Synopsis Writing


This document provides guidelines for preparing a research synopsis (and indirectly of the final report of your work that will be presented at the end of your research program). The research synopsis is the plan for your research project. It provides the rationale for the research, the research objectives, the proposed methods for data collection and recording formats and/or questionnaires and interview guides.

Guideline for synopsis writing

Before starting research work student/faculty has to send a Synopsis to ORIC-NUMS and get it approved. The synopsis is a brief out line (about five A-4 size pages or 3000 words, font size 12 in Times New Romans for main body, headings should be bold and capitalize with font size 14, subheading should be bold and capitalize with font size 12) of your future work. The schematic format of research proposal is followed under. The proposals must be written exactly according to this format.

1. TITLE:  This should reflect the main objectives of study, brief and self-explanatory. A more specific and descriptive sub-title can be added if necessary, for example to indicate the main methodology that will be applied during the study. It must be bold and capitalize with font size 14 aligned at the page center. Ideal title should not exceed 50 words.The title of the final report can be different from the working title of the synopsis.

2. ABSTRACT: The abstract should briefly state the problem, the main objective(s), the theories/conceptual framework used (if relevant), and the method(s). The abstract alone should give the reader a clear idea about the research in no more than 150-200 words.

3. INTRODUCTION: Here you should identify and introduce the main problem under study, set it into context and introduce the particular niche within the main subject area that you will work with. Also briefly describe the epidemiology, morbidity and mortality figuresassociated with the problem. Then Research Strategy undertaken by researchers so far. Obviously the problem hasbeen perceived by other people around the world and they have also conductedresearch on it. Write in your own words the findings of other researchers and theirsuccesses or failures in finding solutions to the problem. This part has to be writtenafter conducting a thorough and relevant literature search and providingappropriate references as and where needed. (Preferably references should not be very old, better to code from previous 7 years work and should be authentic.) At the end of this sectionyou should state why you have decided to undertake research on thisproblem, whataspect of the problem or disease would you like to study and why?

4. OBJECTIVES:Objectives are statements of mention. That means, after reading the problem analysis it should be immediately clear that the choice of objectives is relevant and justified. The overall objective may be something that the study will contribute towards but not solve/finish; the overall objective should not be a compilation of the specific objectives. They inform the reader clearlywhat the researcher plans to do in his/her work. The must identify the variables involvedin research. Objectives are written in ‘action verbs’ in the ‘to do…’format, e.g.,

The objectives of this study are: 1. To determine ….. 2. To compare…. 3. To correlate…   etc. Objectives should besimple (not complex), specific (not vague), and stated in advance (not after the research isdone). After statement of the primary objective, secondary objectives may be mentioned. Young investigators are advised to resist the temptation to put too many objectives or over-ambitious objectives that cannot be adequately achieved by the implementation of the protocol.

4. OPERATIONAL DEFINITIONS: Should be present in every research proposal. Itguides the reader or the assessor about how the research measures individual variables, where they are measured, how they are measured. It must be noted here that vague terminologies may be avoided in operationaldefinitions and only confirmatory tests/tools may be sufficient in operational definitions. e.g., Anemia in your patients could be defined as ‘clinically evident by inspection of fingernails, mucous membranes or inner margins of eyelids’ or as ‘hemoglobin measurement in g/dl of less than 10 g/dl’ or ‘hemoglobin measurement in g/dl of less than 12 g/dl’, etc. You are free to use standard definitions of technical terms or evenmake you own definitions which you will use throughout your study.

5. PROBLEM ANALYSIS/STATEMENT: In this section, you present details regarding the research problem. You should present documentation of the existence of the problem; the problem analysis is based on a critical review of scientific literature: the theories typically used to frame research on the subject area, knowledge available and research methods used with what degree of success. The review can add to the justification of choice of the subject included in the Introduction you should of course not base your arguments on untrustworthy literature.

6. HYPOTHESIS: These are predictions of the outcomes from the study showing expected relation between two variables. It is useful at the outset to specify the hypotheses in terms of the assumed relations between variables to clarify the position and pre-understanding of the researcher. Hypotheses can be derived from theory, experience or knowledge concerning contextual factors.

Generally there are two types of hypotheses: a) The Null Hypothesis, where youmake a statement in support of an existing situation or make a statement of no difference from an expected outcome b) The AlternateHypothesis, where you make a statement opposing the existing state or state that a true difference does exist between expected and obtained outcomes.It is important to note here that descriptive studies DO NOT carry any hypothesis.

7. MATERIAL AND METHODS: A research project follows an overall methodology to make conclusions in relation to the overall objective. Some types are experiments, surveys, models and case studies. Within a given research methodology several data collection methods can be relevant, and both quantitative and qualitative methods may be used in the same study. You should specify what research methodology is chosen to fulfill the research objectives. This section should also include:

  • Study Design: Mention the name of the appropriate study design which should preferably relate to objectives. The study designmust be according to WHO classification and anything other than recommended studydesigns may not be acceptable.
  • Settings: State the place where your research work will be undertaken and data will be collected. This may be ahospital and / or its department(s) /labs or the community or both. Also, mention some facilities of the setting that will help your research, e.g., number of beds (patients per month), surgical or medical facilities, researchers / supervisors, equipment, standard labs, etc.
  • Duration: The expected duration of your research study and why this duration isrequired (number of patients, hospital tests, data collection and analysis, report writing,etc.). You may like to prepare a detailed timetable (Gantt chart) of your activities on aweekly or monthly basis, outlining targets that you expect to achieve per week or month for the entire duration of you study. You may, in lieu of a detailed time table, give a brief outline, e.g., literature search – two weeks, making a Performa and pre-testing it – two weeks, getting lab supplies and setting up tests – one month, data collection – 6 months, data entry and analysis on computer – two weeks, writing a thesis – one month, thus giving as totalduration of approximately ten months.
  • Sample Size: How many study subjects will be included. If there are groups, how many pergroup? The protocol should provide information and justification about sample size. The sample size must bejustified scientifically that how it was calculated. The parameters used for sample sizecalculations must be clearly mentioned and must be referenced.
  •  Sampling Technique: Type of sampling technique employed with clear statement of probability within each category of subjects under study.


Inclusion criteria: on what bases will the study subject be inducted in the study? Backgroundvariables which are considered for inclusion must be stated. In case of special circumstances, the criteria must clearly state the inclusion strategy.

 Exclusion criteria: On what bases will the study subject be excluded from the study? How thevariables mentioned in exclusion criteria are detected. Exclusion must also be justified as what pushed the researcher to exclude the particular from the study.

9. DATA COLLECTION PROCEDURE: For complete details of data collectionprocedure, the following information must be furnished before submission: Ethical clearance from the concerned ethical board to be applied and to be obtained. However, exemption letter should be furnished where necessary.Permission letter from the host University for Use of research laboratories. Informed consent in case of human subjects. Once the subject is evaluated for inclusion, details of informed consent to betaken must also be clearly mentioned. In case of epidemiological studies, details of the study design, how the subjects to be included inthe exposed group and unexposed group must be clearly explained and how the questionnaire will be developed.In case of clinical trials, type of intervention to be given in eithergroups. For drugs and devices that are commercially available, the protocolmust state their proprietary names, manufacturer, chemical composition, dose andfrequency of administration. For drugs and devices that are still in the experimental stage, additional information should be provided on availablepre-clinical investigations in animals and/or results of studies already conducted on humans.Above all, the description of data collection methods should always be as specific and realistic as possible. It should be clear that the chosen methods are appropriate and suitable for achieving the study objectives.

10. DATA ANALYSIS PROCEDURE:  The research synopsis must specify how the collected data will be analyzed to answer the research questions/objectives. Strategies may include testing of hypotheses, which means that dependent and independent parameters for analysis should be clear as should the type of statistical analysis, the number of observations needed etc. in this section Software for data analysis must be mentioned. Type of variables  along with analysis plan must be mentioned. In case of analytical studies, type of statistical test corresponding to type ofcomparing variables, correlation, regression, ANOVA must be mentioned. The level of significance for rejecting the null hypothesis must be mentioned. A qualitative analysis of, for example, people’s response to a specific change could require analysis of the meaning of responses and/or behavior observed, possibly guided by theory. To recapitulate, it is important to envision how all the information collected will be combined to provide a meaningful answer to the research objective.

11. PROPOSED RESULTS: Briefly, you can highlight what results you can/ may obtain through the proposed research study and benefits of the study.

12. REFERENCES:When you cite literature, there are standards to be followed for in-text citations and the format of the reference list. The purpose of a reference list is that the reader should be able to find the references used. Therefore, be sure to write the full reference in the reference list, including author, publication year, title, title of journal/series, volume of journal/series contribution, publisher (omitted for journal), location (omitted for journal), page numbers. For chapters in books and contributions to conference proceedings the editors and title of the book/proceedings must be added.

Reference Citation in Text:

It should be styled assuperscript numbered in text and then numbered in reference list at the end in reference section.

  • Journal Articles All authors should be listed, if there are three or less. When there are more authors, only the first threeshould be listed followed by et al. use last name followed by authors’ first name initials. Authors name should be separated by coma. Write title of article, name of journal (capitalize)and year of publication only in parentheses. Mention issue (in parentheses) and volume of journal. Write Pages of articles at the end with hyphen in between of first and last page of article referred.

For example, Qazi A, Khan M, Murtaza K, < TITLE> (2008).  VOLUME (ISSUE) 4 (46): 123-987.

ARTICLE DOI: (Digital Object Identifier) may be included in the notes in addition to a URL, if available.

  • Books  write separate information about author(s), date, title, edition, and publication by periods. The basic format is as follows:



  • Website

Title of Homepage. Date of publication. Edition. Place of publication: publisher; [date updated; date accessed]. Notes.

If no date of publication can be determined, use a copyright date (if available), preceded by “c”. Include the URL in the notes.

  • Blog

Author’s name. Date of publication. Title of post [descriptive word]. Title of blog. [Accessed date]. URL.

  • Dissertations and Theses

Author name.


  • Conference proceedings/abstracts

Author of work/presenter


ANNEXES: Add lab procedure methodology, details of operative procedures, data collecting instruments etc. that cannot be included in the main text as separate annexure. All applicants are required to fill in the related forms to their study design present on the NUMS website. e.g., ethical approval, plagiarism check, lab requirements, research proposal, budget forms etc


All synopsis presented in typescript for the degree of MSc/M.Phil/ Ph.D should comply with the following specifications unless permission to do otherwise is obtained from the relevant authority / body.


A4 size should be used.


 The text must be typewritten(Times New Romans) in acceptable type face and the original typescript (or copy of equal quality) must normally be submitted to Exam branch.


Typescript should appear on one side only, lines; at least one-and-a-half spaced. Footnotes, quotations, references and photographic captions may be single-spaced. Where appropriate, these should contain lists giving the locations of figures and illustrations.


Title Page 18-22 Headings / subheadings 14-16 Text 10-12 Footnotes 8-10 Footnotes be given on the same page where reference is quoted.


Times New Roman and typing of text should be 1.5 spaced.


At least 1¼ -1½ inches (3.17-3.81cm) on the left-hand side, 3/4 - 1 inch (2 - 2.54cm) at the top and bottom of the page, and about ½ - 0.75 inches (1.27- 1.90cm) at the outer edge. The best position for the page number is at bottom center or top right ½ inch (1.27 cm) below the edge. Pages containing figures and illustration should be suitable paginated.


The synopsis must be written in English. Language should not be gender bias and /or socially insensitive. Spellings, grammar, punctuations, sentence formation, capitalization should be proper and correct.


It should contain student’s name, title of study, course title, year and degree enrolled.


Synopsis should be submitted with the

  • Application form (MPhil/PhD)
  • Covering letter(subject: consideration of synopsis)
  • Ethical declaration
  • Plagiarism report
  • Consent form
  • Questionnaire/any Performa (if required in the study)
  • Plan of Work (Time line/Gantt Chart)
  • Estimated Budget (with quotations)
  • Funding source (organization)
  • Justification for the research problem
  • Outcome and Utilization (beneficiary industry)

Sample for Gantt chart


Month wise Plan of Work


























Sample for Estimated Budget



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