Developing an Implementation Research Proposal

This module is designed as an aid to the development of a high quality implementation research (IR) proposal by a research team. It draws extensively and builds upon the content of the proposal development module in the first edition of this toolkit.1

Although there are certain elements that are common to various types of research proposals, some aspects are emphasized in this module to guide the process of developing a proposal designed to address barriers to optimizing the effectiveness of a given health intervention, policy or strategy that form the basis of an IR ‘problem’.

The module takes a practical approach and assumes its use by IR teams is to shape the development of specific proposals. It is therefore not ideal for abstract or theoretical application. This module is structured as shown in Figure 1, which includes activities to be undertaken before starting the module, the focus of the module itself and actions to be taken after its completion.

If your team is embarking on the development of an IR proposal and are unsure where to begin, rest assured you are not alone! Even defining the research question can seem overwhelming at the outset. The purpose of this module is to help team members understand the process and take each of the individual steps involved in writing an IR proposal.

Before starting, team members should have already completed the Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) on Implementation Research,2 and/or other relevant online resources,3,4,5 as well as working through the Introduction module of this Toolkit. These resources familiarize you with key terminology, core concepts, research frameworks, programme components and other fundamental issues related to IR. A review of literature on the subject of your research, including research articles and other resources mentioned in the references section, are also essential reading.

The content and activities in this module are organized into a series of sections, each addressing a specific element of an IR proposal in a step-wise process. Respective sections comprise the following elements:

  • Identifying what you will accomplish by the end of each section.
  • Essential information to help you understand the specific steps in proposal writing.
  • Exercises to facilitate your understanding and put ideas into practice.
  • Reflection opportunities for you to consider specific issues in relation to your project, and explore how successive ideas should be incorporated into your team’s evolving proposal and thinking.

Overall, the module provides harmonized guidelines for proposal development, recognizing that an IR team includes members from diverse backgrounds. Many users are likely to be seasoned researchers or at least have some research experience.

TDR Implementation research toolkit

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References