Every research project needs a budget*.
If you are applying for funding, you must say what you are planning to spend that funding on. More than that, you need to show how spending that money will help you to answer your research question.
So, developing the budget is the perfect time to plan your project clearly. A good budget shows the assessors that you have thought about your research in detail and, if it is done well, it can serve as a great, convincing overview of the project.
Here are five steps to create a simple budget for your research project.
1. List your activities
Make a list of everything that you plan to do in the project, and who is going to do it.
Take your methodology and turn it into a step-by-step plan. Have you said that you will interview 50 people? Write it on your list.
Are you performing statistical analysis on your sample? Write it down.
Think through the implications of what you are going to do. Do you need to use a Thingatron? Note down that you will need to buy it, install it, and commission it.
What about travel? Write down each trip separately. Be specific. You can’t just go to ‘South East Asia’ to do fieldwork. You need to go to Kuala Lumpur to interview X number of people over Y weeks, then the same again for Singapore and Jakarta.
Your budget list might look like this:
- I’m going to do 10 interviews in Kuala Lumpur; 10 interviews in Singapore; 10 interviews in Jakarta by me.
- I’ll need teaching release for three months for fieldwork.
- I’ll need Flights to KL, Singapore, Jakarta and back to Melbourne.
- I’ll need Accommodation for a month in each place, plus per diem.
- The transcription service will transcribe the 30 interviews.
- I’ll analysis the transcribed results. (No teaching release required – I’ll do it in my meagre research time allowance.)
- I’ll need a Thingatron X32C to do the trials.
- Thing Inc will need to install the Thingatron. (I wonder how long that will take.)
- The research assistant will do three trials a month with the Thingatron.
- I’ll need to hire a research assistant (1 day per week for a year at Level B1.)
- The research assistant will do the statistical analysis of the Thingatron results.
- I’ll do the writing up in my research allowance time.
By the end, you should feel like you have thought through the entire project in detail. You should be able to walk someone else through the project, so grab a critical friend and read the list to them. If they ask questions, write down the answers.
This will help you to get to the level of specificity you need for the next step.
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