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Special Interest Group Update

In each issue, one of NANN's special interest groups shares information in their area of focus. 

Submitting a Proposal to NANN's Small Grants Program 

Amy Koehn, PhD NNP
Research SIG

Hello, all current and future researchers! Think that doesn’t mean you? Think again!

All members have the opportunity to create original or transitional research through NANN’s Small Grants Program. Applications are being accepted now through March 18.

Through this research and evidence-based practice (EBP) proposal grant program, NANN aims to build neonatal nurses' research study and EBP project capacity. The award enables neonatal nurses to begin research or an EBP project if they have not previously written research or EBP proposals or have not been successful in obtaining funding to begin research or an EBP project in an area of interest.

The research study or EBP project proposal can focus on your area of interest as long as it relates to neonatal care (this includes families). The opportunities are pretty much limitless!

Proposals can be for original or translational research:

  • Original research, also called a research study in our small grants program, seeks to answer a clinical question that either hasn't been investigated or in a way it hasn't been investigated before.
  • Translational research in this case refers to EBP projects, which use existing research (literature) to align clinical processes to determine the best-demonstrated practices. 

Both types of work are extremely important to providing the best possible care to our patients.

If you have questions or aren’t sure which category is right for your idea, visit NANN’s Small Grants Program page. 

Under the “Is this an EBP project or a research study?” subhead, you’ll see more about what differentiates the two types of research. For a more in-depth look, click the Submit Your Proposal button at the top of the page, log in on the Abstract ScoreCard that the button takes you to, and look at the first item under Frequently Asked Questions for a PDF with more details.

Another option is to contact someone from the Small Grants committee through the MyNANN community to discuss your ideas.

Once you decide which method fits your “burning question,” jump in! Use the Submit Your Proposal button to apply for a small grant.

One of the foundations of both applications is the inclusion of a mentor. A mentor guides and supports you in developing your research or EBP project. An appropriate mentor possesses the knowledge, skills, and expertise to design and conduct research studies or EBP projects and is committed to your objective. If you do not know someone who can mentor you, seek support through the NANN Mentor Program. Strong mentor partnerships strengthen the NANN community and are a remarkable tool for members' professional development.

The applications for research projects and EBP projects have some common denominators. They include:

  • Both ask you to identify a principal investigator (the project leader who will be the primary contact person for communication). Both applications ask for a summary of the proposal (called "an abstract" in the research application and "an initiative overview" for an EBP project application).
  • Of course, a literature review is vital to both applications. The research literature review demonstrates a gap in knowledge the study seeks to answer, and EBP literature review identifies data for the proposed practice change. 
  • Both ask for a project budget and justification. Do not think a budget is unnecessary for an EBP; the money can purchase supplies, printing needs, and anything needed to communicate a practice change to a large audience.
  • Both applications ask for letters of support to demonstrate institutional and personnel support for your project and to affirm that you will be able to carry it out within your setting. Neither research nor EBP projects are done as solo efforts in a vacuum. Whether interdisciplinary or intradisciplinary (or both), teamwork is key to successful research and sustained practice change. Demonstration of these within your application increases your chances of a successful award.

IRBs “review and monitor biomedical research involving human subjects” (U.S. Food & Drug Administration, 1998). The need for IRB approval for EBP projects developed from a concerns about the protection of personal health information regulated by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). Ideally, IRB review ensures participant safety and displays how effective a given intervention is on outcomes within a particular setting. (Melnyk & Fineout-Overholt, 2019). A recent study found that 81% of journals require authors to include a form of ethics approval (Malički et al., 2021).

Though IRB approval is not required for an EBP proposal, having one strengthens your NANN small-grant application and eliminates a potential barrier to disseminating your project findings.

I hope this brief review of the application process has sparked some ideas! Bedside and advanced practice nurses recognize that so many things about neonatal care are not known or are based on historical practice rather than data. Every piece of information we study and collect in our patient population contributes to improved care. Every care practice we standardize makes the care of our babies safer and more effective. Moreover, every person who strives to make these changes demonstrates the highest level of professional nursing and extreme dedication to our unique patient population.

Malički, M., Jerončić, A., Aalbersberg, Ij. J., Bouter, L., & ter Riet, G. (2021). Systematic review and meta-analyses of studies analysing instructions to authors from 1987 to 2017. Nature Communications, 12(1), 5840.

Melnyk, B., & Fineout-Overholt, E. (Eds.). (2019). Evidence-based practice in nursing and healthcare: A guide to better practice. (4th ed.). Wolters Kluwer.

U.S. Food & Drug Administration. (1998, January) Institutional Review Boards Frequently Asked Questions.

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