This past month the ProGen class has been working on Research Plans. I got mine written and along the way I learned a lot about why people write them and their value.
I have not been a fan of research plans. Recently I posted about them:
…and I received some great comments from Yvette! Thank you. Her comments illustrated how (and why) a research plan for a client is helpful. In discussions with others in the class, a second scenario was presented. One of the class members uses a very short (one page or less) research plan every time she is researching problem A and she runs into problem B. Problem B could totally divert her from working on problem A. Instead, she quickly writes a research plan on problem B and move back to Problem A. She stated sometimes she ends up with quite a stack of problem statements/research plans but at least she knows where the gaps are.
Pretty cool and probably obvious to many! I have no clear system for tracking identified problems but ones that cannot be addressed at the moment. This seems like a reasonable way to do it.
One of the common issues with the research plans of the class is that they ended up writing more of a report and less of a plan. They incorporated the implementation of the plan as part of the plan. It seems to me that “A Plan” is strictly that….what you will do in the future to address the problem. Even BCG when it requests the research plan, restricts it to one page (part of the document work segment.) Many of the commenters suggested alternative sources and places to look. While this was helpful it didn’t address the effectiveness of the structure of the plan itself. The lesson for me was to see how quickly I could write a research plan–the quicker I write them then the more likely I am to write many more. I need to keep refining the process and worry less about the product. I also learned that one type of problem, say document retrieval, might not elicit the need for a plan and others might vary in what is needed to include.
So if you care to look (and comment) here is my revised class submission:
(The client, whose name has been changed, approved the inclusion of this in my blog.)
What I have done since the last posting: submitted my assignment (took comments and revised it accordingly and that is what is posted here), participated in the group critique, got out a SGS newsletter (painfully), attended SGS Board meeting, got 2 more clients (!), got a request to present my Civil War Prisons presentation to SGS (end of April) and to present at the fall seminar. I also started researching doing house histories (I will blog about that soon), read Inheritance in America: from Colonial Times to the Present by Shammas (I’ll blog about that as well), skimmed The Law of Sexual Discrimination by Lindgren, and am in the midst of reading Visiting the Courthouse. I found that my great grand uncle purchased a parcel of land using the Timber Culture Act, which I had never heard of; that’s a blog topic for the future as well. I am starting the layout of the Spring SGS Bulletin, which must be published by the end of the month. Whew! It’s an over achiever month.