Office of Sponsored Programs and Research

Creating a Research Program

Mon - Fri: 8:30 am - 5:30 pm
Miles Connor Administration Building Room 231

How do I map out my research program?

Why should I map out my Research Program?

Mapping out your research program contributes to your development as a researcher by articulating to others your vision and future trajectories. Your research plan also demonstrates your innovation and problem solving approaches to others. Your research program should be updated on a regular basis, as you change research focus and establish new collaborators. Meshing your plan with the department’s and institution’s will assist you in creating local synergies.


Here is a suggested process to define your research program:

  1. Choose an important subject—it can be outflow of your dissertation and it should also have a forecast of where your initial work will contribute to several areas of uncovering objective truth.
  2. Be specific—describe interesting feasible approaches that are the foundation of your research plan. Answer the question “Why must this work be done?”
  3. Keep it short and focus on the major themes. Use clear, concise writing and ask an editor to read for brevity and clarity. Keep specific aims succinct. Identify your goals, state why those goals are important. Define your approach to the goals and indicate the kinds of evidence that will validate your approach.
  4. Have data in your research plan and demonstrate your awareness of other work being done in the field.
  5. Present a workable strategy. Have a hypothesis and several compelling approaches that have a good chance of success for future work.
  6. If you are also teaching courses, share how you bring your research program into the classroom and the community.

Want to know more? Discover the top 10 tips to creating a research program and getting started on Proposal Writing.

How do I share my research program?

With academic collaborators

Know the difference between a consultant and a collaborator.

Leverage your existing relationships. Collaborations often work best when you work with people you know well and trust, and where time has been invested in building relational capital. But the project might require new ways of thinking, different skill-sets and different resources. So previous collaborators or partners might become the connectors who can match you with the right sort of partners, even if they are not entirely a good fit for the new project or proposal.

Find common ground with the other parties. When you have got a fair idea of your ideal collaborators, negotiate your terms of agreement up front, particularly about how you will work together, how conflicts with be handled, who will do what, and what will be contributed. This doesn’t mean reaching for the rule book each time problems arise, but it is important for parties to fully understand everyone’s interests and responsibilities. Time spent setting the rules of the game can also reduce the costs of ongoing monitoring.

Measure, monitor and communicate success. You need to establish a clear way to measure how you are tracking against previously agreed objectives. Make sure you plan for some early wins and be sure you can verify when you have got there. Being able to measure and communicate success is essential to keeping a collaboration going and – more importantly – working out whether it’s on the right path or needs work. You also need to be able to demonstrate clearly and unambiguously whether the project was a success, or whether it fell short in some areas.

Want to know more? Discover ways to create team documents and set up proposal writing with a team.

With a funder

Take the major themes of your research program and set those themes in context of the funder’s categories or program themes. Diagram how our research program would fit into the Request for Proposal (RFP) or Grant Guidelines. Use the grant-review criteria as subheadings in your proposal, making it easier for the panelists to fill out their review forms. For example, reviewers typically have to complete a section on "Innovation.” A clearly labeled subsection on "Innovation" not only saves the reviewer time but gives you the opportunity to "educate" the reviewer on innovative aspects they may not have recognized on their own. You can also insert a process, a graphic (such as a Venn Diagram) that illustrates the space that your innovative project covers.

With the community

Your research has impact in the community. Think about how you would describe your research to a local news magazine. Describe what inspired you to pursue this research and findings that you find interesting. Weave in how you mentored student researchers in your process and how findings could impact the local community. Infuse a description of your research in your LinkedIn profile. Look at other researchers’ descriptions on LinkedIn, including your collaborators, and adopt a regular review cycle to update profiles and send short synopsis of your findings to university leadership to be included in alumni publications, newsletters or magazines.

Coppin PowerPoint Template

Here is a PowerPoint template that you could use to share your research programs or present research findings.

Frequently asked questions about writing a proposal

Where do I get information on completing the application packet for the Institutional Review Board?

Please refer to the IRB website.

Strategies for growing your research program

Pay attention to small grant opportunities as well as big grant opportunities. In fact, sometimes securing a smaller grant can make your appeal for a larger grant more attractive. Showing that one or two stakeholders have already supported your project can bolster your credibility.  You may also want to consider philanthropic grants for programs.

Are you looking for new research grants? Here is a comprehensive listing to get you started.

Not finding what you need? Have a specific question? Contact OSPR.

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