Okay, so that isn't exactly true: It isn't hard to find advice. We considered everything, filtered out the muck, and distilled it all down to a general strategy and a few simple principles, with a few variations on the theme thrown in for good measure.
Opinions, after all, are not in short supply in the academy. Our aim is to do some of your homework for you, to make sure that you'll never have to read more than you have time for.
It's also an opportunity to begin to demonstrate the creative and independent thinking required of a successful scientist. It's possible to function quite well as a postdoc or grad student while giving little thought to your future.
Writing a research plan casts your gaze forward and prompts you to begin planning for when you have your own laboratory.
If we research every one of those questions we'll be studying farms, cows, cow udders, baby cows, and what cows eat. That information is definitely irrelevant to our science fair project question: Does drinking milk help decrease spiciness better than water or Pepsi?
Nearly every applicant for a tenure-track faculty job is expected to include a research plan. Just as rare are programs designed to help doctoral students and postdocs learn how to create a research plan.And if you've already started to think about your own lab, it will help you to refine your plans.So take a stab at writing a research plan, even if you don't expect to be on the job market for a while. In that case what matters is, what is the committee looking for? Hiring committees desperately want to avoid making a serious mistake by investing institutional and intellectual capital in the wrong person.(I'm sure you have other things you'd like to do, too!) For a good example of how the question word table can generate irrelevant questions, let's just look at some possible questions if we fill out the table for another one of our sample keywords: milk.Some of those irrelevant questions might be very interesting to you; they just don't belong as part of your science fair project.We have to focus our efforts on what we feel is most important, or another way of looking at it, let's not spend time researching anything we don't need to.Your research plan is a map for your career as a research science professional.As will become apparent later in this document, one of the functions of a research plan is to demonstrate your intellectual vision and aspirations. A research plan isn't just for demonstrating; it's also for honing and refining.Background research is necessary so that you know how to design and understand your experiment.To make a background research plan — a roadmap of the research questions you need to answer — follow these steps: So that you can design an experiment, you need to research what techniques and equipment might be best for investigating your topic.