A Quick Help Guide on ‘How to Apply Effectively for Nestle Foundation’s Research Grants Program’

Introduction:

For institutions who are interested in applying for the Nestle Foundation’s Research Grants Program can make use of this this quick help guide develop their research proposal.

What is the purpose of this Research Grant?

  • Nestle has announced a Research Grants Program to support the research on human nutrition with its relevance to public health looking at Lower Income Countries (LICs) and Lower middle-income countries (LMICs).
  • The research findings will further be used to help build intervention with sustainable outcomes that will provide strengthening, training of institutions and influence public health laws in the host countries.
  • By and large, the implementation and action of such programs will bring about sustainable change in the studied population and general population at large improving in the context of human nutrition.

What are the Research Topics?

Apparently, the Nestle foundation is interested in the research concerning human nutrition dealing with

  • Maternal and child nutrition, including breastfeeding and complementary feeding,
  • Macro- and micronutrient deficiencies and imbalances,
  • Interactions between infection and nutrition, and
  • Nutrition education and health promotion.

Who can apply?

The applications are invited for broadly three categories namely as below:

  • Research Grant (Training grant, Pilot grant, Full grant)
  • Institutional support
  • enLINK research grants program

The applicants for the grant are expected from institutions like research institutions, universities, and hospitals. Perhaps for enLink research grant applications could come from both external researchers and institutions as well.

Background:

Let us first learn about human nutrition and why it needs to be studied.

Every living organism on this earth requires nutrients to sustain and grow so does also the human beings. To sustain human health and growth a balanced diet is required that contains essential nutrients (namely micro and macronutrients). Perhaps without essential nutrients, it would difficult to support healthy human life.

Therefore Human nutrition could define as a process of ingesting food and assimilating it in the human body to provide energy for the active physical and mental function of the human body. Learning from following the definition we have learned the role of human nutrition in terms of the functionality of a human being. Apparently, the problem is not just about human nutrition but there are other co-factors that play a strong role in human nutrition to name a few are:

  • Availability of the food
  • Culture
  • Economics
  • Food habits and practices
  • Lack of knowledge

All the above factors could also lead to poor nutrition which is also commonly known as malnutrition. For example, if the economic situation of a household is not good, therefore it will hinder the capacity of that household to buy balanced food for the family like vegetables, rice, flours, milk and poultry and so the members of the family may suffer from malnutrition.

At any given point of time in any specific target area the problem related to poor nutrition may vary, therefore it becomes essential to research the problem first to determine the factors that hinder human nutrition, a thorough scientific research should be conducted post which such interventions could be designed in order to curb the negative factors that affect the human nutrition in the studied groups specifically in LICs and LMICs. Nestle foundation has already specified the research area as also stated above.

Whatever topic of research you choose you first need to design the hypothesis around the problem statement.

(Hypothesis is a speculation based on limited evidence which serves as a starting point of further investigation)

If you are new to writing a structured research protocol and are fussing about on how to go about it then you needn’t worry we have jotted down steps for a structured research protocol or a proposal.

Follow the steps and process mentioned in the narrative below and within no time your research proposal will be ready.

Structure of a Research Proposal:

  1. Title (Investigators/Researchers included)
    • The title clearly identifies the study and may contain a brief description of the study design and objectives.
  2. Abstract/Summary (Around 200 words): 
    • Summarise the aims or objectives of the study and give a brief outline of the design and methods.
  3. Background/Introduction (Around 800 words)
    • The introduction should outline the background to the research
      • Including a critical review of the current knowledge or literature.
      • Including published and unpublished work in the area.
      • Any gaps in the evidence should be identified as should the potential value of furthering knowledge in this field, such as theoretical, clinical or community-based applications of the study outcomes.
      • If applicable, the research hypothesis should also be included in this section, with an explanation of the reasons for undertaking the work.
  4. Purpose and Objectives (Around 300 words)
    • Outline concise and precise objectives that should follow on from the hypothesis.
  5. Study Design & Methods (Word limit – Around 500 to 800 words i.e. 1-2 A4 pages)
    • Study Design: What study design is most appropriate to answer your particular research question?
    • Setting: Where will the research take place? Your study may take place in a number of different sites, or you may be visiting patients in their homes. You need to address any practical issues involved, such as safety procedures when walking between villages.
    • Subjects/Patients: Detailed information regarding your subjects should be given. For example, describe the study population, including a rationale of why they were chosen. Describe the methods by which subjects will be identified and recruited and what inclusion & exclusion criteria will be used. If the study is quantitative you need to justify your sample size and state whether sample size calculations have been used. It may also be necessary to describe the criteria for participation or completion of the study, participant retention strategies, and withdrawal criteria.
    • Randomization Methods (if applicable): Some research strategies, such as case-control studies or randomized control studies, require a random allocation of patients to the different experimental groups or interventions. If relevant to your study you will need to explain what randomization methods you will use.
    • Outcome Measures: The measurement outcomes used to support or reject the hypotheses can be stated and separated into primary and secondary outcomes. For example, primary outcomes or endpoints are most important to your hypothesis such as the prevalence of smoking, there may be only 1 or 2. Secondary outcomes may provide some support to the hypothesis, but without the primary outcomes, they could not confirm the hypothesis.
    • Methods of Assessment /Measurement: What data will be collected and why. For example, how will you measure your participant’s quality of life? If a survey then is it validated? Will it be piloted?
    • Interventions (if applicable): Not all studies will involve interventions, but if yours does a description of the study intervention should be provided. If you are giving treatment or investigation, the dose, timing, method of providing, administering and receiving the treatment should be detailed. All necessary safeguards and potential risks should be made clear, including the methods by which intervention will be monitored.
  6. Data Collection, Management & Analysis (Around 400 words – 1 A4 page)
    • Explain how the data will be collected and managed and who will have access to it. The method of data analysis should also be specified and may include the following points:
      • Method of data entry
      • Plan of analysis, including assumptions of analysis
      • Data analysis package
      • Presentation of demographic and outcome data summaries
      • Planned presentation of the data, i.e. graphs, tables, figures
  7. Study Administration & Ethical Issues (Around 500 words (1 A4 page)
    • Outline which ethics committee will be assessing the research (eg: XYZ University ethical committee.)
    • Outline the methods by which the patient/subject’s interests will be safeguarded. For example, the process of risk limitation, how you will maintain confidentiality or anonymize patient’s data and how you will monitor any adverse effects
    • State whether there has been user involvement in the design of the study.
    • If applicable, the protocol should clearly state who is sponsoring the research study and what interest they have in its outcome.
    • It may also be useful to include consent forms & participant information forms (if already completed) in appendices
  8. Resource Requirements
    • The resource implications to the Nestle Foundation or other host organization and any other involved parties should be defined in this section. In addition, you must outline the timetable/schedule of the research and a summary of the costs.
  9. Study Plan (1 A4 page max) 
    • Include a study plan, showing a brief summary or flow chart of the order, site, and timing of all study procedures.
  10. Supervision (1 sentence)
    • Where applicable, the protocol should name the individual(s) who will supervise the research project and the intended arrangements for the supervision.
  11. Contact Addresses
    • Everyone who has made a valuable contribution to the study should be named and their contact details were given. This is important to get clear at the start of the research. It is too late at the end to be determining authorship.
    • From our experience, if left until the end this can cause conflict no matter how strong the partnership and good the intentions.
  12. Dissemination & Outcome
    • As this study is sponsored through Nestle Foundation Research Grants Program, therefore, the rights for dissemination and final study shall be submitted to the foundation. If you intend to publish or present the findings of the research then it would be good to take a prior written consent from the competent authorities of the foundation.

Note: Include Institutional documents and resumes of researchers as annexure while you finally submit the research proposal.

On a closing note, there are various other methods to write a research protocol/proposal but we have jotted down the easiest and an effective way to write a research proposal with the best of our experience, please feel free to improvise or to do otherwise.

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