The Practical Benefits of a Research Plan | Tips on How to Get Published
With the summer break well under way and time already flying by far too quickly, the necessity of a research plan may be growing all too clear to those academics and scientists who have still not sorted out exactly what they are going to achieve in the weeks available. Whether you have simply been too busy with other tasks, are a notorious procrastinator or hate to get started on a research project when you are unsure you will be able to finish in the time available, writing up a research plan is an excellent idea. Assuming that fretting over a detailed outline does not become a form of procrastination in itself, the procrastinator finds it more difficult to put the work off when there is a clear plan to follow, and if starting is a problem, designing a plan is a painless way of beginning and again outlines a clear route for moving ahead. A well-considered plan is always an excellent foundation on which to build a research project, and the most effective of plans can even reveal the route to exceeding your own expectations for a period of time. The following suggestions may prove helpful as you devise your summer research plan.
Increase Your Chances of Getting Published
• Draw up your plan in a form that will prove both clear and readily changeable. You will no doubt want to add and delete tasks and events as your research proceeds, so a dedicated journal with lots of space, a computer file that is easily accessed or a filing system of index cards that can be added or removed as necessary will be effective.
• Try to anticipate and fulfill essential research needs ahead of time, especially those which will take a considerable amount of time to arrange. You do not want to have your progress hindered at a crucial moment or to discover that there are no rooms left in the town where you are presenting your latest paper at a conference.
• Advanced research often takes more time than the investigators planning it expect. Be aware that there may be complications and delays, that imperfect conditions may necessitate the repetition of certain procedures, and that exciting new discoveries – just the kind you want to make – may mean adjustments and additions to research processes. Recognise that the research will proceed at its own pace to some degree and allow enough time for at least a hiccough or two.
• Plan in a way that enables the overlapping of tasks and the accommodation of alternate activities. For instance, effectively anticipating the possibility of delays in one aspect of your research could mean planning an alternate activity that could fill that time such as analysing data already gathered or beginning to write up reports of individual trials. Later on in the process, when you are waiting for feedback from the colleague or mentor you recruited to offer you some critical commentary on your writing, you could check and refine your citations, quotations and references. Still later when you are awaiting a response from that acquisitions editor, you might be planning curricula for the courses you will soon be teaching. This will mean that your course preparation will already be done if you get a request for revisions from a publisher just as your break is ending.
• Do not underestimate the time it will take to write about your research, even if it is only a short article you are hoping to draft and submit to an academic or scientific journal for publication. If you also plan to blog about your research and give a presentation or two over the summer, these will require considerable time as well. Keep in mind that each document you intend to disseminate should be proofread and corrected with care to ensure clarity and maintain the professional standard of your scholarly work.
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