The Person The Big Picture: How are You Being Evaluated?
The person Academic achievements Creativity, scholarship Demonstrated passion/commitment, or genuine, new-found interest in exploring a career path Ability to express oneself Depth
The Plan The Big Picture: How are You Being Evaluated?
The ideal proposal Here is a well-defined and important problem We have an interesting, creative and novel idea as to how to help solve this problem We are a great team with the knowledge and experience to know how to actually do what we are proposing to do Here is precisely what we plan to do Here is how this work could lead to new and important advances in the future
The parts of the proposal Title Abstract (or Research Plan Summary) Research Proposal: o Research Question o Background o Study Design and Methods References
The parts of the proposal Title Should communicate the purpose of the study Preferably less than 20 words Make the title specific and interesting Don’t make it cute or play on words (keep it academic) Adapted from Dr. Julie Pallant, U. of Melbourne
“An Alternative Means to Detect Osteoporosis” vs. “Osteoporosis: A Rapid, Inexpensive Office Screening Test for Early Detection” Adapted from Dr. Robert Reid, Queen’s University
The parts of the proposal Abstract (Research Plan Summary) Adapted from Dr. Julie Pallant, U. of Melbourne Provide a brief, clear summary of the project Usually no more than 250 words Must be pithy and compelling – this forms the initial impression Must be understandable without reading the whole proposal Need to carefully choose the amount of details Write this section last!
Throughout sub-saharan Africa a large proportion of children are at risk for co- infection with helminthiasis and malaria. Both malaria and helminth infections, through different mechanisms, are known to cause anemia, which is a major cause of childhood morbidity. However, there is little data looking at the effect of malaria and helminth co-infection on anemia status. This study aims to determine the effect that malaria and helminth co-infection have on hemoglobin concentrations as compared to singular helminth or malarial infections in school-aged children in Uganda. This is a cross-sectional study nested in a larger cross-sectional study on malaria and helminth surveillance that will be conducted in randomly selected primary schools throughout Uganda in 15 selected sentinel districts. This nested cross-sectional study will utilize the data from 2 sentinel sites with different malaria transmission rates. Each site will contain 1000 children aged 5-16 years old, sampled from 10 schools for a total of 2000 children. Recruited children will be asked to provide (i) a finger prick blood sample to investigate the presence of malaria infection and determine hemoglobin concentrations; and (ii) stool samples to determine the presence and intensity of helminth infections. Additional information will be measured via a questionnaire with the parents/guardians. The findings of this study will provide important information on the relationship between malaria and helminth co-infection and anemia, which would be important for understanding the public health burden of co-infection, for promoting combined control and for screening and treating anemia in at-risk children. Mary Montgomery, UCSF
Research Proposal: o Research Question o Background o Study Design and Methods Research Proposal: o Research Question o Background o Study Design and Methods The parts of the proposal
Research Question Describes the focus of the project clearly, precisely and succinctly Comes across as either intellectually deep/interesting or posing an obviously important question that needs to be answered Not pedestrian, and not one that can be answered with common sense Seems answerable (i.e. not “overly ambitious”)
Mary Montgomery, UCSF How do endemic infections in Uganda affect blood indices in school-aged children? Poor example: What effect does malaria and helminth co-infection have on hemoglobin concentrations as compared to singular helminth or malarial infections in school- aged children randomly sampled from primary schools throughout Uganda? Superb example:
The parts of the proposal Background (Introduction) Adapted from Dr. Julie Pallant, U. of Melbourne Provide a brief, focused review of the literature Set the scene – what research has already been done Demonstrate there is a gap in the research or a next step is needed Convey the relevance of your study
Key Tasks of the Background Section are: 1.Sketch out the nature of the field or fields relevant to the inquiry, possibly indicating something of their historical development, and; 2.identify major debates and define contentious terms, in order to; 3.establish which studies, ideas and/or methods are most pertinent to the study, and; 4.locate gaps in the field, in order to; 5.create the basis for the study in question, and; 6.identify the contribution the study will make. The parts of the proposal Background (Introduction)
The parts of the proposal Study Design and Methods Give an overview of the general study design, including the overall sequence of experiments Then describe each of the elements or methods in the experiments; e.g. o Participants/Sample size o Selection/Randomization techniques o Laboratory methods Provide sufficient detail to show that you know what you are talking about! Provide evidence that the methods are either already well-established or will be reasonably easy to establish within the lab/research setting
The often under-appreciated aspect of this part of the process: forces you to actually think through exactly what you need to do! The parts of the proposal Study Design and Methods faculty.shc.edu/hsalazar/ meditation-group
The parts of the proposal Study Design and Methods
Study Design/Study Site: This is a cross-sectional study nested in a larger cross-sectional study on malaria and helminth surveillance in randomly selected schools in 15 sentinel districts throughout Uganda. The larger study will be conducted in multiple sentinel sites of the Ugandan Malaria Surveillance Project (UMSP) and the Vector Control Division of the Ministry of Health throughout the country, representing a range of malaria and helminth transmission intensities. This nested cross-sectional study will utilize the data from 2 of the 15 sentinel sites, which will be collected during my time in Uganda from February to March. We are aiming to have one site be in a district with high malaria transmission and the second to be in a district with low malarial transmission Mary Montgomery, UCSF
Primary Variables: 1) Predictor: Malaria-helminth Co-infection (Primary) vs. Singular Malaria infection vs. Singular Helminth infection vs. No infection Measurement of malaria: ParaCheck Device (Span Diagnostics, India) Rapid Diagnostic Test (RDT), thick and thin blood smears stained with 2% Giemsa for 30 minutes and read by experienced laboratory technicians using a microscope. Parasite densities will be calculated by counting the number of asexual parasites per 200 leukocytes (or per 500 leukocytes, if the count is <10 asexual parasites/200 leukocytes), assuming a leukocyte count of 8000/ul. A blood smear will be considered negative when the examination of 100 high power fields does not reveal asexual parasites. The smears will also be made for identifying parasite species and counting high parasitemias. Measurement of Helminth infection: Stool samples. Presence of soil transmitted helminthes (STH) and S. mansoni infection will be determined using the Kato-Katz technique for assessment of eggs per gram of feces. 2) Outcome: Hemoglobin concentration as measured by finger stick sample estimated to an accuracy of IgfL using a portable, battery- operated hemoglobinometer (Hemocue Ltd, Sheffield, UK). This will be measured and analyzed as a continuous variable. Mary Montgomery, UCSF
Sample Size Estimate: 1) Statistical test: T-test 2) Effect Size: One prior re-analysis of data available from Kenya by (Brooker et al, 2007) found that among pre-school children their hemoglobin was 4.2g/L (95% CI: 3.1-5.2 g/L) lower among children with co-infection as compared to those with a single infection of P. falciparum or hookworm. We would like to detect a difference of 5% or more in mean hemoglobin change between those with co-infection as compared to single species infection and those without any infections. Thus the effect size is 4.2g/L x 10%= 0.42 3) Standard deviation: Range of 3.1-5.2, thus 2.1/2 = 1.05 4) Standardized effect size: effect size/standard deviation = 0.42/1.05 = 0.441 5) Alpha: 0.05 (two-sided), Beta: 0.20, thus Power = 0.80 6) Sample Size: Using standardized effect size of 0.4 then need sample size of 100 per group. We will have 4 groups: Co-infection, helminth alone, malaria alone, no-infection. So that will be 100x4= 400. For this study to enable us to find enough children that have malaria, helminth and malaria-helminth co-infection, we will analyze a total of 2000. 1000 from one district and 1000 from a 2nd. Mary Montgomery, UCSF
Statistical method: Multivariate linear analysis since the outcome (hemoglobin concentrations) is continuous, there are many confounders to account for and we are comparing groups based on their malaria-helminth infection status. The analysis will be conducted using Stata Statistical Software. Mary Montgomery, UCSF
Another Exemplar: Genetic predictors of MRI activity and clinical disease in multiple sclerosis Esther Byun, Med4
The Fan Someone who knows you well and can speak about your creativity, commitment, work habits, social skills Someone with lots of success in research and mentoring/advising The Big Picture: How are You Being Evaluated?
1. Begin the planning for your proposal well in advance… Grant-writing pearls
2. With the help of your mentor/P.I., think deeply about your proposed project. If you are not really excited about the plan, ditch it and come up with something else. Grant-writing pearls
3. Assume that at least one of the reviewers will be extremely knowledgeable, if not a recognized leader, in your field of study Grant-writing pearls
4. Always have at least two people* read your entire grant (or specific aims page for larger grant) *Mentors who have excellent track records for funding; more is better Grant-writing pearls
Readable layout High-quality figures Spell-cheked i.e. make the presentation prefect Grant-writing pearls 5. After the absolute final read, read it one more time…
6. Beyond what it takes to accomplish pearls 1- 5, it’s all about PERSISTENCE! Grant-writing pearls