Project Management for Academic Research.

The term ‘project management’ means many things to many people. It ranges from detailed logistics planning for upgrading a motorway or building a hotel, through to blue-skies research to investigate a new approach to Alzheimer’s disease. But all of them have an aim and some sort of time or money constraint.

CSM has devoted 30+ years to planning research projects ranging from TB in cows, hip and ankle transplants, non-invasive scanning for airport security and tribology for high-reliability sub-sea valve technology.

The major difference between R and D (‘D’ to include e.g. technology for a moon lander) is uncertainty.

‘R’ is, by its very nature, uncertain (think of the current epidemiological crisis); uncertainty in ‘D’ is usually defined and quantified as risk. Consequently, the majority of academic research carries with it considerable uncertainty but the funding agencies and PhD supervisors are always looking for visible results. These results can be modest and incremental but, occasionally, can lead to a major discovery e.g. of pulsars*, gravitational waves or the Higgs boson.

  • As many will know, pulsars were discovered by a PhD student (Jocelyn Bell) and ended up as just one chapter in her thesis. This was a happy accident resulting from strange interference in her project on radio scintillation.

Over the years, CSM has trained academic researchers in the UK, USA and Europe in those aspects of project management which are particularly useful for planning and managing uncertainty. Those that have been trained in process will be familiar with the concept of ‘It’ and ‘Dog 1’. This is an ever-growing band and probably includes between 5 and 10,000 post-Docs from around the world.

I have had several courses and trainings in project management . . . and I could relate to your material . . . which gave me one of the most useful insights of all.

Thijs, NL (2021)

We are fully operational online and if you would like to know more about our courses, please contact us. We have found that, rather than sign-up as individuals, this training works best at an institutional or faculty level.

Just a quick note to say thank you for delivering a truly excellent series of lectures on project management. I did your course 22 years ago (and can tell you that) it was very well received and the students appeared to appreciate someone lecturing them who was a professional in the field i.e. had authority, and was able to communicate with considerable enthusiasm for the subject area.

Prof. R.H., UK (2021)