The research methodology section is the core of your grant proposal. It is a comprehensive portion that deals with the techniques and analysis of your proposed research idea. The aforementioned specifications are accompanied by the proper justification of your ability. Not to forget, all of this should be scripted without compromising the authenticity of your research project. Therefore, this section requires detail-oriented attention. Any sort of mistakes in the research development section can lead to flat rejection from the reviewers. So, this article serves as a guide for such errors and how to deal with them.
Importance of the Research Development Section
Scripting the research development section has a vital significance in the grant application. Following features make it a key section:
- It specifies the basic selection criteria for the subjects involved in your research project.
- It informs about the size of the selected sample population for research.
- It defines the procedures for gathering the data for analysis.
- It stipulates the basic interventions in your research process.
- It provides the blueprints of the research techniques and the interpretation of data to reach the claimed outcomes.
- All the aforementioned features are scripted in the light of authentic justifications.
Frequently Identified Flaws in the Research Development Section
Sadly, many of the grant applications are dismissed every year by the peer-reviewer panel due to the basic flaws found in their research development section. The major flaws found in their proposals are:
Providing Too Much or Too Little Data
This section indeed requires extensive data regarding your research approach. Still, there are dozens of applications that take the word ‘extensive’ too strictly and flood their research development section with details that are too much for the reviewers to take care of. In doing so, these writers exceed the page limit of the application as well, which is a highly irresponsible act. The enormous data they provide also includes information that does not directly relate to their research outcomes. This consumes extra time and effort of the reviewers, and the panel ultimately requests the resubmission of the proposal. Likewise, inadequate data make the application incomprehensible.
How to Amend?
Loading this section with either an enormous or meager amount of data disturbs the equilibrium. Both of these acts will risk the approval of your application. This mistake can be amended if you follow these guidelines:
- Provide a balanced amount of research data that is easy to comprehend
- The details scripted in this section should be according to the type of methodology used
- Simple research techniques that are used commonly do not require extensive details
- A rarely utilized technique requires a little more information for clarity to the reviewers
- Filter out the directly relatable data and script it accordingly
Omitting the Controls
Your research analysis is usually based upon the relative comparison with the controls. Numerous applications are found deficient in providing an interpretation of controls working as placebos for your research. The reviewers are highly dependent on the analytical information extracted via the control subjects. If your application is missing out on such a significant piece of information, your proposal will likely be asked for resubmission by the panel.
How to Amend?
A research project with excellent control subjects will increase its level of justification and perception. Any sorts of omissions in the controls are extremely prohibited. The reviewers always seek the points that are justifying your research idea, and enlisting all the control subjects is one of the important points.
Insufficient Information about the Human Subjects Involved in Clinical Researches
The clinical researches are usually performed on the test subjects. The positive outcomes of these researches directly affect the healthcare system. Since the healthcare system revolves around humans, the reviewers seek human subjects in such researches. Unfortunately, the investigators cannot easily get consent from the patients for the clinical trials. Thus, the human subjects are usually limited, which questions the actual numbers that will be available for the research conduction. The funding agencies do not approve of clinical researches with few clinical subjects. Hence, the grant proposals with this deficiency are ultimately rejected.
How to Amend?
Certain preliminary steps before writing your research proposal can help you avoid this error. These include:
- Discuss your clinical research idea with your seniors, and they will guide you about the subjects that will be willing to participate
- Consult previously approved clinical research proposals and assess the number of subjects enrolled in them
- Use contacts from your seniors who help you find and enroll the subjects that are relevant to your research theme
- Practice your convincing power on your targeted subjects by visualizing the positive impacts that your clinical research can make on the healthcare system
No Objectivity & Alternative Approach
The level of objectivity about your research idea should be maintained throughout your application. Often, the writers just script their research idea with the citations supporting theirs. They ignore the potential for contradictions and make their idea look perfect from every angle. From outside, it seems a great approach, but in reality, it is a biased way to justify your idea. The reviewers seek objectivity and pitfalls in your research idea and analyze how you deal with these limitations to prove your idea. If you fail to specify the limitations of your research methodology, your application will be declined with criticism for lack of objectivity.
How to Amend?
There is always a chance that your research may not produce the expected outcomes. This can be due to the limitations of your respective chosen technique. Your mind should be open to deal with such deviations. The basic guidelines to deal with this error are:
- Write down the contradictory research outcomes by citing the literature and then support your outcomes by particularly citing the literature that heavily supports your claims
- Mention the potential limitations of your research technique
- Illustrate the potential alternative hypotheses that can be inferred from your research
- Enumerate the limitations of your research environment along with the support it will provide for obtaining your research goals (Constance, 2015)
Scripting the Unattainable
Every researcher wants his project to achieve every possible aim. This hunger for more leads many writers to script unattainable outcomes in their research development section. They forget the two limiting factors set by the funding agencies, which are time and budget. These limit the volume of your research plan. If you commit such an error, your application will have a negative impact on the reviewing panel.
How to Amend?
Extensive planning is good, but only if it is feasible within a set time and budget. You can avoid or amend the unattainable research plan for your project by following these rules:
- Draw a timeline for every step in your plan
- Prioritize the main outcomes and the planning required relevant to them
- Avoid any risky outcomes that are beyond feasibility
- Review your research plan with the help of senior mentors
Fishing for Plans Relevant to the Hypothesis
Then there are those grant writers that load their research methodology section with the plans that are not guided by the hypothesis. Their experimental techniques do not complement with their claimed hypothesis. This leads to disapproval from the reviewers who seek relevance in every segment of the application. Witnessing this gross error extremely disappoints your reviewers.
How to Amend?
Follow these directions to amend this type of error:
- Do a preliminary analysis of the grant proposals that are previously approved by the National Institutes of Health (NIH)
- Your research plan should complement with the derived hypothesis (Azzam & Salah, 2016)
- Consult with your senior mentors whenever selecting your experimental procedures
- Now select the research technique that has the least limitations and most feasibility with your research hypothesis
The exploratory grants are meant for far explorations. You can diverge from the plans that are driven by your research hypotheses only in this type of grant.
Immature Technical & Analytical Approach
During the evaluation of the research development section, the panel reviewers critically assess the technical and analytical skills of the research writer. Some of the applicants are rejected due to the poor ability to interpret their research results, while others do not even bother to write down the technical insights. The funding agencies support those researches that ensure successful results in return. An inappropriate technical and analytical approach leads to the refusal of the grant application.
How to Amend?
The necessary guidelines for rectification of analytical errors are to:
- Provide relevant supporting analytical documentation regarding the evaluation of results
- Relate your research analysis and outcomes according to the specifications of your Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA)
- The technical transparency is a milestone towards the grant approval (Gottlieb et al., 2019)
- Consult the successfully approved proposals and see how the analysis was done
- Seek the advice of your senior mentors regarding the analytical approach
- Practice analytical skills by participating in research contests and other collaborative researches
Biased Interpretation of Data & Results
Some of the grant applicants overly decipher their research outcomes. They try to mold the evaluated results in their favor, which is highly unethical. Since biased approaches are never supported by the peer reviewers, these grant proposals are returned with severe criticism from the panel reviewers.
How to Amend?
This error can be dealt with by following these rules:
- Always leave room for alternative approaches and outcomes
- Providing healthy criticism regarding your proposed research idea does no harm
- Stay in equilibrium when deciphering your research results
- Constantly get your interpretations reviewed by your experienced colleagues
The research development section serves a pivotal role in the evaluation of your ability to handle the data to produce the desired results in light of your selected study technique. It is the motherboard of your research project. All the sections of a grant proposal are linked to it to be fully functional. A slight error in this section can make your entire application non-functional for further evaluation. The above-mentioned flaws and their rectification guidelines will help you to avoid the possible errors during the fabrication of this core section.
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