Project plan

In this section of your proposal, you will present the project plan, a timeline, describe the research team you need to effectively carry out the research project, and the project budget, including its justification. The content of this section is summarized in Table 6 and the issues are covered in detail in the Planning and Conducting an IR Project module of this toolkit.

Research team

The research team section of your proposal should succinctly describe the members of your team and the assets they contribute to the project. This team should be multidisciplinary and diverse (researchers from academia, health care providers, programme implementers, social scientists, as well as communications specialists and members of the general community). This section should convince the reviewers that you have enough expertise on your team to conduct the proposed research effectively. In addition, the proposal needs to include the detailed roles and responsibilities for each of the key team members.

Starting with the principal investigator (PI), list the names of all individuals who will be involved in the study. Include all collaborating investigators, community research partners, research assistant, individuals on training, and support staff. The proposal should also include any ‘to-be-appointed’ positions. Identify the experience and expertise of each team member and how their knowledge and/or skill are essential and add value to the effective completion of the project. Finally, include the role and responsibility of each individual included in the research team.

The membership of a research team typically includes:

  • principle investigator;
  • project manager(s);
  • multidisciplinary key researchers (public health specialist, statistician, social scientist, etc.);
  • research assistants;
  • communications specialist;
  • community members;
  • other collaborators;
  • advisory committee members.

Proposals should also include outlines/summaries of the planned research team management structure and descriptions of respective roles and responsibilities of team members.

Budget and Justification

The budget should outline the funds required to enable the effective delivery of the proposed research. You will need to carefully think through what you realistically need from the funding agency(ies) to carry out the project. If your budget is too low or inflated, it can negatively influence the judging of your proposal. One way to assess this is to ask the team if it is possible to reduce a budget without compromising the quality of the research.

Information such as required funding for each phase of your project is important to outline. Check to see if the funding agency has any restrictions before preparing the budget. Ensure that the budget is presented in the indicated currency, for example. Check with the agencies to see if they have suggested/required budget categories that must be used.

If the potential funding agency doesn’t have any suggested/required budget categories, organize your budget around a set of meaningful categories that work for your specific project. The types of resources you budget for should align with the proposed activities in the research design. The budget will need to supply the resources necessary to deliver all the proposed research and intervention outputs. Begin by using the project plan to identify the budget you will require for each activity or task. Once each resource is itemized, the unit cost and total cost for the resource can be indicated. Make sure to provide an itemized budget with a detailed breakdown of the funds requested. The budget information should be complete and unambiguous.

If the project plans to extend an intervention to a controlled population after the study, this also needs to be planned and budgeted for. It is important to also budget for the dissemination and evaluation of related activities and outcomes. Find out whether there will be any inadmissible items such as overhead costs and salaries for research team members e.g. PI and co-PIs. Inflation and currency fluctuation in exchange rates and contingency might affect the budget and final available income. It is important to include mechanisms that will help take care of this.

In your proposal, justify each and every budget item, starting with how the budget items were derived in relation to the activities to be undertaken in your research design. Pay particular attention to major or unusual items (some funding agencies might require extra explanation for anything considered to have major cost implications). Provide details of additional sources of funding available to the organization or PI. If the funds will go to different institutions, indicate allocation of funds by site.

TDR Implementation research toolkit

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