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Ezra's Research Diary: Tried and True Strategies for Effective Undergraduate Research: Create a Timeline

This library guide is designed to help students understand the overall process of undergraduate research at Cornell.

Creating a Timeline or Calendar of Goals

Now that you have an idea of what you want to research, it's time to create a game plan (i.e. a project calendar). Start by breaking your project into smaller, more manageable goals. Set a tentative date, and, to the best of your abilities, stick to that date as the semester progresses. If you are working in a team, identify several dates, times, and locations that are convenient for collaboration. (If you can't meet in person, consider alternatives such as Skype or web conferencing.)

The Assignment Calculator

Try using the Assignment Calculator to estimate your deadlines.


How you design your timeline or calendar of goals is up to you. Make sure you keep in mind your personal study habits, your work schedule, and any other factors that might influence how and when you do your research. Here is an example:

Midterm History Paper

   Week 1. Define/choose topic.

   Week 2. Presearch the topic to get an overview and formulate a preliminary research question.

   Week 3. Find 8-10 scholarly, peer-reviewed sources.

   Week 4. Create an outline of the report.

   Week 5. Write a first draft.

   Week 6. Get feedback from at least one professor or peer.

   Week 7. Proofread the paper--and hand it in!

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