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ResMAP: Planning Your Research

Mapping the research journey for Post Graduate and Doctoral Researchers


TipDissertation support: Managing your supervisor

Study Guide: 2.10 Time management

TipPotential Pitfalls 

Tip: A Gantt chart is a useful tool for planning and scheduling projects. You can use Microsoft Project to create effective Gantt charts.

TipDissertation Writing 3: Writing style and structure

Subject LibGuides

View all our LibGuides via this link.

Planning Your Research

When thinking about your research it is important to recognise that this is a lengthy process, requiring planning and the development of a support network - both formal and informal. Consider whose help and advice you will need during the period of your research: For example Library and Learning Resources staff, other researchers in your field, employers, firends and family.

Establish supervision

The relationship with your supervisor(s) is key to the success of your research. Consult as soon as possible with your supervisor(s) (usually allocated to you) for advice on the expected scope of your research.

Agree a timetable for regular meetings to discuss progress and do not hide problems - your supervisor can help to resolve these.  Keep brief notes of what is discussed in your meetings. This will help you to remember targets agreed.


Stakeholders and Approval

You should be aware that stakeholder approval (such as the Ethics Committee in Health and Social Care) may need to be sought prior to undertaking your research.

For further details of the University’s Research Ethical Framework visit:

Birmingham City University’s Research Ethical Framework

Birmingham City University Higher Degrees by Research Code of Practice

Birmingham City University Guidelines and Procedures for Good Research Practice

Faculty of Health Research: Ethics and Indemnity

Discuss with your supervisor what requirements there may be both for ethical approval and research indemnity. Ethics approval may also need to be sought from external agencies (e.g. The Health Research Authority). Also discuss who the stakeholders might be. It is worth considering not just those on whom the research will have a direct impact but also those where the impact is less obvious.

Also consider whether you need anyone’s permission to do this research? For example, if you plan to collect data in your workplace or other organisation you will need written permission from the manager(s) in that place and may be required to undertake orientation training where safety may be an issue.

Time management

It is important to work out a plan for your research and stick to it. You need to be clear about different tasks that you have and how and when you will achieve them. Having a clear deadline of what you want to have completed each week will enable you to plan your time better and hopefully will result in a well planned and executed dissertation. Consider your submission date, what you need to achieve and plan accordingly. Problems will always arise and it is essential to account for these by planning your time effectively.

In addition, keeping a reflective diary (sometimes referred to as a learning log or lab log) on your research will help you to keep track of what you’re doing and what you still need to do.

In consultation with your supervisor, draw up an initial schedule. Having this schedule in front of you all of the time will remind you what you need to do and when you need to do it by.

The Writing Process 

Consider your academic writing style. Ask your supervisor whether there are any writing conventions that need to be followed. Different subject areas will have differing approaches and expections as to format, reporting of results and structure. It is important that these are followed.