A synopsis should be constructed in a manner that facilitates the reviewer to understand the research project at a glance. It should be brief but precise. A synopsis can be structured in the following manner:
- Statement of the problem and hypothesis
- Aims and objectives
- Review of literature
- Research methodology
- Official requirements
The title of the research project should be brief but informative; sensationalize of the title is best avoided. It should neither be too short nor too long. Any name of the institution, the number of cases to be studied should not be included. The hypothesis to be studied can be included.
a. "Study of topic pregnancy"
This was a title chosen for university registration. The title is too short. It does not state the problem or the hypothesis and is least informative. More meaningful title shall be, "Study of ectopic pregnancy in relation to morbidity, mortality, and intervention in a referral hospital".
b. "A novel sustained release matrix based on biodegradable poly (ester amides) and, impregnated with bacteriophages and an antibiotic shows promise in management of infected venous stasis ulcer and other poorly healing wounds", (Int. J Dermot vol 8 2002). The title is long and ill conceived. It gives a confusing picture about the study problem. Such long titles are best avoided. Certain amount of sensationalize is also present by using term 'novel'. More meaningful title shall be, "Response of venous stasis ulcers and other poorly healing wounds to a biodegradable matrix impregnated with bacteriologist and an antibiotic". The other details about the new method can be mentioned while stating the problem.
c. "Fine needle aspiration, as a diagnostic tool for papulonodular skin lesions". This is an acceptable, informative, and precise title. It states the hypothesis correctly.
Statement of the problem or hypothesis
The problem being studied should be mentioned in precise and clear terms. Understanding the problem aids the researcher in constructing the research proposal. It also allows the person to formulate the hypothesis. The problem under study should be relevant to the present. A brief account of its utility at the local or national level has to be discussed. The present status of the problem and the necessity for taking up the study needs to be mentioned.
Hypothesis is mentioned as a tentative prediction or explanation of the relationship between two or more variables. Hypothesis should not be a haphazard guess but should reflect the knowledge, imagination, and experience of the investigator. Hypothesis can be formulated by understanding the problem, reviewing the literature on it, and considering other factors. A researcher can state the problem and the hypothesis in about 200 words covering all the aspects described above.
Aims and objectives
All research projects should have objectives and aims and every effort should be made to achieve them. The objectives and aims should be only a few (2-3). They must pertain to the study problem. Usages of terms like "first study", "the only study", etc. should be avoided.
Review of literature
Review of literature is a very important part of a research project. It achieves the following:
- Familiarizes the reader to the problem under study.
- It describes the work done by others either at local or international level on it or similar subject.
- It helps the researcher to understand the difficulties faced by others and the corrective steps taken or modifications made by them. The researcher can anticipate similar or additional problems during the study and review of literature helps him in anticipating them.
- Research methodology of the researcher can be structured and modified after reviewing the literature.
- The review assists in identifying various variables in the research project and conceptualizes their relationship.
- Review of literature in a synopsis helps the reviewer in assessing the knowledge of the researcher. The reviewer can assess the work put in by the researcher and also assists in assessing the feasibility of the study.
The review of literature in a synopsis need not be exhaustive. The relevant information should be covered in about 300 words quoting 8-10 authentic, easily retrievable references. Literature can be reviewed by using various scientific-information-gathering methods. These are journals, national or international; bulletins of organizations like WHO, CDC books; computer-assisted searches like Medline and Medlar; and personal communications with other researchers. Internet provides a vast avenue for information gathering. Care must be taken to retrieve only relevant information. In this era of information technology review of literature is literally "just a click away".
In a synopsis the research methodology adopted should be mentioned in about 150-200 words. The research methodology forms the core of the research project. The methodology should cover the following aspects:
- Study design
- Study settings
- Study methods - examinations or investigations
- Data collection
- Data analysis
- Ethical clearance
All references quoted in review of literature and anywhere else in the synopsis should be listed here. There are two styles for writing references, Vancouver style and Harvard style. Vancouver style is easy to follow as it depends on the numbers as quoted in text.
A synopsis is incomplete if it does not contain the following information:
- Name of the researcher and designation
- Name and designation of the guide
- Name and designation of head of department\institution
- Name of the institution
- Signatures of all with official seal
Synopsis writing is an important step in a research project. A good synopsis will give maximum information in minimum words. A well-conceived synopsis will go a long way in convincing the reviewer about the ability of the researcher to conduct the project. In cases of need for financial assistance, the request will be considered favorably. Thus, all research workers should make efforts to prepare a well-structured synopsis.
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