Project Management for Advanced Research

Building blocks with arrows point up to a lightbulb.


Project management can help you plan and execute writing your thesis or dissertation, publishing your scholarly article, or organizing a collaborative research project. Recently, Moody School, SMU Libraries and the Office of the Provost collaborated to host a workshop on the basic principles of project management for advanced research. 

Important takeaways from the workshop led by Sarah Sage, Director for Strategy and Operations, Carrie Johnston, Director of Research and Scholarly Initiatives and Rafia Mirza, Digital Scholarship Librarian, were: 


  • Project planning and project management are learnable skills! The basis of all successful projects is negotiation and commonly understood expectations.  
  • Documentation is important! Writing things down and sharing those with partners and participants in your projects is critical to project management.  
  • Like any discipline, project management has some jargon, and we discussed how to translate that jargon to be useful in your field. For instance, in the context of teaching, a “prototype” could be a draft of a syllabus, while for a conference paper, it might refer to preliminary research or a draft outline. In the context of a dissertation, a “deliverable” might be the first chapter, or it could be a dataset that has been collected and analyzed. 

Students gathered around a table discussing project management.                          Several students sit at small tables in a classroom, listening to presenters.

Participants enjoyed a box lunch while learning about project management at the November 6th workshop in Moody Hall.

Our online guide contains additional resources on Project Management for researchers. Two useful tools make sure all project participants have a shared understanding: the template for a charter helps align project goals, and the template for a scope statement helps develop a shared understanding of how work will be completed for your project.  

If you are interested in learning more, this video discusses the fundamental principles of project planning and management, emphasizing their application to research projects. The video will help you gain an understanding of when and why project management is essential and how incorporating agility can enhance the execution of your research projects. 

This post was written by Rafia Mirza, digital scholarship librarian. Rafia is our expert on collaborative projects, text data mining, and more.