Office of Research and Graduate Education

STAR Abstract Info

Helpful Suggestions for Preparing a STAR Research Proposal Abstract

General principles:

  • Use 12-point Times New Roman font or Arial for ease of reading.
  • Single-space is fine, but break up your abstract into cohesive paragraphs.
  • Use 1/2" margins.
  • Use headings or subtitles for each section, if appropriate.
  • Use third person (he/she/it) or passive voice tense throughout.
  • Try to fit into 1 or at most 2 pages, not including preliminary data, references, supporting materials.
  • Project must be completed by the end of the summer of award.
  • While travel to another institution for conducting part or all of the studies are allowed, no funding is available for travel.
  • Remember, one has only 10 weeks of the summer to conduct and complete a project, so the hypothesis must be reasonable.
  • One's hypothesis cannot be one's mentor's research project, but it can be and hopefully will be related to one's mentor's expertise and research foci.
  • Potential pitfalls should be listed, as well as alternatives in case these pitfalls materialize.
  • If research involves use of animals, an IACUC approved animal protocol must be in place before start of work; if animal protocol approval is pending, and is not approved prior to the start of work, the award will be rescinded.
  • If research involves use of humans, an IRB approval must be in place before start of work.
  • An application must include the mentor's letter of support and confirmation of the submitted research proposal.

Specific suggestions:

Lay Out EXAMPLE  (should not be over 2 pages)

Listed here are some excellent STAR abstracts: Example 1 (pdf.), Example 2 (pdf.), and Example 3 pdf.)

Model Outline for STAR Program Proposals:

Title: Title of research proposal should be phrasic, descriptive, and informative.

         "good" Role of aspirin in diminishing the incidence of headaches in dachshunds

          "bad" Aspirin and dachshunds

Student Name and Name of Faculty Mentor: give class year, department/center affiliation, degrees, etc.

Hypothesis: Hypothesis is defined as "a supposition that appears to explain a group of phenomena and is assumed as a basis of reasoning and experimentation."

A hypothesis is thus not a question, is not a prediction, does not seek to describe a phenomena, nor can it be answered with a "yes" or a "no". A hypothesis is a statement, the most important part of your grant application, and must satisfy the definition given above. A well-conceived hypothesis takes a lot of time to draft, but once written, the rest of the application nearly writes itself. A written hypothesis makes tangible the thoughts and ideas swimming in one’s head. A written hypothesis is the intercellular matrix of the body of the grant application. A written hypothesis defines a beginning and an end to your project. Finally, a written hypothesis makes it clear to the reviewer what one is going to study.

         "good" Aspirin diminishes headaches in dachshunds by inactivating prostaglandin-synthetase pathways in astrocytes.

          "bad" Does aspirin block prostaglandin-synthetase in the brain?

Specific Aims: (up to ½ page) Specific aims are statements that indicate how one shall test their hypothesis. They are the means by which the experimental plan shall be organized. The specific aims are concrete, well-defined, and tactical. Together, one's specific aims are the strategy to test the hypothesis. Specific aims define the length, depth, and extent of the experimental plan. Remember the time constraints of the summer, and do not be overly ambitious. Also, never, ever, propose specific aim "2" if it depends on successful completion of specific aim "1".interdependent specific aims are a death-knell, but interrelated specific aims are scientifically harmonious.

Rationale: (up to one page) and Preliminary data (if applicable): In this section, the background and justification for the hypothesis and specific aims, and the overall project, is explained. It is not a place for an exhaustive literature review, but critical, contemporary, and the most highly related literature should be presented. The rationale explains the scientific reason for why this project should be conducted. It also begins to justify the experimental plan, such as use of special technologies and/or methods.

General research methods: (up to one page) Each specific aim shall have one, two, or more sub-parts that represent the actual experiments to be conducted under that specific aim. This section should include a title for the actual experiment, and a brief description of what is to be done. If methods to be used are previously published, they can be cited and not further described IF these methods are commonly in use in the mentor's lab and/or the applicant has published them. If these are methods not already established in the mentor's lab, then they should be briefly explained in addition to being cited and a comment as to how feasible and practical it is to establish the method in the mentor's lab in the available timeframe of study. The expected results should be stated.

  • Also include References only on a third page