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Research Project Management

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Research projects – the process
Standard activities in research projects
Creating a GANTT Chart
Risk management
Project tracking
Research projects – the outputs
Documentation – classic structure
Basic writing skills
Harvard referencing
Plagiarism

Research projects – the process
Standard activities in research projects
Creating a GANTT Chart
Risk management
Project tracking
Research projects – the outputs
Documentation – classic structure
Basic writing skills
Harvard referencing
Plagiarism

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Research Project Management

  1. 1. Research project management Dr Aleksej Heinze Salford Business School University of Salford www.business.salford.ac.uk Friday 16 th October 2009 Based on earlier work of Chris Procter and Helen Hayes
  2. 2. Activity 1 - working in pairs: <ul><li>Write down the difference between research aim and research objectives: </li></ul><ul><li>SMART objectives means that they are...? </li></ul><ul><li>What is the difference between research problem and research questions ? </li></ul><ul><li>Why do we pilot our data collection? </li></ul><ul><li>What is GoogleScholar? </li></ul>
  3. 3. Outline <ul><li>Research projects – the process </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Standard activities in research projects </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Creating a GANTT Chart </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Risk management </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Project tracking </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Research projects – the outputs </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Documentation – classic structure </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Basic writing skills </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Harvard referencing </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Plagiarism </li></ul></ul>
  4. 4. Why manage research projects? <ul><li>Research is a complex task which has little prescribed structure </li></ul><ul><li>Everyone has their own research project </li></ul><ul><li>Share your plan with others </li></ul><ul><li>Helps you to estimate and allocate time </li></ul><ul><li>Once noted you don’t need to worry about remembering everything that you need to do – time management </li></ul><ul><li>It also contributes to your reflections on the research process </li></ul>
  5. 5. Why is it a project? <ul><li>Quality expectations – see assessment requirements </li></ul><ul><li>Time: start and end date </li></ul><ul><li>Cost – do you have financial resources? </li></ul><ul><li>Scope - How much are you planning to deliver </li></ul>
  6. 6. The classic project triangle
  7. 7. Project triangle – e.g. too expensive:
  8. 8. What are the classic research project stages? <ul><li>Identify a research problem </li></ul><ul><li>Refine aim and objectives </li></ul><ul><li>Refine research questions </li></ul><ul><li>Conduct and document a literature review </li></ul><ul><li>Evaluate appropriate research methods </li></ul><ul><li>Design your research tools (survey, questionnaire, observations etc.) </li></ul><ul><li>Pilot test your data collection </li></ul><ul><li>Carry out your data collection </li></ul><ul><li>Compare and contrast data findings with the literature findings </li></ul><ul><li>Draw conclusions by evaluating your research questions, research objectives and research aim </li></ul><ul><li>Reflect on limitations and potential further studies in the area </li></ul><ul><li>Write your documentation </li></ul>
  9. 9. Using GANTT charts <ul><li>Named after Henry Gantt (1861–1919) </li></ul><ul><li>Visual representation of tasks/basic elements of the diagram </li></ul><ul><li>Showing dependence </li></ul><ul><li>Showing parallel activities and overlaps </li></ul><ul><li>Showing milestones </li></ul><ul><li>Building in constraints </li></ul><ul><li>Many other project management features such as adding in costs; dealing with resource conflict ... </li></ul>
  10. 10. Visual examples
  11. 11. Alternative project plan Project task Project Months 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 Identify problem area Attend workshops X X X X X ... ... Primary data collection X X X ... ... Submission deadline X
  12. 12. Activity 2: Develop a schedule plan for your research project’s activities: Project task Project Months 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12
  13. 13. Break
  14. 14. Risk management <ul><li>Now that you know your project activities… </li></ul><ul><li>What is the Risk Identification ? </li></ul><ul><li>What is the probability of these things happening? </li></ul><ul><li>How severely will they impact on the completion of your project? </li></ul><ul><li>Assessment - How important is the individual obstacle (Probability X Impact)? </li></ul><ul><li>What can be done to minimize the obstacle preventing you completing your project? </li></ul><ul><li>Finally – having considered all obstacles - is the project still viable? </li></ul>
  15. 15. Impact scales <ul><li>Negligible </li></ul><ul><li>Marginal </li></ul><ul><li>Important </li></ul><ul><li>Serious </li></ul><ul><li>Catastrophic </li></ul>
  16. 16. Probability scales <ul><li>Impossible </li></ul><ul><li>Remote </li></ul><ul><li>Unlikely </li></ul><ul><li>Possible </li></ul><ul><li>Probable </li></ul>
  17. 17. Risk examples <ul><li>: </li></ul>Risk Identification: Probability: (1 [low] – 5 [high]) Impact: (1 [low] - 5 [high]) Assessment Management / Mitigation Not being able to access academic journal articles due to paid access 2 2 =2 x 2 = 4 Use online journals and where possible books via GoogleScholar Computer hard disk drive failure 2 5 =2 x 5 = 10 Daily back up of data and email of latest copy to my Gmail account Little data available to capture for this project 5 5 = 5 x 5 = 25 Conduct pilot study and revisit research area if not possible to get data
  18. 18. Overall project assessment <ul><li>1 x risk at Red (assessment of 18 – 25) </li></ul><ul><li>1 x risk at Amber (assessment of 9 – 17) </li></ul><ul><li>1 x risk at Green (assessment of 0 – 8) </li></ul><ul><li>Is the project viable? </li></ul><ul><li>If all risks are on Red and are difficult to mitigate? </li></ul>
  19. 19. Activity 3: Develop a risk table for your project and make an assessment of the project’s viability. Discuss with your neighbour: Risk Identification: Probability: (1 [low] – 5 [high]) Impact: (1 [low] - 5 [high]) Assessment Mitigation / management
  20. 20. Break
  21. 21. Project tracking <ul><li>Weekly or at key stages of a project’s milestones - a review of the project plan and risks </li></ul><ul><li>Once the project is completed </li></ul><ul><ul><li>a review of the original and the final version allows reflection on the project’s developments </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>what was anticipated and what surprises are there? </li></ul></ul><ul><li>The updated plan and risk can be used by similar projects in the future as a starting point! </li></ul>
  22. 22. The research document <ul><li>Title page </li></ul><ul><li>Contents page </li></ul><ul><li>Acknowledgements - personal thanks to those who have helped you </li></ul><ul><li>Executive summary or abstract – why, how and what? </li></ul><ul><li>Introduction </li></ul><ul><li>Literature review – what others have said about this problem </li></ul><ul><li>Research method – what considerations were made when choosing a way to conduct this study </li></ul><ul><li>Data – what have you found from your primary data collection? </li></ul><ul><li>Discussion – comparing literature to data section </li></ul><ul><li>Conclusions - answers to your research questions, limitations and future study advice </li></ul><ul><li>References - cited work - use appropriate referencing – Harvard notation </li></ul><ul><li>Bibliography - sources used but not cited </li></ul><ul><li>Appendices </li></ul>
  23. 23. Contents Page <ul><li>Consider setting up any Headers or Footers here </li></ul><ul><li>Section the Report: Part I, Part II, Part III </li></ul><ul><li>State what each part is about e.g. Part I – Overview of relevant Information Security Standards </li></ul><ul><li>Use headings and sub-headings where applicable </li></ul><ul><li>Include the Appendices e.g. Appendix I - Company Accounts, Appendix II - …... </li></ul>
  24. 24. Executive Summary/ Abstract <ul><li>Page Numbering starts here </li></ul><ul><li>Executive Summary usually about one half or two thirds of a page </li></ul><ul><li>What is it? It is a precis of the report </li></ul><ul><li>When do I write it? When you have completed your report! </li></ul><ul><li>Who reads it? It will be read by those who do not have time to read the full report </li></ul>
  25. 25. The Introduction <ul><li>Setting the research problem/ background – Why? What? Who? Where? When? How? </li></ul><ul><li>A statement of purpose(s), objectives or aims </li></ul><ul><li>Background information on the report topic </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Why is this report important etc. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>What “problem” are you trying to solve </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Report structure statement at the end of introduction – how are you going to structure the “solution” </li></ul>
  26. 26. Activity 4 <ul><li>Outlines a brief structure of paragraphs for your introduction. </li></ul><ul><li>Discuss with your neighbor </li></ul>
  27. 27. Break
  28. 28. Main Content <ul><li>Get the information across </li></ul><ul><li>Critical account of the “truth” </li></ul><ul><li>Presentation of facts </li></ul><ul><li>Discussion and analysis </li></ul><ul><li>Should expand on introduction and be foundation for conclusion </li></ul><ul><li>The area where t he majority of your references should be found </li></ul>
  29. 29. Main Content <ul><li>Diagrams & Graphs should be used to summarise complicated information </li></ul><ul><li>Remember to cite any data and make clear where tables and diagrams are made by you! </li></ul><ul><li>Complicated data should be put in the appendices </li></ul><ul><li>Develop a research map – Flow of your work </li></ul>
  30. 30. Research map: The introduction of blended e-learning on a part time degree: an interpretive action research study. Chapter 1 Aims: Chapter 1 R. Questions Literature Chapter 6/ 7 / 8 Data Chapter 9 / 10 Discussion / Conclusions Add to the existing general research on Blended Learning a special case of mature part time students. (Rona Sharpe et al report highlighted the need) How is blended learning implemented with the aim of a part time programme improvement? Chapter 2 (BL overview) Comparative blended learning examples highlighted by Bonk / Sharpe etc Students generally like the idea of f2f and eFacilitated aspects > Blended Learning Confirm that there is generally a need for BL in part time HE. IS Domain enhanced with Blended Learning research building on e-Learning Contribute to the blended learning definition and understanding. Experience of blended learning for part time students. a) How do stakeholders conceptualise blended learning? Chapter 2 (2 pages: Historic developments of part time education. Introduction of books, radio, TV, computers,) internet, distance learning > “social” need problem Social learning: ZPD, Johari Window, Community of Practice Concept of six emergent themes of Blended Learning related issues. Need for “social” elements well addressed by creating “community” spirit. Students are easily lost – need support. Blended E-Learning Depends broadly on six general issues: Student| Subject | Pedagogic beliefs (of the tutor) | F2F | eFacilitated | Self Study| Contribute to the practice some potentially practical themes. Answer to the issue raised by Cullen et al regarding the need of theory and practice in HE combination in research by drawing general theory and practice. b) How can we benefit from practice of blended learning? Chapter 3 (technology + BL) Computer Assisted Learning/ e-Moderation / Assessment > Communication Staff development “ Carrot and Stick” Support > Feedback > Assessment > Theory is good but there is a need for customisation of BL to the local context. Generally students need motivation and support. Contribute to the discussion on pedagogic foundations on blended learning. Explore possible options. c) How can pedagogy benefit blended learning? Chapter 3 Historic theory: Associationist/ Functionalist, Instructivism / Constructivism Conversation theory Conversation framework > Amended Conversation Theory (CT) > Academic freedom Because of social need (above) need continuous dialogue > good application of CT Contribute to utilisation of action research in information systems /educational research Methodological question: d) How effective is action research as a method of IS educational research? Chapter 4 IS research > Interpretivist > Action Research > Chapter 5? Qualitative data > Focus groups > interviews > data analysis using NViVo QSR Messy process, reliance of a number of actors is difficult. Multiple interpretations of same problem / action Academic freedom Difficulties with data analysis presentation It works, but highly dependent on the actors. Need rigid management of data – easily overloaded. Great to tease out issues and at least attempt change. Change is not always possible due to the number of stakeholders. Research assessment criteria
  31. 31. Activity 5: <ul><li>Outline the research map for your report: </li></ul><ul><li>Discuss with your neighbour </li></ul>Themes/ objectives Research questions Literature Method Data Discussion/ conclusions
  32. 32. Writing conclusions <ul><li>Conclusions referring to </li></ul><ul><ul><li>research questions </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>research objectives (outputs) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>research aims (outcomes) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Recommendations </li></ul><ul><ul><li>who are your findings aimed at and who do you want them to be used? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>How are you suggesting to resolve the research problem? </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Limitations of your study </li></ul><ul><li>Suggestions for future work in the area </li></ul><ul><li>Reflection on the research process adopted </li></ul>
  33. 33. Last sections of your report <ul><li>References </li></ul><ul><li>Bibliography </li></ul><ul><li>Appendix </li></ul>
  34. 34. Activity 6: <ul><li>Outline the main headings structure for your research report: </li></ul><ul><li>Discuss with your neighbour </li></ul>
  35. 35. Break
  36. 36. Basic writing skills <ul><li>Top down: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Start with a draft structure and fill out the sections and paragraphs </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Bottom up: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Write and then re-format and re-structure to present a logical flow of your work </li></ul></ul><ul><li>DPCA: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Pre-write </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Draft </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Check </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Submit your work </li></ul></ul>
  37. 37. Writing style <ul><li>Reports are written in third person form, that is, the use of “I” or “We” and their respective cases are not used </li></ul><ul><li>Instead of writing “ I found that ….” write “It was evident that ….” “The statistics revealed that ….” </li></ul><ul><li>There are exceptions: – logbooks, personal reflections etc </li></ul>
  38. 38. Harvard referencing <ul><li>Difference between referencing and bibliography </li></ul><ul><li>Author (year) – citation (Author, year) </li></ul><ul><li>E.g. Bell (2010) in the text and make a full reference at the end of the document: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Bell, F. (2010) Learning to reference. Hannagan 5 th edition: London </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Full reference at the back of your report </li></ul><ul><li>Free tools available that can help: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>http://www.neilstoolbox.com/bibliography-creator/index.htm </li></ul></ul>
  39. 39. Plagiarism <ul><li>Citing others work is good – evidence of research </li></ul><ul><li>Using someone else's work without attribution – very bad practice and carries substantial penalties </li></ul><ul><li>Learn to paraphrase and reference your sources </li></ul>
  40. 40. Summary <ul><li>Research projects – the process </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Standard activities in research projects </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Creating a GANTT Chart </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Risk management </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Project tracking </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Research projects – the outputs </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Documentation – classic structure </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Basic writing skills </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Harvard referencing </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Plagiarism </li></ul></ul>
  41. 41. ?
  42. 42. Bibliography <ul><li>Hayes, H. (2006). Report writing skills. Lecture notes, Research and IT Skills module, University of Salford, Salford </li></ul><ul><li>Oates, B. J. (2006). Researching Information Systems and Computing. London: Sage Publications. </li></ul><ul><li>Procter, C. (2009). Scheduling and Risk Management. Lecture notes, IT Project Management, University of Salford, Salford </li></ul><ul><li>Saunders, M., Lewis, P., & Thornhill, A. (2007). Research methods for business students. Harlow, Essex, UK: Pearson Education. </li></ul><ul><li>Walsham, G. (2006). Doing interpretive research. European Journal of Information Systems, 15(3), 320-330. </li></ul>

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