The art of organization is essential in many facets of life, but especially important when planning a research project. It doesn’t take long to learn a lack of organization can quickly hinder the research process, along with creating unnecessary stress. If you are like most, the initial intention to stay organized is there, but implementing these strategies proves to be more difficult than planned. To aid in this process, here are five tips to help keep your project organized and help you achieve your research goals.
1. Choose an Outline Method
An outline acts as a road map for your project. It helps you organize and prioritize your thoughts and information. Fortunately, there is no right or wrong way to design your outline and there are various commonly used methods. For those who are more visual, utilizing a chart with boxes and connecting lines may be beneficial. Another common avenue is using bullet points in more of a linear format. The method that you choose can vary, but it is essential to stay consistent throughout your project so all information stays organized.
2. Create Goals and Deadlines
Procrastination can easily sneak up on anyone. To combat this behavior, create goals and hard deadlines that are attainable and ensure you adhere to them. To successfully implement this strategy, create a hierarchy of goals and then determine a target completion date for each goal. Estimating the time commitment of each task can be difficult, but regularly reviewing these timelines can help ensure you stay on track.
3. Use a Calendar
Calendars are excellent for recording significant dates on the horizon, such as mid-project reports and goal deadlines. Each researcher should utilize the calendar method that works best for them, regardless if it’s in a digital or physical format. For this strategy to be successful, it is of the utmost importance to record the relevant dates ahead of time and refer to the calendar regularly.
4. Research Notebook
A research notebook, digital or physical, is a tool to keep all pertinent information relating to your project in one place. Dating each entry guarantees you can quickly locate necessary documents within your notebook. Most research projects occur over several months and up to several years, so you are likely to have an abundance of papers and information. Dating and consolidating documents make your research notebook an effective and efficient tool.
5. Weekly Progress Reports
Weekly progress reports are a simple yet useful tool for keeping your project on track and holding yourself accountable to your goals. At the end of each week, you should check and record the progress you have made and consider how it contributes to your overall project. Weekly reports are a great opportunity to reference the calendar, so you are prepared for what is on the horizon.
Overall, research projects benefit from robust organization and utilizing these techniques will help you stay on track and focused. Fortunately, there are a variety of strategies you can utilize to keep your research project organized.
Are you looking for funding for your project? The CCI Research Foundation begins accepting grant applications on January 1, 2020. Be sure to submit yours to be considered! Visit the apply page to sign up for a reminder when applications open.
McLean, S. (2012). Managing Your Research Project . In Writing for Success v. 1.0. Saylor Academy .
Shaw, K. A. (2014, June). Organizing Your Research and Developing Your Research Skills . IEEE Potentials, vol. 33, issue 3, pp. 17-22.