Writing a Project Plan - Undergraduate Research at Northeastern University

You are probably familiar with the essential journalistic questions, “Who? What? When? Where? Why? How?” While different types of research projects and creative endeavors may require more or less formal or extensive written plans, in general, a strong research proposal will answer those same questions with regard to the project you propose. Discussions with your mentor will help you refine your ideas, and you should ask your mentor for feedback on drafts of any written proposals before you submit them.

When presenting a plan for a project, you should be able to:

  • Formulate a research question or a description of what you intend to create, invent or discover, and provide background information for your project, contextualizing it in terms of the broader work in the field.
  • Discuss the potential significance of the project, both for your own personal development (academic plans, career ambitions) and your field of specialization (the uniqueness and importance of your potential contribution).
  • Describe your methodology: the theoretical basis upon which you will rely and the tools, techniques and approaches you will utilize, as well a specific course of action for carrying the project through to completion. This should include

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    an assessment of resources required for the project. For group projects, you may (depending on the field) need to justify undertaking the project as a group and detail what role you expect each member to play in seeing the project through to fruition.

  • Provide a detailed and feasible timeline, demonstrating that the project can reasonably be accomplished in the time frame allotted.
  • Acknowledge potential challenges that you might encounter, how they could affect your work and what adaptations you may have to make in response to them.
  • Detail a prudent budget that accounts for necessary expenses like supplies or travel, as well as for your time, if applicable; for example, if your project reduces the number of hours you can work elsewhere, how will you account for that?
  • State the expected outcomes of your project and how you plan to share those results. Identify potential venues to share your work both within and outside Northeastern—for more information, see our “Share Your Work” pages.
  • Provide any necessary supplementary materials, such as a preliminary bibliography and the sources cited in your proposal, graphs and illustrations, preliminary research you’ve completed or a portfolio of your creative work.

Category: Research proposal

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