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Friday, March 1, 2019

Practical Tips for Research Projects-Time and Creativity


Researchers sometimes feel pressure to return results and generate them quickly to satisfy interested parties. This pressure becomes ever so apparent in businesses, universities, and organizations that want and need results in a way that sometimes leads to sub-optimum research results.  Studies that rely on the "human element" of thinking abilities in the analytical and creative domains might need a cushion built into their resource and time projections.

In other words, "Don't promise the world!" Go for something a little less to make your stakeholders happen. It is a little like sales...if you offer customers three weeks to completion you should be able to do it reasonably in two. Promise lower than your capable of delivering!

Science and creativity thrive when you work at a pace that allows you to stop and ponder potential solutions. If you can go faster in some areas without impacting research quality there isn't a strong reason why a researcher can't create additional efficiency. The results suffer when time and resource pressures push researchers to cut corners and make mistakes. Set your deadline and work at a consistent pace but don't rush anything critical to the study's outcome and don't be afraid to take a break if you need to ensure that your creativity is recharged.

Often we start with lofty needs and desires and then find out that things get delayed, results take time, there are administrative road blocks, funding issues, and much more. We have the best intentions but the end of the day things are very different. A few missed deadlines and you turn into someone who is sinking fast by shortcoming your long-term results for short-term gains.

There are a few tips that may help you consider the truer time for time allocation purposes.

1. Overestimate the Time it Takes: Research takes time, lots of time, and more time than you think. Once you have a good idea of what it will take you add 20-30%. That way a delay in processing, activity, or late discovery don't disappoint the stakeholders.

2. Build a Cushion in Financing: One of the worst things that can happen while conducting research is to run out of money. To avoid this it makes sense to have some additional funds available you can tap if expenditures run over.

3. Build in off time and alternative activities: Creativity takes time and effort. You should consider that no human can run 100% all the time. Researchers know they can devote themselves to a research cause. This OCD nature of researchers also means they need to build in down town to maintain maximum creativity and productivity.

4. Understand the Human Element: The human being is complex so it is important to understand that creativity and performance are based on internal dynamics and understanding. Research should explore ideas through mental play called creativity. Understand how the brain solves problems keep the human element part of the process.


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