Review: the embedding process of an APH project experienced by researcher Mireille Dekker

Writing a research proposal


From January 1, 2018 onwards the Amsterdam Public Health research institute (APH) has started embedding its research projects within a research institute. The request for embedding of a project means the research proposal is reviewed by the APH Scientific Quality Committee.  With this application a request for peer review is an option. I must admit, we were a bit reluctant to this extra procedure, and unsure whether this would be worthwhile.

My project is based on an ongoing quality improvement trajectory in VUmc, without external funding based on a peer reviewed proposal. In the process of writing my PhD research proposal I received support, input and feedback from promotors and co-promotors. It helped to define the scope of the project, to formulate the research question and to choose the appropriate research methods. Having the proposal peer reviewed by APH researchers was an opportunity to extent this support and have the proposal assessed by two more experienced researchers.

The written assessments of our research proposal considered methodological, quality, feasibility, relevance, innovation and planning of the project.  For our project feedback was provided for part of the method section and the feasibility of the project.
Both reviewers were willing to explain their feedback in a personal interview upon my request. It gave me the opportunity to ask in-depth questions to better understand their line of thinking. Moreover it added “food for thought” and maybe even opportunities for collaboration in the future. Thanks to the reviewers’advice we are able to improve our research methods and add a theoretical framework  to the proposal to substantiate research findings with theory. We thank our reviewers for their time, effort and provided feedback.

Writing a PhD proposal is a process, an essential first step in the PhD trajectory. With the input of promotors copromotors and external reviewers our proposal is now a document that outlines the path and will help structure our thinking for the next few years.

Therefore, it was worth investing the time and effort!

Mireille Dekker