6/08/2018 – Post by Senior Student Projects Officer Renee Aharon
Your hard work has paid off and now you’re about to start your research journey! This can be a little daunting at first, but don’t worry, you’ll find you have exactly what it takes.
Last year, our GLARP team was in your exact position, we had just gotten funding and were feeling excited but also a little overwhelmed. After going through the whole research process, we want to share our three top tips to kickstart your GLARP project and get you well on the way to starting your research journey.
Tip 1: Write down every task you need to do
And I mean every task – from writing hypotheses and getting ethics approval to printing flyers, writing reports, booking venues, hiring speakers, inviting guests, setting up team meetings, everything! Have all your team members brainstorm every small task that will need to be done for the project. Our team did this in an excel spreadsheet we called the ‘Master To Do List’.
This Master List will show you which tasks you’ve already completed, what still needs to be done and who is responsible for it. This document keeps everyone on the same page and you can use it to track your progress.
We broke our project into different sections and wrote out every task that needed to be done in order to complete that section. The image below shows a version of our Master To Do List about ¾ the way through our project.
As you can see, our project had 7 sections and we used colours to help track our progress. Green meant complete, yellow showed what we needed to focus on next and white meant we could leave that task until a later date.
We had weekly meetings to update each other on how we were going on each task and decide which tasks we should focus on next. You don’t need to meet every week, but decide with your team in advance how often you want to meet and bring the Master To Do List so everyone knows what needs to be done next.
Take time to create this list together and list every task you can think of. And don’t forgot to celebrate when you complete a task! You’re one step closer to completing your research project!
Tip 2: Start right away
The earlier you can start, the better. Be prepared for tasks to take longer than expected. We found tasks we thought would take 1 week actually took us 2 ½ weeks and sometimes tasks we thought would take 3 days only took 20 minutes between all 4 of our team members.
Be flexible with your task and project timeline, but also have clear deadlines to aim for. The sooner you start, the sooner you finish and the less stress you’ll feel. You will be working under tight deadlines and balancing study and other responsibilities so the earlier you can start the better.
So go set up that first team meeting right away and get started on that Master To Do List!
And last note, make sure you celebrate and congratulate each in that first meeting. Your grant proposal was in the top 30% and this is a fantastic achievement!
Tip 3: Go easy on yourself and be prepared to make mistakes
You are going to make mistakes in your project. ALL of our team members made at least one quite major mistake over the course of the project (I made about 3), but each time, we banded together and found a solution.
Be determined to overcome any challenge that occurs over the course of the project and be there to support your teammates when they make a mistake. There is ALWAYS a solution to a problem or mistake and you will grow dramatically from learning how to overcome these types of challenges.
The other tip is to go easy on yourself when it’s you who makes the mistake. You will all be working under extremely tight time frames along with study and other responsibilities so don’t beat yourself up (as high achieving students often do) when you make a mistake. Instead, think of a solution. In fact, think of every possible solution, even if it sounds unrealistic or silly.
Listing many possible solutions will help give you perspective on the problem and help you find the most creative solution. Enlist the help of your teammates as well, you’re common goal is to make this research project the best that it can possibly be. You can do this!
I hope these top three tips will help you kickstart your GLARP project and get you excited to start. Remember the CURIE team is always here to provide support as you tackle the research process for the first time. Just come see us in the office (W616 in Menzies) if you have any queries, problems, questions, or concerns.
We look forward to hearing about your projects and best of luck on your research journey!