Research Protocol*

A Research Protocol is a brief summary of planned research.

Research Protocols are a common genre in scientific and social science communities. In order for investigators to conduct empirical research, they need to submit a Research Protocol to an IRB (Institutional Review Board).

*Alternative Title(s): Research Plan


Investigators in workplace settings submit Research Plans for independent ethics review when conducting research involving Human Subjects Research or Animal Research.

A Research Plan may have multiple audiences:

  • an M.A. or Ph.D. Thesis Committee
  • an IRB, Institutional Review Board
  • an anonymous peer-review panel
  • a mentor or boss

Because they are written for multiple audiences who may lack the investigator’s expertise, Research Plans are written as simply as possible. They avoid jargon and acronyms. They do not presume disciplinary expertise.

Research Plans

  1. identify the audience, purpose, and significance of the research study in a research abstract
  2. introduce a Research Question(s)
    • provide an abbreviated literature review that informs readers about the significance of the topic to various stakeholders
    • identity, in the case of quantitative studies, independent variables (causes) and dependent variables (effects)
  3. identify methods for gathering data
    • clarify whether the the method is descriptive/observational, quasi-experimental, experimental?
    • define what qualitative data will be gathered and the schedule for gathering the data
    • will quantitative data be generated?
  4. address ethical concerns
    • How will the subjects be selected?
    • Will anonymity be promised and if so how preserved?
    • How will data be protected from hackers or inappropriate usage