How to Write your Project Proposal

A written proposal describing your plan must be submitted through the III Canvas page for review. Proposals must use this form (Integration Proposal) and may be turned in at any time prior to the deadline of March 23, 2024 through Canvas. with the Scholarship of Integration application. The review committee will either approve your proposal or ask that you revise your proposal. Students can expect to receive notification of the committee’s decision by March 30, 2024.

The proposal should be brief; 3-4 pages, 12-point font, double-spaced. Provide enough information for the reviewers to easily understand what you plan to do. You are welcome to use images or graphs to help convey your plan. The structure should include: Background, Research Question and Aims, Initial Search Strategy, Data Extraction Plan, and Preliminary Articles.

The Background provides a rationale for why a literature review should be done to answer your research question (usually 3-5 paragraphs). Start by introducing the topic and what is known. Then identify what is unknown (the gap in knowledge) that led to your research question. Next clearly articulate your research question. Why is this question important to answer? Justify your answer with data if possible. If there are prior literature reviews on your question, describe them, emphasizing their strengths and limitations, and explain why there is a need for a new review on the topic. If there have been no prior reviews, describe any reviews with questions similar to your own that might apply. By the end of the introduction, the reader should understand what your study is about and why it is an important study to do.

When you complete the background section, you will have also created a first draft of the Introduction section of your Final Paper!

Clearly state your research question, ideally using the PICO framework. Include aims, and if relevant to your research question, hypotheses. An aim is an overall statement of what you are going to do. Hypotheses are testable assertions of what you suspect you will find. For example:

Question: For treatment of acute pain in patients with liver failure, how does the administration of morphine compared to acetaminophen affect pain and morbidity?

  1. Aim #1:  Assess the efficacy of morphine use in patients with liver failure.
    • Hypothesis:  There is a greater incidence of respiratory depression with morphine compared to acetaminophen.
    • Hypothesis:  Acetaminophen and morphine are equally effective in treating pain.
  2. Aim #2:   Assess the safety of morphine use in patients with liver failure.
    • Hypothesis:  There is a greater incidence of respiratory depression with morphine use compared to acetaminophen.
    • Hypothesis:  There is a greater incidence of hepatic encephalopathy with morphine use compared to acetaminophen.

This section contains details on the databases to be searched, search terms to be used, and information on any other strategies you will use to locate articles. Additional strategies (optional) include:

  • Hand search – reviewing the reference list of included articles for other articles that may have been missed in your search.
  • Vetting – Reviewing your final list of included articles with an expert in the field

This section should also include inclusion and exclusion criteria and justification for each criterion. In creating your criteria, consider the following (as relevant to your research question):

  1. Study Design – What types of study designs will be included? Only clinical trials? Would case series be included? Would animal studies be considered? If your question concerns the quality of life following two surgical treatments for a certain cancer, will you only include studies comparing the procedures head-to-head, or will you also include case series that describe outcomes for each procedure alone?
  2. Study Population – What characteristics do the subjects need to have? Do they need to be a certain age, gender, race or ethnicity? Do animals need to be a certain breed? Should subjects be healthy or have a pre-existing disease? Are non-English speakers included?
  3. Sample Size – How many subjects does a study need to have in order to be included? What range of follow-up times will you include?
  4. Outcome Assessment – Are there requirements for how outcomes can be measured? Do all outcomes need to be assessed with a specific diagnostic test, such as a CT scan? Do all studies need to use a certain quality of life questionnaire? Do outcomes need to be assessed at a particular time? Will you only use studies that use the same definition of a stroke?
  5. Confounding Variables – Will studies be included that don’t take into consideration confounding factors such as patient age or disease severity?
  6. Publication Dates – Were there any changes in measurement, reporting or technology that would affect the interpretation of studies published before a certain date? Will you only include studies published after a certain date when there was a significant change in how one of the procedures was performed?

Your answers to such questions will depend, in part, on the amount of literature available. If there is a large amount of literature, i.e. over 100 articles, you should focus your question to a subset of studies homogeneous with respect to population, study design, and other research methods. If the body of literature is small, you will have to use studies that are more heterogeneous.

As you engage in your deeper literature search this summer, these criteria may need to be revisited as you become more familiar with your literature results. You will also have a required consultation with Rachel Blume, Health Sciences Librarian over the first 2 weeks of the summer to optimize your search strategy and receive guidance on database management.

List the information and variables that you will extract from your included articles. If relevant, indicate how, for purposes of the review, you will define the exposures and outcomes of interest and how the outcomes are measured. If there are important confounding variables, describe these as well. Your definitions should be reasonably consistent with definitions used in the studies included in your preliminary articles.

Demonstrate that there are enough published studies that address your question to proceed with your review. List a minimum of 10 published studies relevant to your question, found using your initial search strategy. The review committee will not consider your proposal without this.

The final part of your Project Proposal is a statement from your Faculty Mentor indicating their commitment to guiding you through your literature review project over the Summer term. If your Faculty Mentor does not have a UWSOM faculty appointment, you will need a Faculty Co-Mentor who does have a UWSOM faculty appointment. The Co-Mentor does not need to write a mentor statement, but they do need to sign your proposal.


For an example of an excellent Scholarship of Integration proposal, click here.