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Thinking About Research Directions

Thinking about research directions

I recently reserved a few hours in my agenda (I couldn’t find a full day that month in my schedule for a think day) to think about my research and funding strategies.

Here is the rough time planning and the journaling prompts that I used for shaping my thoughts:

10:00 AM – 10:15 AM: Welcome and Intention Setting
Brief meditation .
Setting clear intentions for the session.
Journaling Questions:
What specific research outcomes do you aim to explore today?
How do these align with your overarching career and research objectives?

10:15 AM – 10:45 AM: Session 1: Defining Research Directions
Outline and critically assess current and future research lines.
Journaling Questions:
Which emerging trends or gaps in structural engineering can your research address in the
next 5-10 years?
How can your existing projects be evolved or expanded to explore new questions?

10:45 AM – 11:15 AM: Session 2: Funding Strategies and Opportunities
Identify funding sources and develop a sustainable approach to securing research grants.
Strategize on involving junior group members in the proposal writing process to build their
skills and contribute to the group’s success.
Assess the landscape of available funding opportunities specific to your research area.

Consider the capacity of your research group and the realistic number of proposals that can
be developed and submitted annually.
Develop a plan for engaging junior group members in the proposal development process,
including training and mentorship strategies.
Journaling Questions:
Given the group’s current capacity and the typical effort required for each proposal, what is
a sustainable number of proposals to aim for annually?
In what ways can junior group members be involved in the proposal writing process to
maximize their contribution and development?
What training or resources are needed to equip junior members with the skills necessary to
contribute effectively to proposal writing?
How will you ensure that the involvement of junior members in proposal writing maintains
or enhances the quality of submissions?

11:15 AM – 11:30 AM: Break and Reflective Pause
A brief break to refresh, with optional reflective journaling on insights gained so far.

11:30 AM – 12:00 PM: Session 3: Envisioning and Strategizing Research Group Growth
Plan the future structure, culture, and focus of your research group.
Journaling Questions:
What specific skills and expertise will your future research team need to fulfill your
research vision?
How can you cultivate a supportive and innovative environment that attracts top talent and
encourages their development?

12:00 PM – 12:30 PM: Session 4: Long-Term Planning and Implementation
Develop a detailed strategic plan for the next 5-10 years, including milestones and key
performance indicators (KPIs).

Journaling Questions:
What are the major milestones you aim to achieve in the coming years?
How will you measure progress towards your long-term research goals?

12:30 PM – 1:00 PM: Lunch Break and Informal Reflection
Pizza time <3.

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