• Question: How long does your average project take to complete?

    Asked by cookieowl on 28 Mar 2021.
    • Photo: Alan Diaz

      Alan Diaz answered on 23 Mar 2021:

      It really depends…
      Some projects involving coding can take weeks or even years (years!).
      Some projects involving writing scientific papers can take week or even years (years!).
      As a researcher, you would always have small, medium and large size projects that you’re constantly working towards :).

    • Photo: Jun Lin

      Jun Lin answered on 24 Mar 2021:

      I am usually involved in 2-3 research projects at the same time. Depending on the projects and different areas, 2-5 years are normal in research.

    • Photo: Peter Megyesi

      Peter Megyesi answered on 26 Mar 2021:

      I work on two projects at the moment, both going on for about a year now, but they had/have distinct phases lasting only 2-3 months each.

      My general thoughts on timing/planning:
      – Define small units of work. A few hours or a day max.
      – Spend a few minutes every day to check what you are working on. Ask questions like are all of those really necessary? If you could finish just one thing all day what should that be? Is something blocking you?
      – After a week or two (some call this a sprint), review what you have done. What was good (about the approach), what could you have done better. But most importantly: just stop working on things that you don’t think are are high prio. any more.
      – After 3-6 sprints, take a bigger step back and spend a day or two and look at the big picture and check if you’re still on the right track to achieve your long term goals.


      For two reasons:

      1) You can accomplish something easier and more efficiently if you focus on: small tasks instead large ones, finishing something instead of working on something and reviewing frequently instead planning frequently.

      2) We can better answer your original question: while it’s true that some projects can last even many years, any project should have checkpoints that are well-defined and only last a couple months.

    • Photo: Andrea Federico

      Andrea Federico answered on 28 Mar 2021:

      As some colleagues have already said it depends on the project. For example, some projects can be faster than others because they involve the use of components already available on the market. In other cases, the scenario can be tougher as the purpose is to develop something new.