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Research proposal guide

The following topic areas and questions need to be covered in any application to do research which involves direct or indirect access to Medway Council service users, their families and carers and/or council staff.

How you write your proposal is up to you but if you can address the criteria in this guide it will help the council to make a judgement about your research proposal, so answering as many of the questions as possible will simplify the approval process.


  • Why is this research important?
  • What other studies have there been in this area?
  • How will this research add to knowledge in this area?
  • What do you want to find out?
  • What is the main question you wish to answer?
  • What are the specific questions you will ask to address the main question?

How you will do your research

  • Will you be doing this research on your own or with others?
  • Have you provided full details of anyone else you intend to carry out this research with, including fieldworkers?
  • Who are you targeting in this research?
  • How many people or case files do you intend to interview or read through?
  • Where will the research take place?
  • Will participants be clearly and fully informed of the purpose of the research study?
  • How will you do this?
  • How will participants be clear about the expectations of the researcher?
  • Do you have an information sheet and a consent form for participants?
  • Supervisory arrangements - how do you intend your research to be supervised and monitored and by whom?
  • Who will be funding your research?


  • When will your research start and finish?
  • Are there particular stages to the research - e.g. piloting, then main research?
  • If so, what are they?
  • Is the timetable realistic?
  • Is it influenced by external constraints or deadlines?
  • How will you provide regular updates and progress reports and to whom will you provide them?


  • What sort of data will you be collecting - e.g. are you intending to count numbers, talk to people directly or a mixture of the two?
  • What is the main method you will use to carry out the research - e.g. questionnaire, face-to-face interviews, focus groups, paper reviews etc.?
  • How will you select your sample?
  • How will you recruit your sample?
  • How will you collect your data?
  • Will you be paying participants?

Ethical Issues

  • Is there any potential risk or harm to participants or yourself?
  • If so, what are the potential risks and what do you intend to do to reduce them?
  • How will you obtain informed consent?
  • Where informed consent is unable to be provided, what will you do? How will your research comply with equal opportunities?
  • How will participants be given the opportunity to complain?
  • Will you be insured against professional negligence claims?
  • How will you deal with complaints made against you by participants?
  • How will you deal with any sensitive or criminal matters that may be raised in the course of your research?
  • What follow-up support will be available to participants should they require it?
  • What will you do if the focus of your research project shifts or changes substantially from the proposal? If it goes outside the original remit, how will you notify the council? You may need new approval.

Data protection

  • Will you be using recording or video equipment?
  • How will you make sense of or analyse the data?
  • How will the data be stored?
  • For how long will the data be stored?
  • How will it be disposed of?
  • How will you ensure confidentiality and anonymity of data?
  • Who will have ultimate ownership of the data?
  • Are you or do you need to be registered under the Data Protection Act 1998?
  • Audit.
  • If you are likely to need to contact a participant later, you need to declare this now.


  • In what form will your findings be presented - e.g. report, presentation, journal etc?
  • How will you be disseminating your findings?
  • To whom will you be disseminating your findings?
  • How will you ensure anonymity in any publications?
  • To whom does the research belong and have you thought about intellectual property rights?
  • It is a condition of approval that the research will be logged on the council’s database. The council would also like a summary to be made available for the council’s website – would you be be willing to provide this?