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Always Think Ahead to the Next Step

Posted on March 1, 2006

John B. Reid (bio) encourages people to think of the bigger picture when developing timelines.

 

There's a real reason why you write these proposals because you really have to pay attention to your timelines. They're not just to make the study section think you can make it happen. That has to be really carefully thought through; it has to be realistic.

You also need to have your assessment, intervention, and analytic models clearly in mind and clearly operationalized because that is going to really set the schedule of your activities. In my own work, I do a multi-component prevention trial, at least the one I'm going to talk about today. The design specified repeated and extensive investment involving tons of different people. Because of the nature of prevention research, you're really not satisfied with your immediate outcomes because you're basically trying to shoot at some antecedent that you want to change because when you do that, you're going to hope it's going to change a developmental trajectory.

So even though in your K award or your R01 award, you're just thinking maybe about the five years that's going to take you to the proximal or immediate outcome, but you want to be thinking in your head what your next step is going to be because it's almost always going to be multiple assessments over time because everybody's into analyzing growth curves right, and three of them's good; four of them's better, and a dozen of them are even better in terms of power and all that kind of thing. Now what that means is that you've really, really got to keep your eye on the ball. Every subject family you lose is a real root canal later on.

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Excerpted from presentation at CHIPS Summer Institute, June 2005, Pittsburgh, PA.

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