Applying to conduct a Research Project with RDA

Issues around research and people with disabilities, combined with the risks of working in an environment often involving both children and horses are complex.  This information is provided to assist school students, secondary and tertiary students, lecturers and researchers for preparing and submitting research ideas to RDA for approval.  It is important that the conduct of research considers the practical requirements of RDA programs such as the importance of the methodology being complimentary to the RDA program and not interrupting lesson time. Other issues such as obtaining formal informed consent for permission to participate must always be addressed before commencement, and other consent and “opting-out” protocols followed. The use of photography and video of any riders and other RDA participants (including volunteers and coaches) also requires formal informed consent due to legislated privacy requirements.

To ensure that RDA research is conducted in an appropriate and ethical manner the following documentation is required to be submitted for approval before any research commences.

Developing a Research Proposal

Submission of a written research proposal is required. You should include a brief summary of the research background, the questions to be answered, methodology (how you will conduct the research) and the expected outcomes. This should be a maximum of 300 words long and be submitted to RDA for approval.

Developing Research Protocols

The research protocol should contain information which addresses the following sections:

Project details: Investigator details and project title, protocol version number and date.

Research question/s: Provide clearly and precisely defined, answerable questions and a clear aim or objective.

Background: Why is the research question an important one? Provide a good rationale for why the project is being done and why it is useful to RDA. What is the problem/ knowledge gap that needs filling?

Design: How will the study address the question being asked and is it likely to produce an answer?

Bias and confounding: How will the study design minimise the risk of bias? How will you adequately account for the influence of potential confounders?

Randomisation and Blinding: Where applicable, provide enough detail on exactly how randomisation and blinding will be achieved, including who is responsible.

Sampling issues: Provide a reasonable justification for the proposed sample size and how the sample collected will be reasonably representative of the population in question.

Feasibility: Provide sufficient evidence to indicate that it will be possible to obtain the numbers required for the study and how the study is feasible in terms of funds, time and other resources.

Participants: Provide clear and justified criteria for eligibility and the methods used to identify, approach, recruit and consent participants.

Intervention or exposure: Describe the intervention or exposure factor in adequate detail, where appropriate.

Procedure plan: Provide an appropriate plan of the study; the estimated duration of the project and how a participant will progress through assessments or other interactions.

Outcome measures: Describe appropriate and achievable outcome measures with sufficient detail.  What data is being collected and how does this relate to the proposed outcomes?

Adverse Events: What is the plan for detecting, managing, recording and reporting defined adverse events, where applicable – (likely to be when horses and children often involved)?

Data collection: What are the proposed data collection tools and data management systems appropriate for the project?

Analysis: What analysis will be done on outcome measures to answer the research question?

Project management: Who will have conduct and oversight of the research?

Expertise: Who is in the research team and do they include people with (or have access to) all the necessary expertise for the project?

Ethical issues: What ethics approval is required? Have any potential ethical issues been addressed? Are risks to participants minimised?

 RDAA will assist you with the development of your research protocol if this is required.

No research is to commence until the research protocol has been approved and the appropriate outcomes and reporting regime agreed.

School Based Projects

For a local school based project (anecdotal evidence based research) with your local RDA Centre you can submit your proposal addressed to the Centre Committee with a letter from your teacher, or a copy of the assignment outline. You will find some great resources on the RDA website www.rda.org.au about the types of programs and benefits of riding for people with disabilities. 

If your project includes interviews, surveys or questionnaires, you should follow these steps:

1.   Arrange a suitable date to visit the RDA Centre and have someone to meet you when you arrive.

2.   Write an introductory letter that can be handed out to participants (parents and/or volunteers) and provide enough copies to the RDA Centre to hand out or put on display at the RDA Centre at least 2 weeks before your visit. You should include some information about yourself (maybe a photo), what school you go to, why you are doing the project, what the aim of your project is, date of your visit, how you will use the research information and that people do not have to participate if they do not want to. Keep the length of information to one page.

3.   When you visit, make sure you follow the directions of the RDA Coach and volunteers, do not enter into any unauthorised areas without supervision, take care of your own safety, and do not take any photographs without signed permission of the person.

Tertiary and University Projects

Generally, tertiary research projects include more complex data collection, measurement and analysis, with specific targeted research over longer durations (qualitative and quantative research). These projects require submission of a study plan with protocols designed to safeguard the health and safety of participants. This detailed protocol allows RDA (and reviewers) to make a judgement about the academic and ethical aspects of the study. Approval will only be granted to studies with an appropriate protocol. Following approval, the protocol become the definitive document for the study conduct, evaluation and reporting. Once a protocol is approved, it is essential that the study is carried out in accordance with the details in this document, as the investigators only have approval to do the research as described in the approved protocol.

Students undertaking tertiary research projects with/for RDA will need to have a procedural advisor (lecturer or supervising professor).

Broadly, the protocol should contain written evidence for the necessity of the research; the feasibility of the research; and a detailed description of the objectives, design, methodology, statistical considerations and organisation of the study, ethics approval and specific details on how the research will be conducted and evaluated.

Tertiary and University projects should be submitted to the relevant State or National Office with a letter from your procedural advisor (lecturer or supervising professor).