Do researchers keep a plan?

Shortly after I read You and your research, I decided to keep a roadmap. My current roadmap is a simple graph using less than 30 words — I use Graphviz. I list 4 recent papers, 3 ongoing projects and 7 upcoming projects. Each node of the graph is a project I can complete in a few months.

I update the upcoming projects on each Monday.

So far, it has some benefits:

  • It helps me stay focused. Unless a new project fits in my plan, I discard it.
  • It is easier to be ambitious with a roadmap over several years.
  • (To be verified) On the long run, this routine should make grant applications easier and more fruitful.

Some Ph.D. students have to submit such research plan, but do they keep them up-to-date? What about more mature researchers?

My guess is that few researchers (outside Big Science) have up-to-date roadmaps. Let us face it: planning is hard, boring, and often useless.

If you are a researcher, do you have a plan?

Published by

Daniel Lemire

A computer science professor at the University of Quebec (TELUQ).

One thought on “Do researchers keep a plan?”

  1. I’ve started doing that, not necessarily with graphviz, but at least with some kind of document that I refer to. I agree that over the long run, it helps grant apps slightly, and at the very least, it prevents focus from shifting to random things.

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