the work of others – and leave yourself open to discovery
by Brooke Harrington + BIO
is professor of sociology at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire. Her research has won international awards both for scholarly quality and impact on public life. She has published dozens of articles and three books, most recently the bestseller Capital without Borders (2016), now translated into five languages.
Edited by Sam Haselby
Need to know
‘When curiosity turns to serious matters, it’s called research.’ – From Aphorisms (1880-1905) by Marie von Ebner-Eschenbach
Planning research projects is a time-honoured intellectual exercise: one that requires both creativity and sharp analytical skills. The purpose of this Guide is to make the process systematic and easy to understand. While there is a great deal of freedom and discovery involved – from the topics you choose, to the data and methods you apply – there are also some norms and constraints that obtain, no matter what your academic level or field of study. For those in high school through to doctoral students, and from art history to archaeology, research planning involves broadly similar steps, including: formulating a question, developing an argument or predictions based on previous research, then selecting the information needed to answer your question.
Some of this might sound self-evident but, as you’ll find, research requires a different way of approaching and using information than most of us are accustomed to in everyday life. That is why I include orienting yourself to knowledge-creation as an initial step in the process. This is a crucial and underappreciated phase in education, akin to making the transition from salaried employment to entrepreneurship: suddenly, you’re on your own, and that requires a new way of thinking about your work.
What follows is a distillation of what I’ve learned about this process over 27 years as a professional social scientist. It reflects the skills that my own professors imparted in the sociology doctoral programme at Harvard, as well as what I learned later on as a research supervisor for Ivy League PhD and MA students, and then as the author of award-winning scholarly books and articles. It can be adapted to the demands of both short projects (such as course term papers) and long ones, such as a thesis.
At its simplest, research planning involves the four distinct steps outlined below: orienting yourself to knowledge-creation; defining your research question; reviewing previous research on your question; and then choosing relevant data to formulate your own answers. Because the focus of this Guide is on planning a research project, as opposed to conducting a research project, this section won’t delve into the details of data-collection or analysis; those steps happen after you plan the project. In addition, the topic is vast: year-long doctoral courses are devoted to data and analysis. Instead, the fourth part of this section will outline some basic strategies you could use in planning a data-selection and analysis process appropriate to your research question.
Step 1: Orient yourself
Planning and conducting research requires you to make a transition, from thinking like a consumer of information to thinking like a producer of information. That sounds simple, but it’s actually a complex task. As a practical matter, this means putting aside the mindset of a student, which treats knowledge as something created by other people. As students, we are often passive receivers of knowledge: asked to do a specified set of readings, then graded on how well we reproduce what we’ve read.
Researchers, however, must take on an active role as knowledge producers . Doing research requires more of you than reading and absorbing what other people have written: you have to engage in a dialogue with it. That includes arguing with previous knowledge and perhaps trying to show that ideas we have accepted as given are actually wrong or incomplete. For example, rather than simply taking in the claims of an author you read, you’ll need to draw out the implications of those claims: if what the author is saying is true, what else does that suggest must be true? What predictions could you make based on the author’s claims?
In other words, rather than treating a reading as a source of truth – even if it comes from a revered source, such as Plato or Marie Curie – this orientation step asks you to treat the claims you read as provisional and subject to interrogation. That is one of the great pieces of wisdom that science and philosophy can teach us: that the biggest advances in human understanding have been made not by being correct about trivial things, but by being wrong in an interesting way . For example, Albert Einstein was wrong about quantum mechanics, but his arguments about it with his fellow physicist Niels Bohr have led to some of the biggest breakthroughs in science, even a century later.
Step 2: Define your research question
Students often give this step cursory attention, but experienced researchers know that formulating a good question is sometimes the most difficult part of the research planning process. That is because the precise language of the question frames the rest of the project. It’s therefore important to pose the question carefully, in a way that’s both possible to answer and likely to yield interesting results. Of course, you must choose a question that interests you, but that’s only the beginning of what’s likely to be an iterative process: most researchers come back to this step repeatedly, modifying their questions in light of previous research, resource limitations and other considerations.
Researchers face limits in terms of time and money. They, like everyone else, have to pose research questions that they can plausibly answer given the constraints they face. For example, it would be inadvisable to frame a project around the question ‘What are the roots of the Arab-Israeli conflict?’ if you have only a week to develop an answer and no background on that topic. That’s not to limit your imagination: you can come up with any question you’d like. But it typically does require some creativity to frame a question that you can answer well – that is, by investigating thoroughly and providing new insights – within the limits you face.
In addition to being interesting to you, and feasible within your resource constraints, the third and most important characteristic of a ‘good’ research topic is whether it allows you to create new knowledge. It might turn out that your question has already been asked and answered to your satisfaction: if so, you’ll find out in the next step of this process. On the other hand, you might come up with a research question that hasn’t been addressed previously. Before you get too excited about breaking uncharted ground, consider this: a lot of potentially researchable questions haven’t been studied for good reason ; they might have answers that are trivial or of very limited interest. This could include questions such as ‘Why does the area of a circle equal π r²?’ or ‘Did winter conditions affect Napoleon’s plans to invade Russia?’ Of course, you might be able to make the argument that a seemingly trivial question is actually vitally important, but you must be prepared to back that up with convincing evidence. The exercise in the ‘Learn More’ section below will help you think through some of these issues.
Finally, scholarly research questions must in some way lead to new and distinctive insights. For example, lots of people have studied gender roles in sports teams; what can you ask that hasn’t been asked before? Reinventing the wheel is the number-one no-no in this endeavour. That’s why the next step is so important: reviewing previous research on your topic. Depending on what you find in that step, you might need to revise your research question; iterating between your question and the existing literature is a normal process. But don’t worry: it doesn’t go on forever. In fact, the iterations taper off – and your research question stabilises – as you develop a firm grasp of the current state of knowledge on your topic.
Step 3: Review previous research
In academic research, from articles to books, it’s common to find a section called a ‘literature review’. The purpose of that section is to describe the state of the art in knowledge on the research question that a project has posed. It demonstrates that researchers have thoroughly and systematically reviewed the relevant findings of previous studies on their topic, and that they have something novel to contribute.
Your own research project should include something like this, even if it’s a high-school term paper. In the research planning process, you’ll want to list at least half a dozen bullet points stating the major findings on your topic by other people. In relation to those findings, you should be able to specify where your project could provide new and necessary insights. There are two basic rhetorical positions one can take in framing the novelty-plus-importance argument required of academic research:
- Position 1 requires you to build on or extend a set of existing ideas; that means saying something like: ‘Person A has argued that X is true about gender; this implies Y, which has not yet been tested. My project will test Y, and if I find evidence to support it, that will change the way we understand gender.’
- Position 2 is to argue that there is a gap in existing knowledge, either because previous research has reached conflicting conclusions or has failed to consider something important. For example, one could say that research on middle schoolers and gender has been limited by being conducted primarily in coeducational environments, and that findings might differ dramatically if research were conducted in more schools where the student body was all-male or all-female.
Your overall goal in this step of the process is to show that your research will be part of a larger conversation: that is, how your project flows from what’s already known, and how it advances, extends or challenges that existing body of knowledge. That will be the contribution of your project, and it constitutes the motivation for your research.
Two things are worth mentioning about your search for sources of relevant previous research. First, you needn’t look only at studies on your precise topic. For example, if you want to study gender-identity formation in schools, you shouldn’t restrict yourself to studies of schools; the empirical setting (schools) is secondary to the larger social process that interests you (how people form gender identity). That process occurs in many different settings, so cast a wide net. Second, be sure to use legitimate sources – meaning publications that have been through some sort of vetting process, whether that involves peer review (as with academic journal articles you might find via Google Scholar) or editorial review (as you’d find in well-known mass media publications, such as The Economist or The Washington Post ). What you’ll want to avoid is using unvetted sources such as personal blogs or Wikipedia. Why? Because anybody can write anything in those forums, and there is no way to know – unless you’re already an expert – if the claims you find there are accurate. Often, they’re not.
Step 4: Choose your data and methods
Whatever your research question is, eventually you’ll need to consider which data source and analytical strategy are most likely to provide the answers you’re seeking. One starting point is to consider whether your question would be best addressed by qualitative data (such as interviews, observations or historical records), quantitative data (such as surveys or census records) or some combination of both. Your ideas about data sources will, in turn, suggest options for analytical methods.
You might need to collect your own data, or you might find everything you need readily available in an existing dataset someone else has created. A great place to start is with a research librarian: university libraries always have them and, at public universities, those librarians can work with the public, including people who aren’t affiliated with the university. If you don’t happen to have a public university and its library close at hand, an ordinary public library can still be a good place to start: the librarians are often well versed in accessing data sources that might be relevant to your study, such as the census, or historical archives, or the Survey of Consumer Finances.
Because your task at this point is to plan research, rather than conduct it, the purpose of this step is not to commit you irrevocably to a course of action. Instead, your goal here is to think through a feasible approach to answering your research question. You’ll need to find out, for example, whether the data you want exist; if not, do you have a realistic chance of gathering the data yourself, or would it be better to modify your research question? In terms of analysis, would your strategy require you to apply statistical methods? If so, do you have those skills? If not, do you have time to learn them, or money to hire a research assistant to run the analysis for you?
Please be aware that qualitative methods in particular are not the casual undertaking they might appear to be. Many people make the mistake of thinking that only quantitative data and methods are scientific and systematic, while qualitative methods are just a fancy way of saying: ‘I talked to some people, read some old newspapers, and drew my own conclusions.’ Nothing could be further from the truth. In the final section of this guide, you’ll find some links to resources that will provide more insight on standards and procedures governing qualitative research, but suffice it to say: there are rules about what constitutes legitimate evidence and valid analytical procedure for qualitative data, just as there are for quantitative data.
Circle back and consider revising your initial plans
As you work through these four steps in planning your project, it’s perfectly normal to circle back and revise. Research planning is rarely a linear process. It’s also common for new and unexpected avenues to suggest themselves. As the sociologist Thorstein Veblen wrote in 1908 : ‘The outcome of any serious research can only be to make two questions grow where only one grew before.’ That’s as true of research planning as it is of a completed project. Try to enjoy the horizons that open up for you in this process, rather than becoming overwhelmed; the four steps, along with the two exercises that follow, will help you focus your plan and make it manageable.
Key points – How to plan a research project
- Planning a research project is essential no matter your academic level or field of study. There is no one ‘best’ way to design research, but there are certain guidelines that can be helpfully applied across disciplines.
- Orient yourself to knowledge-creation. Make the shift from being a consumer of information to being a producer of information.
- Define your research question. Your question frames the rest of your project, sets the scope, and determines the kinds of answers you can find.
- Review previous research on your question. Survey the existing body of relevant knowledge to ensure that your research will be part of a larger conversation.
- Choose your data and methods. For instance, will you be collecting qualitative data, via interviews, or numerical data, via surveys?
- Circle back and consider revising your initial plans. Expect your research question in particular to undergo multiple rounds of refinement as you learn more about your topic.
Good research questions tend to beget more questions. This can be frustrating for those who want to get down to business right away. Try to make room for the unexpected: this is usually how knowledge advances. Many of the most significant discoveries in human history have been made by people who were looking for something else entirely. There are ways to structure your research planning process without over-constraining yourself; the two exercises below are a start, and you can find further methods in the Links and Books section.
The following exercise provides a structured process for advancing your research project planning. After completing it, you’ll be able to do the following:
- describe clearly and concisely the question you’ve chosen to study
- summarise the state of the art in knowledge about the question, and where your project could contribute new insight
- identify the best strategy for gathering and analysing relevant data
In other words, the following provides a systematic means to establish the building blocks of your research project.
Exercise 1: Definition of research question and sources
This exercise prompts you to select and clarify your general interest area, develop a research question, and investigate sources of information. The annotated bibliography will also help you refine your research question so that you can begin the second assignment, a description of the phenomenon you wish to study.
Jot down a few bullet points in response to these two questions, with the understanding that you’ll probably go back and modify your answers as you begin reading other studies relevant to your topic:
- What will be the general topic of your paper?
- What will be the specific topic of your paper?
b) Research question(s)
Use the following guidelines to frame a research question – or questions – that will drive your analysis. As with Part 1 above, you’ll probably find it necessary to change or refine your research question(s) as you complete future assignments.
- Your question should be phrased so that it can’t be answered with a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’.
- Your question should have more than one plausible answer.
- Your question should draw relationships between two or more concepts; framing the question in terms of How? or What? often works better than asking Why ?
c) Annotated bibliography
Most or all of your background information should come from two sources: scholarly books and journals, or reputable mass media sources. You might be able to access journal articles electronically through your library, using search engines such as JSTOR and Google Scholar. This can save you a great deal of time compared with going to the library in person to search periodicals. General news sources, such as those accessible through LexisNexis, are acceptable, but should be cited sparingly, since they don’t carry the same level of credibility as scholarly sources. As discussed above, unvetted sources such as blogs and Wikipedia should be avoided, because the quality of the information they provide is unreliable and often misleading.
To create an annotated bibliography, provide the following information for at least 10 sources relevant to your specific topic, using the format suggested below.
Name of author(s):
Title of book, chapter, or article:
If a chapter or article, title of journal or book where they appear:
Brief description of this work, including main findings and methods ( c 75 words):
Summary of how this work contributes to your project ( c 75 words):
Brief description of the implications of this work ( c 25 words):
Identify any gap or controversy in knowledge this work points up, and how your project could address those problems ( c 50 words):
Exercise 2: Towards an analysis
Develop a short statement ( c 250 words) about the kind of data that would be useful to address your research question, and how you’d analyse it. Some questions to consider in writing this statement include:
- What are the central concepts or variables in your project? Offer a brief definition of each.
- Do any data sources exist on those concepts or variables, or would you need to collect data?
- Of the analytical strategies you could apply to that data, which would be the most appropriate to answer your question? Which would be the most feasible for you? Consider at least two methods, noting their advantages or disadvantages for your project.
Links & books
One of the best texts ever written about planning and executing research comes from a source that might be unexpected: a 60-year-old work on urban planning by a self-trained scholar. The classic book The Death and Life of Great American Cities (1961) by Jane Jacobs (available complete and free of charge via this link ) is worth reading in its entirety just for the pleasure of it. But the final 20 pages – a concluding chapter titled ‘The Kind of Problem a City Is’ – are really about the process of thinking through and investigating a problem. Highly recommended as a window into the craft of research.
Jacobs’s text references an essay on advancing human knowledge by the mathematician Warren Weaver. At the time, Weaver was director of the Rockefeller Foundation, in charge of funding basic research in the natural and medical sciences. Although the essay is titled ‘A Quarter Century in the Natural Sciences’ (1960) and appears at first blush to be merely a summation of one man’s career, it turns out to be something much bigger and more interesting: a meditation on the history of human beings seeking answers to big questions about the world. Weaver goes back to the 17th century to trace the origins of systematic research thinking, with enthusiasm and vivid anecdotes that make the process come alive. The essay is worth reading in its entirety, and is available free of charge via this link .
For those seeking a more in-depth, professional-level discussion of the logic of research design, the political scientist Harvey Starr provides insight in a compact format in the article ‘Cumulation from Proper Specification: Theory, Logic, Research Design, and “Nice” Laws’ (2005). Starr reviews the ‘research triad’, consisting of the interlinked considerations of formulating a question, selecting relevant theories and applying appropriate methods. The full text of the article, published in the scholarly journal Conflict Management and Peace Science , is available, free of charge, via this link .
Finally, the book Getting What You Came For (1992) by Robert Peters is not only an outstanding guide for anyone contemplating graduate school – from the application process onward – but it also includes several excellent chapters on planning and executing research, applicable across a wide variety of subject areas. It was an invaluable resource for me 25 years ago, and it remains in print with good reason; I recommend it to all my students, particularly Chapter 16 (‘The Thesis Topic: Finding It’), Chapter 17 (‘The Thesis Proposal’) and Chapter 18 (‘The Thesis: Writing It’).
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Managing a research project
Having been successful in attracting funding for your project, you will now have to lead it from set-up to completion. The following pages take you through the key stages:
1. Settting up a research project
2. Monitoring a research project
3. Reporting on your research project
4. Making the most of your research project
and provide you with some project management tools for researchers .
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Research and Development Project
Write articles, research and development projects, and/or a thesis for theoretical and experimental investigations of the flow and performance characteristics of refrigeration vapor and/or two-phase ejectors.
From: Water (R718) Turbo Compressor and Ejector Refrigeration / Heat Pump Technology , 2016
- Energy Efficiency
- Renewable Energy
- Experimental Investigation
Current Status of the Super Heat Pump Energy Accumulation System in NEDO Projects
Atsushi Fujii , in Heat Pumps , 1990
The research and development (R & D) project “Super Heat Pump Energy Accumulation System” (SHPEAS) is underway in NEDO, which can realize the system combined with high-performance electric-driven heat pump sybsystem and chemical heat storage subsystem. Such systems effectively convert low-density energy into high-density and high-quality energy, using the electric power at the nighttime for use during the daytime. This type of system can be very effectively utilized for air conditioning or for industrial process heating.
The SHPEAS was concentrated on the fundamental R & D of the component technologies for the heat pump subsystem and the chemical heat storage subsystems in 1984 — 1987. The small scale plants (100 kW class heat pump subsystem and 10 Meal class chemical heat storage system) was constructed, and now are being tested respectively for the interim evaluation. And then the 1,000 kW class pilot systems combined with the heat pump subsystem and the chemical heat storage subsystem with the application usage will be developed and the performance will be tested after 1989.
The results of economical analysis and energy saving estimation under the condition using the large scale SHPEAS were discussed.
Development of District Heating and Cooling System Using Heat from Rivers
MASATO SEKIZAKZ , in Heat Pumps , 1990
This paper discusses a research and development project for a new type of district heating and cooling system. Making the most of the geographical conditions of the system site which is located in Hakozaki, Nihonbashi, along the waterfront of Tokyo on the Sumidagawa River, the project was designed to build a heat-pump-based district heating and cooling system using heat from rivers, the first of its kind in Japan. Because of the temperature range of river water, a heat pump system using heat from rivers for its heat source can produce thermal energy more efficiently than the existing system which relies on an air-carried heat source. This new technique has paved the way for the development of a more efficient energy utilization system.
Polymers for a Sustainable Environment and Green Energy
U. Riedel , in Polymer Science: A Comprehensive Reference , 2012
Considering the presented results of the research and development projects for different areas of application, the challenge of meeting all necessary technical, physical, and ecological requirements in order to launch individual products on the market is clear. In this process, we have learned that it is extremely difficult at this point to replace at least some of the materials that are currently being used in individual applications.
Regarding the increase in retraction obligations (particularly the EU guideline for old cars that already has been passed), the probability of using the described materials in market products is significant. Political specifications are helpful, on the one hand, but, on the other hand, producers are increasingly taking life cycle costs into account. We have come to the conclusion that we have to be actively involved in changing the boundary conditions on all levels in order to implement this new generation of materials successfully.
In addition to this aspect, we are, of course, also allocating new application possibilities for these materials such as in the furniture industry, wind wings, and in other components for outdoor usage. In addition to the material characteristics, we are greatly interested in creating cost-effective manufacturing technologies in order to increase enormous marketing opportunities.
As a result of realizing the difficulties of material substitution, we have paved new ways for launching products on the market. In addition to the description of materials with physical parameters and economical performance figures, it is important for the determination of a product to also include other characteristics such as haptics and optics. Hence, we work closely together with designers to create new products made of biocomposites.
Research still has to target reducing the moisture sensitivity of these composites and increasing the fiber–matrix adhesion. At present, NF composites are successfully developed for use as paneling elements and loaded structures for interior applications, as well as for exterior structural parts in the future.
For more intensive studies, the following literature is suggested. 1,53,58,59
Advanced automotive body structures and closures
P. Urban , R. Wohlecker , in Advanced Materials in Automotive Engineering , 2012
9.4 Latest technologies
Since several examples of advanced material usage in body structures and closure panels of production vehicles have already been given above, this section will focus on the latest technologies demonstrated in two research and development projects : SuperLIGHT-Car and InCar. These two projects present a good outlook on possible future material applications in automotive bodies.
SuperLIGHT-Car is an integrated research and development project co-funded under the Sixth EU Framework Programme for Research and Technological Development. The overall objective is to deliver the technologies and design concepts for an economically viable multi-material design of a compact-class vehicle body bringing about a weight reduction of 30% under the boundary conditions of high-volume production. The project was coordinated by Volkswagen Corporate Research and brought together seven European vehicle manufacturers plus more than 30 suppliers, engineering service providers and research institutes. The main achievements of the SuperLIGHT-Car project are as follows:
Multi-material body-in-white concept offering a 35% weight reduction compared with a reference structure based on the VW Golf V.
Design of the assembly line and joining sequence for this body-in-white concept.
Full multi-material body-in-white prototype of this concept comprising many parts produced under industrial like conditions.
Three alternative lightweight body-in-white concepts offering weight reductions by 20% to 38% at additional costs of 72.5 to 710 per kilogram saved.
Multi-material assessment methodology to assist in the material selection process by classifying and matching the component requirements, material properties and manufacturing as well as joining aspects to identify the optimum material for a given part or sub-assembly.
Materials and technologies catalogue and database with characterisation results of materials and joining techniques including crash toughened adhesive, metal inert gas welding, laser (induction) welding and friction stir welding.
Detailed cost models for multi-material concepts and life cycle assessment tool including a fuzzy logic recycling model, all linked to CAD software for quick A to B comparisons.
The final SuperLIGHT-Car concept is shown in Fig. 9.14 . Approximately 53% of the total body-in-white mass consists of aluminium sheet, aluminium castings and extruded profiles. Hot and cold formed steel including tailor rolled and tailor welded blanks account for c . 36% of the total weight, while about 7% is made of magnesium castings and hot formed magnesium sheet. The remaining 4% consists of carbon and glass fibre-reinforced plastic parts. Some technological highlights include a tunnel with reinforcements made of press hardened tailor welded and tailor rolled steel blanks respectively, front longitudinal members made of aluminium tailor welded blanks, a centre roof crossbeam in carbon fibre-reinforced plastic pultrusion technology as well as a hot formed magnesium roof panel with front and rear roof crossbeams in the same technology. Other interesting solutions which do not only offer major weight savings, but also reduce the number of parts by the integration of functions are the high-pressure die cast magnesium strut towers and the rear floor in long-fibre reinforced thermoplastic (LFT) technology ( Goede, 2009a, 2009b ). With all these innovations in body engineering, the SuperLIGHT-Car project is expected to create an important momentum for the more widespread application of multi-material solutions in future high-volume cars.
9.14 . SuperLIGHT-Car final concept.
InCar is an innovation project by the supplier ThyssenKrupp. It comprises a comprehensive set of innovations for the automotive body, chassis and powertrain, each of which are adapted to different requirements in terms of weight reduction, cost-efficiency and functionality. The project follows the tradition of previous research and development activities by the steel industry such as the UltraLight Steel Auto Body (ULSAB), ArcelorMittal Body Concept (ABC), Atlas Spaceframe and NewSteelBody (NSB). It is unique, however, in the extent to which the various solutions have been analysed numerically and validated in terms of technical performance, costs, greenhouse gas emissions and manufacturing feasibility including the physical testing of many prototype parts.
Eight out of 17 sub-projects focus on various components and sub-assemblies of the vehicle body. For most of these applications, more than one solution has been developed, each of them showing a particular profile with regard to weight reduction, cost-efficiency and functionality and offering specific advantages compared with a manufacturer-neutral reference structure. This reference structure, which represents a state-of-the-art upper mid-size station wagon, has been developed within the project too.
A special feature of all these solutions is their modularity, which means that all concepts for a particular body application are interchangeable, so that the various components and sub-assemblies can be combined with each other according to the requirements of specific vehicle programmes. The body components developed in the InCar project show an intensive use of advanced high-strength steels, hot forming technology, tailor welded blanks and steel sandwich materials. Some examples of the most innovative InCar solutions are as follows:
Tubular design concept of the front longitudinal members showing the potential for cost savings and for a weight reduction of up to 9%.
Hot formed body side reinforcement making use of a tailored tempering process to increase the failure strain in areas subjected to severe deformations in a side impact.
Six different B-pillar concepts offering up to 22% weight reduction by the application of a new hot forming steel in combination with tailored tempering in the lightest version of the assembly.
Application of a steel/plastic composite panel as a firewall for improved acoustics, suitable for resistance spot welding by adding electrically conductive particles to the viscoelastic core layer.
Magnesium roof module offering 62% weight reduction.
Advanced side door concept combining several parts in an inner panel including the side-impact beam as well as the hinge and lock reinforcements – up to 11% weight reduction at costs equal to reference.
Bonnet with an outer panel made of a stiffness-optimised steel sandwich blank and meeting the pedestrian impact requirements as a passive system, accompanied by 11% reduction in weight ( Hoffmann, 2009 , ATZ, 2009 ).
The InCar project thus shows that in spite of the already widespread implementation of high-strength and ultra high-strength grades in series production, the classic body material steel still offers further potential for weight reduction. At the same time, it presents an interesting approach to meet the demand for flexible solutions in material usage responding to different priorities in terms of weight reduction, cost-efficiency and functionality.
Although SuperLIGHT-Car and InCar represent only a small extract from all the relevant research and innovation activities with regard to material usage in automotive bodies, these two projects already reveal that there is no simple answer to the question what the future material usage in this field might be. Most probably, the ‘competition of materials’ will go on and result in more and more diversified solutions subject to individual manufacturers’ requirements and ever changing boundary conditions.
How much is possible? An integrative study of intermittent and renewables sources deployment. A case study in Brazil
Fernando Amaral de Almeida Prado Jr , in Renewable-Energy-Driven Future , 2021
This article was developed as a stage of a Research and Development Project in the Brazilian Electric industry conducted under the Programme coordinated by ANEEL – National Electric Energy Agency, entity that exercises regulatory power in Brazil.
The aforementioned project is called IRIS Integration of Intermittent Renewables: a model for simulating the operation of the Brazilian electrical system, to support planning, operation, commercialization and regulation (ANEEL Code PD-0610-1004/2015).
The author manifests his acknowledgments to other professional working in the same project. The finance entities deserve also our recognition of their importance. They are AES Uruguaiana Empreendimentos S/A, Barra do Braúna Energética S/A, Campos Novos Energia S/A, Companhia Energética Rio das Antas, Energética Barra Grande S/A, Foz do Chapeco Energia S/A and Itiquira Energética S/A.
Women and Economic Dimensions of Climate Change
Hurriyet Babacan , in Economic Effects of Natural Disasters , 2021
6.2 Methodological Approach
This chapter draws upon findings from climate change and gender research and development projects conducted between 2014 and 2019 in six countries: Australia, Papua New Guinea (PNG), Kenya, Cambodia, Vanuatu, and Fiji. The studies were in rural contexts and the findings reflected here do not cover urban environments. The projects were focused on exploring the gendered dimensions of climate change, adaptation, and disaster risk reduction. While these projects were distinct and unique in each country, two overall approaches guided the methodology of these projects:
Intersectionality : Intersectionality is a concept developed by Crenshaw (1991) to locating and analyzing multiple constructs of oppression and marginalization. It stems from theories of social location theory which excavates the notion that the intersection of different markers of identity and difference map one’s “social location.” Intersectionality contends that the distinguishing categories within a society, such as race/ethnicity, gender, religion, sexual orientation, class, and other markers of identity and difference, do not function independently but, rather, act in tandem ( Manuel, 2006 :175).
We clearly need new models that will assist us in seeing how structures of power organized around intersecting relations of race, class, and gender frame the social positions occupied by individuals and work in explaining how interlocking systems of oppression produce social locations for us all.
Denis (2008:677) emphasizes that the focus is on a matrix of power relations and the need to have concurrent analyses of multiple, intersecting sources of subordination/oppression. Structural forms of intersectionality refer to the ways in which individuals with intersecting identities find themselves marginalized because of structural barriers (language, gender, governance, institutions, poverty, and citizenship). Structural intersectionality is contextual and dynamic.
Intersectionality is also important in that it enables a noncategorical analysis of individual positions and community locations as women experience them ( Makkonen, 2002 ). It prevents seeing women who experience intersectional discrimination as victims and allows us to see them as actors with agency, a position which is critical when we consider climate change vulnerability for women.
Inclusive Systemic Evaluation for Gender equality, Environments and Marginalized voices (ISE4GEMs). The ISE4GEMs approach is grounded in both systems thinking and complexity. Systems thinking does not separate individual parts of what is being studied to gain understanding, rather focusing the analysis on the interaction between the individual parts giving a more expansive understanding and offering different conclusions. Complexity refers to “situations of change and uncertainty, in which many forces interact simultaneously, so that not only is each place and situation completely different from the next one, the same place is completely different from how it was before” ( Stephens, Lewis, & Reddy, 2018 :11). This considers the interrelationships between gender equality, environments, and marginalized voices (human and nonhuman) using systemic thinking. The ISE4GEMs methodology enables a boundary story to be developed in which intersectional analysis of the gender, environments, and marginalized voices could be included through a range of lenses, including interrelationships, boundaries, and perspectives ( Stephens et al., 2018 ). Data collection is undertaken within specific ethical research values and frameworks. Data triangulation occurs through an analysis of values, boundaries, and findings ( Stephens et al., 2018 ).
It is not the intention of this chapter to report on each country. Individual research reports, written elsewhere, provide the specific findings. Rather this chapter draws upon the metafindings from the research projects to draw a broader conclusion. The research is also supported by an extensive literature review, in academic and gray literature, using key words such as gender, women, climate change, and economic development. The results provided here analyses the findings to identify themes, common issues, cross-linkages, and emerging patterns, as part of data analysis process ( Sarantakos, 2013 ).
Ageing of electric cables in light water reactors (LWRs)
H.M. Hashemian , in Materials Ageing and Degradation in Light Water Reactors , 2013
6.6 Sources of further information
Cable ageing and condition monitoring have been the subject of numerous research and development (R&D) projects, reports, and standards produced by the worldwide nuclear power industry. For example, in the mid-1990s, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) produced one of the first documents (known as TECDOC 1188) on cable degradation, ageing, and testing techniques. In the meantime, the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) conducted a number of research projects on this subject and has published a number of reports that are available to EPRI member utilities. Beginning in 2007, the International Electro technical Commission (IEC) began to prepare new standards, technical reports, and guidelines on the subject of cable ageing, condition monitoring, and testing techniques. Recently, the Nuclear Energy Agency (NEA) in Paris has taken up the subject and has already issued a comprehensive report on ageing of nuclear power plant components, systems, and structures (SSCs) including cables. The NRC’s office of research has been evaluating the cable ageing issue and has drafted a regulatory guide entitled ‘Condition Monitoring Program for Electric Cables Used in Nuclear Power Plants’ (DG-1240). In April 2009, the NRC released the Regulatory Guide 1.211 ‘Qualification of Safety-Related Cables and Field Splices for Nuclear Power Plants,’ which is concerned with acceptable qualification, maintenance, and testing of power cables as well as instrumentation and control (I&C) cables.
Cable Testing Standards
Organization Standard Number Standard Name
IEEE 383–2003 Standard for Qualifying Class 1E Electric Cables and Field Splices for Nuclear Power Generating Stations
IEEE 400–2001 Guide for Field Testing and Evaluation of the Insulation of Shielded Power Cable Systems
IEEE 400.2–2004 Guide for Field Testing of Shielded Power Cable Systems Using Very Low Frequency
IEEE 400.3–2006 Guide for Partial Discharge Testing of Shielded Power Cable Systems in a Field Environment
IEEE 576–2000 Recommended Practice for Installation, Termination, and Testing of Insulated Power Cable as Used in Industrial and Commercial Applications
IEEE 1017–2004 Recommended Practice for Field Testing Electric Submersible Pump Cable IEEE 1407–2007 Guide for Accelerated Aging Tests for Medium-Voltage (5 kV–35 kV) Extruded Electric Power Cable Using Water-Filled Tanks
IEC 60811 Common Test Methods for Insulating and Sheathing Materials of Electric Cables
IEC 60840 Power Cables With Extruded Insulation and Their Accessories for Rated Voltages Above 30 kV up to 150 kV – Test Methods And Requirements
IEC 60332 (10 in total) Test on Electric and Optical Fiber Cables Under Fire Conditions
ASTM D257 – 07 Standard Test Methods for DC Resistance or Conductance of Insulating Materials
ASTM DF2765 – 01 Standard Test Methods for Determination of Gel Content and Swell Ratio of Crosslinked Ethylene Plastics
Krzysztof Jan Siczek , in Next-Generation Batteries with Sulfur Cathodes , 2019
As reported in Ref.  , large-scale research and development projects on lithium-FeS and Li-FeS 2 batteries are underway at the Argonne National Laboratory and several other US organizations. Two types of batteries have been developed, one for electric vehicles and military applications, and the other for load balancing in power plants. In the first type of battery, FeS 2 cathodes were used, ensuring higher efficiency (nominal specific energy was 150 Wh kg − 1 ), but shorter service life and planned life (planned life was 1000 cycles, and lifetime 3 years) and the need to use more expensive materials. The second type of battery used FeS cathodes. The specific energy was half that for FeS 2 batteries, but their cost was lower by almost 50%, and the planned life and service life were up to 3000 cycles and 10 years, respectively. The second type of battery was designed for lower charging and discharging currents and had higher efficiency. When the batteries did not work they could be cooled to room temperature—that is, the electrolyte could be frozen. The batteries could then be heated to operating temperature without losing capacity or lowering the parameters. This significantly simplified the long-term storage of batteries. One of the battery prototypes for electric vehicles had a volume of 320 L and a mass of 820 kg. The cathode was made of FeS with the addition of CoS 2 . Several layers of active material alternating with the graphitized material were placed in a basket of molybdenum mesh welded to the central molybdenum current collector. The cathode was wrapped by a two-layer separator. The inner layer consisted of a ZrO 2 material and the outer layer was made of a boron nitride (BN) fabric. The anode consisted of a lithium alloy with silicon in a porous nickel matrix. The container and cover were made of stainless steel, electrically connected to the anode. The prototype was loaded with current up to 50 A, and the specific power was up to 53 W kg − 1  . A larger battery, intended for a submarine, had a closed container with six cathodes and six anodes. The anodes were made of a lithium-aluminum alloy. Separators made of BN fabric were placed between the electrodes. The battery had the following dimensions: diameter 30.5 cm; height 21.1 cm; weight 43 kg; rated discharging voltage 1.45 V; and the correct capacity is about 150 Wh kg − 1 . The battery was designed for a normalized current consumption of j d = 0.08.
Predicting the failure of bonded structural joints in marine engineering
D. McGeorge , in Adhesives in Marine Engineering , 2012
The experience on which this chapter has been based was gained through participation research and development projects in the naval and offshore sectors. This started in the European defence research project EUCLID RTP3.21 funded by the Ministries of Defence (MoD) in Denmark, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway and the UK and industrial partners. Further experience was gained in a joint industry project on bonded composite repair of offshore structures sponsored by Petrobras, PETRONAS, Cono-coPhillips, Statoil, Norsk Hydro (now Statoil) and Shell. It would not have been possible to provide the recommendations herein without the support received for those projects.
Spin-transfer-torque magnetoresistive random access memory (STT-MRAM) technology
H. Ohno , ... S. Ikeda , in Advances in Non-volatile Memory and Storage Technology , 2014
Part of the authors’ work described here has been supported by the project ‘Research and Development of Ultra-low Power Spintronics-based VLSIs’ through the ‘Funding Program for World-Leading Innovative R&D on Science and Technology (FIRST Program)’ by the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS) initiated by the Council for Science and Technology Policy (CSTP) and ‘Research and Development of Spintronics Material and Device Science and Technology for a Disaster-Resistant Safe and Secure Society’ program under Research and Development for Next-Generation Information Technology of Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT). The authors thank Takashi Ohsawa and Naoki Kasai for their support.
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The value of a good research plan
A research plan is a guiding framework that can make or break the efficiency and success of your research project. Oftentimes teams avoid them because they’ve earned a reputation as a dry or actionless document — however, this doesn’t have to be the case.
In this article, we’ll go over the most important aspects of a good research plan and show you how they can be visual and actionable with monday.com Work OS.
Why is the research plan pivotal to a research project?
A research plan is pivotal to a research project because it identifies and helps define your focus, method, and goals while also outlining the research project from start to finish.
This type of plan is often necessary to:
- Apply for grants or internal company funding.
- Discover possible research partners or business partners.
- Take your research from an idea into reality.
It will also control the entire journey of the research project through every stage by defining crucial research questions and the hypothesis (theory) that you’ll strive to prove or disprove.
What goes into a research plan?
The contents of a thorough research plan should include a hypothesis, methodology, and more. There is some variation between academic and commercial research, but these are common elements:
- Hypothesis: the problem you are trying to solve and the basis for a theoretical solution. For example, if I reduce my intake of calories, I’ll lose weight.
- Research questions: research questions help guide your investigation into particular issues. If you were looking into the potential impact of outsourcing production, you might ask something like: how would outsourcing impact our production costs?
- Research method: the method you’ll use to get the data for your research. For example, a case study, survey, interviews, a clinical trial, or user tests.
- Definitions: a glossary for the research plan, explaining the terminology that you use throughout the document.
- Conceptual frameworks: a conceptual framework helps illustrate what you think you’ll discover with your research. In a sense, it’s a visual representation of a more complex hypothesis.
For commercial plans, there will also likely be a budget and timeline estimate, as well as concrete hypothetical benefits for the company (such as how much money the project should save you).
OK, so you’ve got a handle on the building blocks of a research plan, but how should you actually write it?
How do you write a research plan on monday.com?
The first, and perhaps most crucial part of having a good research plan is having the right medium for creating and sharing it. Using a pre-defined template can also make it much easier to get started.
On monday.com, you can choose from several templates like the Project Proposal Template or better yet the Research Power Tools Template to manage all aspects of your project including important communication with internal and external stakeholders and teammates.
Use your template to:
- Create workdocs
- Upload assets
- Provide feedback
- Assign task owners
- Automate communication
The next step in writing a research plan is choosing the topic. To pick the right topic, focus on these factors:
- What are the priorities of the potential funder/employer, such as the company or institution?
- Are there any relevant recent studies with results you can build on and explore with further research?
- Can you creatively adapt your experience — whether post-grad or professional — to make you the natural candidate? They don’t just need to believe in the research project, but also in your ability to manage it successfully.
Do your research, no pun intended. Once you’ve got the topic, you need to work on fleshing out the core ideas with the building blocks we mentioned above.
- Get specific with your research questions and goals. Don’t go with, “how can we revolutionize our HR practices?” Instead use, “what is the economic and environmental impact of only accepting digital CVs?”
- Use clear language aimed at gatekeepers. If it’s a CTO (Chief Technology Officer) or a lab committee, you can use well-known technical terms. If they aren’t technical experts, adjust accordingly.
- Include preliminary data or highlight similar studies. For companies, showing that a similar approach helped a competitor is a better argument than an empty assertion.
The recommended length of the plan depends on who you’re sending it to and their expectations. If possible, look at successful examples or directly ask your potential employers about their preferences. Not only do you need the right idea, but you also need to present it in the right way for your research project to have a fighting chance.
What is a good research plan?
A good research plan is one that gets accepted and funded to start doing the research.
If you want to plan a pivotal study, it’s not enough to consider the problem in a vacuum. You also need to evaluate how you can best communicate the value of your project to the gatekeepers.
Consider the entirety of your current situation and what that means for your project.
For example, inputs like funding, staff, IP, and how the scale of the project lines up with your company’s research budget. Or how it aligns with the goals of a University program. If the primary goal of the research is to impact a company or government agency directly, you should consider these stages of research engagement.
( Image Source )
- Inputs: anything from funding and staff to company IP that you need to both run the project and implement any results. Does this line up with the budget?
- Activities: case studies, trials, surveys, the actual research.
- Outputs: the final reports, any publications, and raw data.
- Outcome: how will it directly impact the company, organization, or larger society?
- Impacts: what are the indirect benefits or downsides?
In an internal research proposal, you can outline these aspects in separate sections. That allows different execs or managers to focus on the details that matter most to them. You must also work to engage stakeholders and make sure that they understand the importance of your project.
Frequently asked questions
What are the 5 purposes of research.
The 2 primary purposes of research are to gather information or test an existing theory. When broken down further, you can see 5 more specific purposes:
- Exploratory research is an early-stage inquiry that explores a topic for further study down the line, like exploring the deep ocean with a submersible vehicle.
- Descriptive research aims to explore and describe a specific substance, person, or phenomenon.
- Explanatory research is about figuring out the causal relationship, why something happens.
- Predictive research is all about trying to predict what might happen in specific situations based on the properties of the research object.
- Meta-research looks for overarching insights from multiple sources and tests the validity of common hypotheses.
What is a research work plan?
A research work plan is another name for a research plan, which is a critical component of any research proposal. Universities, labs, and companies use them to evaluate research projects before they decide to accept them.
As a researcher, it’s essential when targeting a funding opportunity of any kind.
What are the methods of research?
There are many research methods ranging from a simple online survey to a high-budget clinical study. Here are some examples of popular data collection methods:
- Clinical trials
- Case studies
Which one is right for your plan depends on your hypothesis, goals, industry regulations, and more.
Create a dynamic research plan
If you want to turn your research project into a reality, you need to go beyond the academic and into management mode.
With a template from monday.com, you can plan out a research project from start to finish. Including goals and objectives, budget estimates, milestones, and more.
One platform for better teamwork
With monday.com work os.
- Handbook Archive
Research Project Development
Subject 505-948 (2008)
Note: This is an archived Handbook entry from 2008. Search for this in the current handbook
For the purposes of considering request for Reasonable Adjustments under the Disability Standards for Education (Cwth 2005), and Student Support and Engagement Policy, academic requirements for this subject are articulated in the Subject Overview, Learning Outcomes, Assessment and Generic Skills sections of this entry.
It is University policy to take all reasonable steps to minimise the impact of disability upon academic study, and reasonable adjustments will be made to enhance a student's participation in the University's programs. Students who feel their disability may impact on meeting the requirements of this subject are encouraged to discuss this matter with a Faculty Student Adviser and Student Equity and Disability Support: http://services.unimelb.edu.au/disability
Download PDF version .
Research development guides
The R&E Foundation is here to assist you in developing your research idea. This guide will help you clarify your initial idea and build an actual project for an R&E Foundation grant application. If you already know where you want to go on this page, you can use the links below to jump to that section. Otherwise, start at the beginning.
Develop your idea
Steps to success, helpful resources.
When it comes to developing a topic for research, we have some recommended guidelines to make the process easier.
First, determine your area of curiosity.
What are you interested in? What excites you? What questions about the radiologic sciences keep you up at night? Where does your passion lie?
Once you know that, develop research questions related to that curiosity. For each of those research questions, you need to answer the following:
- What does this have to do with anything? If you can’t answer this question, you need to reevaluate the research question, maybe even your topic.
- Who cares about the result? If you're the only one who’s curious about this topic, then find out if it could benefit anyone else. That might mean exploring additional resources or reaching out to people working in the fields you wish to benefit.
- Do we already know this? If the answer is yes, try to modify your idea to fit missing elements that haven’t been explored. Or, you’ll need to find a new idea.
- Are you playing with black boxes? Are the inputs and outputs the only known components of your idea, while the actual mechanism for the system is unknown?
- Is this research or evaluation? Research is based on the development of a hypothesis and has specific aims. It contributes to the greater knowledge of an area of study. Evaluation is a measure of assessing an individual’s or a program’s progress. Results are often submitted back to a supporting or governing body and publication is less likely.
Once you’ve determined your research topic, you'll need to create a project. We've put together a list of steps and questions to guide you through this process. Your project might only address one or two questions for each step. It all depends on your project scope.
- What is currently known in this area within the literature?
- Are there resources outside of radiology that will help project development?
- What is the need for or benefit of this area of investigation?
- How will this investigation add to the literature?
- What is the significance?
- If this educational project is to replace current educational programming, how is this an improvement? Any goals, objectives and outcomes should back up this claim.
- Is the hypothesis (or hypotheses) clear?
- Is the hypothesis concise and does it have a limited number of confounding factors?
- Does the study have practical or theoretical value?
- Does the hypothesis lend itself to empirical testing?
- Can data be obtained?
- Does the research promote quality?
- Does the research build from the existing knowledge base?
- Does the research enhance professional development?
- Who is going to be studied or taught?
- Who will immediately benefit from this investigation?
- Other than the immediate beneficiaries, are there larger groups that will benefit as well?
- Learning design requires you to fully understand the innovative forms of education you want to create in order to create them.
- You address complex problems in real contexts.
- Then integrate known and hypothetical design principles with technological affordances to render plausible solutions to those complex problems.
- Lastly, you’ll conduct rigorous and reflective inquiries to test and refine innovative learning environments as well as to define new design principles.
- Create a curriculum that addresses competency issues, gaps in knowledge, skill or whatever your research topic is.
- If your project includes a competency assessment, define how competency is to be evaluated.
- Are there national standards currently in place?
- Is there one available or do you need to create your own?
- Identify meaningful measures that are reproducible and are as objective as possible.
- Is the method appropriate to the hypothesis? Explain why.
- Do procedures follow an orderly, logical sequence? Explain.
- Is there evidence in reviews of previous studies to indicate context of this study in relation to the body of knowledge?
- How is data going to be collected? Surveys, interviews, competency evaluation, etc.
- How is data going to be recorded?
- How is the reliability and validity of the results going to be evaluated?
- What statistical evaluation is going to be used? Explain.
- How many subjects will participate in the study?
- Are the studied participants a representative case sample?
- Is there a sufficient number of participants for observation?
- Was approval to conduct the study obtained? From whom?
- Do participants need to sign an informed consent?
- Do you have IRB evaluation and approval?
- What outcomes are expected from the results?
- If the results are not attained, are there any contingency plans in place?
- Are there plans to evaluate the reasons why the goals were not attained?
- Can the reasons for success or failure be predicted?
- Does the program fulfill ACGME competency assessments?
- What important conclusions are expected?
- What are the positive aspects of this research?
- What are the negative aspects of this research?
We know you might want or need a few more resources for your research plan. We’ve taken key topics for all of the different kinds of projects you might have and categorized them into additional resources and information on each.
However, these resources are supplementary. If you need help with the development of your initial idea, we suggest you utilize the following tools:
- The BMC Med Educ. article on digital tools for clinical education
Rubrics are a means of assessing a learner based on individual progress toward previously set standards. This avoids comparing one learner to another, while still ensuring they meet the milestones required for progression.
You can use previously developed rubrics for your project. However, sometimes a project requires something more specific. Developing your own rubric isn’t as daunting as it may sound. Simply follow these steps:
- Identify what you’ll be assessing — a concept or a goal.
- Identify the important dimensions or characteristics of that concept or goal.
- Provide a description of the highest possible level of performance.
- Provide a description of the most basic level of performance.
- Provide a description of an unacceptable or the lowest level of performance.
- Develop a scale to reflect a learner’s competency, similar to a Likert Scale. This scale can look however you want. Some run it from one to five —meaning unacceptable, marginal, acceptable, good, and outstanding. Others run the scale from one to three for novice, competent and exemplary.
Once you’ve completed your rubric, show it to your colleagues for feedback. If it adequately assesses your concept or goal and is achievable, then you’re good to go. Otherwise, revise accordingly.
For more information on rubrics, we suggest you look into the following:
- Stevens, D. D. & Levi, A. J. (2005). Introduction To Rubrics . Stylus Publishing, LLC.
- Scoring Rubrics: What, When and How from "Practical Assessment, Research & Evaluation"
- The resources found on The Assessment Commons
- Carnegie Mellon's assessing teaching and learning resources
- Dent, J., & Harden, R. M. (2013). "A Practical Guide for Medical Teachers." Churchill Livingstone. Section 3: Educational Strategies
- Diamond, R. M. (2011). "Designing and Assessing Courses and Curricula." John Wiley & Sons. Chapters 1 (A learning centered approach to course and curriculum design), 2 (expanding role of faculty in accreditation and accountability), 4 (scholarship and faculty rewards), 5 (Introduction to the model and its benefits), 9 (linking goals, courses and curricula), 10 (gathering and analyzing essential data), 20 (meeting the needs of adult learners)
- Kern, D. E., Thomas, P. A., & Hughes, M. T. (2009). "Curriculum Development for Medical Education." Johns Hopkins University Press.
- Southgate, L., Hays, R. B., Norcini, J., Mulholland, H., Ayers, B., Woolliscroft, J., et al. (2001). "Setting Performance Standards for Medical Practice: A Theoretical Framework." Medical Education, 35(5), pp. 474–481. doi:10.1046/j.1365-2923.2001.00897.x
- Heirich, M. (1980). "The People We Teach: Aids to Course Planning." Teaching Sociology, pp. 281–302.
- Dent, J., & Harden, R. M. (2013). "A Practical Guide for Medical Teachers." Churchill Livingstone. Section 6: Assessment
- Suskie, L. (2010). "Assessing Student Learning." John Wiley & Sons. [nice resource for all around general information]
- Walvoord, B. E. (2010). "Assessment Clear and Simple: A Practical Guide for Institutions, Departments, and General Education." [nice basic resource]
- Ewell, P. T. (2005). "Can Assessment Serve Accountability? It Depends on the Question." In J. Wergin (Ed.), "Achieving Accountability in Higher Education; Balancing Public, Academic, and Market Demands" (pp. 104–124). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
- Palomba, C. A., & Banta, T. W. (1999a). "The Essentials of Successful Assessment." In "Assessment Essentials" (p. 405). Jossey-Bass.
- Palomba, C. A., & Banta, T. W. (1999b). "Selecting Methods and Approaches." In "Assessment Essentials" (85–113). Jossey-Bass.
- Pike, G. R. (2002). "Measurement Issues in Outcomes Assessment." In "Building a Scholarship of Assessment" (131–164). Jossey-Bass.
- Schuh, J. H. (2009). "Assessment Methods for Student Affairs." Jossey-Bass. Chapter 3: Planning for and implementing data collection; Chapter 4: Selecting, sampling and soliciting subjects
- Walvoord, B. E. (2003). "Assessment in Accelerated Learning Programs: A Practical Guide." In "New Directions For Adult & Continuing Education." 2003(97), 39-50. doi:10.1002/ace.87
- Wang, X., & Hurley, S. (2012). "Assessment as a Scholarly Activity?: Faculty Perceptions of and Willingness to Engage in Student Learning Assessment." In The Journal of General Education. 1-15. 10.1353/jge.2012.0005
Validity and reliability
- Moskal, B. M., & Leydens, J. A. (2000). "Scoring Rubric Development: Validity and Reliability." Practical Assessment, Research & Evaluation, 7(10), 1–11.
- Shavelson, R. J., & Huang, L. (2003). "Responding Responsibly." Change (Abstracts), 35(1), 10–19.
Clinical education and assessment
- Farmer, E. A., & Page, G. (2005). "A Practical Guide to Assessing Clinical Decision-making Skills Using the Key Features Approach." Medical Education, 39(12), 1188–1194. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2929.2005.02339.x
- Friedman, A. J., Cosby, R., Boyko, S., Hatton-Bauer, J., & Turnbull, G. (2010). "Effective Teaching Strategies and Methods of Delivery for Patient Education: A Systematic Review and Practice Guideline Recommendations." Journal of Cancer Education, 26(1), 12–21. doi:10.1007/s13187-010-0183-x
If your project is focused on ACGME based competencies, review the resources at the ACGME website . Each residency program director should have access to the department’s specific competency requirements. Contact the residency program director to ensure your project is in alignment with the residency goals (PDF).
For more information on competency, please refer to the resources below:
- Gunderman, R. B. (2009). "Competency-Based Training: Conformity and the Pursuit of Educational Excellence." Radiology , 252 (2), 324–326. doi:10.1148/radiol.2522082183
- Leung, W.-C. (2002). "Competency Based Medical Training: Review." The BMJ (Clinical research ed.), 325(7366), 693–696.
- Morag, E., Lieberman, G., Volkan, K., Shaffer, K., Novelline, R., & Lang, E. V. (2001). "Clinical Competence Assessment in Radiology: Introduction of an Objective Structured Clinical Examination in the Medical School Curriculum." Academic Radiology , 8 (1), 74–81. doi:10.1016/S1076-6332(03)80746-8
- Newble, D. (2004). "Techniques for Measuring Clinical Competence: Objective Structured Clinical Examinations." Medical Education , 38 (2), 199–203. doi:10.1046/j.1365-2923.2004.01755.x
- Rothwell, W. J., & Graber, J. M. (2010). "Competency-Based Training Basics." American Society for Training and Development.
- Smee, S. (2003). "ABC of learning and teaching in medicine: skill based assessment." The BMJ , 326 (7391), 703.
- Swanson, D. B., Norman, G. R., & Linn, R. L. (1995). "Performance-Based Assessment: Lessons From the Health Professions." Educational Researcher , 24 (5), 5–11. doi:10.3102/0013189X024005005
- Williamson, K. B., Steele, J. L., Gunderman, R. B., Wilkin, T. D., Tarver, R. D., Jackson, V. P., & Kreipke, D. L. (2002). "Assessing Radiology Resident Reporting Skills." Radiology , 225 (3), 719–722. doi:10.1148/radiol.2253011335
Accreditation in higher education
- Wergin, J. (2005a). "Higher Education: Waking Up to the Importance of Accreditation." Change (Abstracts), 35–41.
- Wergin, J. (2005b). Taking responsibility for student learning: the role of accreditation. Change (Abstracts), 37(1), 30–33. doi:10.3200/CHNG.37.1.30-33
- Bransford, J., Vye, N., Stevens, R., Kuhl, P., Schwartz, D., Bell, P., et al. (2005). "Learning Theories and Education: Toward a Decade of Synergy." Handbook of Educational Psychology (2nd edition).
- Brookfield, S. (1995). "Adult Learning: An Overview." International Encyclopedia of Education, 1–16.
- Pratt, D. D. (2006). "Three Stages of Teacher Competence: A Developmental Perspective." New Directions For Adult & Continuing Education, 1989(43), 77–87. doi:10.1002/ace.36719894309
We recommend the following articles on improving educational research:
- Burkhardt, H., & Schoenfeld, A. H. (2003). "Improving Educational Research: Toward a More Useful, More Influential, and Better-Funded Enterprise." Educational Researcher, 32(9), 3–14.
- Education, C. O. R. I., National Research Council. (2004). "Advancing Scientific Research in Education." Educational research National Academies Press.
- Akkervan, J., Gravemeijer, K., McKenney, S., & Nieveen, N. (2006). "Introducing Educational Design Research." Routledge New York, NY.
RSNA provides numerous grant writing workshops, including half-day sessions and weekend courses. Find which workshop is right for you.
For other grant writing resources, we suggest the following:
- Carlson, M., O'Neal-McElrath, T., & Management, T. A. F. N. (2008). "Winning Grants Step by Step." John Wiley & Sons.
- The NIH articles on how to write an effective grant proposal
- "How to Write a Grant Proposal" by David Sarokin
Another great resource when writing grant proposals is reviewing past submissions. Here are a few high-quality grant applications that did well at study section. However, keep in mind not every section of every application is perfect.
- ESCH1101_Xiaoming Yang (PDF)
- ESCH1210_Priscilla Slanetz (PDF)
- ESCH1221_James Duncan (PDF)
- ESCH1224_Salvador Pedraza (PDF)
- ESCH1228_Saurabh Jha (PDF)
- ESCH1229_Sergio Uribe (PDF)
- ESCH1308_Daniel Golden (PDF)
- ESCH1317_Sarabjeet Singh (PDF)
- ESCH1319_Rathan Subramaniam (PDF)
About the R&E Foundation
Our Research & Education Foundation provides a critical source of support for investigators. Since the Foundation’s inception in 1984 we’ve awarded over 1,600 grants. That’s $70 million in funding for radiology research and improving patient care.
- Biomedical Research Core Facilities
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Research project management.
The Medical School Office of Research has established several resources to help researchers at every stage of the grant process. From pre-award to post-award, here are some valuable resources to guide you through the grant process.
Grant Services & Analysis provides services with regards to proposal review and submission, research data analysis, and guidance on policies, projects and training. They review all proposals routed through eResearch Proposal Management (eRPM) and material transfer agreements involving Medical School faculty and/or space for compliance with school, university and sponsor guidelines. After receiving the official award, they provide faculty support for sponsored project post-award management.
Additionally, to help you navigate the vast resources available to you for your research project, the Medical School Office of Research maintains a guide titled "Managing a Research Operation." These resources provide “helpful tips” from veteran principal investigators, lab managers, and research administrators regarding human resources, finance, lab management, and safety and compliance.
POST-AWARD SPONSORED PROJECT MANAGEMENT
Post-award procedures manual.
The Post-Award Procedures Manual is a comprehensive manual that represents the consolidation of the Medical School post-award procedures and best practices. It is designed to serve the sponsored project post-award community, is based on the utilization of the Real-Time Financials modules, and is written with the assumption that the reader has a basic knowledge of post-award policies and University procedures.
For more Post-Award resources, visit the Grant Services & Analysis Post-Award page.
Research Procurement refers to the purchasing of goods and services that are required to carry-out research activities. The Medical School utilizes the Purchasing Request Form (PRF), found in the M-Pathways Financials & Physical Resources System to document the request, approval(s) and receipt of research goods and services.
Handling Salary Over the Cap
The "Over the Cap" excel spreadsheet is available to assist in calculating the over the cap salary amount. This spreadsheet walks you through capturing effort distribution over multiple projects, allows you to apply multiple caps to one individual capturing project award dates, and calculates effort and salary distributions (by project/grant) and includes the cumulative “over the cap” distribution to enter in the HR system. The spreadsheet is populated with the current DHHS salary cap but can be overridden as needed.
Effort Reporting - This link takes you to the Michigan Medicine site that houses the effort reporting policy. The policy details how Medical School and Michigan Medicine faculty and staff report time and effort.
Establishing Subaccounts - This policy describes when a subaccount should be expected and provided.
M-Reports is a web-based reporting tool that facilitates efficient analysis of financial, student, and human resources data and more to foster data-driven decisions. For more information, visit Information & Technology Services' Analytics & Reporting page.
The Medical School Regulatory Affairs provides an overview of the steps researchers must take to register their clinical trials on ClinicalTrials.gov. To learn more, visit their website . They also offer monthly training opportunities .
Sponsor & Investigator Reporting Requirements
Individual sponsors have different reporting requirements for research. Specific sponsor requirements for the reports are usually defined in the award package. The U-M Office of Research and Sponsored Projects Project Representatives can be contacted for any clarification that may be necessary.
Investigators and research staff are responsible for reporting information concerning the approved research to the IRB in a timely fashion. For more information, visit IRBMED's Adverse Events (AEs), Other Reportable Information and Occurrences (ORIOs), and Other Required Reporting.
Financial Operations (U-M Standard Practice for Department Record Retention)
NIH Grants Policy Statement, Part II: Terms and Conditions of NIH Grant Awards – Grantees generally must retain financial and programmatic records, supporting documents, statistical records, and all other records that are required by the terms of a grant, or may reasonably be considered pertinent to a grant, for a period of 3 years from the date the annual FSR is submitted. For further information, please refer to the NIH Grants Policy Statement .
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) provides information about record retention in two sections of the Investigational New Drug Application:
- Subpart D, Sec 312.57 Record keeping and record retention
- Subpart D, Sec 312.62 Investigator recordkeeping and record retention
U-M's IACUC and ULAM have policies and guidance for record retention in animal studies including. For more information, visit the Animal Care & Use policies page.
At the end of a project there are important considerations to make sure the project comes to an orderly close. The University has an obligation to sponsors to submit a final technical and financial report. Reporting inventions or patents may be necessary. Closing procedures may vary, depending on the policies of the sponsoring agency and whether the support was in the form of a grant or contract. For more information, visit the Office of Research & Sponsored Projects' Closeout page.
The Finance office provides Sponsored Programs Project/Grant Closeout Checklists that assist with project close-out activities.
Contact Grant Services & Analysis at [email protected] or 734-763-4272 / (Fax 734-615-9458)
Contact the Medical School Office of Research at [email protected] or 734-615-1332 / (Fax 734-615-9458).
A full list of staff is available in the Personnel Directory .
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The R&E Foundation is here to assist you in developing your research idea. This guide will help you clarify your initial idea and build an actual project
RESEARCH PROJECT MANAGEMENT. The Medical School Office of Research has established several resources to help researchers at every stage of the grant process