The research proposal is an important milestone in the path towards graduation because it encourages the student to focus their studies on specific questions. It also forces one to look at the experimental results from a larger perspective that is central to creating the thesis later in the program. Finally, the research proposal should be considered as a structural framework that if carried out successfully, will result in a thesis of sufficient breadth and significance to warrant successful graduation. The research proposal should not be considered to be a binding contract, or a promise to successfully complete the proposed experiments, but it does bind the student to a specific study area. Failure to complete experiments outlined in the research proposal should be explained to the committee in subsequent SAC meeting. The research proposal must be completed by the end of the 9th semester at Augusta University (2nd year in the research laboratory).

Instructions for Writing a Research Proposal

Following the outline below, provide the details of the proposal.

(1)   Hypothesis and Specific Aims. State the hypothesis to be tested and the specific aims of the research proposal.

(2)   Background and Significance. Describe briefly the background to the proposal, including relevant studies by other investigators. State concisely the importance of the research described in this proposal by relating the specific aims to broad, long-term research objectives in the field.

(3)   Research Design and Methods. Provide a description of:

  • Research design and the specific procedures to be used to accomplish the specific aims;
  • Tentative sequence for the investigation;
  • Statistical procedures by which the data will be analyzed; and
  • Any procedures, situations, or materials that may be hazardous to personnel and the precautions to be exercised.

Potential experimental difficulties should be discussed together with alternative approaches that could achieve the desired aims.

(4)   Previous Work Done in this or Related Fields. Describe briefly any work you have done that is pertinent to this project or demonstrates your ability to carry out the study plan.

(5) Personal Publications. Cite your most important published and pending scientific publications in this or related work. Include all authors in the same order as they appear in the journals, as well as titles of articles and complete literature references.

(6)  Provide Literature Citations at the end of the research proposal for any published work referenced in the proposal. Each citation must include names of all authors, titles, book or journal, volume number, inclusive page numbers, and year of publication.

(7)   Human Subjects/Vertebrate Animals. Provide the rationale for the choice of any experimental animals or procedures involving human subjects. Also, summarize the gender and racial/ethnic composition of any human subject population.