Skills and competencies
developing a research protocol

Duration and scheduling
Four 60-minute sessions
Weekly over a one-month period, or as needed

In research development clinics, advisors assist PhD students to develop a high-quality proposal. They provide one-on-one support to address specific problems identified in the diagnostic session. Coordinators organise four clinic sessions for each student to develop their research protocol.


  • Clinic 1 – to define the research question and objectives
  • Clinic 2 – to discuss the research methods to ensure they will meet the objectives
  • Clinic 3 – to detail the logistics of the research (Is it feasible, given time and other resource constraints?)
  • Clinic 4 – to develop a data analysis plan

The course coordinator
Allocate the most appropriate advisor (trainer, facilitator or mentor) to each student, with reference to the notes from their diagnostic clinic session

The student
Be clear how you want to use the session – have questions in your mind beforehand
For clinic 1, write down your research question and a summary of the background to the question (max 500 words)
Collate any documents or files that might be useful, for example papers or data sets you might want to refer to during any clinic
Arrive promptly for your appointment, with your preparatory work

The allocated advisor meets with the PhD student for one hour per week for four weeks to discuss, in turn:

  1. the research question and objectives
  2. the research methods (Will they result in data that meets the study objectives?)
  3. the logistics of the research (Is it feasible, given time and other resource constraints?)
  4. a data analysis plan
    Between clinics, the student works on their protocol and prepares questions for the next appointment with the advisor

After the series of clinics, the PhD student should have at least a strong draft of a research protocol, including:

  1. Research question
  2. Objectives
  3. Methods
  4. Logistics
  5. Data analysis plan

References to support data analysis plans
Tong et al. consolidated criteria for reporting qualitative research (COREQ): a 32-itemchecklist for interviews and focus groups. International Journal for Quality in Health Care; Volume 19, Number 6: pp. 349–357
Vandenbroucke et al. Strengthening the Reporting of Observational Studies in Epidemiology (STROBE): Explanation and Elaboration. PlosMedicine October 2007. Volume 4; Issue 10: e297

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