Action Plan

Action plan

Once you have decided on your methodology, you can construct a detailed plan for your project. The plan should be sufficiently detailed to give you all the time needed for different tasks. If the plan is not detailed, it is more likely that the time needed will be seriously underestimated and you will get behind with your overall plan.

The details of your action plan should include time needed for the literature search, gaining ethical approval, developing the research tools, gathering the data, interpreting it, and preparing your report on the findings. Ethical approval for your project will be organised internally at your centre and you should follow your tutor’s instructions. The approval process could be part of the assessment process for P4.


Most professional research projects are time limited. In this unit, the timescale will be determined by the submission date set by the unit tutor. You will need to work backwards from this deadline to plan how you will use the time available. This means you need to

allocate time for each of the actions you identify in your action plan. Developing a questionnaire that has well-focused, clear questions and carefully constructed answer frames takes time, especially if you carry out a pilot test on it. If you aim to have a large participant sample, then you may need to factor in time for printing the questionnaire. Depending on the overall timescale, you may be able to build in some slack time to allow for the slippage that often occurs when planning over several weeks and months.

Target group

The target group is the sample population from which the participant sample is selected. As you are a student on a course that in itself does not lead to a professional qualification, in almost all cases it would be unethical for your participants to be sampled through contacts in health or social care settings. To do so would require ethical approval from external organisations such as the local strategic health authority, something which is unlikely to be granted, given your unqualified status.

It is ethically acceptable to involve your peers as participants in a student project. Since most students on a BTEC Level 3 course will be studying in a college or sixth form, their peers would be fellow students at the same institution. However, you should be aware that only students over the age of 16 years should be included in your sample because involvement of individuals younger than this would require written consent from their parents/guardians. If based in a college, you may need to consider this, as some learners at Key Stage 4 may also attend college.

It might be possible to include friends, family and acquaintances as participants provided they know you through your private life rather than through work or a college placement and you can interview them away from a setting. Sampling from the general public in a public space could expose you to personal risk, and your centre would be unlikely to give consent for this method of accessing participants.


In addition you need to plan how you are going to gain informed consent from each individual participant and be explicit about this in your project plan. You also need to consider how your questionnaires will be distributed so that participants have privacy while they complete them. Peers may ridicule respondents, which would be a form of harm. They may also influence their responses, which would greatly reduce the accuracy of the data and the validity of any findings.

You will need consent or approval from your school or college to carry out the overall project and this consent should be included with your project plan. You should always remember to gain consent for the project before you involve any participants in the research.

This would also apply for any pilot study to trial your research tools. Remember too that you should obtain written consent from an appropriately senior manager to hand out questionnaires or carry out observations on the premises of any other organisation apart from your school or college.

Informal observations of general practices and behaviours observed in placements or in public spaces might be included but, because the information has not been collected formally, it has only limited validity in a research project. However, data collected this way may be better than having no data. Informal observations (e.g. from placements) may support the rationale for selecting the topic of the project in the first place.


Create SMART goals to show your action plan for your research project. Add these to your post in the forum.

Last modified: Tuesday, 31 Mar 2020, 16:44