As a research program, S4A highly values scientific rigor in the studies that it supports.
- Applications for the Developmental Studies award category must use relevant approaches for evaluating feasibility and acceptability of the system alignment strategy, while applications for the Impact Studies award category must use relevant approaches for evaluating the impact of the system alignment strategy on measures of health and health equity for populations that experience systemic racism and inequities.
- For applicants applying to the Impact Studies award category, you must reference a research design that is sufficient to support inferences about the causal impact of the system alignment approach under study, including experimental, quasi-experimental, and/or simulation research designs. These applicants must also specify one or more outcome measures to be used in estimating impact. Many different types of experimental and quasi-experimental research designs can be used to estimate causal impact. See for example: Shadish WR, Cook TD, and Campbell DT. Experimental and Quasi-Experimental Designs for Generalized Causal Inference, 2nd Edition. New York: Houghton Mifflin, 2001. Well-designed and validated simulation studies may also provide scientifically rigorous estimates of potential causal impact. Studies must be designed to estimate the counterfactual – what would have happened in the absence of the proposed systems alignment strategy? Additionally, studies must be able to credibly rule out the possibility that other factors beyond the system alignment strategy are responsible for producing the observed effects. Purely qualitative research designs, descriptive studies, exploratory studies, cross-sectional designs, uncontrolled pre-post studies, post-test only designs, and pilot studies are unlikely to satisfy these requirements. Other study characteristics that determine the level of scientific rigor include: sample sizes and statistical power; validity and reliability of data sources and measures; representativeness and generalizability of the study population; and appropriateness of the analytic methodologies used to address common threats to validity, such as selection bias, confounding, regression to the mean, autocorrelation, history and maturation effects, intervention contamination, social interaction bias, observation bias (Hawthorne effects), motivated reasoning bias, and common source bias.
- If your LOI addresses Special Topic #1 from the CFP document (page 3), your study may not focus on testing the feasibility or impact of a specific systems alignment strategy. Instead, your research methods should allow you to accomplish each of the following aims: (1) elucidate how the form of systemic racism operates and persists within and across medical, social, and public health systems; (2) quantify the impact of the form of racism on the health and wellbeing of affected populations (if applying for the Impact Studies award category); and (3) explore potential pathways and opportunities for dismantling and/or disrupting these forms of racism and their adverse health effects. For applicants applying to the Impact Studies award category under Special Topic #1, you must reference a research design that is sufficient to support inferences about the causal impact of the form of systemic racism on the health and wellbeing of affected populations.
- If your LOI addresses Special Topic #2 or Special Topic #3 from the CFP document (page 3), make sure to briefly summarize how your proposed research design and methodology will allow you to address the relevant areas of interest described in the CFP.