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Box 1 Summary points for those writing public health research proposals

From: Applying for, reviewing and funding public health research in Germany and beyond

• The theory/theories, the model(s), and the assumptions need to be made explicit, as well as the rationale of focusing on these (and not on others)
• The research question needs to be developed and described against this background
• The potential implications for policy and practice need to be explained in a plausible way
• With reference to theories/models/assumptions, the complexity of the topic needs to be outlined in enough detail so that the choices of the research question, the population, the intervention (if any) and the outcomes become comprehensible
• The choice of methods (or of the combination of methods) needs to be described in the light of the underlying theories/models/assumptions and the research question; this includes assessment/justification of quantitative data sets to be generated or used, or methods of sampling, inquiry and analysis for qualitative data
• Explicit reference to existing guidelines for conducting high-quality research should be made. For epidemiological research, these include, for example, guidelines on good epidemiologic practice by the International Epidemiological Association [34] or the German Society for Epidemiology [35]. For qualitative research, relevant tools include guidance on managing the quality of qualitative research as described by the United Kingdom Government Chief Social Researcher’s Office and in a well-known textbook by Flick [36, 37]. For mixed methods research, the Mixed Method Appraisal Tool [38] and the guidance for writing and reviewing proposals using mixed methods, commissioned by the Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research of the United States National Institutes of Health [39] provide helpful information
• It should be noted that the challenges of inter- and transdisciplinary research are often not sufficiently addressed by these tools and guidelines
• In terms of reporting, research projects should be expected to consider the respective reporting guidelines where these apply (for details see [40]). For qualitative research, the Consolidated criteria for REporting Qualitative research) [41] has been proposed; for mixed-methods research, Good Reporting of A Mixed Methods Study [42] represents an attempt to ensure good reporting