Work Plan

NOTE: Please review the Human Subjects Research (IRB) and Nondisclosure Agreements pages before proceeding.

The completed work plan for your Master’s Project should contain three parts: (1) scope of work, (2) project timeline, and (3) team charter. Guidelines for what to include in each section are outlined below. The full proposal should not exceed 15 pages in length, double-spaced, including the cover page.

Part I: Scope of Work

The scope of work should include the following sections: (1) introduction, (2) statement of objectives, (3) materials and methods, (4) expected results/format of report, and (5) literature citations. Your submitted scope of work should include the following:

1. The Cover Sheet. The cover sheet must include the tentative title, date, author(s), and MP advisor(s). The cover sheet must also include the author(s) and advisor(s) signature(s) to demonstrate faculty approval (Visit #1 on the Final Report page for more information on Cover Sheets or download the template).

2. Introduction. Describe the problem you will be working on and why it is important. Include a concise literature review to relate your problem to previous work and set the stage for the approach you will take. If applicable, describe the client involved and their interest in the project. [2-4 pages]

3. Objectives. State the research questions your MP will answer or the hypotheses you will test. Be specific and succinct. You should be able to list your questions or hypotheses as a series of no more than 3 or 4 concrete bullet points. While you may fine-tune these questions after you begin your work, the initial description of your methods and expected results should follow directly from these objectives. [<1 page]

4. Methods and Sources of Support. Describe the methods/approach you plan to use including, as appropriate, your research approach, data or means of data collection, and plans for data analysis. Be specific and identify significant subtasks related to each part of your project. State any research support needed in terms of supplies, space, equipment and money. If needed, identify source(s) of financial support (e.g., case study funds, research project of professor, school support, grant, etc.). Note whether you will require Institutional Review Board (IRB)approval for data collection involving human subjects, or whether you will operate under a nondisclosure agreement. [2-3 pages]

5. Expected Results and Format of Report. Identify the expected results of the project and/or the deliverables to be produced (e.g., management plan, geospatial tool, scientific publication, policy recommendations, computer model, etc.). State the format of the final product and its intended audience. If appropriate, identify likely journals for publication of your research. [1-2 pages]

6. Literary Citations. Include full, standard citations for any references referred to in the text of your proposal. The Nicholas School does not require MPs to adhere to one specific citation style as long as citations are formatted consistently throughout the final document. Choose the appropriate manual of style for your project (for guidance, see Duke Libraries citation resources).

7. Faculty. List all faculty who have agreed to serve as advisors or cooperators in your project, along with their affiliations (e.g., school or department). Indicate the primary adviser(s) responsible for evaluating the project.

Part II: Project Timeline

Part two should contain the timeline with anticipated deliverables, and may be attached as a separate document, if using Excel or other project management formats.

Timeline of Tasks, Deliverables, and Events. Outline the various steps of project completion from start to finish. Include all significant milestones and recurring meetings with your teammates (if applicable) and MP advisor. For example, this could include completion of your literature review and other background research, as well as intermediate steps related to your data collection and planned analysis. It is highly recommended that you use a Gantt chart or an equivalent Excel spreadsheet (e.g. with individual tasks and milestones as rows and dates in columns), with ongoing tasks specified at a biweekly resolution. Your timeline should also include standing client meetings, if relevant.

Part III: Team Charter

The team charter should outline roles and responsibilities of the team and advisor. All students, including those completing an individual MPs, must include a team charter in the final Work Plan. If you are participating in an individual project, you and your MP advisor are considered a “team”.

Your team charter should include the following:

1. Team Roles and Responsibilities. Assign each team member a role and associated responsibilities to be fulfilled during completion of the MP.

2. Regular Meeting Schedule. Outline how often, in what way, and with whom your MP team will meet. This includes regular team meetings, as well as standing meetings with your advisor and, if relevant, client. Frequency and content of the meetings is up to the collective discretion of the team.

3. Team Expectations. Describe any additional agreements your MP team comes up with. (e.g., how to handle potential conflicts, preferred means of communication, data sharing and storage, etc.)

4. Team Purpose and Mission. Describe the top priorities and goals of each individual team member during the course of the project.

5. Team Cohesion and Conflict Resolution. Include a brief description that addresses these questions: How will your team resolve conflict? How can you most effectively handle scenarios in which team members are not pulling their weight or not living up to the expectations outlined in this charter? How will you have difficult conversations? What steps will you take to understand and know each other better? How do you want to promote ongoing integration and camaraderie within the team?