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Creating the Research Plan for Strategically Focused Research Networks

To judge the merit of the application, reviewers will comment on certain criteria.  Before beginning the Research Plan review the program description, noting especially the qualifications, restrictions, and peer review criteria. The Research Plan should address all of the peer review criteria.

Format/Type Requirements

The Research Plan must be created as a Word-processed document, converted to a Portable Document Format (PDF) file, and uploaded to Grants@Heart.  Only PDF files will be accepted.  When creating the Research Plan, you must comply exactly with the association's format/type requirements and page limits below.  Failure to comply will result in the administrative withdrawal (disqualification) of the application. 

  • Only Portable Document Format (PDF) files will be accepted.
  • File must be single-spaced.
  • No more than 15 characters per inch (cpi) or an average of no more than 15 cpi (cpi includes symbols, punctuation and spaces).
  • No less than ¾" margins allowed.
  • Sixty lines per page are the maximum allowed. (The average number of lines per page using the font and point size below will be approximately 50-55 lines).
  • Arial Font style, 12 point font size for Windows users; Helvetica Font style, 12 point font size for Macintosh users
  • Figures, charts, tables, graphics and legends may be smaller in size but must be clear and legible
  • Seventeen page limit
Users of other word processing programs must adjust settings appropriately and should measure text after saving and printing as a PDF.  Type requirements should be checked using a standard measuring device (such as a ruler), rather than relying on the font selected for a particular word processing/printer combination.  Type size specifications must be observed in the text of your research plan or the application will not be reviewed and will be withdrawn.  Adherence to font and margin requirements is necessary.  No applicant should have an advantage over other applicants by providing more content in his/her application by using smaller, denser type. The AHA has the responsibility to make the final determination of conformance to format requirements and the authority to withdraw applications.  This decision is final and not subject to appeal.

Internet Web site addresses (URLs) may not be used to provide information necessary to the review because reviewers are under no obligation to view the Internet sites. Moreover, the reviewers are cautioned not to directly access an Internet site as it could compromise their anonymity.

The only place a URL may be used is in the biographical sketch as described in the instructions for that form. Provide a URL to a full list of your published work as found in a publicly available digital database such as SciENcv or My Bibliography, which are maintained by the US National Library of Medicine.

Type the research plan specifically following the outline given below, in the same sequence.  All items should be addressed.  Indicate N/A or None if not applicable to this application. The suggested lengths (in parenthesis) are guidelines only but the topics below must be addressed.  The entire proposed research plan must not exceed the 17-page limit.

  • Specific Aims (2 pages)
    Provide a clear, concise summary of the aims of the work proposed. State the hypothesis to be tested.
  • Background and Significance (3-4 pages)
    Sketch the background leading to this application. Summarize important results outlined by others in the same field, critically evaluating existing knowledge.

    Identify gaps which this project is intended to fill. If the aims of the application are achieved, how will scientific knowledge or clinical practice be advanced?

    State concisely the importance and relevance of the research to prevention.  How will the studies improve this area?
  • Previous Work of Applicant (2-3 pages)
    Concisely describe previous work related to the proposed research by the applicant that will help to establish the experience and competence of the investigator to pursue the proposed project. If applicable, include pilot studies showing the work is feasible.
  • Research Design and Methods (7-8 pages)
    Description of proposed tests, methods or procedures should be explicit, sufficiently detailed, and well defined to allow adequate evaluation of the approach to the problem. Describe any new methodology and its advantage over existing methodologies.

    Clearly describe overall design of the study, with careful consideration to statistical aspects of the approach, the adequacy of controls, and number of observations, as well as how results will be analyzed. Include any collaborative arrangements that have been made.

    Discuss the potential difficulties and limitations of the proposed procedures and alternative approaches to achieve the aims.

    Note: Except as provided below, if a proposed research project involves human subjects, the population sampled shall be inclusive of the general population, of relevance to the scientific question posed, without restriction in regard to gender, race, age, and socioeconomic status. Proposals that intentionally restrict the population sampled must include a compelling scientific rationale for such research design. Be sure to address this topic.
  • Ethical aspects of the proposed research (1/4 - 1/2 page)
    Describe any special consideration you have given to all ethical issues involved in your proposed investigations (biohazards or human subjects, etc.), identifying risks and management. Be sure to address this topic. Discuss the nature of the informed consent that will be obtained if the research involves human subjects.  If the proposed project involves no ethical questions, indicate "none."

    Notice: A document that exceeds the page limit or file type will be rejected by Grants@Heart.