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**In the Scientific Advisory Committee of ARCS, we are developing a mentoring programme, so we can give you one to one advice on writing your first research proposal. Contact the ARCS secretariat for details**

Let’s start at the end and work backwards.
As you begin, think about how your research will be judged when you submit an abstract, apply for a grant or prepare your study for publication.

Here is the Score List for the Short talk and Poster judging at Fertility 2022:

Content: Introduction (sets the scene), Aims/Objectives (clearly stated), Methods (appropriate for aims and for a poster), Results  (well summarised), Conclusion (succinct take home message)
Merit: novelty, innovation, timeliness and impact of the study
Interaction with judges/ reviewers/audience
There were equal marks for each section. So, as you start thinking about your research project, spend some time thinking about how well it would score in each of these categories. At this stage you won’t know what the results will be, but let’s assume the results are going to turn out perfectly!

Will the results be of interest to the fertility speciality?
Will they advance our knowledge in your area?
Will they provide better care for couples?
Will they improve ART outcomes?
If you find an area on the Score list where you don’t think you would score well, talk to your supervisor and try to revise or improve your study plan.

Top tips for a well-designed study

  • Spend time on your research question or hypothesis. Is it simple? Will your study answer your question? Your research question should be testable by data analysis, observations, experiments, or whatever other scientific methodologies you are using.
  • Make sure you are doing something novel. There is no point in repeating someone else’s work.
    Ensure your controls are appropriate. For example, fertile men are much better controls than healthy male volunteers of unproven fertility.
  • Decide what data you need and how you will analyse it.
  • Do a simple power of study to ensure your data can be statistically significant. There are numerous easy stat programmes online.
  • Ensure that you have ethical approval. Does your project fall within HFEA constraints or will you need to apply for ethics approval from National Research Ethics Service; NRES.
  • Consider how much time you have and how much time the project will take. Will you be able to complete the practical work and write it up? Now’s the time to look at your diary and protect your research time.

What could possibly go wrong?!

It’s worth thinking about the possible pitfalls – poor recruitment, experiments not working, so you can pre-empt them.

Keep a research project hard copy book with every detail of every experiment and 2 copies of all your data online.