Writing a research plan can provide a good start of your project. In a research plan is clearly formulated what the purpose of your research is, how the research will continue and how the results will be documented. A research plan provides clarity in what you want to do and when you want to do it and if you and your supervisor can do it together than it is clear to all parties what is expected and it helps in the successful completion of your project. For a PhD candidate, an approved research plan is often necessary to get a an extension of the contract after the first 12 to 18 months.
There are several documents containing information about writing a research plan. For example, in “Elements of a proposal” by Professor Dr. Frank Pajares the various elements of a research project are pointed out. In addition, the Mansholt Graduate School of Social Sciences of Wageningen University and Research Centre (WUR) have prepared an excellent document which provides advice and guidance on preparing a research proposal for a PhD.
Usually, a research plan / proposal is necessary when you want to work in science after your promotion. The article “Writing a Research Plan” by Jim Austin, Editor of Science Careers, provides a nice glimpse into what you can do to have your plan approved by your project evaluators. Another article with tips on writing a research plan is “How to write a research proposal” and can be found here. Finally, the article “On the Art of Writing Proposals” of Adam Przeworski and Frank Salomon gives tips and tricks to write a successful research proposals in the social sciences.
The articles above all provide tips and tricks in their own way, to successfully write a research plan. It is important to choose the elements that are applicable to you. It is important that you ensure that a research plan is completed before you actually start conducting the research. Before you begin, carefully think about the steps to follow. The documents above can give you some direction. Just as important, if not more important, is that you discuss your research proposal with your supervisor (s) and other colleagues.