Research Plan

The Research Paln is the initial planning of every scientific project. In this plan, the researcher defines the focus and details the steps wich will guide the development of the project: what will be studied, why, what for, how, and when.

Check the structure of a research plan and the guidelines according to the kind of research:

Research Plan Structure

Research Plan Structure


It is the aspect of the topic the student wants to deal with, prove or develop.


A Project Research Plan justification should intend to convince on the reason to conduct it and its relevance to society or to some individuals who may benefit from the research.

It is in the justification where the researcher must state why and to whom the information is useful; what the contributions are and what decisions may be made from the data produced.

The justification enhances the importance of the theme to be studied, justifies the necessity of conducting the research and forwards to the problem formulation.

It is necessary to state that there are other studies which emphasize the importance of the theme of the research and  they must be referenced.


The problem has its origin on a situation that generates questions about the theme which can be defined by the researcher´s own life experiences or suggested by professionals who deal with the theme. Once the problem is identified, a specific question is made and answered by the researcher. In this way, a study focus is established in order to answer the question. There must likely be an answer to the question which must be obtained through scientific, technological or of engineering methodology.


The hypothesis is a possible answer to the question established in the problem of the Research Plan. According to Bello (2009, p.23), a hypothesis is a pre-solution for the problem mentioned in the research theme chosen.

Depending on the option of the methodology, the research plan must not  necessarily establish the hypotheses. For survey or technological research, for example, hypothesis is not a formal mandatory item.


The definition of the objectives determines what the researcher wants to achieve with the research project and should correspond to the proposed question.


In this stage the researcher seeks for and reviews bibliographic material that will support the theme of  the research project, such as books, scientific articles, magazines, newspapers, technical norms, legislation, etc…


The methodology is the description of the strategy to be used, in which all the steps and procedures are mentioned in order to conduct and achieve the objectives of the research project.

After making the choices, it is necessary to make a detailed description of how the research will be conducted (how data will be obtained, questionnaires, interviews, samples, etc) and how the analysis of the data will be done. Include a timetable, the resources and the evaluation.


It is an appropriate plan of the period of time the researcher will have to conduct the project, specifying the activities to be accomplished.


It must show how the analysis and  the evaluation of the data will be done and what they will be compared to – if they will be compared to a norm or to the results of another author or to another type of research; if a statistical method will be used; if the results are positive or negative.



The reference of the documents effectively quoted is a mandatory item when elaborating the project.

At least, list five main references (for example, newspapers or scientific magazines articles, books, Internet sites, etc.) from your bibliographical research. If you have used vertebrate animals, give one additional reference about animal care.

Research with Humans

Research with Humans

Detail all the procedures, include what was asked to the research participants.

Describe the potential risks and how they can be minimized.

Describe the sample (research participants) studied:

  • Number of participants and general data of the participants (age, gender, social/economical status, etc.).
  • Enlistment process (origen of the participants and how they will be enlisted).
  • Consent process (if there was). Include the way how the potential participants will be informed about the voluntary nature of their collaboration and about  right of quitting the research at any moment.
  • Strategies used to maintain privacy and confidentiality.     

Include research questionnaires (if used):

  • List and describe the ways (questionnaires, etc.) used and how you will measure the variable of interest (behavioral observation, time, etc.).
  • Describe emotional stress and potential consequences.

Describe any physical activities or procedures (if done) and assess the risks critically:

  • Type and duration of the physical activity/exercise.
  • Ingestion method, quantities, intervals, etc.

Research with vertebrate animals

Discuss briefly the POTENTIAL ALTERNATIVES to the use of vertebrate animals. Present a detailed justification for the use of these animals.

Explain any potential impacts, or the contributions this project may bring.

Describe all the procedures used:

– Include methods that will be used to minimize any discomfort (pain, wound or other discomfort) to the animal during the experimentation.

– Detail drugs dosage and chemicals concentration.

Describe the numbers (quantity, species, sort, age, etc.). Include a justification for the quantity planned for the research.

Describe the cage where the animal will stay, and its daily care.

Describe what will happen to the animal after the end of the experimentation.

Research involving potencially hazardous biological agents

Describe the final process and the obtainment source of the agents, the safety cares and the discharge methods.

Research involving hazardous chemicals, activities or devices

Describe the risk assessment process and also its results. Give detailed concentration of chemicals, medicine and drugs dosage. Also describe safety cares to minimize risk, and discharge methods (if used).