Ameena Khan

Undergraduate Research Assistant

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Like most research labs, ours has multiple projects going on at any given time. That is why keeping our timeline and tasks organized is crucial in ensuring each project is progressing steadily and we are achieving our short and long term goals. To do this, we use Asana, a project management application to implement our six step pipeline for each project as outlined below.

Each time we have defined a research idea in enough detail to start working on it, we create an Asana project. Each project contains the following stages in Asana:

  1. Backlog This first stage serves as a place to store ideas to be explored in the future. As we go through the remaining five stages for any project, we often discover new questions and uncover interesting perspectives and topics that we may wish to pursue down the line but cannot commit to right now. These ideas are stored in this stage until we have the time and resources to come back and examine them further.

  2. Plan This stage begins with the conception of concrete ideas that will take a project into action. Here, we decide what our goals are for subprojects, or “tasks” as they are called in Asana, and who our potential audience for those tasks may be. We determine what message we hope to show or say, to whom we would like to say it, and what information we would need to collect to be able to say it.

  3. Collect This stage encompasses all the research done to further each of the subprojects previously determined. “Collecting” includes reviewing literature and gathering and parsing data.

    Sample Asana view of root project

  4. Draft This stage involves the analysis of the data collected in the preceding stage. Here, we take notes, outline potential publications, and create supplemental diagrams and tables. When a subproject enters this phase, it becomes its own “project” in Asana.

  5. Revise This stage involves debugging scripts and other code written for each project. In cases when a paper is returned with feedback, this stage is repeated to accommodate the reviews as well.

  6. Release This stage serves to prepare a paper for submission or code for public release. It involves peer reviews, code testing, and final touches such as formatting.

All potential publications iterate through the last two steps until they are submitted and accepted.

When a paper is submitted, its projects are archived in Asana. If it is accepted for publication, it remains archived. However, if the paper is rejected, it is removed from the archives and the project repeats the “revise” and “release” stages for another outlet.

For additional organization, because Asana allows search by tags, each task is tagged with keywords. Tasks within projects are tagged with the name of the pipeline stage they are currently in, the version number that differentiates between important revisions, and abbreviated project names to which the tasks belong. Doing this allows us to view, at any given time, an overview of our position and progress over time. Sample Asana view of subproject Since implementing this pipeline, we have been able to better manage and understand our individual progress more visually and thus have become more efficient as a lab.