Writing a Successful AACN. Grant Proposal

Writing a Successful AACN Grant Proposal Writing A Successful AACN Grant Proposal PURPOSE The purpose of this document is to provide novice research...
Author: Virgil Andrews
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Writing a Successful AACN Grant Proposal

Writing A Successful AACN Grant Proposal PURPOSE The purpose of this document is to provide novice researchers with essential information regarding grant proposal writing. It provides general and specific information on how to prepare AACN grant applications for both research studies and performance improvement projects. It is based on the criteria and grant submission guidelines of the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN). AACN awards several small and large grants for research that is relevant to critical care nursing practice. Grants in the small grant program range from $500 - $1,500. Grants in the large grant program range from $5,000 - $100,000. A list of the various grants funded by AACN can be found on the AACN Web site at: www.aacn.org>membership>grants> AACN Grants in Support of Clinical Projects and Research. Or the brochure can be obtained through AACN customer service by calling 800889-2226 and requesting item #1013. INTRODUCTION Various agencies provide financial support for nursing research. These include the federal government, national and local foundations, industry such as Philips Medical Systems, specialty nursing organizations as the AACN, and Sigma Theta Tau International. Local chapters of organizations are good sources of funding for novice researchers. Research studies and performance improvement projects are expensive and timeintensive. A successful grant application is one that is approved and funded. Good writing skills and scholarship are critical. Because many funding agencies are overloaded with applications, poor proposals are quickly and easily eliminated. On the other hand, reviewers will search for an application with outstanding qualities that set it apart from other proposals. Grant writing skills, like clinical expertise, are not an innate talent. These skills are developed and sharpened through active and continued

participation in the research process. Careful adherence to the guidelines and suggestions in this booklet should enhance your grant-writing abilities and increase your probability of receiving a favorable review from a peer-review panel. Preparing a grant application requires adequate time for studying, thinking, and writing. The exact amount depends on such factors as the author's personality, writing style, and number of other personal and professional commitments. Allow at least 6 months to prepare the application. This provides time to optimize opportunities and critically refine ideas. Even a well-written application will not be successful if the quality of the science is poor and the proposed methods are unsound. See Appendix A to view an example of a schedule for writing a research grant proposal (this timeline can also be amended to accommodate a performance improvement proposal). What Is a Research Proposal? A research proposal is a detailed plan of action for scientific inquiry. It clearly and systematically presents the research problem, indicates the significance of the problem, and delineates the specific methods and procedures that will be used to answer the research question or test the research hypotheses. It also provides a timetable or outline for conducting the study and details the estimated cost of the investigation. It is written as a preliminary step in the research process. It synthesizes current knowledge, indicates gaps in knowledge, and specifies a plan to address the problem. GENERAL GUIDELINES The purpose of a grant application is to convince the funding agency of the merits of your research project and secure the agency's financial backing. Most agencies maintain a panel of peer reviewers who decide which applications will be funded. Members of the panel are selected because of their competence in particular research areas and in the research process. They review each application and determine its scientific merit and the potential


clinical significance or outcomes of the proposed research. A successful proposal shows a link between the mission of the funding agency and the proposed research; is specific and scientifically rigorous; and adheres to the instructions and guidelines provided by the funding agency, including technical requirements such as page limits and deadlines for submission. Other goals to strive for include • • • • • •

Logical organization and internal consistency Clearly stated aims, significance, and methods Clear, concise writing style Originality and incorporation of new ideas Focused plan of research Evidence of knowledge of relevant published work.

In addition, be sure the time and level of effort proposed for the research are adequate and include a discussion of potential pitfalls and limitations. Significance of the Proposed Research Problem The first step in developing a proposal is to determine a source that grants funds in areas relevant to the research topic. In other words, match the topic to the funding agency. Specialty nursing organizations often specify the types of proposals they will fund. Annual reports of an organization may list research projects it has funded. In most instances, the significance of the proposed study must be related to the enhancement of nursing practice in the specialty area. For example, grant applications submitted to the Emergency Nurses Association must specify the significance of the proposed research to emergency care nursing. Keep such requirements in mind when explaining study rationale and background. Clearly indicate the need or gap in nursing knowledge that your research will fill and describe how the results might influence nursing practice in that specialty. Most funding organizations provide assistance or consultation to determine if a proposed investigation matches

their interests. Some organizations publish research priorities that reflect significant problems pertinent to the organizations' specialties. If you are aware of these priorities, you can target and highlight how your research is consistent with them. Scientific Logic or Internal Consistency Establishing and maintaining a chain of scientific logic, or internal consistency is crucial. This is best accomplished by developing a proposal that adheres to the goals of scientific writing: it is simple, lucid, and brief. Research questions or hypotheses are derived from a review of relevant literature. The objectives of your research must be consistent with the hypotheses or research questions, and each hypothesis or research question must have corresponding procedures for collection and analysis of data. That is, the techniques for collecting and analyzing data must be consistent with the study's purpose and proposed level of measurement. Strategies for developing a research proposal that has internal consistency and clarity include the following: •

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Make a detailed outline of the proposed study, and submit the outline to colleagues and research experts for critique and feedback. Address the issues raised by colleagues and experts and revise your proposal as needed. Put the revised proposal aside for a while to establish a degree of critical objectivity and then reread it. Revise it again if needed. Have a research expert read the final version before you submit the application to the funding agency.

Novelty and Originality The basis of a successful application is a good research idea. Reviewers look for proposals that have a new or interesting perspective on a topic. The research does not have to be a first in its field, but it should not simply repeat existing work. The exception to this would be a fresh look at existing work that has considerable limitations or weaknesses. For example, for a published study based on a small sized sample,


repeating the study with a larger sample size, a sample with expanded characteristics, or a new type of sample (e.g., a different age group) might be indicated. A complete review of the literature is essential so that the benefit of previous work can be included. Synthesize the knowledge in the area and build on it. Address limitations of previous work, or, on the basis of new insights, refocus efforts in a new direction.

Be sure each page of the proposal has the same general appearance. Photocopied pages from other proposals or a biographical sketch photocopied from a previous submission might give reviewers the impression that you do not take the project seriously enough to provide up-to-date information.

Carefully read and follow all directions provided in the application packet sent out by the funding agency. In particular, note any specifics about the required number of pages; organizational assurances or letters of access; administrative approvals; number of copies; deadline dates (date for receipt or postmark date); and required sections for the proposal.

If your proposal is too long to fit in the number of pages allowed, evaluate it to determine which information (e.g., detailed protocols for data collection, study timetable, budget or fiscal considerations) might be moved to an appendix.

If directions are not specified in the application packet, contact the prospective funding agency for guidelines. If specific guidelines cannot be provided, the outline in this booklet should be sufficient. If necessary, clarify specific guidelines with a contact person at the target, funding agency. Make sure you have an up-to-date application form.

Keep your proposal within the limitations imposed by the target, funding agency. For example, do not include appendixes if the agency prohibits them. Provide only the information necessary for reviewers to understand the proposed research.

Sharpen the proposal by replacing vague or misleading words or phrases with uncomplicated, direct, persuasive language. Use action words (verbs) and simple sentences. Simplify sentences to communicate your ideas better. Avoid using passive verbs.

Style and Technical Details of the Proposal Pay close attention to all instructions and guidelines. Although specifications for style and format may vary according to the funding agency, these requirements must be followed exactly. Any deviation may result in the proposal being penalized or returned without review. The following are some general guidelines: •

Type or print out the proposal single or double-spaced (depending on the funding agency), with at least 1-in margins, on standard-sized paper (8 1/2 × 11 in).

Use white space to lighten the text. Avoid solid massive blocks of print that repel rather than invite reading. Choose a font that is easy to read and of appropriate size (e.g., 12 points). Do not use a minuscule-sized font in an attempt to squeeze more words into the space allowed. Legibility is important.

Make the proposal readable and easy to glance through. Use punctuation, underlining, spacing, paragraphing, diagrams, flowcharts, tables, and other devices to command the reader's eye.

Organize the grant according to the specifications of the funding agency. Be sure the structure of the proposal is clear and logical. Use headings and subheadings to direct reviewers smoothly through the proposal's content. Make it easy for reviewers to find the essential substance within certain parts of the outline. Do not force them to read the entire text if they are familiar with the topic.


Proofread the proposal carefully before submitting it. Check spelling, grammar, and references for errors. Look for consistency in the use of terms and verb tenses.

• •

SPECIFIC GUIDELINES Specific guidelines for research grant applications vary between funding agencies, but several components are standard. These include the cover letter; grant application form; abstract; specific aims; significance; methods and timetable; ethical review; budget; and references. Cover Letter The cover letter includes the title and content of the research proposal, the name of the grant applied for, the name and affiliation of the investigator, and any other information required for submission (e.g., applicant's eligibility for membership in an organization or other qualifications). Address the cover letter to the contact person at the funding agency or, in lieu of a contact person, the head of the agency or department. A well-written cover letter helps the agency direct the application to reviewers whose expertise closely matches that required for the proposed research. Grant Application Form The first page of the proposal is the grant application form. It provides information about the research proposal and the investigator(s) who is submitting the proposal. Grant application forms are supplied by the funding organization and completed by the applicant. The information requested usually includes the following: •

Title of the research proposal. The title is the first contact a reviewer has with the proposed research. Keep the title short, but be sure it adequately describes and highlights the main elements in the study. Include key words that reveal the essence of the proposed research. Do not use obscure technical terms or jargon that will be recognized only by small groups of researchers with similar interests.

• • • • • • •

Name(s) of the principal investigator and co-investigator(s). Credentials, professional title, home and work addresses and telephone numbers, RN license and social security numbers, and membership status (of the funding organization) of the principal investigator. Names of the proposed research staff. Type of funding being requested. Names of institutions or sites where research will be done. Date of approval by the applicant's institutional review board and the board's identification number. Time (dates) for which funding is requested. Date the application is submitted. Signatures of the principal investigator and co-investigators (if applicable).

Abstract The abstract is a clear concise summary of the proposed research project. It is commonly 50– 350 words long and takes up no more than one page. The funding organization's guidelines usually specify the limitations. The abstract should capture the essence of the proposal concisely and completely. Begin with a short statement of the purpose of your study, and indicate the research hypothesis or questions. Give the rationale for the proposed study, and describe the research design and data analysis. Finally, offer a conclusion about the anticipated results and their significance. Include vital details that make the proposed research original and important. Reviewers should be able to read the abstract and know what you propose to do. Typically, the abstract includes the following major elements: • • • • • •

Title of the proposal. Name of the principal investigator (project director). Name of the applicant's organization (institution). Objective (purpose of the study and rationale). Methods (procedures and research design). Significance (contribution).


The abstract may be the only part of the proposal read by some reviewers. Therefore, prepare it carefully. Paraphrase objectives and procedures and include key terms from the body of the proposal to prepare reviewers for them.

Specifically, in this section, describe, summarize, analyze, and synthesize knowledge about the topic by providing the following: •

Specific Aims The section on specific aims is the most important element of the research proposal. It specifies the problem to be addressed and provides reviewers with a background or perspective on it. Specific aims are the major research issues, questions, or hypotheses that provide a formalized focus for data collection and interpretation of results. They are statements of what you want to accomplish in your study. The specific aims should accomplish four essential goals: • • • • •

Specify the variables to be investigated. Explain the proposed relationships (i.e., expected outcomes) among variables, when appropriate. Indicate the conditions under which the relationships of interest between the variables will be studied. Specify the characteristic of the population to be studied. The words in this section should be sharp and straightforward, and the ideas should be provocative. Sharpen the focus by excluding irrelevant and extraneous words and ideas. Be sure the study's perspective, originality, and contribution to knowledge building are clear.

Significance The section on the significance of the proposed research defines the importance of the problem to be studied. It contains a statement of the problem, background information on the scope and distribution of the problem, a summary of the literature on the problem, and an indication of gaps in existing knowledge. It also includes information on expected gains for nursing practice and on the relevance of the research to the funding agency.

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• • • •

Background of the problem in terms of what has been studied, when it was studied, how the research was done, where the problem has been investigated, and what populations have been studied. Theoretical or empirical basis for the purpose of the investigation, in other words, the justification for doing the study. Direction for proceeding with the study. Provide information on previously successful approaches to the problem. Limit the literature review to key references that pertain to the independent and dependent variables in your research questions or hypotheses and the relationships or conditions stated in the specific aims of your proposed study. Summarize the current state of knowledge about the topic area. Synthesize and critique the literature; do not simply list published results. Discuss studies in sufficient detail so that even an inexperienced researcher can understand their relevance. Describe how these studies contribute to your proposed research and how your project goes beyond previous work.

If you will be using a conceptual framework, discuss any previous use of this framework and review flaws or gaps in the research. If applicable, discuss the rationale for use of this framework with hypotheses formulation. If theory will be tested, describe the theory, discuss work already done to test the theory, delineate work that is needed, and conclude with what you will do. A diagram may be helpful in clarifying a detailed framework or theory. METHODS AND TIMETABLE The methods section must communicate your research plan clearly, concisely, and completely. This section is usually about 12 pages long, but again, this may vary according to the funding agency. Fifteen pages, however, may be more than most reviewers can deal with effectively.


The methods section is a step-by-step set of instructions for doing the study. It outlines the investigator's strategy, indicates how the specific aims will be accomplished, and gives the details of the methods to be used. If the project can be divided into specific categories, it may be helpful to divide this section up into subsections. If you have done previous research related to your proposed project, use the results of that work to convince reviewers that the proposed study is feasible and based on testable hypotheses. A description of preliminary work can show reviewers that your methods and instruments are workable, that you have access to all the sites you plan to use, and that you are a capable and committed investigator. Describe the earlier project briefly. Emphasize the promise of the findings and how they support the need for the proposed study. Include figures, tables, diagrams, and so forth if applicable, as these are easy for reviewers to appraise. If the findings are complex, consider giving the details in an appendix. For your proposed research, the methods section should include information on the study design, the variables and sample, the protocols and instruments to be used, the proposed timetable for the study, methods of data analysis, and potential limitations in the proposal. Research Design The research design designates the type of inquiry that will be used to answer the research hypotheses or questions and provides a framework for the rest of the study. The type of design depends on the question asked; experience of the researcher; feasibility of the project; and available resources such as time, money, staff, and access to subjects. Examples of quantitative designs are survey, historical, single case study, descriptive, quasiexperimental, and experimental. Examples of qualitative methods are grounded theory, hermeneutics, phenomenology, and descriptive studies. Variables Independent or dependent variables are combined to formulate the research questions or hypotheses. Research questions are formulated

primarily for exploratory research and ask why some problem occurs. Usually, they are generated from three primary sources: a conceptual or theoretical framework, experiences in nursing practice, and existing literature on the topic of interest. The following are examples of research questions: What are the effects of 10 sec of continuous endotracheal suctioning on heart rate, mean arterial blood pressure, and respiratory rate in cardiac surgical patients? This question contains the independent variable of 10 sec of continuous endotracheal suctioning; the dependent variables of heart rate, mean arterial blood pressure, and respiratory rate; and the sample population of cardiac surgical patients. What types of decisions do family members need to make after a traumatic event? This question addresses the variables of a traumatic event and types of decisions and includes the sample population of family members. A research hypothesis states the expected relationship (directional or non-directional) between independent and dependent variables. Unless otherwise indicated in the application instructions, only the research hypothesis is stated in the proposal. However, a null hypothesis rather than a research hypothesis may be used for statistical analysis, because a null hypothesis suggests value-free objectivity. Sample Sampling is the process by which a portion of a designated population is selected to represent the whole population. This component of the proposal indicates the number of subjects that will be involved in the study, the population from which the subjects will be sampled, inclusion and exclusion criteria for subjects, the sampling plan, rationale for the size of the sample, and rationale for inclusion and exclusion criteria. The sample selected must be appropriate for the aims of the study and should answer the following questions:


• • • • •

What is the population of interest? What sample is available? Why is this sample of subjects the best sample to answer the study questions? How large a sample is needed? How will the sample be obtained or the subjects approached? Letters of cooperation from institutions that will provide subjects for the study should be included in the appendix.

Determining an appropriate sample size is a complex decision even for experienced researchers and depends on several parameters: • • • • •

• • •

The choice of research method (qualitative vs quantitative). Significance level (probability of rejecting a true null hypothesis) set by the researcher. Anticipated effect of the independent variable on the dependent variables. Desired power (probability of finding a true significant result) of a statistical test of the null hypothesis. Clearly indicate the type and size of the sample and the underlying rationale for these choices. This helps reviewers determine the generalizability of findings. Determine the number of subjects by using a power analysis based on preliminary data from the literature. Have an experienced researcher or a statistician help you calculate power on the basis of your projected sample size. Include details of the power analysis in the section on data analysis.

Inclusion and Exclusion Criteria Inclusion and exclusion criteria specify who is eligible to participate in the research project. They help define the population of interest. For each inclusion or exclusion criterion, give evidence from the literature indicating why this criterion has been selected. For example, patients with severe head injuries are subjects who have a score of less than 8 on the Glascow Coma Scale (GCS) on admission to the hospital. Therefore, a criterion for sampling of patients with head injuries should include a GCS score of less than 8 on admission.

Data Collection The section on data collection provides a detailed description of how data will be obtained. For example, this section might indicate how and when instruments will be administered to subjects or interviews conducted. Include a description of any pilot procedures and how they relate to your proposed research. Clearly describe how each variable is defined and how it will be measured. Include precise operational definitions of treatments. Indicate what instrumentation (i.e., device or method) will be used to collect data. Describe each instrument; how it is coded, scored, or measured; its reliability and validity, as reported in previous studies; and how reliability will be examined in this study. Also include relevant data about the precision and calibration of any mechanical equipment. Timetable Provide a timetable (e.g., a figure or list) that includes all activities for the proposed research. Specify dates for planning, preparation, data collection (protocol implementation), data entry and analysis, and writing up the results (for a final report and publication). Data Analysis Organize the section on data analysis according to the order of the research questions or hypotheses. The techniques proposed must have a logical "fit" with the research problem and must answer the questions appropriately. If needed, consult an appropriate expert who can help you determine how data should be collected, how they will be analyzed, and what analytic procedures are needed. Potential Limitations If your research design has limitations, such as lack of control over extraneous or confounding variables, address these issues directly. Anticipate problems that may occur and suggest alternative strategies. This type of preparation demonstrates your appreciation of potential difficulties and your ability to deal with them.




In the section on ethical review, address any ethical considerations on use of subjects in the proposed project. Include the steps and safeguards for obtaining informed consent. The form for informed consent (See Appendix B) should include the following information:

A budget describes the financial plans and priorities for a specified time frame. It helps ensure that resources will be used effectively. Complete your research proposal before you do the budget. For ideas on how to itemize and justify costs, look at the budget of a similar or related project that has been approved and funded. Check for any limitations imposed by the funding agency. Above all, be realistic, practical, accurate, and detail oriented. If your budget is inappropriate for your proposal, the reviewers may think you do not understand the requirements of the research and may question your ability to manage the grant. If the project requires more money to implement the project than the funding agency allots, designate how monies and/or support for the remaining project will be managed.

• • • • • •

Purpose of the study. What subjects can expect during the study. Amount of time involved for the subject. Risks and benefits from participation in the study. Whom to contact if the subject has questions about the study. Assurance that the subject may withdraw from the study at any time without detriment to continued treatment.

Be sure that the form can be readily understood by a layperson and that it is free of language that might be considered coercive or threatening. The subject or the subject's legal guardian must be competent to evaluate the risks and benefits of the study and make a decision about participation. In the appendixes, include letters of approval from your institutional review board. Some funding agencies require approval before a proposal is reviewed; others require approval before funds are awarded. Include assurances that any animals to be used in your research will be handled appropriately and with concern for their welfare. Scientific progress in the health sciences depends on access to all available sources of knowledge, including research with animals. Any investigator who uses animals in research and the investigator's associated institutions must be in compliance with the amended federal Animal Welfare Act, the standards for laboratory animal welfare set by the Institute of Laboratory Animal Resources, and the guide for the care and use of laboratory animals published by the National Institutes of Health. Such documents provide the primary criteria for humane and ethical treatment of animals in testing, research, and education. Include in the appendixes a letter documenting that an institutional animal care and use committee or other similar review body has reviewed and approved protocols in your proposal that involve animals.

The budget consists of two sections. The first section details the amount of funding requested for each year of the project; the second provides the justification for the funding requested. The personnel part of the first section includes a request for salary support for the investigators, data collectors, technicians, secretaries, statistician, and others who may be needed in the project. In small or pilot projects, this work is often donated time, and salary support may not be required. Most grants do not provide funds for salary support of the principal investigator. In this part, list all personnel and indicate their roles and the percentage of their time that will be devoted to the project. Also list in the first section, special facilities that may have a bearing on the research. This might include the availability of special equipment, access to subjects, consulting services, building arrangement, or availability of space for the required equipment and personnel. Sample availability might be highlighted in this section also. In the part on equipment, include requests for capital equipment that costs a minimum of $500, disposable supplies for patients, and office and computer supplies. Travel costs may include reimbursement to subjects for costs incurred for research-related travel. The budget justification provides an explanation for each funding area. It explains why each item in the budget is necessary and why the costs for each item are reasonable. For personnel, describe in detail each person's qualifications,


role, and percentage of time that will be devoted to the project. For equipment, supplies, travel, and other items, clearly justify need and cost. The justification section is vital. It provides support for the amounts specified in terms of adequacy, appropriateness, and feasibility for completing the study. Be sure the proposed budget is consistent with the proposed work. Take care that each budgetary provision has a counterpart in the project description and vice versa. A clearly described project and a precise schedule or work plan can easily be translated into budgetary terms. A budget that is too low is just as unacceptable as one that is too high. Check the budget checked for errors such as mistakes in addition and duplication of costs.

of the proposal. Put supportive information and documentation in an appendix. In the body of the proposal, be sure to include reference to support materials. Appropriate materials for an appendix include the following: • • • •

BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES Provide biographical sketches of key personnel involved in the study. Include a summary of their relevant training, experience, and research competence. This information should support the proposal and assure reviewers that the investigators are qualified to complete the proposed study. Clearly specify who will be the principal investigator or the grant recipient responsible for the conduct of the study. In addition, describe the contribution of each co-investigator to the project. Novice researchers may bolster their chances of obtaining a grant by securing the services of an established researcher as an active consultant or co-investigator for the study. Consultants may complement the experience of the principal investigator, but too many consultants may indicate an inexperienced researcher who is dependent on consultants. In this case, the project's acceptance is less likely. In general, biographical sketches are limited to two pages. Therefore, limit information to work from the preceding 3 years and to previous work that is relevant to the grant proposal.

APPENDIXES Appendixes are used to support the research proposal. Do not put text that is central to the proposal in an appendix; put it in the main body

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A work plan or detailed outline of the study timetable. Letters of support for the project (from clinical agencies, academic facilities). Letters of collaboration or consultation (on formal letterhead paper). Letter of approval or clearance from the institutional review board, human subjects committee, or animal protection committee when appropriate. Instruments or measures that will be used in the study. Other supportive materials as needed (e.g., expanded detail on procedures mentioned in the body of the proposal). Funding agencies usually provide guidelines on the types of appendices that are acceptable. If no guidelines are provided, call the agency before including any appendix in your proposal. Some funding agencies do not allow appendices. Letters of support from key personnel in clinical agencies about access to subjects are critical. A description or summary of the known characteristics of potential subjects and their willingness to participate is encouraging for reviewers. Documentation of previous experience and relevant expertise of the research team provides strong support for feasibility of the study.

REFERENCES Some funding agencies specify the style to be used for literature citations and the reference list. In general, all references cited in the research proposal should be included in a list at the end of the research plan. If no style is specified, follow one of the guidelines provided by organizations such as the American Psychological Association or the American Medical Association.


PERFORMANCE IMPROVEMENT PROJECTS (AACN SMALL GRANTS) Performance improvement projects or small grants are generally clinical projects that use previously known research findings to improve clinical practice. They are usually conceived in response to an identified clinical problem and are meant to address the issue in a timeeffective and cost-efficient manner. They are NOT meant to be research and unlike a research study, do not have the goal of generating new knowledge. They are meant to solve clinical problems through the application of existing research-based knowledge. AACN Small Projects Grants do not generally require the scientific rigor of a typical research proposal as outlined previously in this document. Because the nature of the funding is small (usually $500 to $1,500); the timeline for funding to project implementation is short (usually < 12 months); and the project usually involves the application of established, well-researched information (e.g. guidelines, procedures, protocols, etc), the application process has been modified accordingly. The Small Grant Application/Proposal should include: • • • • •

Exception AACN Small Grants may also apply to small research projects conducted by students or nurses in the clinical setting. In these situations applicants may apply using the format outlined for Small Grants in the AACN Grants in Support of Clinical Projects and Research. Incorporate elements of a research proposal (e.g. Specific Aims, Significance, Methodology, etc.) where appropriate when answering the Small Grants Program Questions. RESOURCES You can find information regarding various AACN grant opportunities by way of: •

Online, PDF Grant brochures are available on the AACN web site at: www.aacn.org >Membership>Grants> Grants in Support of Clinical Projects and Research. AACN Customer Service: 800-899-2226. Request item # 1013.

© 2003

Cover Letter Grant Application Form Timetable for Project Budget (Funding Requested and Justification For Funding Requested) Evidence of Ethical Review - If IRB is not available in institution, request letter of approval from facility administration indicating they are aware of the project and its implications for their patients. Participant Consent - All subjects in project must give written consent, especially if eventual publication of project results is anticipated. (Exception: Data abstraction from medical records with elimination of all patient-specific identifying data) Program Questions – Specific to each grant, these questions should be answered in detail. When describing the project use the information outlined in the Methods Section above as a general guide.



Six Months Before the Deadline

1. Draft a preliminary outline of a potential "problem area" and possible research ideas related to that area.

2. Review literature related to the target problem area. Pay particular attention to major articles that will be helpful in delineating the research questions or hypotheses.

3. Formulate a preliminary draft of research questions or hypotheses. Type or print out a copy of the 4. 5. 6. 7.

draft and distribute it to colleagues and available experts for critique and feedback. If possible, collect some pilot data as a basis for the study proposal. Establish communication with a contact person at the prospective funding organization and obtain an application packet or guidelines. Find out if the organization provides assistance in developing proposals, such as budgetary consultation or a preliminary review of the proposed research. Carefully read all instructions in the application packet and note the deadline for submission of the grant proposal. Construct an outline of required sections for the proposal as specified in the organization's guidelines. Seek statistical consultation for the project.

Five Months Before the Deadline

1. Prepare the first draft of the research proposal, and distribute it to colleagues and experts for critique and feedback. Be sure to include the grant guidelines with your proposal.

2. Obtain guidelines and instructions for obtaining approval for your research from the committee

that deals with the use of human subjects in scientific investigations. Consult with members of the review board whom you think will be interested in and supportive of your proposal. These members may have recommendations related to the review process. 3. Request biographical sketches or resumes from all co-investigators and project personnel. Four Months Before the Deadline

1. Revise the proposal. Incorporate refinement of ideas and feedback from colleagues and experts. 2. 3. 4. 5.

Prepare copies of the revised proposal. Seek consultation on developing a budget for the project. Draft a preliminary budget and distribute it to appropriate resources for feedback. Solicit letters of support for the project (e.g., from the chair of your department, dean, executive officer in nursing). Read the guidelines on the format of biographical sketches. Update biographical sketches and have copies prepared.


Three Months Before the Deadline

1. Contact the research office or financial department of your institution for budgetary review. 2. Submit the required documents to your institutional review board (IRB) for clearance on the use of human subjects.

3. Submit a draft of the revised research proposal to colleagues for additional critique and feedback. 4. Reevaluate research questions or hypotheses in terms of their significance and research feasibility.

Two Months Before the Deadline

1. Finalize the budget and submit it to the appropriate department for approval. Include any

information needed for justification of items in the budget. 2. Prepare another revision of the research proposal. 3. Obtain approval from the institutional review board and the required signatures on appropriate forms. One Month Before the Deadline

1. Proofread the final version of the application and make corrections. Two Weeks Before the Deadline

1. Paginate the final copy of the application. 2. Obtain the specified number of copies for the funding agency. 3. Carefully check each copy to make sure it is complete. Keep at least two copies of the application for your files.

4. Attach the cover letter, addressed to the contact person at the funding agency, to the front copy of the duplicated applications.

5. Send the completed application to the funding organization.



I understand that (name of investigators) is/are conducting a study titled: (title of study). The purpose of the study is (explain exact purpose of proposed investigation; identify independent and dependent variables in layman’s terms, so patient and family can understand). I understand that information from this study will help (specifically state anticipated outcome of study). I understand that (specify if any or no additional) expenses will be incurred by me as a result of my participation in this study. I further understand that the direct benefits of the study to me are (none or list all potential benefits) and/or that society may benefit by (list all potential benefits). I understand the risks involved in this study include: (list all potential risks of study protocol) and that measures to minimize these risks include: (list all potential measures taken to minimize risks). I understand that records or data from this study will not contain my name or any other personal identification. I further understand that in the use of information generated from this study, my identity will remain anonymous and that access to all study data will be restricted to only the study investigator and his/her research staff. I hereby acknowledge that (name of investigator or authorized representative) has provided information about this study and about my rights as a subject in this study. All of my questions regarding the study have been answered to my satisfaction. I understand I may contact (name of investigator) at (investigator’s phone number) if I have further questions about this study. I understand I may contact (name of institution)’s Institutional Review Board at (IRB phone number) if I have any questions about this study that were not answered to my satisfaction or if I have complaints about this consent process or the study itself. (Investigator or representative) has fully explained the anticipated risks described in this consent and I understand them. He/she has also offered to explain all possible risks or complications. In the unlikely event of physical injury or illness resulting from my participation in this study, I understand that costs of treatment will be at my expense and that financial compensation is not available from (name of institution). I have read and fully understand this consent form. I sign it freely and voluntarily. I further understand that refusal to participate in this study will in no way affect my treatment or my relationship with my physician and/or (name of institution). A signed copy of this consent has been given to me. Date: ________________________

Time: ___________________

Signed: _______________________________________________________________________ (Subject or Authorized Representative) Signed: _______________________________________________________________________ (Investigator or Authorized Representative) Witness: ______________________________________________________________________ * This consent form is intended as an EXAMPLE ONLY. Investigators are strongly advised to check with their institutional review boards about specific institutional subject consent form requirements.