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Proposing a Study

Do you have a research idea for HARC?

Any HARC member can submit ideas for HARC studies. HARC especially values ideas from programs. If you have an idea for a research project, download the document below to learn how to create a brief summary of the idea for submission. The HARC Coordinator or a member of the HARC Council will get back to you to discuss this further. If you have not had the experience of proposing a research study before, we are happy to help you think through the idea and see if it can be crafted into a reasonable proposal.

Types of studies that are a good fit for HARC

HARC functions as a home visiting laboratory. The ideas most appropriate for HARC studies are those that capitalize on our practice-based research network’s size, diversity in program model and structure, and broad geographical distribution.

Although most initial HARC projects are observational or survey studies examining variations in home visiting practice or implementation, it’s also possible to propose intervention studies. Please keep in mind that studies involving HARC should:

  1. be those that programs are interested in—they should address questions relevant to practice; and
  2. address one or more priority items of HARC’s research agenda. The research agenda provides guidance on the types of questions that are central to moving the field forward.

How to propose a study

To make a study suggestion, please submit a short written proposal for consideration by the HARC Council. This written proposal should be emailed to HARC’s council chair, Jon Korfmacher, Ph.D. ([email protected]) or coordinator Kay O’Neill ([email protected]). A template for your proposal is provided here.

Criteria considered by the HARC Council include:

  • Is the study appropriate for a national home visiting research network?
  • Is the study feasible from the standpoint of methodology, funding, and ethical considerations?
  • Does the study address one or more of the HARC research agenda priorities?
  • Can HARC answer the question more easily or more accurately than any other approach?
  • Does the study have adequate importance to attract support/funding?
  • Does the study have adequate importance to attract the interest of HARC programs?

What happens next

When your proposal is under review, the HARC Council may ask for more information or suggest revisions. We may, in some cases, suggest developing a small feasibility pilot to test out the process on a small number of programs. This will help in the refinement of study protocols and data collection materials, maximize the feasibility of the study in the field, and give an opportunity for feedback and ownership at the program level.

When a proposal is approved, the HARC Council will appoint a principal investigator to lead it:

  • If the proposal was submitted by a HARC research member, that person will most likely be designated as principal investigator, and a HARC Council member will be assigned as a co-investigator or consultant.
  • If the proposal was submitted by a program or network member, a researcher will be assigned to take on the role of principal investigator by the Council (or the role will be taken up by a Council member), with input from the program or network director member who made the proposal.

The HARC Coordinator may also notify member programs through email or other communication (such as an online feasibility survey) that a project is being considered, and ask them to indicate their initial, non-binding interest in participating.

Study teams

Once the HARC Council approves of a study, it will develop a study team.

  • This study team will be composed of the principal investigator, Council member (if different from the PI), other research staff (e.g., co-investigators), and at least one representative of the programs initially interested in participating in the study. Multiple program representatives will be considered for larger projects.
  • The HARC study team will be responsible for writing whatever grant proposals are necessary to obtain funds for the project (HARC does not fund studies). Be forewarned that the wheels of research do not always run quickly or smoothly. The process from suggestion of an idea to launching a study may take two to three years, with funding typically being the limiting factor.