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Preparation of the Investigator for a Proposal

The research proposal, insights into the reviewer's perspective, conclusions, writing successful research proposals for medical science  .

(Schwinn) Professor of Anesthesiology and Surgery; Associate Professor of Pharmacology/Cancer Biology, Duke University Medical Center; Senior Fellow, Duke Pepper Aging Center.

(DeLong) Associate Professor, Division of Biometry and Medical Informatics, Duke University Medical Center.

(Shafer) Staff Anesthesiologist, Palo Alto VA Health Care System; Associate Professor of Anesthesia, Stanford University.

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Debra A. Schwinn , Elizabeth R. DeLong , Steven L. Shafer; Writing Successful Research Proposals for Medical Science   . Anesthesiology 1998; 88:1660–1666 doi:

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HIGH-QUALITY research proposals are required to obtain funds for the basic and clinical sciences. In this era of diminishing revenues, the ability to compete successfully for peer-reviewed research money is essential to create and maintain scientific programs. Ideally, the essentials of “grantsmanship” are learned through observation and participation in grant preparation, but the training environment experienced by most physicians typically focuses on clinical skills. Most physicians are never exposed to a research environment and therefore do not learn how to write grants. The result is that many clinical studies, even when designed by skilled clinicians and those that address important clinical questions, often do not compete successfully with proposals written by basic scientists. This creates a perception that clinical studies are not favorably viewed by research review committees. The opposite is probably closer to the truth; research review committees are very keen to fund excellent clinical research. Although greater numbers of researchers with Ph.D. degrees have applied for National Institutes of Health (NIH) grants compared with researchers with M.D. degrees over the last 10 yr, funding rates (percent applications funded) have remained approximately the same for these investigators ( Figure 1 ; 1995 success rates: all degrees, 6,759 [26.8%]; M.D. - Ph.D., 370 [23.1%]; M.D., 1,518 [28.1%]; Ph.D., 4,746 [26.8%]; other degree, 125 [23.1%]).[section]

Figure 1. Overall success rates for NIH funding of scientific applications, 1986 - 1995. No difference in funding rate is observed between applicants holding M.D. versus Ph.D. degrees. As the success rate for first-time applications was 11.3% in 1993, it is apparent that resubmission of a revised application significantly increases the overall chance of having research proposal ultimately funded.[section]

Figure 1. Overall success rates for NIH funding of scientific applications, 1986 - 1995. No difference in funding rate is observed between applicants holding M.D. versus Ph.D. degrees. As the success rate for first-time applications was 11.3% in 1993, it is apparent that resubmission of a revised application significantly increases the overall chance of having research proposal ultimately funded.[section]

Capable medical researchers ultimately write research proposals for funding by the NIH. Standards of excellence for NIH grants are high (only the top [almost equal to] 20% of grants are funded). Research questions posed must be hypothesis driven; the investigator must be qualified to perform the study; and preliminary evidence should be presented demonstrating that the research is feasible and will answer the questions posed. The goal of this article is to review important elements of successful research proposals, with emphasis on funding sources available to the anesthesiology community. Two important anesthesia-specific organizations exist to support anesthesia research - The Foundation for Anesthesia Education and Research (FAER, an organization under the auspices of the American Society of Anesthesiologists) and the International Anesthesiology Research Society (IARS).

Successful applications for research support from FAER and IARS have many of the characteristics of grants funded by the NIH and other peer-reviewed funding sources. These characteristics include (1) a highly qualified investigator(s);(2) for junior investigators, a mentor with a successful track record in scientific investigation, peer-reviewed funding, and mentorship of fellows and faculty;(3) a supportive academic environment; and (4) a scientifically sound proposal. Each of these characteristics is discussed in the subsequent sections.

Training of the Investigator

One of the most important components of a successful research proposal is a well-trained investigator. Training in clinical anesthesia is not training in research methodology or scientific thinking; it does not prepare an individual for a career in investigation. Although obvious for basic science research, clinical research also requires commitment of a minimum of 1 yr of dedicated training with a good mentor, and more typically 2 - 3 yr in the field of the proposed research. The applicant also needs to demonstrate commitment to a career in investigation. Several years of scientific training is the first demonstration of such commitment. Research proposals must document institutional support for nonclinical time, and the investigator must provide evidence that this time has been used wisely and will continue to be dedicated to the proposed research.

The research proposal must document a track record of productivity by the investigator. This expectation increases as the training and career of the investigator progresses. Fellowship awards do not have an expectation of prior research training, so publications from prior research are not expected. At the fellowship level, outstanding letters of recommendation, undergraduate and medical school performance, and related accomplishments are most important. Because previous training is not required of the fellowship applicant, prior success of the mentor (publications and track record with previous trainees) weighs heavily in the fellowship review. For junior faculty, peer-reviewed publications are expected from the fellowship period. Young Investigator Annoucements (from FAER) and several new IARS awards require several years as a successful junior faculty member, so expectations of demonstrated research success are further increased. The investigator must demonstrate (1) rigorous training, (2) commitment to research, (3) an appropriate career path, and (4) a track record of productive work. None of these are trivial issues, and none can be easily accomplished without making a commitment to research early in the academic career.

The quality of the mentor is another important aspect of awards granted to fellows and junior faculty. Identification of a mentor is explicitly required for FAER and certain junior level NIH grant applications. First and foremost, the mentor must be a successful investigator. Criteria for this include a track record of publication in the area of the proposed research, continued peer-reviewed funding, and a history of successfully training young investigators. Although mentorship is not considered heavily in more senior grant applications, input from a more experienced investigator often remains beneficial throughout one's career (as we can personally attest to). In addition to the mentor, high-quality coinvestigators, collaborators, and consultants also play important roles in strengthening a research proposal.


Good research is best accomplished in a supportive, cooperative environment. Because of the changing climate of clinical medicine, researchers (both clinical and basic science) face increasing pressure to minimize research time. It is not possible to become a successful investigator in one's spare time. Documentation of adequate nonclinical time for research (not for committee meetings or other unrelated tasks) is essential. Receiving funding at a junior level often enables the department to match funds or to guarantee nonclinical time to the budding investigator. In general, the more non-clinical time available to an investigator, the more competitive the application.

Other important elements of the environment include people, space, and institutional resources. People include mentors, consultants who can help with specific methodologies, statistical support, helpful colleagues, experienced technicians, a clinical research team, and a dedicated chairperson. There must be adequate space for performing the proposed studies, office space for research personnel, and storage space for equipment and supplies. Institutional resources include related departmental and interdepartmental seminar series, a critical mass of investigators in a related area, instrument development and repair shops, and necessary laboratory space and common facilities.

Criteria for a sound research proposal are the same whether the proposal is submitted to NIH, FAER, IARS, or other funding sources. In crafting a proposal, it is essential to consider the perspective of the reviewer; therefore, items of interest to the reviewer are listed after general definition of the grant proposal.

Review committees receive dozens of grants. NIH study sections may review as many as 150 proposals during one session. Typically, only two or three reviewers are assigned to read each grant in detail, but everyone is expected to read each abstract. Hence, the abstract is often one of the most important parts of the research proposal. The abstract should address the significance of the question and the overall topic, state the hypothesis, and point out key preliminary data. Additionally, the abstract should provide a synopsis of methodologies planned. In the end, the reviewer must be convinced that the applicant is uniquely (or ideally) suited to undertake this important study by the end of this concise paragraph.

Body of the Grant

Specific Aims. The specific aims section is critically important in a scientific proposal. It is here that the investigator crystallizes the overall goal of the research and states specific hypotheses.

Beginning with the specific aims, the proposal must be well written and logically organized. A poorly organized grant application is difficult to review, even if the science is otherwise excellent. Typically, the specific aims begin with a short introduction (one paragraph), followed by a formally stated hypothesis. The hypothesis must be answerable by the research methods proposed. Generally, two or three specific aims are outlined with subheadings where appropriate. Organization of the specific aims is often temporal, starting with a proposed mechanism or the first set of studies in a clinical project. In general, the specific aims section should be no longer than one page.

Background and Significance. The background section provides an opportunity to bring reviewers up to date on current research in the area of the proposal. This section should summarize succinctly studies from the literature and related work published by the investigator. The most crucial aspect of the background is to build a case for significance of the proposed research regarding the ultimate clinical application or mechanistic understanding. Ideally, the background section should demonstrate that the current proposal is a logical extension of previous studies in the field and will provide new information and novel insights. In general, the background section should be about one fourth of the length of the grant proposal.

Preliminary Data. Preliminary data provide the opportunity for the investigator to demonstrate his or her ability to perform the proposed research. The goal in presenting preliminary data is to convince the reviewer that the investigator is capable of performing the proposed studies and that the mechanisms proposed are plausible. Good preliminary data support novel (or even unlikely) hypotheses. Each experimental method proposed should be accompanied by preliminary data demonstrating facility and expertise with related preparations. For example, if the investigator proposes using a specific electrophysiologic technique to study an ion channel, evidence demonstrating that this technique has been used by the investigator with other ion channels and a Figure showingresults from pilot experiments on the channel of interest would suffice. In clinical studies, demonstration of a working investigative team and the ability to enroll a given number of patients per week is helpful. Figures or tables help to convey the message in a succinct manner. They also conserve space in the proposal and create a more impressive effect. Although it is best if the applicant has generated his or her own preliminary data, for training awards, preliminary data from the mentor's laboratory is entirely appropriate. An effective way to organize preliminary data is to present it in the same order as the specific aims (e.g., C.1 preliminary data corresponds to A.1 specific aims, C.2 preliminary data corresponds to A.2 specific aims, etc.). Presentation of preliminary data usually takes about one fourth to one third of the length of the grant application.

Methods. The methods are the guts of the research proposal. Unfortunately, many investigators run out of steam by the time they reach the methods, leaving reviewers unconvinced by the proposed methodology. Ideally, the model being investigated should be broken down into simple, logical components, each accompanied by a description of specific experiments/interventions to be performed. The investigator should assume that at least one reviewer is an expert in each method presented. Therefore, enough detail should be provided to convince an expert that the experiment or technique is being performed properly. Methods presented as a list of recipes, requiring the reviewer to guess which method applies to each study, are recipes for disaster. Individual experimental techniques should be state of the art. In addition, approaching a problem from several angles is often helpful. “Lingo” of the field should be avoided; it is very annoying to reviewers to have to look up unexplained abbreviations or to have models alluded to rather than described. For training grants, methods should involve techniques currently being performed in the laboratory of the mentor. An effective way to organize the methods section is to follow the same order as the preliminary data and specific aims sections (e.g., D.1 methods corresponds to C.1 preliminary data and A.1 specific aims, etc.).

The methods sections should include a description of the design, conduct, and analysis of each study being proposed. Common errors in design include lack of specification of primary outcome, lack of randomization or blinding in clinical trials, inadequate justification of sample size, failure to adjust the total study number for expected dropouts/failed experiments or patient refusal, and use of single drug doses or concentrations rather than development of dose - response or concentration - response relations. Common errors in conducting research include lack of confirmation of drug concentrations, inadequate reproducibility of final results, lack of standardization of procedures, inadequate follow-up, incomplete data recording, and overall lack of organization.

Inadequate or inappropriate statistical methods can be a major weakness of a grant proposal. Many investigators feel confident with all aspects of their methods except the statistical section. Because statistical issues underlie the design and analysis strategy for every study, the input of a biostatistician is essential in planning the research and writing the grant application. Statistical considerations include specification of the primary end points that drive power calculations. Common statistical errors in research proposals include lack of sample size/power calculations, treating continuous variables as dichotomous, repeated t tests when a more comprehensive modeling approach should be taken, application of statistical tests that assume normality without verifying assumptions, failure to consider covariate effects, and failure to distinguish between interindividual and intraindividual variability. The investigator should be familiar with the concept of statistical power and be prepared to estimate some of the quantities needed to formulate an alternative hypothesis appropriately. The statistical analysis should be clearly outlined with specific methodology directed toward the hypotheses of the study. A statistical reviewer is unlikely to be convinced by a statement that “appropriate statistical methodology will be used” or by a barrage of nonspecific statistical jargon. At least one full paragraph (and sometimes an entire page) of the research proposal should be devoted to statistical analysis. Often several smaller statistics sections are appropriately included after each method is presented.

Even the best methods have potential problems and weaknesses. It is critical that the methods section discuss potential problems that may be encountered during the study and state how the investigator proposes to deal with these problems creatively. Reviewers tend to be impressed when the investigator presents potential problems that never occurred to them, because it suggests that the investigator is an expert in this area of research. A time line and organizational plan (who will be responsible for what) should also be included in the methods section so the reviewers can determine whether the investigator is being realistic in his or her approach. The methods section is typically one third to one half of the length of the entire grant proposal.

Introduction to Revised Application. Because so few grant applications are funded on their first submission (11.5% in 1993), the new investigator should not be unduly alarmed if his or her application is not funded. When a grant application has been unsuccessful, an investigator should revise the application and reapply, even if the original score was “noncompetitive”(meaning the grant was in the lower 50% of applications). Often the reviewers suggest key changes that will improve the application significantly. When submitting a revised application, an introduction (placed before the specific aims section) is used to discuss how criticisms of the original grant have been addressed in the revised proposal. Because the reviewer's comments are intended to be helpful, it is important to address each concern carefully in the revised proposal (changed text should be highlighted in the revised application by italic, bold, or identifying lines in the margin), with changes outlined in the introduction section. Angry responses to reviewers do not facilitate funding of the revised application. Remember that reviewers usually have a copy of the prior review, and they expect corrections or, when appropriate, an explanation of why you have chosen not to incorporate some suggestions from a prior review. Time taken to revise an application is well spent; as Figure 1 demonstrates, investigators who persist in revising and resubmitting their applications have an increased chance ([almost equal to] 20% with no previous NIH support, [almost equal to] 35% if previously funded) of ultimately being funded.[section]

In writing a research grant, it is helpful to consider the reviewer's perspective. Key features considered by reviewers include significance, approach, and feasibility. It is wise for the investigator to reread his or her application before submission with these features in mind. The NIH recently has published two documents on-line that discuss review criteria; examination of these documents before submission of a research proposal may prove helpful. These include the Report of the Committee on Rating Grant Applications[double vertical bar] and Review Criteria for Rating Unsolicited Research Grants.#


First and foremost, is the investigator asking an important question? There are two general ways research studies can be significant. The first is to demonstrate clinical significance. The litmus test for clinical significance is whether the proposed research will improve patient care. The second is elucidation of fundamental mechanisms underlying disease or biologic processes. The ideal research question succeeds in being significant in both areas.

The reviewer assesses whether the research plan can support or refute the stated hypothesis. In addition, the reviewer assesses whether the methodologies used provide adequate or, better yet, elegant approaches to the problem. Recently, the NIH has mandated an increasing emphasis on innovation in research. [1] **

Review committees generally are composed of individuals with expertise in many scientific areas. Additionally, study sections often retain outside reviewers with expertise in the proposed research area. The investigator should assume that his or her methods will be critiqued by at least one expert. Therefore, the investigator should not propose a method that would strike the world's expert in the field as being simplistic, inappropriate, or nonsensical, because the world's expert just might be one of the reviewers. Conversely, some reviewers do not have expertise in the proposed area of research. To ensure that the nonexpert is convinced of the validity and importance of proposed methodologies, the overall proposal should be written with a logical flow of ideas that build from basic to sophisticated concepts. Beginning each portion of the methods section with a short introduction for the nonexpert, followed by a more detailed description of the proposed methods, is an effective strategy to address the needs of both expert and nonexpert reviewers.


The investigator must convince reviewers that the chosen approach is feasible. Preliminary data provide the best demonstration of feasibility. Feasibility is often demonstrated by a track record of publications or peer-reviewed grant support for the applicant or mentor using the proposed experimental approach. Feasibility also can be demonstrated by appropriate statistical analysis of the proposal. For example, a power analysis and corresponding data on the number of patients with the required characteristics at the investigator's institution helps convince reviewers that a clinical study is feasible.

Anesthesiology Funding Sources

Funding for research performed by anesthesiologists is available from many sources. Because the discipline of anesthesiology overlaps many other fields, anesthesiologists have the opportunity to apply for research funds from agencies as diverse as the American Academy of Pediatrics, American Cancer Society, American Heart Association (national and local), American Thoracic Society, American Society for Regional Anesthesiology, critical care societies, Department of Veterans Affairs, National Science Foundation, Shriners, Society for Cardiovascular Anesthesiology, Society for Obstetrics and Perinatology, National Aeronautics and Space Aviation, NIH, and many other private foundations. Grants from FAER and IARS are available specifically to the anesthesiology community.

It is important that anesthesiologists continue to apply for NIH grants. For fiscal year 1996, the NIH awarded 149 research grants (including career development grants, R29, R01, and program project grants) to departments of anesthesiology, totaling $21 million in direct costs ([almost equal to]$31 million in total costs). Because of the diversity of research projects in anesthesiology, these grants were awarded by 14 different institutes, centers, and divisions within the NIH. In analyzing data for three recent review sessions (June 1996, October 1996, and February 1997) from the surgery, anesthesiology, and trauma study section, 26% of anesthesiology applications scored in the top 20th percentile, and 31% scored in the top 25th percentile; clearly no bias exists against anesthesiology in this predominantly surgical study section, at least in this limited sample (Alison Cole, anesthesiology representative for the National Institute of General Medicine Science at the NIH, personal communication, December, 1997). Table 1  

Table 1. Number of Recipients of NIH Research Project Annoucements  

Table 1. Number of Recipients of NIH Research Project Annoucements 

A brief list of funding opportunities available to anesthesiologists early in their career is shown in Table 2 . Several sites are available on the World Wide Web ( Table 3 ) to facilitate access to grant/training resources for anesthesiologists. We have created an additional website ( ), which provides access to more comprehensive lists of funding agencies and direct links to funding sources. This website also contains example grants designed to illustrate the grant writing principles discussed in this article.

Table 2. Potential Funding Sources  

Table 2. Potential Funding Sources 

Table 3. Grant/Training Resources on the WWW  

Table 3. Grant/Training Resources on the WWW 

Successful grant applications require a well-trained investigator who carefully outlines a hypothesis-driven research proposal. Unique to FAER and IARS research committees is that the reviewers are mostly investigators and practicing anesthesiologists. These reviewers fully appreciate the importance of clinical research and enthusiastically support high-quality clinical studies. Although descriptive clinical studies are interesting to practicing clinicians, from a scientific perspective, clinical research must be driven by testable hypotheses. Without a testable hypothesis, clinical research cannot pass the test of adequate significance required for funding.

It is our hope that by demystifying the grant writing and review process that more anesthesiologists will be encouraged to submit proposals for research funding. As part of this effort, we strongly encourage residents and fellows interested in research careers to obtain adequate research training and to apply for appropriate fellowship/junior faculty awards early in their careers.

[section] NIH Extramural Data and Trends, Fiscal Years 1986 - 1995. Bethesda, Office of Reports and Analysis (component of the Office of Extramural Research), National Institutes of Health. (Published on-line and periodically updated. ).

[double vertical bar] Report of the Committee on Rating Grant Applications. Revised 5/17/96. Bethesda, National Institutes of Health. (Published on-line. ).

# Review Criteria for Rating Unsolicited Research Grants. NIH Guide, Vol. 26, No. 22, 6/27/97. Bethesda, National Institutes of Health. (Published on-line. ).

** Brown KS: A winning strategy for grant application: Focus on impact. The Scientist 1997; April 8:13–4

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  • How to Write a Research Proposal | Examples & Templates

How to Write a Research Proposal | Examples & Templates

Published on October 12, 2022 by Shona McCombes and Tegan George. Revised on June 13, 2023.

Structure of a research proposal

A research proposal describes what you will investigate, why it’s important, and how you will conduct your research.

The format of a research proposal varies between fields, but most proposals will contain at least these elements:


Literature review.

  • Research design

Reference list

While the sections may vary, the overall objective is always the same. A research proposal serves as a blueprint and guide for your research plan, helping you get organized and feel confident in the path forward you choose to take.

Table of contents

Research proposal purpose, research proposal examples, research design and methods, contribution to knowledge, research schedule, other interesting articles, frequently asked questions about research proposals.

Academics often have to write research proposals to get funding for their projects. As a student, you might have to write a research proposal as part of a grad school application , or prior to starting your thesis or dissertation .

In addition to helping you figure out what your research can look like, a proposal can also serve to demonstrate why your project is worth pursuing to a funder, educational institution, or supervisor.

Research proposal length

The length of a research proposal can vary quite a bit. A bachelor’s or master’s thesis proposal can be just a few pages, while proposals for PhD dissertations or research funding are usually much longer and more detailed. Your supervisor can help you determine the best length for your work.

One trick to get started is to think of your proposal’s structure as a shorter version of your thesis or dissertation , only without the results , conclusion and discussion sections.

Download our research proposal template

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Writing a research proposal can be quite challenging, but a good starting point could be to look at some examples. We’ve included a few for you below.

  • Example research proposal #1: “A Conceptual Framework for Scheduling Constraint Management”
  • Example research proposal #2: “Medical Students as Mediators of Change in Tobacco Use”

Like your dissertation or thesis, the proposal will usually have a title page that includes:

  • The proposed title of your project
  • Your supervisor’s name
  • Your institution and department

The first part of your proposal is the initial pitch for your project. Make sure it succinctly explains what you want to do and why.

Your introduction should:

  • Introduce your topic
  • Give necessary background and context
  • Outline your  problem statement  and research questions

To guide your introduction , include information about:

  • Who could have an interest in the topic (e.g., scientists, policymakers)
  • How much is already known about the topic
  • What is missing from this current knowledge
  • What new insights your research will contribute
  • Why you believe this research is worth doing

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Professional editors proofread and edit your paper by focusing on:

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proposal writing medical research

As you get started, it’s important to demonstrate that you’re familiar with the most important research on your topic. A strong literature review  shows your reader that your project has a solid foundation in existing knowledge or theory. It also shows that you’re not simply repeating what other people have already done or said, but rather using existing research as a jumping-off point for your own.

In this section, share exactly how your project will contribute to ongoing conversations in the field by:

  • Comparing and contrasting the main theories, methods, and debates
  • Examining the strengths and weaknesses of different approaches
  • Explaining how will you build on, challenge, or synthesize prior scholarship

Following the literature review, restate your main  objectives . This brings the focus back to your own project. Next, your research design or methodology section will describe your overall approach, and the practical steps you will take to answer your research questions.

To finish your proposal on a strong note, explore the potential implications of your research for your field. Emphasize again what you aim to contribute and why it matters.

For example, your results might have implications for:

  • Improving best practices
  • Informing policymaking decisions
  • Strengthening a theory or model
  • Challenging popular or scientific beliefs
  • Creating a basis for future research

Last but not least, your research proposal must include correct citations for every source you have used, compiled in a reference list . To create citations quickly and easily, you can use our free APA citation generator .

Some institutions or funders require a detailed timeline of the project, asking you to forecast what you will do at each stage and how long it may take. While not always required, be sure to check the requirements of your project.

Here’s an example schedule to help you get started. You can also download a template at the button below.

Download our research schedule template

If you are applying for research funding, chances are you will have to include a detailed budget. This shows your estimates of how much each part of your project will cost.

Make sure to check what type of costs the funding body will agree to cover. For each item, include:

  • Cost : exactly how much money do you need?
  • Justification : why is this cost necessary to complete the research?
  • Source : how did you calculate the amount?

To determine your budget, think about:

  • Travel costs : do you need to go somewhere to collect your data? How will you get there, and how much time will you need? What will you do there (e.g., interviews, archival research)?
  • Materials : do you need access to any tools or technologies?
  • Help : do you need to hire any research assistants for the project? What will they do, and how much will you pay them?

If you want to know more about the research process , methodology , research bias , or statistics , make sure to check out some of our other articles with explanations and examples.


  • Sampling methods
  • Simple random sampling
  • Stratified sampling
  • Cluster sampling
  • Likert scales
  • Reproducibility


  • Null hypothesis
  • Statistical power
  • Probability distribution
  • Effect size
  • Poisson distribution

Research bias

  • Optimism bias
  • Cognitive bias
  • Implicit bias
  • Hawthorne effect
  • Anchoring bias
  • Explicit bias

Once you’ve decided on your research objectives , you need to explain them in your paper, at the end of your problem statement .

Keep your research objectives clear and concise, and use appropriate verbs to accurately convey the work that you will carry out for each one.

I will compare …

A research aim is a broad statement indicating the general purpose of your research project. It should appear in your introduction at the end of your problem statement , before your research objectives.

Research objectives are more specific than your research aim. They indicate the specific ways you’ll address the overarching aim.

A PhD, which is short for philosophiae doctor (doctor of philosophy in Latin), is the highest university degree that can be obtained. In a PhD, students spend 3–5 years writing a dissertation , which aims to make a significant, original contribution to current knowledge.

A PhD is intended to prepare students for a career as a researcher, whether that be in academia, the public sector, or the private sector.

A master’s is a 1- or 2-year graduate degree that can prepare you for a variety of careers.

All master’s involve graduate-level coursework. Some are research-intensive and intend to prepare students for further study in a PhD; these usually require their students to write a master’s thesis . Others focus on professional training for a specific career.

Critical thinking refers to the ability to evaluate information and to be aware of biases or assumptions, including your own.

Like information literacy , it involves evaluating arguments, identifying and solving problems in an objective and systematic way, and clearly communicating your ideas.

The best way to remember the difference between a research plan and a research proposal is that they have fundamentally different audiences. A research plan helps you, the researcher, organize your thoughts. On the other hand, a dissertation proposal or research proposal aims to convince others (e.g., a supervisor, a funding body, or a dissertation committee) that your research topic is relevant and worthy of being conducted.

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proposal writing medical research

  • Research Process

Writing a Scientific Research Project Proposal

  • 5 minute read

Table of Contents

The importance of a well-written research proposal cannot be underestimated. Your research really is only as good as your proposal. A poorly written, or poorly conceived research proposal will doom even an otherwise worthy project. On the other hand, a well-written, high-quality proposal will increase your chances for success.

In this article, we’ll outline the basics of writing an effective scientific research proposal, including the differences between research proposals, grants and cover letters. We’ll also touch on common mistakes made when submitting research proposals, as well as a simple example or template that you can follow.

What is a scientific research proposal?

The main purpose of a scientific research proposal is to convince your audience that your project is worthwhile, and that you have the expertise and wherewithal to complete it. The elements of an effective research proposal mirror those of the research process itself, which we’ll outline below. Essentially, the research proposal should include enough information for the reader to determine if your proposed study is worth pursuing.

It is not an uncommon misunderstanding to think that a research proposal and a cover letter are the same things. However, they are different. The main difference between a research proposal vs cover letter content is distinct. Whereas the research proposal summarizes the proposal for future research, the cover letter connects you to the research, and how you are the right person to complete the proposed research.

There is also sometimes confusion around a research proposal vs grant application. Whereas a research proposal is a statement of intent, related to answering a research question, a grant application is a specific request for funding to complete the research proposed. Of course, there are elements of overlap between the two documents; it’s the purpose of the document that defines one or the other.

Scientific Research Proposal Format

Although there is no one way to write a scientific research proposal, there are specific guidelines. A lot depends on which journal you’re submitting your research proposal to, so you may need to follow their scientific research proposal template.

In general, however, there are fairly universal sections to every scientific research proposal. These include:

  • Title: Make sure the title of your proposal is descriptive and concise. Make it catch and informative at the same time, avoiding dry phrases like, “An investigation…” Your title should pique the interest of the reader.
  • Abstract: This is a brief (300-500 words) summary that includes the research question, your rationale for the study, and any applicable hypothesis. You should also include a brief description of your methodology, including procedures, samples, instruments, etc.
  • Introduction: The opening paragraph of your research proposal is, perhaps, the most important. Here you want to introduce the research problem in a creative way, and demonstrate your understanding of the need for the research. You want the reader to think that your proposed research is current, important and relevant.
  • Background: Include a brief history of the topic and link it to a contemporary context to show its relevance for today. Identify key researchers and institutions also looking at the problem
  • Literature Review: This is the section that may take the longest amount of time to assemble. Here you want to synthesize prior research, and place your proposed research into the larger picture of what’s been studied in the past. You want to show your reader that your work is original, and adds to the current knowledge.
  • Research Design and Methodology: This section should be very clearly and logically written and organized. You are letting your reader know that you know what you are going to do, and how. The reader should feel confident that you have the skills and knowledge needed to get the project done.
  • Preliminary Implications: Here you’ll be outlining how you anticipate your research will extend current knowledge in your field. You might also want to discuss how your findings will impact future research needs.
  • Conclusion: This section reinforces the significance and importance of your proposed research, and summarizes the entire proposal.
  • References/Citations: Of course, you need to include a full and accurate list of any and all sources you used to write your research proposal.

Common Mistakes in Writing a Scientific Research Project Proposal

Remember, the best research proposal can be rejected if it’s not well written or is ill-conceived. The most common mistakes made include:

  • Not providing the proper context for your research question or the problem
  • Failing to reference landmark/key studies
  • Losing focus of the research question or problem
  • Not accurately presenting contributions by other researchers and institutions
  • Incompletely developing a persuasive argument for the research that is being proposed
  • Misplaced attention on minor points and/or not enough detail on major issues
  • Sloppy, low-quality writing without effective logic and flow
  • Incorrect or lapses in references and citations, and/or references not in proper format
  • The proposal is too long – or too short

Scientific Research Proposal Example

There are countless examples that you can find for successful research proposals. In addition, you can also find examples of unsuccessful research proposals. Search for successful research proposals in your field, and even for your target journal, to get a good idea on what specifically your audience may be looking for.

While there’s no one example that will show you everything you need to know, looking at a few will give you a good idea of what you need to include in your own research proposal. Talk, also, to colleagues in your field, especially if you are a student or a new researcher. We can often learn from the mistakes of others. The more prepared and knowledgeable you are prior to writing your research proposal, the more likely you are to succeed.

Language Editing Services

One of the top reasons scientific research proposals are rejected is due to poor logic and flow. Check out our Language Editing Services to ensure a great proposal , that’s clear and concise, and properly referenced. Check our video for more information, and get started today.

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Research Development and Proposal Writing

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A former neuroscience researcher, Liz has helped raise tens of millions of dollars from public and private funding entities to advance health equity and social justice initiatives, and received several awards and distinctions both for her scientific work as well as her commitment to philanthropy. Liz provides individualized grantsmanship advice, coaching, and assistance to all tiers of trainees and faculty in CV Med.

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Research Development Specialist

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Dr. Brandi Stephens is a cardiovascular physiologist by training with expertise in diversity and health equity research.   She combines her love for science and passion for grant writing to lead CV Med fellows, postdoctoral scholars, and junior faculty in submitting competitive fellowships and career development awards. Roles include identifying funding opportunities, meeting 1:1 to navigate the grant writing process, and providing critical feedback.

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Grants Specialist

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Jennifer joined CV Med’s Strategic Research Development Team to manage the submission of grant applications and post-award progress reports. She also leads pre-award budgeting and facilitates other supports. Jenn is an accomplished research administrator completing her MS in Health Care Administration at Cal State East Bay.

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Writing a research proposal: the critical first step for successful clinical research

  • PMID: 7981258

The proposal is a key element in the thesis or clinical research project. It identifies what is to be studied, why the topic is relevant, and how the research will be conducted. The proposal is a detailed plan or "blueprint" for the intended study, and once it is completed, the research project should flow smoothly. Writing a proposal may seem like a daunting undertaking, but a little thought and preparation will make it easier. In this article, the author provides a sample research proposal and a set of instructions that the beginning researcher should find helpful.

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Grant writing for medical and healthcare professionals

  • Subhash Chandra Parija 0 ,
  • Vikram Kate 1

Sri Balaji Vidyapeeth University, Pondicherry, India

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Department of General and Gastrointestinal surgery, Jawaharlal Institute of Postgraduate Medical Education and Research (JIPMER), Pondicherry, India

Covers all aspects of writing a grant proposal in detail

Includes topics like surveillance plan, site visit, interim analysis, the role & rights of researcher funding agency

Supplemented with ample illustrations and figures

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Table of contents (21 chapters)

Front matter, understanding grant writing, what is your aim (ambition-interest-mission), and what you want to do.

  • Subhash Chandra Parija, Saurabh RamBihariLal Shrivastava

What Is a Grant? How to Prepare a Grant Proposal Application

  • Vikram Kate, R. Kalayarasan, Sathasivam Sureshkumar

Funders’ Perspective: What the Funding Body Expects from Researchers?

  • Manju Rahi, Sachin Sharma, Bhawna Yadav

Funding Organizations for Science and Health Care

  • Biswajit Dubashi, Balamurugan Ramadass

Obtaining Letters of Support

  • Vigneshvar Chandrasekaran

The Process for Grant Writing

Writing a grant proposal for a single centre study: step-by-step approach.

  • Vikram Kate, Divya Gupta, Gurushankari Balakrishnan

Budgeting the Project: Detailing the Required Funding and Expenditure

  • Satish G. Patil

Proving the Competency of the Researcher and the Adequacy of the Infrastructure to Carry Out the Research

  • Shree Lakshmi Devi Singaravelu

Agreement and MOU: Ethical and Legal Aspects of Funding for Healthcare Research

  • A. R. Srinivasan

Writing an Impressive Cover Page (Covering Letter) and Abstract for Grant Proposal Application

  • Nirmal Kumar Ganguly, Gautam Kumar Saha

Surveillance Plan and Site Visit: Roles and Rights of the Researcher and the Funding Agency

  • Prasanth Ganesan, Luxitaa Goenka

Sources of Funding and Acknowledgement: Good Clinical Practice Guidelines

  • Karthick Subramanian, Avin Muthuramalingam, Vigneshvar Chandrasekaran

Writing a Grant Proposal for a Collaborative Study

  • Savio George Barreto

Checklist for Grant Proposal: Mandatory Elements

  • Medha Rajappa

Tips for Improvising the Chance of Getting the Grant

  • Rajesh Nachiappa Ganesh

Dealing with the Rejected Grant Proposal: Learning from the Mistakes

  • Mitwa Joshi, Prashant Joshi, Julian A. Smith

Grant Writing for Specific Regional Funding Organizations

  • Grant Writing Rules
  • Grant proposal writing for medical researcher
  • Funding organizations
  • Ethical and legal aspects of funding
  • Role and right of the researcher

Subhash Chandra Parija

Vikram Kate

Professor Vikram Kate  is a Senior Consultant General and Gastrointestinal Surgeon and Professor (Senior Scale) of Surgery in the JIPMER Pondicherry, India. Professor Kate was awarded Ph.D. in Surgical Gastroenterology, and he has contributed more than 45 chapters in reputed textbooks of surgical gastroenterology and surgery and has more than 175 papers to his credit. He is the Inaugural President of the Indian Chapter of Society for the Surgery of the Alimentary Tract (SSAT), USA (2021-22), a Member of the Research Committee of the Society for Surgery of the Alimentary Tract (SSAT), USA (2020-23) and the Surgical Speciality Board-General Surgery of The Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh, UK (2021-24) and the Past President of the Indian Association of Surgical Gastroenterology.  

He was awarded the Distinguished DNB Teacher of Excellence Award (2018) of the Association of National Board Accredited Institutions and the Great Contributor Award (2021) by the Association of Minimal Access Surgeons of India (AMASI). 

Book Title : Grant writing for medical and healthcare professionals

Editors : Subhash Chandra Parija, Vikram Kate


Publisher : Springer Singapore

eBook Packages : Biomedical and Life Sciences , Biomedical and Life Sciences (R0)

Copyright Information : The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2023

Hardcover ISBN : 978-981-19-7017-7 Published: 12 January 2023

Softcover ISBN : 978-981-19-7020-7 Due: 26 January 2024

eBook ISBN : 978-981-19-7018-4 Published: 11 January 2023

Edition Number : 1

Number of Pages : XX, 247

Number of Illustrations : 1 b/w illustrations

Topics : Biomedicine, general , Research Skills , Biomedicine, general

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The goal of a research proposal is twofold: to present and justify the need to study a research problem and to present the practical ways in which the proposed study should be conducted. The design elements and procedures for conducting research are governed by standards of the predominant discipline in which the problem resides, therefore, the guidelines for research proposals are more exacting and less formal than a general project proposal. Research proposals contain extensive literature reviews. They must provide persuasive evidence that a need exists for the proposed study. In addition to providing a rationale, a proposal describes detailed methodology for conducting the research consistent with requirements of the professional or academic field and a statement on anticipated outcomes and benefits derived from the study's completion.

Krathwohl, David R. How to Prepare a Dissertation Proposal: Suggestions for Students in Education and the Social and Behavioral Sciences . Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press, 2005.

How to Approach Writing a Research Proposal

Your professor may assign the task of writing a research proposal for the following reasons:

  • Develop your skills in thinking about and designing a comprehensive research study;
  • Learn how to conduct a comprehensive review of the literature to determine that the research problem has not been adequately addressed or has been answered ineffectively and, in so doing, become better at locating pertinent scholarship related to your topic;
  • Improve your general research and writing skills;
  • Practice identifying the logical steps that must be taken to accomplish one's research goals;
  • Critically review, examine, and consider the use of different methods for gathering and analyzing data related to the research problem; and,
  • Nurture a sense of inquisitiveness within yourself and to help see yourself as an active participant in the process of conducting scholarly research.

A proposal should contain all the key elements involved in designing a completed research study, with sufficient information that allows readers to assess the validity and usefulness of your proposed study. The only elements missing from a research proposal are the findings of the study and your analysis of those findings. Finally, an effective proposal is judged on the quality of your writing and, therefore, it is important that your proposal is coherent, clear, and compelling.

Regardless of the research problem you are investigating and the methodology you choose, all research proposals must address the following questions:

  • What do you plan to accomplish? Be clear and succinct in defining the research problem and what it is you are proposing to investigate.
  • Why do you want to do the research? In addition to detailing your research design, you also must conduct a thorough review of the literature and provide convincing evidence that it is a topic worthy of in-depth study. A successful research proposal must answer the "So What?" question.
  • How are you going to conduct the research? Be sure that what you propose is doable. If you're having difficulty formulating a research problem to propose investigating, go here for strategies in developing a problem to study.

Common Mistakes to Avoid

  • Failure to be concise . A research proposal must be focused and not be "all over the map" or diverge into unrelated tangents without a clear sense of purpose.
  • Failure to cite landmark works in your literature review . Proposals should be grounded in foundational research that lays a foundation for understanding the development and scope of the the topic and its relevance.
  • Failure to delimit the contextual scope of your research [e.g., time, place, people, etc.]. As with any research paper, your proposed study must inform the reader how and in what ways the study will frame the problem.
  • Failure to develop a coherent and persuasive argument for the proposed research . This is critical. In many workplace settings, the research proposal is a formal document intended to argue for why a study should be funded.
  • Sloppy or imprecise writing, or poor grammar . Although a research proposal does not represent a completed research study, there is still an expectation that it is well-written and follows the style and rules of good academic writing.
  • Too much detail on minor issues, but not enough detail on major issues . Your proposal should focus on only a few key research questions in order to support the argument that the research needs to be conducted. Minor issues, even if valid, can be mentioned but they should not dominate the overall narrative.

Procter, Margaret. The Academic Proposal.  The Lab Report. University College Writing Centre. University of Toronto; Sanford, Keith. Information for Students: Writing a Research Proposal. Baylor University; Wong, Paul T. P. How to Write a Research Proposal. International Network on Personal Meaning. Trinity Western University; Writing Academic Proposals: Conferences, Articles, and Books. The Writing Lab and The OWL. Purdue University; Writing a Research Proposal. University Library. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Structure and Writing Style

Beginning the Proposal Process

As with writing most college-level academic papers, research proposals are generally organized the same way throughout most social science disciplines. The text of proposals generally vary in length between ten and thirty-five pages, followed by the list of references. However, before you begin, read the assignment carefully and, if anything seems unclear, ask your professor whether there are any specific requirements for organizing and writing the proposal.

A good place to begin is to ask yourself a series of questions:

  • What do I want to study?
  • Why is the topic important?
  • How is it significant within the subject areas covered in my class?
  • What problems will it help solve?
  • How does it build upon [and hopefully go beyond] research already conducted on the topic?
  • What exactly should I plan to do, and can I get it done in the time available?

In general, a compelling research proposal should document your knowledge of the topic and demonstrate your enthusiasm for conducting the study. Approach it with the intention of leaving your readers feeling like, "Wow, that's an exciting idea and I can’t wait to see how it turns out!"

Most proposals should include the following sections:

I.  Introduction

In the real world of higher education, a research proposal is most often written by scholars seeking grant funding for a research project or it's the first step in getting approval to write a doctoral dissertation. Even if this is just a course assignment, treat your introduction as the initial pitch of an idea based on a thorough examination of the significance of a research problem. After reading the introduction, your readers should not only have an understanding of what you want to do, but they should also be able to gain a sense of your passion for the topic and to be excited about the study's possible outcomes. Note that most proposals do not include an abstract [summary] before the introduction.

Think about your introduction as a narrative written in two to four paragraphs that succinctly answers the following four questions :

  • What is the central research problem?
  • What is the topic of study related to that research problem?
  • What methods should be used to analyze the research problem?
  • Answer the "So What?" question by explaining why this is important research, what is its significance, and why should someone reading the proposal care about the outcomes of the proposed study?

II.  Background and Significance

This is where you explain the scope and context of your proposal and describe in detail why it's important. It can be melded into your introduction or you can create a separate section to help with the organization and narrative flow of your proposal. Approach writing this section with the thought that you can’t assume your readers will know as much about the research problem as you do. Note that this section is not an essay going over everything you have learned about the topic; instead, you must choose what is most relevant in explaining the aims of your research.

To that end, while there are no prescribed rules for establishing the significance of your proposed study, you should attempt to address some or all of the following:

  • State the research problem and give a more detailed explanation about the purpose of the study than what you stated in the introduction. This is particularly important if the problem is complex or multifaceted .
  • Present the rationale of your proposed study and clearly indicate why it is worth doing; be sure to answer the "So What? question [i.e., why should anyone care?].
  • Describe the major issues or problems examined by your research. This can be in the form of questions to be addressed. Be sure to note how your proposed study builds on previous assumptions about the research problem.
  • Explain the methods you plan to use for conducting your research. Clearly identify the key sources you intend to use and explain how they will contribute to your analysis of the topic.
  • Describe the boundaries of your proposed research in order to provide a clear focus. Where appropriate, state not only what you plan to study, but what aspects of the research problem will be excluded from the study.
  • If necessary, provide definitions of key concepts, theories, or terms.

III.  Literature Review

Connected to the background and significance of your study is a section of your proposal devoted to a more deliberate review and synthesis of prior studies related to the research problem under investigation . The purpose here is to place your project within the larger whole of what is currently being explored, while at the same time, demonstrating to your readers that your work is original and innovative. Think about what questions other researchers have asked, what methodological approaches they have used, and what is your understanding of their findings and, when stated, their recommendations. Also pay attention to any suggestions for further research.

Since a literature review is information dense, it is crucial that this section is intelligently structured to enable a reader to grasp the key arguments underpinning your proposed study in relation to the arguments put forth by other researchers. A good strategy is to break the literature into "conceptual categories" [themes] rather than systematically or chronologically describing groups of materials one at a time. Note that conceptual categories generally reveal themselves after you have read most of the pertinent literature on your topic so adding new categories is an on-going process of discovery as you review more studies. How do you know you've covered the key conceptual categories underlying the research literature? Generally, you can have confidence that all of the significant conceptual categories have been identified if you start to see repetition in the conclusions or recommendations that are being made.

NOTE: Do not shy away from challenging the conclusions made in prior research as a basis for supporting the need for your proposal. Assess what you believe is missing and state how previous research has failed to adequately examine the issue that your study addresses. Highlighting the problematic conclusions strengthens your proposal. For more information on writing literature reviews, GO HERE .

To help frame your proposal's review of prior research, consider the "five C’s" of writing a literature review:

  • Cite , so as to keep the primary focus on the literature pertinent to your research problem.
  • Compare the various arguments, theories, methodologies, and findings expressed in the literature: what do the authors agree on? Who applies similar approaches to analyzing the research problem?
  • Contrast the various arguments, themes, methodologies, approaches, and controversies expressed in the literature: describe what are the major areas of disagreement, controversy, or debate among scholars?
  • Critique the literature: Which arguments are more persuasive, and why? Which approaches, findings, and methodologies seem most reliable, valid, or appropriate, and why? Pay attention to the verbs you use to describe what an author says/does [e.g., asserts, demonstrates, argues, etc.].
  • Connect the literature to your own area of research and investigation: how does your own work draw upon, depart from, synthesize, or add a new perspective to what has been said in the literature?

IV.  Research Design and Methods

This section must be well-written and logically organized because you are not actually doing the research, yet, your reader must have confidence that you have a plan worth pursuing . The reader will never have a study outcome from which to evaluate whether your methodological choices were the correct ones. Thus, the objective here is to convince the reader that your overall research design and proposed methods of analysis will correctly address the problem and that the methods will provide the means to effectively interpret the potential results. Your design and methods should be unmistakably tied to the specific aims of your study.

Describe the overall research design by building upon and drawing examples from your review of the literature. Consider not only methods that other researchers have used, but methods of data gathering that have not been used but perhaps could be. Be specific about the methodological approaches you plan to undertake to obtain information, the techniques you would use to analyze the data, and the tests of external validity to which you commit yourself [i.e., the trustworthiness by which you can generalize from your study to other people, places, events, and/or periods of time].

When describing the methods you will use, be sure to cover the following:

  • Specify the research process you will undertake and the way you will interpret the results obtained in relation to the research problem. Don't just describe what you intend to achieve from applying the methods you choose, but state how you will spend your time while applying these methods [e.g., coding text from interviews to find statements about the need to change school curriculum; running a regression to determine if there is a relationship between campaign advertising on social media sites and election outcomes in Europe ].
  • Keep in mind that the methodology is not just a list of tasks; it is a deliberate argument as to why techniques for gathering information add up to the best way to investigate the research problem. This is an important point because the mere listing of tasks to be performed does not demonstrate that, collectively, they effectively address the research problem. Be sure you clearly explain this.
  • Anticipate and acknowledge any potential barriers and pitfalls in carrying out your research design and explain how you plan to address them. No method applied to research in the social and behavioral sciences is perfect, so you need to describe where you believe challenges may exist in obtaining data or accessing information. It's always better to acknowledge this than to have it brought up by your professor!

V.  Preliminary Suppositions and Implications

Just because you don't have to actually conduct the study and analyze the results, doesn't mean you can skip talking about the analytical process and potential implications . The purpose of this section is to argue how and in what ways you believe your research will refine, revise, or extend existing knowledge in the subject area under investigation. Depending on the aims and objectives of your study, describe how the anticipated results will impact future scholarly research, theory, practice, forms of interventions, or policy making. Note that such discussions may have either substantive [a potential new policy], theoretical [a potential new understanding], or methodological [a potential new way of analyzing] significance.   When thinking about the potential implications of your study, ask the following questions:

  • What might the results mean in regards to challenging the theoretical framework and underlying assumptions that support the study?
  • What suggestions for subsequent research could arise from the potential outcomes of the study?
  • What will the results mean to practitioners in the natural settings of their workplace, organization, or community?
  • Will the results influence programs, methods, and/or forms of intervention?
  • How might the results contribute to the solution of social, economic, or other types of problems?
  • Will the results influence policy decisions?
  • In what way do individuals or groups benefit should your study be pursued?
  • What will be improved or changed as a result of the proposed research?
  • How will the results of the study be implemented and what innovations or transformative insights could emerge from the process of implementation?

NOTE:   This section should not delve into idle speculation, opinion, or be formulated on the basis of unclear evidence . The purpose is to reflect upon gaps or understudied areas of the current literature and describe how your proposed research contributes to a new understanding of the research problem should the study be implemented as designed.

ANOTHER NOTE : This section is also where you describe any potential limitations to your proposed study. While it is impossible to highlight all potential limitations because the study has yet to be conducted, you still must tell the reader where and in what form impediments may arise and how you plan to address them.

VI.  Conclusion

The conclusion reiterates the importance or significance of your proposal and provides a brief summary of the entire study . This section should be only one or two paragraphs long, emphasizing why the research problem is worth investigating, why your research study is unique, and how it should advance existing knowledge.

Someone reading this section should come away with an understanding of:

  • Why the study should be done;
  • The specific purpose of the study and the research questions it attempts to answer;
  • The decision for why the research design and methods used where chosen over other options;
  • The potential implications emerging from your proposed study of the research problem; and
  • A sense of how your study fits within the broader scholarship about the research problem.

VII.  Citations

As with any scholarly research paper, you must cite the sources you used . In a standard research proposal, this section can take two forms, so consult with your professor about which one is preferred.

  • References -- a list of only the sources you actually used in creating your proposal.
  • Bibliography -- a list of everything you used in creating your proposal, along with additional citations to any key sources relevant to understanding the research problem.

In either case, this section should testify to the fact that you did enough preparatory work to ensure the project will complement and not just duplicate the efforts of other researchers. It demonstrates to the reader that you have a thorough understanding of prior research on the topic.

Most proposal formats have you start a new page and use the heading "References" or "Bibliography" centered at the top of the page. Cited works should always use a standard format that follows the writing style advised by the discipline of your course [e.g., education=APA; history=Chicago] or that is preferred by your professor. This section normally does not count towards the total page length of your research proposal.

Develop a Research Proposal: Writing the Proposal. Office of Library Information Services. Baltimore County Public Schools; Heath, M. Teresa Pereira and Caroline Tynan. “Crafting a Research Proposal.” The Marketing Review 10 (Summer 2010): 147-168; Jones, Mark. “Writing a Research Proposal.” In MasterClass in Geography Education: Transforming Teaching and Learning . Graham Butt, editor. (New York: Bloomsbury Academic, 2015), pp. 113-127; Juni, Muhamad Hanafiah. “Writing a Research Proposal.” International Journal of Public Health and Clinical Sciences 1 (September/October 2014): 229-240; Krathwohl, David R. How to Prepare a Dissertation Proposal: Suggestions for Students in Education and the Social and Behavioral Sciences . Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press, 2005; Procter, Margaret. The Academic Proposal. The Lab Report. University College Writing Centre. University of Toronto; Punch, Keith and Wayne McGowan. "Developing and Writing a Research Proposal." In From Postgraduate to Social Scientist: A Guide to Key Skills . Nigel Gilbert, ed. (Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, 2006), 59-81; Wong, Paul T. P. How to Write a Research Proposal. International Network on Personal Meaning. Trinity Western University; Writing Academic Proposals: Conferences , Articles, and Books. The Writing Lab and The OWL. Purdue University; Writing a Research Proposal. University Library. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

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Home » How To Write A Research Proposal – Step-by-Step [Template]

How To Write A Research Proposal – Step-by-Step [Template]

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How To Write a Research Proposal

How To Write a Research Proposal

Writing a Research proposal involves several steps to ensure a well-structured and comprehensive document. Here is an explanation of each step:

1. Title and Abstract

  • Choose a concise and descriptive title that reflects the essence of your research.
  • Write an abstract summarizing your research question, objectives, methodology, and expected outcomes. It should provide a brief overview of your proposal.

2. Introduction:

  • Provide an introduction to your research topic, highlighting its significance and relevance.
  • Clearly state the research problem or question you aim to address.
  • Discuss the background and context of the study, including previous research in the field.

3. Research Objectives

  • Outline the specific objectives or aims of your research. These objectives should be clear, achievable, and aligned with the research problem.

4. Literature Review:

  • Conduct a comprehensive review of relevant literature and studies related to your research topic.
  • Summarize key findings, identify gaps, and highlight how your research will contribute to the existing knowledge.

5. Methodology:

  • Describe the research design and methodology you plan to employ to address your research objectives.
  • Explain the data collection methods, instruments, and analysis techniques you will use.
  • Justify why the chosen methods are appropriate and suitable for your research.

6. Timeline:

  • Create a timeline or schedule that outlines the major milestones and activities of your research project.
  • Break down the research process into smaller tasks and estimate the time required for each task.

7. Resources:

  • Identify the resources needed for your research, such as access to specific databases, equipment, or funding.
  • Explain how you will acquire or utilize these resources to carry out your research effectively.

8. Ethical Considerations:

  • Discuss any ethical issues that may arise during your research and explain how you plan to address them.
  • If your research involves human subjects, explain how you will ensure their informed consent and privacy.

9. Expected Outcomes and Significance:

  • Clearly state the expected outcomes or results of your research.
  • Highlight the potential impact and significance of your research in advancing knowledge or addressing practical issues.

10. References:

  • Provide a list of all the references cited in your proposal, following a consistent citation style (e.g., APA, MLA).

11. Appendices:

  • Include any additional supporting materials, such as survey questionnaires, interview guides, or data analysis plans.

Research Proposal Format

The format of a research proposal may vary depending on the specific requirements of the institution or funding agency. However, the following is a commonly used format for a research proposal:

1. Title Page:

  • Include the title of your research proposal, your name, your affiliation or institution, and the date.

2. Abstract:

  • Provide a brief summary of your research proposal, highlighting the research problem, objectives, methodology, and expected outcomes.

3. Introduction:

  • Introduce the research topic and provide background information.
  • State the research problem or question you aim to address.
  • Explain the significance and relevance of the research.
  • Review relevant literature and studies related to your research topic.
  • Summarize key findings and identify gaps in the existing knowledge.
  • Explain how your research will contribute to filling those gaps.

5. Research Objectives:

  • Clearly state the specific objectives or aims of your research.
  • Ensure that the objectives are clear, focused, and aligned with the research problem.

6. Methodology:

  • Describe the research design and methodology you plan to use.
  • Explain the data collection methods, instruments, and analysis techniques.
  • Justify why the chosen methods are appropriate for your research.

7. Timeline:

8. Resources:

  • Explain how you will acquire or utilize these resources effectively.

9. Ethical Considerations:

  • If applicable, explain how you will ensure informed consent and protect the privacy of research participants.

10. Expected Outcomes and Significance:

11. References:

12. Appendices:

Research Proposal Template

Here’s a template for a research proposal:

1. Introduction:

2. Literature Review:

3. Research Objectives:

4. Methodology:

5. Timeline:

6. Resources:

7. Ethical Considerations:

8. Expected Outcomes and Significance:

9. References:

10. Appendices:

Research Proposal Sample

Title: The Impact of Online Education on Student Learning Outcomes: A Comparative Study

1. Introduction

Online education has gained significant prominence in recent years, especially due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This research proposal aims to investigate the impact of online education on student learning outcomes by comparing them with traditional face-to-face instruction. The study will explore various aspects of online education, such as instructional methods, student engagement, and academic performance, to provide insights into the effectiveness of online learning.

2. Objectives

The main objectives of this research are as follows:

  • To compare student learning outcomes between online and traditional face-to-face education.
  • To examine the factors influencing student engagement in online learning environments.
  • To assess the effectiveness of different instructional methods employed in online education.
  • To identify challenges and opportunities associated with online education and suggest recommendations for improvement.

3. Methodology

3.1 Study Design

This research will utilize a mixed-methods approach to gather both quantitative and qualitative data. The study will include the following components:

3.2 Participants

The research will involve undergraduate students from two universities, one offering online education and the other providing face-to-face instruction. A total of 500 students (250 from each university) will be selected randomly to participate in the study.

3.3 Data Collection

The research will employ the following data collection methods:

  • Quantitative: Pre- and post-assessments will be conducted to measure students’ learning outcomes. Data on student demographics and academic performance will also be collected from university records.
  • Qualitative: Focus group discussions and individual interviews will be conducted with students to gather their perceptions and experiences regarding online education.

3.4 Data Analysis

Quantitative data will be analyzed using statistical software, employing descriptive statistics, t-tests, and regression analysis. Qualitative data will be transcribed, coded, and analyzed thematically to identify recurring patterns and themes.

4. Ethical Considerations

The study will adhere to ethical guidelines, ensuring the privacy and confidentiality of participants. Informed consent will be obtained, and participants will have the right to withdraw from the study at any time.

5. Significance and Expected Outcomes

This research will contribute to the existing literature by providing empirical evidence on the impact of online education on student learning outcomes. The findings will help educational institutions and policymakers make informed decisions about incorporating online learning methods and improving the quality of online education. Moreover, the study will identify potential challenges and opportunities related to online education and offer recommendations for enhancing student engagement and overall learning outcomes.

6. Timeline

The proposed research will be conducted over a period of 12 months, including data collection, analysis, and report writing.

The estimated budget for this research includes expenses related to data collection, software licenses, participant compensation, and research assistance. A detailed budget breakdown will be provided in the final research plan.

8. Conclusion

This research proposal aims to investigate the impact of online education on student learning outcomes through a comparative study with traditional face-to-face instruction. By exploring various dimensions of online education, this research will provide valuable insights into the effectiveness and challenges associated with online learning. The findings will contribute to the ongoing discourse on educational practices and help shape future strategies for maximizing student learning outcomes in online education settings.

About the author

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Muhammad Hassan

Researcher, Academic Writer, Web developer

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How to Write a Medical Research Paper

Last Updated: May 29, 2020 Approved

This article was co-authored by Chris M. Matsko, MD . Dr. Chris M. Matsko is a retired physician based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. With over 25 years of medical research experience, Dr. Matsko was awarded the Pittsburgh Cornell University Leadership Award for Excellence. He holds a BS in Nutritional Science from Cornell University and an MD from the Temple University School of Medicine in 2007. Dr. Matsko earned a Research Writing Certification from the American Medical Writers Association (AMWA) in 2016 and a Medical Writing & Editing Certification from the University of Chicago in 2017. wikiHow marks an article as reader-approved once it receives enough positive feedback. In this case, 89% of readers who voted found the article helpful, earning it our reader-approved status. This article has been viewed 197,089 times.

Writing a medical research paper is similar to writing other research papers in that you want to use reliable sources, write in a clear and organized style, and offer a strong argument for all conclusions you present. In some cases the research you discuss will be data you have actually collected to answer your research questions. Understanding proper formatting, citations, and style will help you write and informative and respected paper.

Researching Your Paper

Step 1 Decide on a topic.

  • Pick something that really interests you to make the research more fun.
  • Choose a topic that has unanswered questions and propose solutions.

Step 2 Determine what kind of research paper you are going to write.

  • Quantitative studies consist of original research performed by the writer. These research papers will need to include sections like Hypothesis (or Research Question), Previous Findings, Method, Limitations, Results, Discussion, and Application.
  • Synthesis papers review the research already published and analyze it. They find weaknesses and strengths in the research, apply it to a specific situation, and then indicate a direction for future research.

Step 3 Research your topic thoroughly.

  • Keep track of your sources. Write down all publication information necessary for citation: author, title of article, title of book or journal, publisher, edition, date published, volume number, issue number, page number, and anything else pertaining to your source. A program like Endnote can help you keep track of your sources.
  • Take detailed notes as you read. Paraphrase information in your own words or if you copy directly from the article or book, indicate that these are direct quotes by using quotation marks to prevent plagiarism.
  • Be sure to keep all of your notes with the correct source.
  • Your professor and librarians can also help you find good resources.

Step 4 Organize your notes.

  • Keep all of your notes in a physical folder or in a digitized form on the computer.
  • Start to form the basic outline of your paper using the notes you have collected.

Writing Your Paper

Step 1 Outline your paper.

  • Start with bullet points and then add in notes you've taken from references that support your ideas. [1] X Trustworthy Source PubMed Central Journal archive from the U.S. National Institutes of Health Go to source
  • A common way to format research papers is to follow the IMRAD format. This dictates the structure of your paper in the following order: I ntroduction, M ethods, R esults, a nd D iscussion. [2] X Research source
  • The outline is just the basic structure of your paper. Don't worry if you have to rearrange a few times to get it right.
  • Ask others to look over your outline and get feedback on the organization.
  • Know the audience you are writing for and adjust your style accordingly. [3] X Research source

Step 2 Know the required format.

  • Use a standard font type and size, such as Times New Roman 12 point font.
  • Double-space your paper.
  • If necessary, create a cover page. Most schools require a cover page of some sort. Include your main title, running title (often a shortened version of your main title), author's name, course name, and semester.

Step 3 Compile your results.

  • Break up information into sections and subsections and address one main point per section.
  • Include any figures or data tables that support your main ideas.
  • For a quantitative study, state the methods used to obtain results.

Step 4 Write the conclusion and discussion.

  • Clearly state and summarize the main points of your research paper.
  • Discuss how this research contributes to the field and why it is important. [4] X Research source
  • Highlight potential applications of the theory if appropriate.
  • Propose future directions that build upon the research you have presented. [5] X Research source
  • Keep the introduction and discussion short, and spend more time explaining the methods and results. [6] X Research source

Step 5 Write the introduction.

  • State why the problem is important to address.
  • Discuss what is currently known and what is lacking in the field.
  • State the objective of your paper.
  • Keep the introduction short.

Step 6 Write the abstract.

  • Highlight the purpose of the paper and the main conclusions.
  • State why your conclusions are important.
  • Be concise in your summary of the paper.
  • Show that you have a solid study design and a high-quality data set.
  • Abstracts are usually one paragraph and between 250 – 500 words.

Step 7 Cite while you write.

  • Unless otherwise directed, use the American Medical Association (AMA) style guide to properly format citations.
  • Add citations at end of a sentence to indicate that you are using someone else's idea. Use these throughout your research paper as needed. They include the author's last name, year of publication, and page number.
  • Compile your reference list and add it to the end of your paper.
  • Use a citation program if you have access to one to simplify the process.

Step 8 Edit your research paper.

  • Continually revise your paper to make sure it is structured in a logical way.
  • Proofread your paper for spelling and grammatical errors.
  • Make sure you are following the proper formatting guidelines provided for the paper.
  • Have others read your paper to proofread and check for clarity. Revise as needed.

Expert Q&A

Chris M. Matsko, MD

  • Ask your professor for help if you are stuck or confused about any part of your research paper. They are familiar with the style and structure of papers and can provide you with more resources. Thanks Helpful 1 Not Helpful 0
  • Refer to your professor's specific guidelines. Some instructors modify parts of a research paper to better fit their assignment. Others may request supplementary details, such as a synopsis for your research project . Thanks Helpful 1 Not Helpful 0
  • Set aside blocks of time specifically for writing each day. Thanks Helpful 0 Not Helpful 0

proposal writing medical research

  • Do not plagiarize. Plagiarism is using someone else's work, words, or ideas and presenting them as your own. It is important to cite all sources in your research paper, both through internal citations and on your reference page. Thanks Helpful 4 Not Helpful 2

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About This Article

Chris M. Matsko, MD

To write a medical research paper, research your topic thoroughly and compile your data. Next, organize your notes and create a strong outline that breaks up the information into sections and subsections, addressing one main point per section. Write the results and discussion sections first to go over your findings, then write the introduction to state your objective and provide background information. Finally, write the abstract, which concisely summarizes the article by highlighting the main points. For tips on formatting and using citations, read on! Did this summary help you? Yes No

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Workshop on proposal writing on research for health care professionals: a brief report

Sunil shrestha.

1 Department of Pharmacy, Nepal Cancer Hospital and Research Center, Lalitpur, Nepal

2 Department of Pharmaceutical and Health Service Research, Nepal Health Research and Innovation Foundation, Lalitpur, Nepal

Krisha Danekhu

Neeraj sharma.

3 Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, Nepal Cancer Hospital and Research Center, Lalitpur, Nepal

Praval Khanal

4 Department of Exercise and Sport Science, Manchester Metropolitan University, Manchester, UK

Safiur Rahman Ansari

5 Department of Health Informatics, HELF Informatics, Kathmandu, Nepal

Sudip Shrestha

6 Department of Medical Oncology, Nepal Cancer Hospital and Research Center, Lalitpur, Nepal

Rano Mal Piryani

7 Department of Internal Medicine, Universal College of Medical Sciences, Bhairahawa, Nepal

Mohamed Izham Mohamed Ibrahim

8 Department of Clinical Pharmacy and Practice, College of Pharmacy, Qatar University, Doha, Qatar

A one-day workshop on proposal writing for research for health care professionals was organized by Hospital Research Board (HRB), Nepal Cancer Hospital and Research Center Pvt. Ltd, Harisiddhi, Lalitpur, Nepal on 2nd March 2019. The main aim of this workshop was to identify, motivate and prepare health care professionals for conducting research in their respective professional institution in collaboration. The workshop was facilitated by international and national resource persons. The deliberations of the workshop were focused on seven topics: “Turning research into impact, Essentials of the research protocol, Why proposals are rejected?, Plagiarism in medical research, Research with medical records, Grant writing workshop, Manuscript writing workshop” based on a presentation by the different resource persons. Ninety-nine persons participated in the workshop including physicians, medical oncologists, pharmacists, nurses and other allied health professionals. The interactive teaching-learning methods were utilized in all sessions of the workshop. The feedback of the participants was taken on semi-structured feedback format. Overall evaluations from the feedback forms showed that majority (90%) of the participants agreed that the workshop achieved its objectives with a major recommendation as to the allocation of short duration for the workshop and timely organize of research activities regarding scientific writing. In conclusion, the workshop on research proposal writing for health care professionals was successfully organized and the participants are looking forward for future ones.


Nepal is a country with huge possibilities in the field of health-related research. Studies have reported the high availability of pharmaceutically important medicinal plants ranging from plain part to the upper Himalayas in Nepal. 1 – 3 Similarly, the prevalence of some of the communicable and non-communicable diseases is also comparative. 4 – 6 Although there are limited number of studies that have investigated the diseases and control strategies in different perspectives, there is more need of such studies from both governmental and non-governmental organizations. The presence of this scenario in Nepal suggests that there are enormous possibilities of research in the areas of pharmaceutical products, epidemiology, agricultural biology and so on. Despite the possibilities of different kinds of health-related research and the presence of many health professionals involved in various fields, 7 there is a lag in the scientific publication from those areas. One of the major contributing factors for having no or less publication is due to a lack of knowledge of scientific writing such as manuscript writing and grant writing. Other possible factors could be poor health research plantings, lack of proper training and underdeveloped research culture .8

With this background, a workshop was organized with the international and national resource persons with the aim to improve the present knowledge on scientific writing in health researchers and to build the concept of academic writing to the new researchers. Therefore, the following section of the article would mainly follow as the brief report of the workshop event.

Brief report

A Workshop on Proposal Writing on research for Health Care Professionals was organized on 2nd March 2019 in the conference hall, Nepal Cancer Hospital and Research Center (NCHRC), Harisiddhi, Lalitpur, Nepal, by Hospital Research Board (HRB), NCHRC. Organizing and conducting such kind of workshops are more common in health and other science areas. 9 , 10

Objectives of the workshop

The objectives of the workshop were:

  • To identify, motivate and prepare health care professionals and academicians to conduct research with collaboration in their respective professional institutions;
  • To write a research grant;
  • To discuss how to translate research into impact;
  • To discuss the essentials of a research protocol;
  • To write a manuscript for a scientific journal;
  • To avoid plagiarism in medical writing;
  • To motivate participants for multidisciplinary research.

The participants were from a different background of the health care profession. They include physicians, medical oncologists, pharmacists, nurses and other allied health professionals.

The event was inaugurated with a welcome speech by Dr Sudip Shrestha, Executive Chairman of NCHRC, followed by insight by Medical Director, Dr Bijesh Raj Ghimire and an overall overview of the workshop by Dr Sunil Shrestha, Program Coordinator of the event. At the end of the event, a vote of thanks was delivered by Dr Murari Man Shrestha, Member Secretary, HRB, NCHRC. Nepal Health Research Council assigned 5 Credit Hour Certificates and were distributed to all participants.

International resource person, Prof. Dr Mohamed Izham Mohamed Ibrahim, Professor of Social and Administrative Pharmacy, Head of Research Graduate Studies – Pharmacy in Qatar University conducted a session on “Turning research into impact” and “Why proposals are rejected?.” He also facilitated mini-workshop on “Grant Writing” and “Manuscript Writing.” Prof. Dr Rano Mal Piryani, Consultant Internal Medicine, Chest Medicine and Medical Education and Resource person for training in Health Professions Education, Bioethics and Medical Research, Professor of Internal Medicine, Chief Coordinator Health Professions Training Committee in Universal College of Medical Sciences, Bhairahawa, Nepal, conducted a session on “Essentials of Research Protocol.“ Dr. Praval Khanal from Manchester Metropolitan University, United Kingdom discussed on “Plagiarism in Medical Research” while Dr. Safiur Rahman Ansari from HELF Informatics Pvt Ltd put light on “Research with Medical Records.”

Key points of sessions

Turning research into impact.

The main points were on how to utilize research outcomes and the importance of communication activities and strategies to turn research output into impact. The speaker had also touched on the use of knowledge to solve public health problems stating from the different types of research. He explained the need for effective communication activity necessity to enhance research utilization at each level followed by improvement of the way of conveying evidence-based research to policy-makers and to bridge the gap between policy and evidence.

Essentials of research protocol

This session was focused thoroughly on the different components of the research protocol. The research protocol is a science and art of describing intended outcomes, practices, process and procedures of a research study. The resource person deliberated on how components of the research protocol vary depending on the discipline and objectives of the study. He successfully explained 12 main components of a research protocol:

  • Abstract (overview of the contents);
  • Literature review or background (overview of research done & rationale for conducting present study);
  • Research question follows PICOTS and FINER frameworks (PICOTS: Population, Intervention, Comparison, Outcome, Time and Settings) (FINER: Feasible, Interesting, Novel, Ethical, Relevant);
  • Research outcomes (primary & secondary outcomes or endpoints);
  • Study design and research approach (population of interest, inclusion/exclusion criteria, study settings, sampling strategy and sample size);
  • Data extraction or collection methods (ethical approval, informed consent, data collection tool and data collection process);
  • Data management policies (data entry, data coding, privacy and confidentiality);
  • Statistical procedures (intended statistical tools to be applied for analysis and interpretation of data);
  • Risks to subjects (informed consent, disclosure of information, issue of vulnerability of participants);
  • Threats to validity (confounding variables, sample size limitation, drop out);
  • Works cited (references);
  • Appendices (survey measures, interview guide, etc.).

He stated the importance of understanding the steps to develop a research protocol to conduct study appropriately and obtain reliable results.

Why proposals are rejected?

The resource person in this session provided insight into the different reasons for rejection of a research proposal during grant application. He explained that a research proposal is a document that informs others the proposed piece of research. Unsuitability and poorly designed proposals were described as the primary reasons for the rejection of the research proposal.

Plagiarism in medical research

This session was primarily focused on clarifying how serious is the plagiarism in medical research and how it can be avoided during article writing. The resource person explained the plagiarism is presenting other’s ideas as our own work without giving credit to the main author followed by stating it as serious scientific misconduct. The resource person elaborated about the strategies that can be used for avoiding the plagiarism – explaining about the importance of paraphrasing, using a quote for direct sentence citing appropriately, and use of available plagiarism checker software.

Research with medical records

This session puts an idea about the importance of using Electronic Health Record (EHR) for the health-related research. Primarily, the resource person explained how the data can be collected during the routine delivery of health care in electronic format which is designed for observational research, safety surveillance, clinical research and regulatory uses. He mentioned that pre-determined queries, simple customizable queries and advanced customizable queries are used in the process of data extraction. In addition to those, he explained the importance of SQL language and its use for storing, manipulating and retrieving data in relational database management. SQL with script transforms allows to write commands that run the statistical procedure. Statistical scripts are embedded into Electronic Medical Record (EMR) and other software which analyses easily without loading heavy data files with high-speed execution. The speaker is experienced with EMR and later on pointed the challenges with EMR as:

  • the quality of data and its validation,
  • timely access to electronic health record data,
  • heterogeneity between systems,
  • data security and privacy,
  • system capabilities.

Grant writing workshop

This session was made interactive by providing a redacted part of the article to all the participants. The preparatory time was provided to the participants followed by interacting with them to construct the possible general and specific objectives of the study. The comparison was done between the suggested objectives and the authors' objectives mentioned in the study. The speaker discussed the possible methodology for the project based on the suggested objectives of the study.

Manuscript writing workshop

The content that is to be included in the manuscript was discussed. It started with the idea that how the writing should follow based on the objectives stated and the results of the study. The session provided the new and innovative idea about how the writing can be made easy for an author starting with the different components of the article rather than the regular sequence found in an article. At one point of the session, it was discussed that the manuscript writing can be made easier while writing in the order: results, methods, introduction, discussion, conclusion, abstract, references list, appendix, title page and cover letter.

Statistical analysis

Descriptive analysis was performed to evaluate the effectiveness of the workshop. The feedback answers were entered in the MS-Excel 2010 (Microsoft Corporation, Redmond, WA, USA) initially and later exported to SPSS Version 21 (SPSS Inc., Chicago, IL, USA) and analysis was performed.

Feedback on the workshop

Feedback of the participants was taken on semi-structured questionnaire. The effectiveness of the workshops is usually measured by obtaining the feedback from the attendees. This process is applied by several previous studies. 11 , 12 In the present workshop, a feedback questionnaire was provided to each participant of the workshop immediately after the completion of the workshop. ( Appendix I ).

Major quantitative analysis results

The questionnaire included several questions regarding the workshop ranging from the satisfaction of the contents of the workshop to the venue of the program. The overall response rates from the total attendee (n=99) were 60.6% (n=60). Mean of overall assessment and comment on the organization of the event was 3.93 and 4.22 respectively ( Table S1 ). The frequency of participants and their feedback on worthiness of individual topics was shown in Table S2 .

Out of 60 participants of the workshops, 90% responded that the objectives of the workshop were obtained. 10% did not think that the objectives were met and mentioned about the time limitations as the crucial factor for their response ( Table S3 ). Forty-one (68.33%) responded they gained adequate knowledge and information, while 17 (28.33%) mentioned that they got “somewhat” –meaning they build up the research concept ( Table S4 ). Thirty-nine participants (65.0%) responded that workshop was “Definitely” useful, while 25% mentioned it was “mostly” useful ( Table S5 ).

Around 57% rated the organization of the workshop at 3 (good) on Likert scale 1–5 (5 = excellent, 4 = very good, 3 = good, 2 = poor, 1 = very poor, while 31.66% rated at 4 as very good).

Major qualitative analysis results

Best feature of the workshop.

The responses from participants were categorized into four main themes. Four themes included – resource persons/speakers for the workshop, time management by resource persons and organizers of the workshop, the practical significance of the workshop and the overall management of the workshop by organizers. Overall, the participants of the workshop were enthusiastic about the quality of the workshop and the included topics.

Dissatisfaction about the workshop

Three categories were developed from the feedback provided by the attendee of the workshop. The three categories included in dissatisfaction about the workshop are the short length of the workshop, logistical/venue criticisms, fewer interactions/group discussions during workshops.

Recommendations for improving forthcoming workshops

The various recommendations were obtained for improving future workshops. The aim of obtaining the recommendations was to understand the participants’ opinion about the workshops, particularly regarding resource persons, the content and objectives of workshop and organizers. Categories for this section were necessity of this kind of research workshops, more interaction during workshops with round table discussion, appreciations and demand for a longer duration for workshop.

The results are shown in Appendix II .

The present workshop on proposal writing for health care professionals aimed to provide knowledge on scientific writing – primarily focusing on grant writing, appropriate manuscript writing, avoiding plagiarism in medical research, turning research into impact and essentials of research protocol, the reasons for proposal rejection and research with medical records. The results from feedback form showed that there is an improvement in the participant’s knowledge after attending the workshop. The attendee felt that the contents are strongly applicable to their jobs or clinical practices and they are willing to apply in the workplace; however, few complained about the length of the workshop – demanding for more workshops in near future with more group discussion and long duration. The participants were from different health fields, the areas more prominent for the research; therefore, the authors believe the knowledge gained could be beneficial for the attendee in the future.

Our results showed that most of the participants were satisfied with the venue where the workshop was organized and the topics/contents covered during the workshop. As some of the results of this workshop showed that participants were less stratified with venue and food. They suggested making a large space for the future workshop and improving the quality of the food.

Nepal is a country with large opportunities for research and technology, so the authors believe that this kind of workshop is important in the near future as well. Conducting this kind of workshop could be helpful for researchers, academicians, and others in capacity building and enhance research culture.

Workshop on Research Proposal Writing for Health Care Professionals was successfully organized. It motivated the health care professionals and academicians for including research as part of their professional activities. The workshop also motivated the participants to adopt a multidisciplinary and collaborative approach for conducting research.


The author(s) acknowledge Dr. Subish Palaian, Associate Professor of Pharmacy Practice from Gulf Medical University for the concept of organizing a workshop at Nepal for health care professionals. The author(s) also acknowledge Dr. Bijesh Raj Ghimire, Medical Director of Nepal Cancer Hospital and Research Center and members of organizing committee of the workshop of for their valuable sugguestions and support.

The authors report no conflicts of interest in this work.

Supplementary materials

Evaluation by participants.

The following questionnaire was given to participants to evaluate the workshop.

Participant Name (optional): ______________________ _____ Date: _______________

Job Title: ____________________________________ ______

Years in present position: _____ years

1) What is your overall assessment of the event? (1 = insufficient – 5 = excellent)

  1  2  3  4  5

2) Which topics or aspects of the workshop did you find most interesting or useful?

3) Did the workshop achieve the workshop objectives?

  Yes  No  If no, why?

4) Knowledge and information gained from participation at this event?

Met your expectations   Yes  No  Somehow

Will be useful/applicable in my work   definitely  mostly   Somehow  Not at all

5) How do you think the workshop could have been made more effective?

6) Please comment on the organization of the event (from 1 = insufficient to 5 = excellent)

7) Comments and suggestions (including activities or initiatives you think would be useful, for the future)

8) Further comments or suggestions

9) What other improvements would you recommend in this workshop?

10) What did you like best about this workshop? __________________________________ ___

11) What did you like least about this workshop?

Are you interested in receiving other educational materials/workshops from or e-mail updates about this project? Yes No.

If so, please write your name, address, e-mail, phone number, and the subject(s) and grade level(s) you work with most.

Appendix II

Quantitative analysis.

Overall assessment and comment on the organization of the event

Descriptive table showing the frequency of participants and their feedback on worthiness of individual topics (multiple responses)

Frequency showing the overall result of feedback on achievement of program objective and possible suggestions

Frequency of participants reporting the knowledge gained after the events

Descriptive table showing the frequency of participants and their feedback on the worthiness of overall workshop

In-depth qualitative analysis category

For the responses to these questions, four categories are developed from our coding. The participants of the workshop seemed to be enthusiastic about the quality of the workshop and its contents.

  • 1. Resource person/Speaker of the workshop

“Expert Advice Dr. Izham’s Sessions”, “Good tutor”, “Familiar Interaction by resource persons”, “Prof Izham Breakthrough skills,” etc., are things wrote by the participants of the workshop. They also acknowledge that they like sessions.

  • 2. Time management by resource persons and organizers

Some of the participants like the time management by resource persons along with organizers. Participants wrote that “Excellent Time management”, “Everything was on time”.

  • The practical significance of the workshop

Participants cherished techniques that were “Helpful in future research work” and helped them with “manuscript writing” and “grant writing”. Many participants wrote that they gained knowledge in different aspects of proposal writing.

  • The event management of the workshop by the organizers

The participants were high in number in accordance with the size of the hall. However, participants expressed gratitude for organizing committee writing that “Well-Managed”.

For the responses to these questions, three categories are developed from our coding.

  • The short length of the workshop

As the workshop was conducted for one day only, most participants complained about the short duration of the workshop. One of the participants wrote“, “Please have a two-three day of the workshop,” another participant wrote that “Contents are too much but one day is not enough“. Majority of participants were happy with the workshop but they dislike the length of the workshop.

  • Logistical/locations criticisms

In this category, we label it as a minor criticism to the workshop or venue settings. One of the participants wrote that “Arrange big hall for future events” and another one wrote, “To have round table settings for discussion and group work”. Similarly, one of the participants wrote that “Please invite fewer participants” and another one disliked the food of the workshop. One participant was unhappy with the registration system for the workshop and wrote: “Registration should be done via online”.

  • Fewer interactions/group discussion during workshops

As there was less group discussion during workshops, some of the participants were dissatisfied. Some participants of the workshop were dissatisfied with less practical base sessions on grant proposal writing and manuscript writing workshop. They wanted more practical-based sessions on such theme of manuscript writing and grant writing.

The different recommendations from participants were obtained for improving future workshops which will be organized. In these open-ended questions, our aim was to find out what recommendations participants might have as a way to offer feedback for resource persons, the content and objectives of workshop and organizers. Participants as an alternative appeared to use this open question to express their appreciation and demand for additional future workshop opportunities.

  • Necessity of this kind of research workshops

Most of the participants were seeking for this kind of workshops or training. They are also seeking for chances to attend workshops in the future. As one participant wrote, “Please organize such of workshops”. Participants are requesting organizers to organize such kind of programs in the future. Participants wrote that “Invite/Inform in next workshop”, “Organize a workshop on SPSS”.

“Need more similar class,” “please organize more such workshops, seminars, and conferences especially on qualitative research, mixed research, plagiarism”.

“Conduct periodically to enhance research skills,” “keep providing such program,” “looking forward for same kind of program,” “more workshops in pharmacy for upgrading.

  • More interactive during workshops with round table discussion

Most of the participants were dissatisfied with less interaction during workshops. One of the participants wrote to “keep fewer participants so that more interaction is possible” and another participant wrote “Please have round table discussion”.

  • Appreciation

Many participants of the workshop have one voice which stated gratitude for the experience of the workshop. Participants wrote, “Thank you for this workshop opportunity”, “Thank you for the wonderful workshop”, “I feel lucky to participate”. Others expressed gratitude to resource persons and contents of the workshop” saying “Resource person have influential personality” Some of the participants wrote expressed gratitude to organizers saying” Excellent and well organized”, “Well managed and organized systemically”, “every session was on time”, “perfect time management”, etc.

  • Demanded longer duration for workshop

As many of the participants were dissatisfied with a shorter duration for the workshop, they suggested organizing such kind of workshops with long duration.

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Skills for Health and Research Professionals (SHARP) Training

Creating compelling research narrative workshop: strategies for effectively presenting your science, july 13, 2023 | subscribe to hear about the next training, the most recent creating compelling research narrative workshop was on july 13, 2023. sign up below to hear about the next training .

In the Creating Compelling Research Narrative 5-hour short course, you will learn narrative concepts, identify those concepts in various pieces of scientific writing, and put those concepts into practice to craft an effective research story so you can write more effective grant proposals, manuscripts, and more. 

Subscribe for updates on registration and scholarship dates, deadlines, and announcements.

Jump to: Overview | Audience & Requirements | Instructors | Scholarships | Location | Testimonials | Registration Fees  | Additional Information

Workshop Overview

Summer 2023 date: Livestream, online training July 13, 2023; 10am EDT - ~3pm EDT

This five-hour hands-on writing bootcamp covers several approaches to create compelling research narrative and is led by expert instructors with more than two decades of experience providing research writing, editing, and training for researchers worldwide. This intensive will lead you through detailed examples, revise writing in guided group settings with instructors, and then put those lessons into practice on your own writing. Thus, we encourage you to bring a draft in progress (e.g., grant proposal, research manuscript), so this workshop can directly impact an active writing project. Participants also will come away with an SOP for writing logically and will learn some additional narrative tricks and tips to entice and engage readers on their science.

By the end of this writing intensive workshop, participants will have:

  • A clear and organized approach for writing manuscripts and grants
  • Several easy grammar concepts for clear communication
  • Examples to share/work with their trainees
  • An improved portion of your own grant or manuscript (if you bring it with you to the workshop)

Audience and Requirements

Investigators at all career stages are welcome to attend, and we particularly encourage research trainees and early-stage investigators to participate. To register for this training, you must have:

  • Written at least one thesis chapter, manuscript, or grant
  • A grant or manuscript that is in progress is strongly encouraged, but not required to attend this training.


Sheila M. Cherry, PhD, Co-Founder, CareerVolt; Founder, Fresh Eyes Editing (now closed). Dr. Cherry completed a PhD in Genetics from Case Western Reserve University in 2006, where she studied chromosome segregation in mammalian germ cells. She pursued postdoctoral training at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in dissecting genetic contributions to congenital heart defects in the context of Down syndrome. During that time, she also helped create and teach a course on Effective Scientific Communication. Following that initial foray into teaching other scientists to better communicate their science, Sheila launched Fresh Eyes Editing in 2009. In their first decade in operation, Fresh Eyes helped researchers in the U.S. to win over $220 million in federal funding alone. Recognizing a need for training that could help researchers fill key skills gaps, in 2016, Sheila began presenting workshops on grant writing, along with online writing intensives and 1-on-1 trainings. In 2019, Sheila joined with long-time friend and colleague Dr. Jessica Lerch to launch CareerVolt, centered wholly on fostering skills development that will enable scientists to accelerate their career trajectories.

Jessica K. Lerch, PhD, Co-Founder, CareerVolt; Founder, Significance, Innovation, Impact. Dr. Lerch earned her PhD in Neuroscience at Case Western. She then completed postdoctoral training at the Miami Project to Cure Paralysis at the University of Miami and went to a Research Assistant and then a tenure-track Assistant Professor appointment in the Department of Neuroscience at The Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio. In late 2017, Jessica moved to a science consulting role with Eva Garland Consulting, helping small biotechnology companies and researchers across the world strategize their science to achieve over $37 million in grant funding for their R&D and early-phase clinical trial projects. Jessica started her first company, Significance, Innovation, Impact, in 2018 as a grant-writing consultant. In 2019, Jessica joined with long-time friend and colleague Dr. Sheila Cherry to launch CareerVolt, born of their shared desire to help scientists succeed in their career paths by filling skills gaps and supporting attainment of professional goals.


Training scholarships are available for the Creating Compelling Research Narrative Workshop.

Summer 2023: The Creating Compelling Research Narrative Workshop will be a livestream, remote training that takes place over live, online video on July 13, 2023 from 10am EDT - ~3pm EDT. Please note this training is not a self-paced, pre-recorded online training.


"The workshop and activities involved were very useful to considering what is required to write a compelling narrative and how to employ simple strategies that will greatly improve the flow of your writing." - Student at Northeastern University, 2023

"I can't wait to apply these strategies to my academic writing! Thank you so much, Jessica and team!" - Faculty member at Stanford University, 2023

"Very helpful workshop. Helped me identify some shortcomings in my writing that I had not realized before." - Postdoc at University of Southern California, 2023

Registration Fees

*Columbia Discount: This discount is valid for any active student, postdoc, staff, or faculty at Columbia University. If paying by credit card, use your Columbia email address during the registration process to automatically have the discount applied. If paying by internal transfer within Columbia, submit this Columbia Internal Transfer Request form to receive further instructions. Please note: filling out this form is not the same as registering for a training and does not guarantee a training seat.  

Invoice Payment: If you would prefer to pay by invoice/check, please submit this Invoice Request form to receive further instructions. Please note: filling out this form is not the same as registering for a training and does not guarantee a training seat.

Registration Fee: This fee includes course material, which will be made available to all participants both during and after the conclusion of the training.

Cancellations: Cancellation notices must be received via email at least 30 days prior to the training start date in order to receive a full refund, minus a $75 administrative fee. Cancellation notices received via email 14-29 days prior to the training will receive a 75% refund, minus a $75 administrative fee. Please email your cancellation notice to [email protected] . Due to workshop capacity and preparation, we regret that we are unable to refund registration fees for cancellations <14days prior to the training.

If you are unable to attend the training, we encourage you to send a substitute within the same registration category. Please inform us of the substitute via email at least one week prior to the training to include them on attendee communications, updated registration forms, and materials. Should the substitute fall within a different registration category your credit card will be credited/charged respectively. Please email substitute inquiries to [email protected] . In the event Columbia must cancel the event, your registration fee will be fully refunded.

Additional Information

  • Subscribe for updates on Workshop details and registration deadlines.
  • Contact the Creating Compelling Scientific Narrative Workshop team.

The Creating Compelling Research Narrative Workshop is hosted by Columbia University's SHARP Program in the Mailman School of Public Health.

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Medical Research Proposal Sample & Guide

Table of Contents

A medical research proposal sample is a great way to understand what your proposal should look like. It can give you the structure and guidance needed to create a successful proposal.  Well-written medical research proposals help researchers stand out from other applicants and boost their chances of being selected or funded. Read on to find out what a medical research proposal entails and how to write yours with our easy sample.

What Is a Medical Research Proposal?

A medical research proposal is a document that outlines the purpose and methodology of a proposed research project . It includes information about what the researcher intends to study, how they plan to conduct their research and measurement for success or failure.  The proposal also explains why the research is essential, what ethical considerations need to be considered, and the potential risks associated with it. 

Why Is a Medical Research Proposal Necessary?

A medical research proposal is essential because it outlines the critical information and details necessary to complete a project successfully.  This document ensures that everyone understands their position and how they will contribute resources, time, and effort to make the project successful. It also helps researchers to secure funding from sponsors and provide transparency for potential participants in the study. 

What to Include in a Medical Research Proposal?

A medical research proposal should include the following:

  • A brief description of the project, outlining the purpose and goals. 
  • An explanation of how you plan to collect data; through surveys or interviews with participants?
  • List any ethical considerations involved, including who will have access to the collected information and how it will be stored securely. 
  • Budget required for the research and any timeline associated with the completion of the study. 
  • Samples from past researchers, so you can learn more about what makes a successful medical research proposal. 

Steps on How to Write a Medical Research Proposal

It is important to remember that all proposals, no matter the topic, should follow specific steps to make them effective and organized. Here are a few steps to guide you:

person sitting while using laptop computer and green stethoscope near

Brainstorm and Outline the Problem

The first step is to brainstorm the project you are proposing, making sure that it has relevance in medicine. Determine what issue you are trying to address through your research and explain it clearly as a problem statement. 

Describe Your Project

Provide detailed information on your project, the aims, the expected outcomes, and any methods used to achieve them. 

Break It Into Small Sections

Once you have a clear vision of what you want to accomplish, break it down into small sections to effectively convey your thoughts. 

Set Your Objectives

Set specific objectives for your project and explain how you plan to achieve them. 

Outline Your Methodology

 Describe the processes used to collect data, analyze results, and draw conclusions from the research. 

Discuss Ethical Considerations

Explain any ethical considerations relevant to your proposed project, such as privacy and consent.

Write a Budget

Outline the cost of the project, including any equipment or materials needed.

Proofread the Proposal

Make sure to read through your proposal carefully before submitting it and ask someone else to do so, if possible. 

Medical Research Proposal Sample

To help you get started with your medical research proposal, here is an example: Project Aims:  This project aims to study air pollution’s effects on public health in a particular city.  Objectives:  To investigate how air pollution impacts public health in the target city and how to mitigate it. Methodology:  Data will be collected through surveys, interviews with residents, and environmental air quality sampling.  Ethical Considerations:  All participants in the project must be informed of the risks involved and consent to its use for research purposes. Personal information will be kept confidential and only used for research purposes.  Budget:  The budget allocated for this project is $5000. 

Developing a medical research proposal requires careful consideration and organization. Consequently, a medical research proposal sample might serve as an excellent starting point when writing your own project .

Medical Research Proposal Sample & Guide

Abir Ghenaiet

Abir is a data analyst and researcher. Among her interests are artificial intelligence, machine learning, and natural language processing. As a humanitarian and educator, she actively supports women in tech and promotes diversity.

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  1. Choose from 40 Research Proposal Templates & Examples. 100% Free

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