“You don’t need a 100 pages, one page will do for your research plan.”
Stick to the essentials. What, why, when, where and with whom. Here are the sections that go in a one-page research plan:
The title should combine the thing you’re studying and the methodology; for example, “Monster.com field study” or “XYZ Phone data-entry usability test.” Sometimes mentioning the target audience of the study is also appropriate; for example, “Whitehouse.com news page interviews with senior citizens.”
Author and stakeholders
State your full name, title and email address on one line. After you get the stakeholders’ buy-in for the plan, add their details as well — the research belongs to everyone now.
Update it whenever the plan is updated.
Describe what led to this study. Discuss the recent history of the project. Be brief, no more than five lines.
Briefly state the high-level reason (or reasons) for conducting this study. Try to phrase it in one sentence. If that wouldn’t make sense, create a numbered list of very short goal statements. If you have more than three to four goals, you are either aiming too high (meaning you have too many goals) or repeating yourself.
These are the specifics, the core of your plan. Provide a numbered list of questions that you plan to answer during the study. It is extremely important that your stakeholders understand that you will not necessarily be asking the study participants these questions. As a rule of thumb, have no more than seven to ten questions, preferably around five. Later on, you will construct your study script to answer these questions. An effective way to think about research questions is to imagine that they are the headings in the study’s summary.
In an academic environment, this section has one primary goal: to provide as many details as other researchers need in order to repeat the exact same study. In practice, the goal of the methodology section is to briefly inform the stakeholders of what will happen, for how long and where.
Provide a list of the primary characteristics of the people you will be recruiting to participate in the study. Have a good reason for each and every characteristic. If you have two participant groups, describe both groups’ characteristics in lists or in a table. Append a draft form that you’ll use to screen participants.
Inform stakeholders of at least three important dates: when recruiting starts, when the study will take place, and when they can expect results. Large research projects require more scheduling details. For example, if the study involves travel to another city or country, more dates might be required for on-site preparation and meetings or for analysis workshops.
When a full study script is ready, it will appear under this title. Until then, all you need is a heading with a “TBD” indication. Read more about the One-Page-Research-Plan at smashingmagazine.com Here is an examples of a research plan by IDA (Pdf)
Read on for day 7: the 6 don’ts of user testing