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Planning and Managing Scientific Research

Planning and Managing Scientific Research: A guide for the beginning researcher

Brian Kennett
Copyright Date: 2014
Published by: ANU Press
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  • Book Info
    Planning and Managing Scientific Research
    Book Description:

    Although there are many books on project management, few address the issues associated with scientific research. This work is based on extensive scientific research and management experiences and is designed to provide an introduction to planning and managing scientific research for the beginning researcher. The aim is to build an understanding of the nature of scientific research, and the way in which research projects can be developed, planned and managed to a successful outcome. The book is designed to help the transition from being a member of a research team to developing a project and making them work, and to provide a framework for future work. The emphasis of the book is on broadly applicable principles that can be of value irrespective of discipline. It should be of value to researchers in the later stages of Ph.D. work and Postdoctoral workers, and also for independent researchers.

    eISBN: 978-1-925021-59-2
    Subjects: General Science

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-viii)
  3. Preface
    (pp. ix-x)
    Brian Kennett
  4. Chapter 1 The Nature of Research and Innovation
    (pp. 1-18)

    Scientific research encompasses many different styles of activity. The nature of the work varies significantly, depending on the problem and the discipline. The work practices in laboratory-based experimental studies are distinctly different from field-based observations, or theoretical investigations. Nevertheless, broad principles can be recognised that unify the approach to goal-driven research. It is the aim of this short book to provide a guide to successful practice in research, drawing on experience of major research projects and research management.

    An important first step is to understand the context of a research project, and the classes of circumstances and limitations that are...

  5. Chapter 2 The Life Cycle of a Project
    (pp. 19-37)

    Once one has a clear vision for a research topic, the next step is to develop a project, planning the outlines of the work that will be needed to reach the desired goals and outcomes. Another class of research-related project for which planning is critical is in the development of research infrastructure, such as the commissioning of major equipment.

    Normally it will be necessary to seek funding to support the project, and this is done through the submission of a formal research proposal. The requirements for such proposals depend, to some extent, on the individual funding agencies. Nevertheless we can...

  6. Chapter 3 How to Plan and Manage a Project
    (pp. 38-59)

    In the previous chapter we have discussed the development of a research concept, and the way in which this evolves into a specific plan that can form the basis of a research proposal. Now we start to discuss the ways in which research planning can be systematised, and used to manage the activities for one or many projects.

    We start by considering simple projects where the process is linear, and then move to more complex situations involving interdependencies between components of activity. The simple case can be dealt with by a structured task list in anaction plan. Once multiple...

  7. Chapter 4 Communicating Research
    (pp. 60-74)

    The value of research is lost if it is not communicated to others. The extraordinary insights of Leonardo da Vinci remained locked in his mirror script in his notebooks for centuries, and so did not influence subsequent events in the way that they could have, had they been published.

    The scientific paper appearing in a recognised journal remains the primary mode of distributing research results. The form is evolving rapidly in the transition from paper to electronic publishing, but still retains elements from its historical roots. Peer review was introduced for thePhilosophical Transactionsof the Royal Society of London...

  8. Chapter 5 Research Issues
    (pp. 75-80)

    With the trend towards larger and more collaborative, projects research is becoming a more social activity than hitherto. This means that a broader range of human interactions impinge on projects. In addition to the expectations of a research supervisor, interactions with colleagues and collaborators can play an important role.

    Because research pushes beyond the known, even the best laid plans can go awry. Some barriers can be overcome by extra effort, but it is not uncommon for even experienced researchers to reach an impasse. In this chapter we explore what can be done when you are stuck, and how to...

  9. Chapter 6 Case Studies
    (pp. 81-92)

    In this chapter I describe two scenarios where I have made full use of planning and management tools. The first is a major infrastructure rebuild, where the requirements of the project necessitated full plans. The second is a recently completed project to bring together a wide range of information about the seismological structure of the Australian region to produce a 3-D digital reference model.

    The two cases represent different styles of planning, but illustrate the value of using management tools to set the scene, so that effective responses can be made to future eventualities.

    This first case shows how planning...

  10. Further Reading
    (pp. 93-93)