How to run a project effectively?
Hello people, Hope you have read my recent article on Project Kickstarter Manual, If not go check it out. Once you have selected a research topic, it is also essential that you manage and work on it effectively to finish in time. Here are a few simple tips which I learnt during my project days. Hope this will help to keep you motivated on running a project successfully.
Fear of starting
As we know, we all have that fear to start anything which we are doing for the first time. Having a clear proposal with all the methods will ensure your confidence. So make sure that you have a clear proposal. Take a look at your proposal and figure out the first step in the proposal. Try to finish the FIRST STEP of it. Research shows that if you finish the first step of any task, it is more likely that you finish the complete task. So, make sure that you finish the first step. Don’t believe me? Do the first step and let me know in the comments section.
Make a project TIMELINE along with your proposal. Again, make sure that the timeline you prepare should be practical and workable. Identify approximate time which would take for your procedures and take help from your mentors while making a timeline. There are many sources on the internet which clearly explained how to make a timeline. You can go through them once.
Set small goals
Break your project into multiple small DO-ABLE TASKS. It could be anything small like mailing a professor, reading an article or installing software or order instruments or reading an instrument’s manual. If the task is big, it might again trigger your “Fear of starting”. Also, make sure you preplan everything. For example, if you are reading an article today, at the end of it, plan what to read for tomorrow. This makes you feel responsible for the tasks.
Sometimes, we will be very anxious to start a project and finish multiple tasks in the first few days and then forget it. It’s possible that you are occupied with multiple works, courses and exams. But you should understand that project is also a part of your graduation and give it time accordingly. Whenever you have multiple things to do, completing one after the other makes it difficult to get motivated. For example, you have 3 hrs time to do 3 tasks. Doing bits of 3 tasks each day is more effective and keeps you engaged constantly than finishing one complete task every day. This tip takes time, but trust me, this will really help you to finish all your piled up old tasks.
Never get stuck at a single point for a long time
I understand that there are many times during the project that you feel you know nothing and you are unable to progress it. It’s very common to feel this way. We actually DON’T KNOW anything before we start doing anything. “If we knew what it was we were doing, it would not be called research, would it?” a quote by Albert Einstein. This clearly says that it’s okay to not know how things work because that’s what research is about, to find how it works. It is very true that we don’t really know the results of any hypothesis, that is why we conduct several experiments, collect data and analyze it to come to a conclusion. Although we make a clear proposal at the beginning of the project, we might encounter many unforeseen obstacles or confounding factors, which makes us change/modify the procedures that we do. It’s okay to not know things. Accept yourself and learn things which you don’t know. Doing a project is a process of learning rather than arriving at a result of your research question. You can learn from books, friends, professors or the internet.
Do your part
Sometimes, it’s difficult to do everything that you need to. There could be errors in experiment protocols or mishaps in between the protocols. You must understand agree that all this as a part of the project and work on solving them. Again, it could be learning for you. Do whatever you can and take help from others to complete the remaining. So be sure, that you are doing YOUR PART on time.
Sending weekly reports
Each student is supposed to have a guide while doing a project in graduation. Sending weekly report to the guide mentioning how many samples you collected or how many responses you got or your doubts or concerns helps you in keeping a track of your progress. Sending reports is important even when the guides don’t expect from us. It will be like a diary, to see how much you work on it every week. It may also help with the eventual grading of the project. You will know whether if you are following the correct protocol or not so that you can rectify as soon as possible.
Keeping updated with research
We generally do a literature search at the beginning of a project. But we forget that many others around the globe are working on similar areas of research and publish at any point in time. Hence it is important that we keep ourselves updated with research at any point during the project. If you are not sure, how to keep you updated, go through Best ways to keep you updated with the research
Once you start collecting data, make sure you store them at multiple places. Do not keep it in a single device, this is not safe if the device crashes out for some reason. Hence, every day at the end of data collection, make sure you update the data in multiple sources. Also, keep in mind that it should always be accessible to you at any point in time and place. Use a strong password for the devices which you use for project data. Cloud storage is a good way to go, and external storage devices may help too.
Updated info on the deadlines
Remain updated with the deadlines of project proposal submission, ethics approval submission, project presentation and project submission. Some of them require signatures from your guides too, which means you get on it before the deadlines and give your guides enough time to review your documents and get it signed.
For all the above submissions, there are unique templates for each institution. Get them from seniors or professors in time, so that you can submit in time.
Getting published before submitting a thesis
I know this seems a bit too much. If you think publishing at graduation is too early, you should read these inspiring stories who have published at a very young age. Go through these articles of children published at the age of 8, 9 and 12. These will definitely inspire you. If you are aiming for higher studies in your future, this would undoubtedly help you in keeping your standards high. With meticulous time management skills, this can be made possible. Any research you do, if not published, goes waste. Disseminating the results is as important as doing a project. Hence make sure that you start writing paper as soon as you finish writing your thesis. Keep an eye on the plagiarism check before you submit any scientific documents.
Hope this helps.
All the best.
PS: This article is based on the perspective of biomedical research projects.