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Module 1: Research Strategy and Planning


Successful researchers build a body of research work that builds on their strengths and draws on the strategic priorities of their university, their funding bodies, and the critical mass of expertise around them. They also adopt an effective approach to planning that strategically places them in the best position to be adequately funded over a long period of time to undertake research projects about which they feel passionate. This module explores the mechanisms by which successful researchers build their strategies and plans.


This module guides you through the process of designing, planning, implementing, and completing a research project. It outlines the main principles for building a strategic approach to your research. The earlier sections of the module offer a valuable guide to new or emerging researchers who are developing their research strategy. The latter sections on project management are important sources of information for all researchers – no matter how experienced. The sections draw on the experience of over 200 researchers and research managers to offer a professional approach to research management.

Learning outcomes

After completing this module you should be able to:

  • identify the strategic pressures affecting research in your university and how to take advantage of them;
  • identify key steps in scoping your project proposal, including building an effective grant funding approach;
  • implement a basic research project management process;
  • develop a work breakdown structure; and
  • prepare a research project plan.

Content overview

The module comprises the following topics:

Topic 1: Research strategy – an introduction
This topic identifies factors in the research context that influence the choice of research direction.

Topic 2: Research planning – scope and concept
This topic discusses the key components to consider when scoping the concept, and provides some ideas on how to describe the project scope.

Topic 3: Project funding – grant seeking
This topic provides an introduction to granting bodies and the issues to consider in framing your proposal.

Topic 4: Basic research project management principles
This topic introduces project management tools that assist you to effectively plan and then manage the research project. It offers a four-phase overview and a very useful checklist that you will be able to apply to manage any future projects.


Principal writers

Professor Shelda Debowski, University of Western Australia (Version 1 & 2)
Professor Vernon Ireland, University of Adelaide (Version 1)

The ‘Research Project Management Principles’ topic in Module 1, including the checklists, is drawn and adapted from: Debowski, S. (in press). The New Academic. OUP / McGraw-Hill, Philadelphia.

with contributions by
Tim Scroop, University of Adelaide
Professor Richard Russell AM, University of Adelaide
Professor Mike Brookes, University of Adelaide
Emeritus Professor John Wallace, University of Adelaide
Simon Brennan, University of Adelaide

Educational developers
Bill Potter, Monash University
Associate Professor Len Webster, Monash University

Web developer
Rob Andrew, Monash University
Jane Liang, Go8

Project management
Group of Eight Future Research Leaders Program

Accessing the module material

Now that you have read the module introduction you can access and navigate your way through the module content via the Module 1 Organiser link in the navigation bar at the top left of this page or in the bar below.

If you wish to print this page you can generate a pdf file via this printer icon [ ]. A pdf file for each topic in this module can be generated using the printer icon to the left of each topic title on the Organiser page.

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