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Tackling an original research project involves a set of skills you may not have had the chance to fully develop before now. While you have previously relied on other scholars’ ideas and findings to write your papers, you now need to set up your own study, determine what information you need to tell the story you want to tell, do your own analysis of a carefully selected set of sources, and critically reflect upon your work throughout this process.
Research is iterative – you will need to revisit your research plan over the course of the semester and make adjustments as you refine your topic, hunt down data/sources that may or may not exist, and question the limitations of the existing literature.
A research plan is a living document that researchers use to organize their thoughts on a research project. Creating a research plan will help you make the transition from writing “research papers” where you synthesize the work of other scholars – to planning, conducting, and writing up an original research project. Your plan will evolve as your project develops; it is not a one-time thing.