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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Researchers' experience with project management in health and medical research: Results from a post-project review

Janet M Payne1*, Kathryn E France1, Nadine Henley2, Heather A D'Antoine1, Anne E Bartu3, Elizabeth J Elliott4 and Carol Bower1

Author Affiliations

1 Population Sciences, Telethon Institute for Child Health Research, Centre for Child Health Research, The University of Western Australia, Roberts Road, Subiaco, 6008, Western Australia, Australia

2 Centre for Applied Social Marketing Research, Edith Cowan University, Joondalup Drive, Joondalup, 6027, Western Australia, Australia

3 School of Nursing and Midwifery, Curtin Health Innovation Research Institute, Curtin University of Technology, Kent Street, Bentley, 6102, Western Australia, Australia

4 Discipline of Paediatrics and Child Health, Sydney Medical School, University of Sydney, University Road, Sydney, 2006, New South Wales, Australia

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BMC Public Health 2011, 11:424  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-11-424

Published: 2 June 2011

Abstract

Background

Project management is widely used to deliver projects on time, within budget and of defined quality. However, there is little published information describing its use in managing health and medical research projects. We used project management in the Alcohol and Pregnancy Project (2006-2008) http://www.ichr.uwa.edu.au/alcoholandpregnancy webcite and in this paper report researchers' opinions on project management and whether it made a difference to the project.

Methods

A national interdisciplinary group of 20 researchers, one of whom was the project manager, formed the Steering Committee for the project. We used project management to ensure project outputs and outcomes were achieved and all aspects of the project were planned, implemented, monitored and controlled. Sixteen of the researchers were asked to complete a self administered questionnaire for a post-project review.

Results

The project was delivered according to the project protocol within the allocated budget and time frame. Fifteen researchers (93.8%) completed a questionnaire. They reported that project management increased the effectiveness of the project, communication, teamwork, and application of the interdisciplinary group of researchers' expertise. They would recommend this type of project management for future projects.

Conclusions

Our post-project review showed that researchers comprehensively endorsed project management in the Alcohol and Pregnancy Project and agreed that project management had contributed substantially to the research. In future, we will project manage new projects and conduct post-project reviews. The results will be used to encourage continuous learning and continuous improvement of project management, and provide greater transparency and accountability of health and medical research. The use of project management can benefit both management and scientific outcomes of health and medical research projects.