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Module 2: Commencement and Collaboration – Putting Ideas Into Practice

Topic 2: Project commencement – key tasks

Module 1: Research Strategy and Planning introduced the concept of strategic and research planning and design. Module 2 picks up these concepts and explores how they can be applied into the commencement phase of your research. It also examines the importance of managing your collaborations as you plan and build your project.

In the commencement phase of the project you need to identify and consider all elements of your project. In order to ensure that you can meet project deliverables, you will need a project plan that outlines and identifies all the elements required to commence, manage, monitor, and complete the project. It is time to put your ideas into practice. This topic will provide guidance for the development of timelines and scheduling for a range of scenarios (from small through to large projects). As this topic draws on some project management terms and concepts, you may wish to refer to the module glossary for clarification.

Learning outcomes

After completing this module you should be able to:

  • Plan a research project
  • Negotiate competing interests, needs, and wants
  • Determine the elements and understandings that need to underpin the project's legal agreements
  • Establish and maintain healthy collaborator and stakeholder relations.

Topic content

Read the following notes.
2.1 Finding mentors and advisers
2.2 Project plan: setting project goals and research targets
2.3 Milestones and timelines
2.4 Budgeting and funding
2.5 Ownership of intellectual property and other complex legal issues
2.6 Establishing successful stakeholder relationships

If you need specific advice regarding the management of research grant funds contact the research office or your faculty/school finance officer.


Complete this activity after you have worked through the subtopic.
Take time to reflect on identifying the objectives of stakeholders. Either:

  • complete 3–5 rows from the table below, outlining the wishes of those stakeholder groups (from your understanding of the core case study, Safeguarding the Murray–Darling)

Then answer the following question:

  • Are there any stakeholders not listed?


  • Using the categories from the table below, identify 3–5 of the stakeholders in your current research project and outline the wishes of those stakeholders.

If you would like to use an e-version of the table below, please use one of the following links to download a file containing the table.
Identifying stakeholders table (Word file)        Identifying stakeholders table (rtf file)

Identifying stakeholders and their objectives

Stakeholder group / project participant

Hopes, wishes, fears, and objectives

Project goal/s and research targets arising from the needs of each group

Possible areas of conflict

  • The Murray–Darling management Trust, a mining company represented by Jim Shepherd, Executive Director
  • Financial benefit
  • Company image as environmentally responsible



  • Community leaders




  • Federal government – particularly Ministers responsible for climate change and the environment




  • Queensland, New South Wales, and Victorian State government bodies and representatives




  • Indigenous community members




  • Newcomers to the area and the emerging company town, e.g. support industries, small business owners attracted by new opportunities, government employees




  • The university




  • Research project leaders: Professors Stupendous and Prolific




  • Individual members of the research team




  • Knowledge Now, an innovative network community agency




  • Future Ed, an educational community development agency




  • Media




Additional Reading/Activities


Barnes, T.A., Pashby, I.R. and Gibbons, A M. Managing collaborative R&D projects: development of a practical management tool. International Journal of Project Management 24 (2006) 395–404.

Useful websites
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