American College of Clinical Pharmacy
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ACCP Report - June 2013

From the Desk of the ACCP PBRN Community Advisory Panel Chair: The Importance of Piloting Your Project

Written by Rex Force, Pharm.D., FCCP, BCPS
Chair, ACCP PBRN Community Advisory Panel


Last month, we discussed the common issues encountered with unfunded grant proposals. One of the most pragmatic solutions to many of these problems is performing a pilot study before applying for a larger, competitive grant award. Pilot data often provide grant reviewers and the funding agency with essential information and ultimately convince them of the importance of research ideas.

Pilot projects should demonstrate the feasibility of the methodology to be employed and provide additional framework for answering the research questions. These projects help ensure that the research team works effectively together and that training and logistic issues will be adequately addressed. Recruitment is often the most difficult part of a study, and problems are better anticipated with a pilot. Often, projects fail because they are underresourced from a financial, personnel, or equipment perspective. Piloting allows investigators to anticipate these concerns and elucidate a clear plan of action in their ultimate proposal. In addition, pilot studies promote the validation of research tools such as surveys or scoring instruments and ensure that the research team can adequately address the effect size of interventions for more accurate sample size calculations.

Finally, publications resulting from pilot projects ultimately form the cornerstone of demonstrating the expertise of the investigative team and solidify the chances of successful funding.