How to Write a Research Proposal Detroit Medical Center Nursing Research Council What is a research proposal? A research proposal is your plan It describes in detail your study Decisions about your study are based on the quality of the proposal Research funding Approvals to proceed by the Nursing Research Council, the DMC, and the WSU Institutional Review Board Research Proposal Elements Background/clinical significance Research Question/Aim/Purpose Methods Design Sample/Sample Size Setting Protocol Analysis plan Timeline Writing the Proposal Background/Clinical Significance Why is your study important? Describe the clinical significance of the research question or clinical problem Answer the “so what?” question Literature review What is the state of the science on this problem? Are there gaps in the literature? How will your study fill those gaps? Synthesize recent literature (within the past 5 years) Purpose Identify simply what you plan to do in your study The purpose can be framed as a research question or an aim Examples: What is the impact of meditative music on agitation in hospitalized elders? The purpose of this study is to show the impact of meditative music on agitated elders. Methods This section of your proposal has multiple parts Design Sample/Sample size Setting Protocol Analysis Plan Detailed enough so that the reviewers could conduct the study Methods - Design Describe your study design Design examples Prospective vs. Retrospective Descriptive Observation Intervention clinical trial Surveys, interviews, questionnaires Focus groups, field studies Others Example We plan a prospective randomized controlled trial of meditative music vs. no music Methods – Sample/Sample Size Who are the study participants? Describe inclusion criteria Example: Adult men and women inpatients with stage IV heart disease Who is excluded? Example: Patients who do not speak English Methods – Sample cont’d How will participants be recruited? Convenience sample of nurses or patients Flyers in clinics or waiting rooms Advertisements Electronic Records search How many participants are needed? How will you justify the sample size? Has there been a power analysis? Do you have a comparison or control group? Setting Describe the units or clinics at DMC sites where you plan to conduct the study Do you have support from the clinic or unit to conduct the study? Letters of support from site or unit Protocol What are you going to do to study participants? Detailed, step by step explanation Include how you will identify participants, obtain consent, and collect data If there is an intervention, describe it in detail Will you use measurement tools? Describe the tools, including reliability and validity and include a copy of the tools with your proposal Include the time frame for implementing the study Data Analysis Describe your analysis plan What statistical tests will you use? Be sure your statistics are appropriate for your study design Timeline Describe how long it will take to do your study Provide timeline benchmarks Example: Months 1 – 3 Prepare study tools Months 4-10 Collect data Months 11-12 Analyze data Common pitfalls to avoid Missing aims or purpose Not enough detail about protocol Write your proposal so anyone reading it can understand your plan Is your study significant? Does it answer the larger “So what” question? Why should nurses care about this work? Underpowered sample size Describe why you are using the sample size and justify it Invalid or unreliable instrumentation Has your instrument been tested with the population you are studying? If not, will you test it within your study? Improper statistics Are you using the appropriate statistical analysis? How will the Nursing Research Council Evaluate my proposal? The NRC will evaluate your proposal based on specific criteria defined by the Wayne State IRB The research design must be sound enough to yield the expected knowledge The aims/objectives are likely to be achievable in the given time period The rationale for the proposed number of participants is reasonable The scientific design is described and adequately justified Resources Each DMC hospital has a Nursing Research Council representative. Contact them before you submit your proposal if you have questions. http://intraweb/default.aspx?ifsrc=co ntent.aspx?id=548 References Mateo, M.A.; & Kirchoff, K.T. (1999). Using and Conducting Nursing Research in the Clinical Setting. Philadelphia, PA: WB Saunders Company. Polit, D.F.; & Beck C.T. (2010). Nursing Research Principles and Methods. Philadelphia, PA: Lipincott.
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