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Settling In: The Researcher's Guide to Your University

4.5 Managing your research projects

Each researcher in a project team carries some part of the responsibility for effective project management. However, each person will assume different roles, depending on their expertise, seniority, and capabilities. Table 4.5 explores the different responsibility areas that an individual might assume in a research project. Take a minute to think about where you might take a lead role and think also about how confident you feel in undertaking that role at present. Although you may have little direct leadership responsibilities at this stage in your career, you have an important contributory role as a team member and you should understand how others ensure project success. For more information on research project management, please review Topic 4: Basic research project management principles in Module 1: Research Strategy and Planning

Table 4.5: Research project roles and responsibilities


Is this part of your role? If not, who is responsible?

Do you have the necessary skills to successfully perform this role?

  • Design of the project, including review of past research, clarification of research goals, identification of priorities and anticipated outcomes, and estimated costings for the project



  • Review of research integrity principles and incorporation into planning, research design, implementation, and training



  • Development of the research project plan, including budget design, development of project objectives and strategies, and identification of staffing requirements



  • Management of the project budget and expenditure



  • Management of compliance with funding body and university requirements

  • Guidance and leadership of team members



  • Coordination of communication with stakeholders



  • Allocation of workloads and responsibilities



  • Establishment and maintenance of record-keeping systems



  • Monitoring of progress and quality of outcomes



  • Ensuring the project reaches required milestones and outcomes



  • Publishing of the project outcomes



Many of these project roles span a number of individuals in the project team. Each individual needs to be conversant with who is taking responsibility for the execution of these elements and also for ensuring their work is positively contributing to the successful completion of the research project. While the project leader plays a significant role in guiding the timing and execution of the various processes, he/she is also highly reliant on the commitment and reliability of all team members. As noted earlier, the strong interdependency of research projects means that every person's contribution has an impact on the overall outcomes and the work of others.

This brief overview highlights the need to be aware of who has responsibility for different aspects of the project. You may be a researcher who works on your own. In that case, each of these areas is an important element of your work, as you will be responsible for making sure the project is successfully planned, implemented, evaluated, and published. If you are working with other researchers, it is important to know who does what and to clarify the details of your specific role. It is also most important to recognise your areas of strength and weakness in this area – which aspects are you able to effectively execute? Are there areas in which you feel somewhat unsure? This will be picked up in the final topic of this module, Topic 6: Progressing your research career.

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