Use primary sources to the greatest extent possible as references. Textbooks (Patton, Leedy and Ormrod, etc.) are not acceptable as the only references supporting methodological and design choices. Use them to track down the primary sources.

Scientific Merit Process
Learners who are doing action research for their dissertation will use this form to go through the process of scientific merit review. The goals of this process are: (1) to facilitate the planning of the details of your action research project, (2) to ensure that the proposed project has rigor and allows for scientific merit review, and (3) to facilitate your progress through the dissertation. This is not an addition to your dissertation but rather a step to assist you in obtaining mentor, committee, school, and IRB approval more efficiently. You must obtain mentor, committee, and school approval of your Research Plan before submitting your IRB application.

Scientific Merit Criteria
The following criteria will be used to establish scientific merit. The purpose of the review will determine if the proposed project:

1. Contributes to society by improving a practice
2. Documents need for change by utilizing evidence-based needs assessment
3. Meets certain “Hallmarks” of a good action research project including:
a. Action research design
i. Practical
ii. Participatory
iii. Defined Action Plan

Scientific Merit Approval
Your completed SMART form will be approved, not approved, or deferred for major or minor revisions. Your committee will use a checklist to determine if the study meets the criteria for scientific merit and the committee will provide specific feedback designed to identify any issues that need to be resolved related to the scientific merit. You will have up to three opportunities to submit this form for committee approval.

Obtaining scientific merit approval does not guarantee you will obtain IRB approval. The IRB review will focus on ethical issues. A detailed ethical review will be conducted during the process of IRB approval.

Recommendations for How to Use This Form
The SMART form is intended to help you and your mentor plan the design and details of your dissertation. Once your mentor approves your SMART form, your entire committee will review the form for scientific merit. When the entire committee approves your SMART form, then it will be submitted for school approval. It is recommended that you use this form in a step-by-step way to help plan your design. Expect that you will go through a few revisions before your mentor and committee approve this form.
Tips for filling out the SMART form:
• Prepare your answers in a separate Word document, as editing and revising will be easier.
• Copy/paste items into the right-hand fields when they are ready.
• Don’t delete the descriptions in the left column!
• Don’t lock the form, as that will stop you from editing and revising within the form.
• Leave no blank spaces in the form. If an item does not apply to your study, type “NA” in its field.
• Read the item descriptions carefully. Items request very specific information. Be sure you understand what is asked (Good practice for your IRB application!).
• Use primary sources to the greatest extent possible as references. Textbooks (Patton, Leedy and Ormrod, etc.) are not acceptable as the only references supporting methodological and design choices. Use them to track down the primary sources.

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