In terms of a timeline, I created a gantt chart which showed the three years across the top and the key activities down the side. This pretty much went with the first year being around literature review, shaping methodology and testing questions, the second year on data collection and the third year on writing up.
The outline is usually the research aim, objectives and questions, or they might want an idea of the thesis itself, e.g. what chapters will you have. Basically a page that describes what you are doing with a bit of structure.
My university had a compulsory task required that was called a 'Research Plan' which needed to be around 3000 words, and which included a timeline. My timeline was quite simply that- a long list of dates and primary activities-where I guessed when I would have key events completed. This timeline is constantly updated but given it was all a projection, has still been very useful and I followed similar times to those outlined by CR1980 for Year 1, 2& 3 (only adjusted to suit the part time nature of my research). The Gant Chart sounds like a wonderful idea btw for organising it.
The original research plan needed to include a short 'context statement of the main subject matter and slightly longer background statement (including some literature review-but only a small amount-a few key authors and similar), a summary of the research problem and then the statement of the problem (or hypothesis or topic) and research questions. These amounted to about the word limit stipulated and have since been re written to form a very very early draft of chapter one.
The university have since changed their protocols for candidates and now have an online version of the whole thing that follows the outline below.
.I've included this because it might be helpful to others as well if they are required to formulate or structure plans for submission (You only need to enter a paragraph or dot points under each heading on the online pro forma. Nothing too long).
The new online research plan lists 'overview', objectives, resources required, key mile stones (projected dates of major tasks and when they might be completed or the timeline), OH & S considerations(if there are any), Regulatory Approvals (if you need them-such as permissions from research sites), Intellectual Property (if your project is likely to have a potential commercial outcome0, generic skills (science lab skills, interviewing skills, administrative skills or similar) and comments (or other).
These are just to provide a different version of what might be useful to help organise or get one started. I was lucky in that my university provided some help in the forms of seminars and similar but not all universities do-and I know if this were one my Masters was completed at-I would have had to really work it out all on my own. Good luck.
As part of my confirmation/PhD Upgrade/Mid-Can Review/Pre-Submission Seminar I had to include timelines for work completion.
I wish I could post a screenshot for you as to what that looked like, but basically, what I did was:
1. Summary of the Research Project
2. Statement of Progress (I don't know how far along you are? This might be better as a statement of intended progress (reword that, my brain isn't working today).
3. Outline of each chapter<--As I was at the mid-can review/already had done data collection and analysis this was easy to do, but you might not be at that stage yet?
4. A timetable for completion<--this was done as a table, down the left-hand side column I had the tasks, across the top row I had the months. I put Xs to indicate what would be achieved when, and boxes that were shaded in indicated completion.
5. Feedback on the project so far (so what was said at the milestones, as well as external such as presentations/seminars etc.
6. An appendix of the table of contents for completed chapters.
If you're just starting the above formula may not be helpful, but if you are reaching a milestone such as mid-can review, it can be.
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