Elements Of A Research Proposal

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Nevertheless, the organiz- ers of the workshop hoped to at least introduce the major topics that researchers might consider before undertaking this work. Singh, program director in the Divi- sion of Minority Opportunities in Research (MORE) in the National Institute of General Medical Sciences at the National Institutes of Health, gave an overview of the historical context under which the 2003 Request for Applications (RFA) was developed, namely the con- tinued underrepresentation of minorities in biomedical and behav- ioral sciences.

He then outlined some of the major questions that the RFA was meant to address, such as the following examples: • Can specific forms of teaching, styles of pedagogy, and men- toring be identified that prompt patterns of student engagement that lead to a biomedical or behavioral research career?

Komisaruk also described some of the major questions review- ers asked of these applications: • Is the proposed program research, or is it an assessment or description of a program? For example, is there a testable hypothesis, or is it just observation?

• What is the likelihood that the proposed intervention will have a measurable effect?

For example, if the student is given a summer experience or a week-long experience to increase interest in the field, does this produce a long- term effect six months later on the career interest expressed by the student?

If it does produce increased interest, does that result in an increase in entry into graduate school or a career?24 THE ELEMENTS OF EFFECTIVE RESEARCH 25 • Can an optimum window for intervention be identified either by student age or level of maturity?• Can behavior patterns critical for a successful biomedical or behavioral research career be taught effectively?• Among graduate students in the biomedical and behavioral sciences, what were the optimal times of their entry into a research laboratory experience, and what are the characteristics of these stu- dents and their experiences that may have contributed to their pur- suit of graduate study?• How are career decisions influenced by providing informa- tion to students on the skills necessary for success, such as formulat- ing research questions, laboratory management, bioethics, publish- ing, grant writing, and scientific presentations?• Is the research sensitive to the unique social, cultural, eco- nomic, and other issues of the groups being studied?• Are women and minorities being lumped into the same cat- egories, even though the issues affecting them may be significantly different?He discussed changes that the division has identified since 2003 designed to improve the program.One is to be clearer about what the RFA is designed to produce.For example, is the duration of the inter- vention that is proposed so short (minutes, a day, or a brief sum- mer session) that it is unlikely to have a measurable effect on the outcome?THE ELEMENTS OF EFFECTIVE RESEARCH 27 • Are the outcome measures a valid indicator of whether the student will eventually go into a biomedical research career?

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