Modifying your Research Plan


Even the best research plans can go wrong. Whether it’s because your schedule has been disrupted or you feel your original research question is no longer relevant, there are many valid reasons for your plans to change. Whatever it is, don’t worry: it’s always better to change your plans than to force a project through and end up with a subpar paper. If you aren’t sure about how to continue with your plan, then consult the list of potential issues below and some of the suggested responses.

1. Scheduling Issues. We’ve all fallen behind on projects before. Whether another class got in the way, your work got busy, or you fell ill, there’s no shame in realizing that you aren’t going to make a deadline. If you find yourself in this situation, always get in touch with your professor. Often, they will be happy to arrange an extension for your work. Otherwise, you can try to adjust your research plan to a shorter time frame. Just make sure you don’t cut corners!

2. Sources. Sometimes, no matter how hard you try, you simply won’t be able to find sources on an issue. If you haven’t tried yet, it’s always worth consulting a more experienced researcher, such as your professor or a librarian, to see if they can help you get a start. If this fails, they can also help by suggesting related topics you can pursue that may have written material available.

3. Divergence. The most exciting part of the research process is often discovering new facts or perspectives on a topic you are interested in. Sometimes, however, these discoveries can lead you towards a different part of your topic or a different kind of thesis than you were initially thinking. This may seem like an issue, but it’s actually a great sign that you have an open and curious attitude toward your topic. If you want to change your topic, approach, or argument based on research you’ve found, go for it: that’s what professional researchers do all the time. Just be sure to check with your professors before making any drastic changes.



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UNM Core Writing OER Collection Copyright © 2023 by University of New Mexico is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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