A clean, well-thought-out proposal forms the backbone for the research itself and hence becomes the most important step in the process of conduct of research. The proposal is a detailed plan or ‘blueprint’ for the intended study, and once it is completed, the research project should flow smoothly. This basically means your proposal acts as a reference guide for any confusions that arise when doing your project. Hence it is very important that it must be thorough and must cover your topic in detail.
Once you have your research question framed it is time to start further expanding on it!
The purpose of conducting your research project is to show how your work fits into what is already known about the topic and what new paradigm will it add to the literature, while specifying the question that the research will answer, establishing its significance, and the implications of the answer.
The proposal must be capable of convincing the evaluation committee about the
• Reproducibility of the research design.
The contents or formats of a research proposal vary depending on the requirements of evaluation committee and are generally provided by the evaluation committee or the institution. A typical order of the contents of a research proposal include:
1. Cover Page: In general, a cover page should contain the
(i) title of the proposal
(ii) name and affiliation of the researcher (principal investigator) and coinvestigators and their contact information
(iii) institutional affiliation
The main contents of the proposal may be presented under the following headings:
2. Title: Some say the most important part of your research proposal is a title.
It is an entire overview of your project in less than 25 words! It makes a huge difference in whether your project gets approved or not and hence must be eye catching at first glance.
3. Introduction: It is an initial pitch of an idea; it sets the scene and puts the research in context. The introduction should be designed to create interest in the reader about the topic and proposal. It should convey to the reader, what you want to do, what necessitates the study and your passion for the topic.
Some topics that can be covered include:
• What groups of people have interest in this topic?
• How much do we already know about this topic?
• What has not been answered adequately in previous research and practice?
4. Aims and Objectives: The research purpose (or goal or aim) gives a broad indication of what the researcher wishes to achieve in the research. A set of around three or four aims can be framed, this helps in further writing a research proposal to fit these rules.
5. Research Design and Method: The objective here is to convince the reader that the overall research design and methods of analysis will correctly address the research problem and to impress upon the reader that the methodology chosen are appropriate for the specific topic. It should be unmistakably tied to the specific aims of your study.
Some headings include:
• Study Period: Duration the research project will take to obtain the results
• Sample Size: It is the number of individuals the research will be conducted on. This part of the proposal needs the help of a Statistician.
• Population: refers to the group of people that this research benefits and hence determines from whom data is collected.
• Materials and Methods:
1. Inclusion and Exclusion criteria of Study Participants eg: Age, Sex, Comorbid condition.
2. Biological Materials Required: In studies that require patient’s samples, it must be specified as to what sample needs to be taken, procedure of collection, amount of sample, and if any benefit is awarded to the patient.
• Procedure of Data Collection: Depending on whether the Proposal is a retrospective or prospective study, and process of collection of the data whether it is from medical files or talking to the patent must be mentioned.
• Applicability: Applicability refers to the degree to which the findings can be applied to different contexts and groups.
• Data Analysis: Most research projects use graphs to plot their results, the procedure of obtaining the graph as well as its relevance must be mentioned.
6. Ethical Considerations: Medical research introduces special moral and ethical problems that are not usually encountered by other researchers during data collection, and hence, the researcher should take special care in ensuring that ethical standards are met. However, every proposal still needs permission from the ethics committee, make sure you don’t forget to do so!
7. Budget: When the researcher prepares a research budget, he/she should predict and cost all aspects of the research and then add an additional allowance for unpredictable disasters, delays and rising costs. All items in the budget should be justified.
8. Review of literature: It refers to all sources of scientific evidence pertaining to the topic in interest. In the present era of digitalisation and easy accessibility, there is an enormous amount of relevant data available, making it a challenge for the researcher to include all of it in his/her review.
Thorough readings of similar research projects must be done so as to structure this section intelligently so that the reader can grasp the argument related to your study in relation to that of other researchers, while still demonstrating to your readers that your work is original and innovative.
9. Citations: As with any scholarly research paper, you must cite the sources you used in composing your proposal. Although the words ‘references and bibliography’ are different, they are used interchangeably. It refers to all references cited in the research proposal and MUST be mentioned at the end of evert article to give appropriate credit.