A girl doing PhD research planning.

How to Prepare Actionable PhD Research Plan Template

“Where PhD is highly uncertain, an actionable PhD research plan would give you calculative and tentative outcomes. And even more, the ready-to-use template makes things even better. Let’s take a close look at the research plan + template.” 

Before moving forward, it’s important to understand the process and steps in research. Then only you can make an actionable plan for your PhD research. It’s literally like driving without breaks— that you don’t want.

In a broader sense, when you plan something, it shows two things: first, you are actually serious about the work you are planning and second, you are expecting some outcomes. And by a plan, you are heading towards it. 

I know, plans may not work 100% all the time, but they may create a definite path to achieve at least 80% success in the work you are doing. This is also true for a PhD— in which you would constantly try to justify a single sentence– your research title. 

So– Yes, the research process is undetermined and so the results too! but here is the catch and perhaps answer why you have to have a research plan. In this article, I will explain the importance of a research plan, an actionable research plan and a ready-to-use template for you. 

How to prepare an actionable research plan? 

An actionable research plan is what you have to rely upon. So it should be perfect and approved. how can you prepare your own? Let’s see.

 Understand the steps in the research and closely follow them. 

Define the objectives and scope of your study. 

Define each goal of your study– For example, sample collection, wet lab work, standardization, experimentation, data collection and interpretation, etc. 

Enlist what types of problems you may face for each goal– For example, transportation for sample collection, Lack of facilities in wet lab work, etc.

Find a solution for each problem you have enlisted– For example, appoint an expert for sample collection and transport samples in a cold chain. If your lab doesn’t have some instruments or chemicals, priorly contact other labs and ask them for help. 

Draw a rough road map for your work— the route using which you will achieve your research goals. Also, make a backup. What if the route or process you selected would not work? Check out this drawing to understand my point. 

Actionable PhD research plan template.
Actionable PhD research plan template.

Now prepare a timeline— in how much time a particular goal should be achieved. For example, 6 Months for sampling (Including, ethical approval, approval from sampling authority, consent, preparation and arrangement for utilities). 

Another is sample collection— 3 Months which isn’t covered in the 6 months of sampling objective, like this. Take a look at the drawing here. 

Research plan timeline.
Timeline for each research goal.

Note: This timeline must match with your GANTT chart for PhD timeline because you are making an actionable plan.

Now your plan is reading. You are now aware of each objective, goal and problem. Some you probably solved, and some you can manage later. This you can print and stitch in your logbook or can save on your desktop. 

Take a look at the advantages, and why it’s important to prepare an action plan. 

Related article: How to Prepare a PhD Research Plan/Schedule?

Importance of PhD research plan 

Let’s start with two real-world examples first. 

One of my friends, after sample collection and initiating the testing, found out that she also has to perform hormone assays for samples. The samples she collected are 3 months old— not possible to assess quantitative analysis. 

Another colleague after sample collection– when he started working in the wet lab, came to know that one important instrument is not there in their lab. His guide is very serious about the goal that they have to do it anyhow. 

He sent applications to various universities and research centers to work on that particular instrument. From approval to real testing, it tools all almost 8 months including, approval, training, transportation, etc. 

Wasted much time! 

  • An actionable research plan saves your time— which is a crucial factor in PhD. 
  • It makes you aware of the pros and cons of your study. 
  • It makes you aware of the problems and limitations of the research you conduct. 
  • It gives you a broad roadmap to achieve your PhD in “some” tentative time. 
  • It gives you the flexibility to achieve goals and enjoy your time at the same time. 
  • You can make real-time monitoring of how your research is going and how much work is left. 
  • It makes you aware of what should be your next move and the preparations you required.

However, keep in mind that once you prepare a plan, review it from your guide, take their advice, enlist major objectives and techniques you would use for the study and stick to it. 

Before preparing that, read the literature regarding your topic and understand the way in which your research should be headed. 

Check out our fully customizable, ready-to-use and actionable research plan template. 

Download a research plan template

Wrapping up

These things look a bit old school but it works, really works well. Most students don’t do it and end up messing things and at last, came to know that they wasted their time. At least, the research plan will tell you where you are stuck (probably) and you can find a solution.

We know how hard it is to predict the future of PhD or how it would go. But let me tell you, with an actionable plan, many do well. And you can too. Take your doctorate seriously from day one. And do accordingly. 

Remember your goal should be to complete your degree in time.  

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