Research Proposal Guidelines
NOLS conducts research in partnership with university scientists (professors and students), land management agencies, and other wilderness organizations. With more than 3,000 students studying leadership and wilderness skills on NOLS wilderness expeditions each year, there are many opportunities to explore what and how students learn, how the natural world affects our learning, and how we affect the natural world. We value and seek partnerships with researchers who consistently apply rigorous scientific research standards to relevant questions and understand the importance of minimizing intrusion into NOLS programs.
PROPOSALS FOR RESEARCH AT NOLS SHOULD:
- Detail educational institutions, agencies, organizations, and other researchers (including advisors/committee members) involved in the study.
- Include an introduction that addresses the following: a) a compelling study rationale establishing a need for the study; b) clear research questions that are answerable through the study; c) a literature review that shows a high degree of initial understanding and supports the need for this study.
- Include a clear and succinct methods section that both justifies the research methodology and allows another researcher to replicate the data collection and analysis. The methods section should address threats to validity.
- Detail the timeline on which the project would progress.
- Demonstrate funding for researcher salary and logistical needs from sources other than NOLS. Detail what resources and support are requested from NOLS.
- Possess professional appearance and exemplary technical accuracy.
- Include an expectation of a written summary of the findings in plain English for non-academics who are practitioners in the field.
WHAT YOU CAN EXPECT FROM NOLS
The NOLS research proposal review process has four stages.
- Pre-proposal. This includes initial conversations between the researcher and our research manager, who can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. The researcher describes their interests and intended research question(s) and goals. We offer input about the goals and the logistics of accomplishing them.
- Initial proposal received. After the pre-proposal conversations, the researcher submits a formal written proposal via email. Proposals for summer research are typically submitted the preceding November or December. We will confirm receipt of the proposal and reply with questions or areas that need clarification before the proposal can be submitted to the NOLS Research Committee.
- Final proposal submitted to Research Committee. Once your proposal meets the specifications of the research manager, we will send it on to the Research Committee. This includes both an internal NOLS review of the costs and benefits to NOLS and a peer review of the science. Research Committee decisions are usually rendered within two months of submission of your final proposal.
- Research Committee decision rendered. Once the committee has decided upon the proposal, the research manager will notify you of the decision: APPROVAL, DENIAL or REQUEST FOR FURTHER INFORMATION. NOLS may ask for changes to be made to a proposal based on our research needs and experience or on feedback we receive from our research advisory panel. Agreements detailing what NOLS will provide during the course of a research project will be made upon review and acceptance of a proposal.