Guidelines on Writing a Research Proposal
A well written research proposal, all things being equal, would most likely lead to a fruitful research outcome. It is therefore expected that investigators proposing research through the Research Center follow the internationally accepted principles in writing a Research Proposal. Compliance with the principles of “Writing a Research Proposal” makes the approval process quick and efficient to accomplish. Specific outlines to follow rigidly are nothing more than the guidelines used in Scientific Methods of research.
The specific steps may be rigid but within each step, the researcher can demonstrate creativity and originality. The components of the Proposal are:
- Proposing a Title for the Research
- The Research Problem Explained
- The Relevant Literature Citation
- Research Design/Methodology
- Estimated Budget
- Anticipated Duration
- Signatures of Investigation
Further details of these components are as follows:
Title of Research
The title must clearly be descriptive and indicative of what will be researched. Although specific, the title should neither be too short nor too long. The title must reflect the principal variables to be researched.
Full Name of the Investigator
The investigators names must be written in full. The same holds for co investigators. A date must be inserted on the pages that carry the names.
The Research Problem
This section of the proposal may be regarded as Introductory where the researcher “opens up and explains” briefly what the intended research is all about.
The aim(s) of the research are stated here and justification and need for the study suggested. Implications of expected results in relation to health care should be stated. These may be clinical management, diagnosis, health promotion, disease prevention, professional development or health care administration improvement.
The investigator usually has to connect with the past meaning that he/she should discuss what is unanswered or known about the Research problem at hand. Since literature information is now very vast for most research titles, the investigator must choose relevant or related literature organized around major areas to be reviewed in relation to the Research problem. The literature review should provide relevant but adequate background information on previously tested hypothesis, operational definitions, measuring instruments, data collection methods and methodology which illuminate the present intention.
Some call this section “Materials and Methods”. This section is the “meat” of the research because the investigator details exactly what will be done to address the aims of the study. By fully describing the details of the design and methodology, the investigator facilitates potential project replication by others which is an essential factor in scientific research and publication. The model use should be mentioned (experimental/laboratory clinical, survey, methodological, mixed models) variables must be operationally defined. This removes ambiguity. There should be a statement on hypothesis (es) or questions related to the stated research problem depending on the research model employed, the researcher should identify the presumed independent and independent variables. The scientific theoretical explanation underlying the investigation should be stated if applicable. Under Methodology, the investigator should describe, the procedure for sample selection, Screening criteria, the physical setting for the research and exact procedures for data collection. The measuring instruments must be fully described. Reliability and validity of the instruments should be assured.
The statistical analysis methods anticipated should be explained and justified. The tests must be appropriate. Indicate how descriptive and inferential statistics would elucidate the anticipated data.
The investigator should make a check list of items that require funding eg equipment, instrument, animals, payments and reimbursements, publication costs, audio-visual items if relevant, travel costs, personnel, and others. The Budget is an estimate but is very useful for the funding bodies in making decisions. Where possible and applicable, invoices and quotations that make the budget credible should be attached.
There should be a beginning and an end of a research. Researches are not perpetually open-ended, longitudinal studies included. Therefore the duration can be approximately specified as:
Starting Date for the Project ________________________________________
Finishing Date for the Project ________________________________________
For enhanced efficiency, a time flow chart may be constructed to indicate approximate time frames within which each section of the proposal research activities could be accomplished.
In the body of the proposal name/year citation (Harvard System) should be used and in the Reference listing, the names should be alphabetical and unnumbered. (JDR style or the Vancouver system of citation)
When and if applicable, invoices, sample questionnaire, consent forms, ethical requirement compliance form, documents, illustrative materials and other items should be labeled sequentially and attached to the Research Proposal.
Signature of the Investigator(s)
This is appended at the end as Name _______________________________________
Signature _____________________________ Date ______________________________
Despite the explanations given above, a Research Proposal should not be tediously written. Neither should it be too long. Literature Review and Bibliographic citations should just be adequate. A researcher should also be a scientific writer. Therefore the Proposal should be written simply and clearly regardless of the Research topic.
Processing a Research Proposal
Until further notice, research proposals will be entertained by the Research Center continuously during the year for now.
The Research Center determines who reviews a research proposal. The reviews’ reports are taken by the Research Proposal Review Subcommittee for final decisioning. A full report of the decision of the subcommittee will be communicated to the investigator(s). When it becomes compelling to make a quick decision as a Research proposal especially if funds are not involved, the Director may take executive decisions without recourse to the subcommittee. The outcomes of submitted proposals should be known, at the latest, within four weeks of submission. This period allows reviews’ action on the proposals.
The individuals involved in the process are the chief investigator (if investigators are more than one) the Department Chairman, the Director of the Research Center and members of the Proposal Review Committee.
The principal duty of the chief investigator is to make sure that the Proposal has been written clearly using the guidelines of the Center. He also makes sure that the appropriate Form is correctly and completely filled. He is responsible for the periodic progress report which the Research Center will be demanding.
The Department Chairman, signifies that the chief investigator indeed has the time to conduct the research because the work load makes it possible. He signified this by signing on the original copy of the Proposal.
The Director of the Center collates all the Proposals submitted, quickly gets back to the investigators if there are preliminary issues to clarify and promptly begins the process that leads to approval or non approval.
All the steps described should facilitate decision making on submitted proposal. The roles of the Department Chairman and the Director of the Center must be supportive even when critical.