These milestones are representative of most research projects; however you will want to customise this list by refining, adding and removing milestones to match your own project.
Early on you will be establishing the foundations of your research, typically surveying literature and learning to use relevant tools.
Set yourself some early targets designed to deepen your understanding of the 'problem' or the issues around your research.
You should also develop a number of targets (how much? what? where? and when?) for this phase of the project.
Wind up data collection
You will still be collecting data at this point and may be undertaking some analysis. You should also be beginning to work towards winding up your data collection focusing on interesting areas that the analysis reveals.
Moving towards the end
You will need to complete your 'solution' or framing of the argument, and review recent literature.
Completion and submission
Finally you should be pulling the writing that you have done already into a thesis format, editing, proofing and then submitting the thesis.
It is a good idea to assign a time frame to these categories, remembering to take account of any activities that must start or stop at specific times. For example some data collection opportunities may be dependent on the time of year, or access to shared equipment.
Don't worry if your research is not conforming to this pattern exactly. What is important is that you are working to a plan. It is also worth remembering that writing should not be left until the last six months, but is something that you do all the way through your research, with the final period focused on editing rather than producing new material.
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