You may have heard the expression ‘a PhD is a marathon, not a sprint’. When you start a higher degree research program, you are starting a long-term research project that you will need to sustain over 3 – 4 years if you’re a PhD candidate, or 1.5 – 2 years if you’re a Masters candidate. 

The key to staying on track and completing your thesis on time is to plan your research project effectively. The two most important tools for planning your research project are milestones and timelines. You’ll need to provide your milestones and a timeline when you complete your annual Research Progress Review.

Milestones are the steps a candidate needs to take to achieve their goals. While you should develop your milestones in consultation with your supervisor, you should start by generating a list of possible milestones that are achievable and realistic, and have specific dates for when they should be achieved. That is, they should always be written using the “SMART” principles.

The Graduate Research School (GRS) runs a Research Progress Review Seminar that outlines how to develop realistic and achievable milestones and timelines, and get the best out of your Reviews. For information on the next offering, please visit this page.  

Can’t make it to the next Seminar? Watch a recording of the last session and download a copy of the slides here


Additional Resources

UNSW Webpages
Your Progress
Research Progress Review and Confirmation of Research Candidatures Procedure

External Resources
iThinkwell HDR templates
Raul Pacheco-Vega, PhD Resources