A 5-year academic research plan is a strategic roadmap that outlines an academic researcher's goals, objectives, and activities over a five-year period. This plan is crucial for several reasons, contributing to the overall success and impact of the researcher's work. Research plans cover key elements such as defining research interests, setting realistic goals, establishing a timeline, and incorporating effective strategies for publication and dissemination of research findings. They are designed to be created with your network of mentors, are adaptable and flexible and should be updated regularly as a way to measure your progress and impact.


  1. Long-Term Vision and Focus:
    • A 5-year research plan helps researchers establish a clear and comprehensive vision for their work over an extended period. It provides a framework for maintaining focus and direction amid the complexities of academic research.
  2. Goal Setting and Milestones:
    • The plan allows researchers to set specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART) goals. Breaking down the overarching research objectives into smaller milestones helps in tracking progress and maintaining motivation.
  3. Resource Allocation and Budgeting:
    • Planning over a 5-year horizon enables researchers to allocate resources efficiently. This includes budgeting for funding, personnel, equipment, and other essential resources. Effective resource management enhances the chances of successfully completing projects.
  4. Grant Proposal Preparation:
    • Many academic researchers rely on external funding for their projects. A well-thought-out 5-year research plan provides the foundation for compelling grant proposals. Funding agencies often require a detailed roadmap to evaluate the feasibility and potential impact of the proposed research.
  5. Collaboration and Networking:
    • Long-term research plans often involve collaboration with other researchers, institutions, or industry partners. By outlining collaboration opportunities and networking strategies, researchers can enhance the impact of their work and foster mutually beneficial relationships.
  6. Publication Strategy:
    • Planning for the dissemination of research findings is critical. A 5-year plan includes a publication strategy, outlining the intended journals, conferences, and other platforms for sharing research outcomes. This helps researchers build a publication record and contribute to the academic community.
  7. Career Development:
    • For early-career researchers, a 5-year plan can serve as a roadmap for career development. It allows researchers to identify opportunities for professional growth, such as acquiring new skills, gaining teaching experience, or taking on leadership roles within academic or research institutions.
  8. Adaptability and Flexibility:
    • While a plan provides structure, it should also allow for adaptability. Academic research is dynamic, and unforeseen challenges or opportunities may arise. A well-crafted plan includes mechanisms for adjusting goals and strategies in response to changing circumstances.
  9. Impact Assessment:
    • The plan serves as a basis for assessing the impact of the research. By setting specific objectives and measurable outcomes, researchers can evaluate the success of their work and demonstrate the value of their contributions to various stakeholders, including funding agencies, institutions, and the wider community.

You can use these templates as a starting point:


  1. Consult your Role & Scope documents
  2. Collaborate with your network of mentors (if you need help finding a mentor, reach out to [email protected]).
  3. Think about your scholarship, teaching, service and create SMARTIE goals (The Management Center webpage).
  4. Think about what skills you need to achieve your goals
  5. Update it regularly with your progress and new goals if needed