Issues in the Conduct of Healthcare Research Assignment
Frequently asked questions
Are the word limits an absolute deadline?
Yes. The word limits should not be exceeded and should include references written out in full. Excessive words are not marked and the mark is affected if work lacks focus and exceeds the word limit.

Do I need to include the design in my project title?
It can help communicate to someone the focus and nature of your study if you include the design. Keep the title as succinct as possible.

What writing style should I adopt? Can I use ‘I’ in my writing?
A formal style of writing is needed that uses the past tense to describe previous research completed and the future tense when discussing your proposed research project.
The use of the first person is acceptable but should be used sparingly in a proposal. Often it is overused and work becomes descriptive rather than analytical. If in doubt, re-write sentences, e.g.
‘I would then contact participants to discuss their involvement…’
‘Participants would be contacted…’

Who should I aim the proposal at? The expert? Any professional in my field? The lay person?
Ethics committee have a lay professional so your project needs to be understood by lay and professionals (non-specialists and specialists) alike. Think about writing for an intelligent lay person and explain all relevant terms. Communicating to a non-specialist audience is a key M-Level skill.

Do I need inclusion and exclusion criteria?
It is important to include both as one may not always be the opposite of another.

Can I include non-English speaking participants?
For most MSc/MRes dissertations, it would not be appropriate to include people who could not speak, read and write English because of the cost and time available for translation services. This

would be part of your exclusion criteria. Speak to your group leader if you have particular queries about this issue.

What are the common reasons for people failing the assignment?
1. Failing to follow instructions on the form- Please read the form carefully completing the relevant sections 2. Lack of reading – a poorly written background and literature review usually means that the research design and methods lack the focus needed 3. Lack of understanding of research design and methods 4. Poorly structured, written or presented piece of work 5. Incomplete or underdeveloped sections – ensure that all areas are adequately covered

Any other advice?
A realistic project – ensure that your project is feasible for a 1 year MSc/MRes dissertation that would include a 3-4 month data collection period. This can be longer for a PhD proposal but should still be realistic according to the time and resources available.
Demonstrate your research knowledge by understanding which designs would use a hypothesis, research question or research aim. Choose the correct one for your project design.
Read specific literature on your design and data collection/analysis methods and understand their strengths and limitations. Seek out literature specifically on these approaches (not just the general research textbooks) to inform your writing.
Give yourself space and thinking time to develop your research ideas and discuss them with trusted colleagues and ‘critical’ friends.
Proof-read your work- better still, give it to someone else to read. Can they highlight the errors? Have they understood it? Are there any areas where you need to make your meaning clearer?
Enjoy the exciting challenge of designing your own research project!

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