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5 Steps to Creating a Research Pipeline

Updated: Sep 27, 2019

It's time to start multi-tasking and planning your research projects for the year. This post is designed to help early-career researchers kick-start their research planning.

In my last post I talked about identifying your bigger picture research goals. Now that you know what you are aiming for and, why you are bothering in in the first place (always helpful), it's time to start pulling together a detailed research plan for the year ahead. I've created a simple template you can use. But first, here's what you need to consider:

Step 1 - Identify your WIP

Let's call this your WIP, I mean your work-in-progress. Your WIP can be a mix of finished or in-progress thesis papers, research projects within or outside of your institution or perhaps a collaborative industry-based project. Again, this depends on your role profile at your institution. If you are feeling more adventurous throw a grant application or two into the mix (not for the faint hearted).

You then want to list these projects on the template I have created Dr Sam Lynch Research Pipeline. I've adapted and extended the pipeline offered by Dr Raul Pacheco here to work for my own projects (great resource) and I also referred to Matthew Lebo's article on research pipelines to kick start my thinking. Ultimately it gives you a birds-eye view on what is going on. Using my template, fill in as much detail as you can for your projects. I find it really useful particularly as I'm juggling an academic role with a practitioner role too.

Now there will be plenty other templates out there, the grandest of Gantt charts (my marmite - years in industry made me both love and hate these) and work flow tools such as Trello, Slack and Monday. So find out what works for you. I'm in the business of keeping things simple.

Step 2 - What do you need to achieve in order to fulfil your academic role?

Ok, so I'm going to labour my point a little more - know your end game. If you have requirements to fulfil as part of your role then you want to give yourself the opportunity to meet those - without it being a mad dash right before REF submission. So is it publishing papers each year in a REF'd journal - if so, how many? What level 2*or 3*? Or, do you need to fulfil requirements as you work towards tenure if you are US-based?

Make sure you have enough on your WIP research to meet these demands comfortably - not all papers are going to turn out - sadly!

Step 3 - Plan out forthcoming conferences & ideas

You might have your eye on a few more upcoming conferences or special journal issues on the horizon that you are interested in. If that's the case get them down on the template too so you can scope availability to complete these.

Step 4 - Break down your deadlines

Let's say, like me, you have a paper submission deadline for the 1st July 2019. Look at the task boxes and assign each task with a mini deadline date. Once you have fulfilled the deadline you can colour the box in. That way you have a clear view of what you need to do on all of your outstanding research projects at a glance.

Step 5 - Participate in your research community

Alongside this, you still need to be active within your research community. This is even more important if, like me, you are an early career researcher. Although I have built up years of knowledge in industry and made some great contacts and friends along the way, I'm new to the academic way. So participate in those conversations and continue to do so alongside your newly defined research commitments.

This is a live document, so if you have any suggestions please do send them my way. You can tweet me @drsamlynch #researchgoals.

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