The full research proposal should be between 5 to 10 pages and should present the following:
The title should be informative, succinct and interesting. It should include the population of interest and the condition/issue being investigated.
A brief outline of the problem statement, rationale and objectives of the research study.
A broad statement indicating the goals of the project. Eg. Exploration, description, explanation, prediction (hypothesis testing)
Why should the research be done?
Why is the research important? Has it been done before? Will the study benefit patients, increase knowledge and/or influence policy? Will research resolve controversies? Would the answers have clinical value?
Background and Significance
A critical summary of research on a topic of interest, generally prepared to put a research problem in context or to identify gaps and weaknesses in prior studies so as to justify a new investigation. Generally starts off broadly addressing the problem then becoming more narrow and leading to your specific research question(s).
- This is your chance to build a case for doing your study!
- Justify the statements that you have made in your Relevance/Rationale section.
- Reviewers will be looking to see whether your proposed work is appropriate for the level of knowledge currently existing in that area.
Objectives and Aims
[Research question or hypothesis/ Research objectives]
Explicitly state what you propose to study.
- Form the foundation for the rest of the proposal.
- Will be used to assess the adequacy/appropriateness of the study’s proposed methods:
Testable; logically derived from the literature review
- Often includes:
Population of interest (person, place, time); Variables (independent and dependent); Relationship between variables being investigated
Study design (type of study)
Issues to consider in design:
- Exploratory versus explanatory research
- Potential biases that may emerge
- Feasibility (logistics)
- Level of evidence, limitations
Types of Designs:
- Descriptive (Survey, cross-sectional, correlational)
- Cohort studies
- Randomized controlled trials
Study population and sampling
Who will you study? Why?
Specify eligible subjects:
- Target population: clinical & demographic characteristics
- Accessible population: temporal & geographic characteristics
Data collection methods and instruments
- Independent variable (exposure, intervention…)
- Dependent variable (outcome)
- Where will the information come from (data sources)?
- Exactly how will the information be collected (data collection methods)?
Data analysis methods
If applicable statistical planning must be fully addressed, or the candidate should provide evidence that statistics are not required.
In many proposals, the sample size section precedes the data analysis section. However, it is advisable to consider the analysis section first, as the sample size calculation should be based on the analysis of the primary research question.
Data Analysis Section
A detailed plan for handling and analyzing data, including procedures for:
- Recording, storing and reducing data
- Assessing data quality
- Statistical analyses
Mechanisms to assure the quality of the study
e.g. control of bias, safe storage of data
Study period – Timetable for completion of the project
Participants in the study
All people involved in the study, and the role they play, should be identified.
Strength and Weakness of the study
What are the limitation of your study design? how have you tried to mitigate them? What are the strengths, why are they relevant?
Budget and Motivation
[Resources required for the study, including budget if applicable]
copy of questionnaires, consent forms, etc.