How to Complete the Application Form

completing the application form 

Condition to be studied

Give the accepted name of the condition followed by the recognised abbreviation.

Case definition

Give a clear case definition for the condition of interest. Providing the definition in point form and/or a text box are recommended for clarity (Click here to view current study protocols). Any specialist terms or abbreviations which will not be familiar to clinicians on the mailing list should be explained in full.

Reporting instructions

Clinicians should be asked to report all newly diagnosed cases seen in the last month. You need to state:

  1. the desired age limits (upper limit of 15 years).
  2. In some special circumstances prevalent case ascertainment may be requested.  Please provide a rationale if this is required.
  3. In special circumstances you may give reporting instructions for the first month of surveillance which are different to the instructions for subsequent months.


Give the names, appointments and institutions of the investigators involved in the study. Indicate clearly:

  • the principal contact for correspondence and
  • the contact for reporting of cases, if different.
  • In both cases give full postal address, telephone number and fax number.
  • APSU encourages involvement of investigators from different institutions and states as this both encourages participation of clinicians from other states and provides good peer review.

Statement of research questions

Give a clear statement of the specific research question(s) that will be answered by this study.  This should be presented in point form.

Proposed starting date

Studies may commence following their acceptance by the SRP.  The SRP generally holds two meetings per year to review new studies. Following approval, the condition may appear on the card within the following couple of months, though this will depend on the number of studies already present on the card. Generally, new surveillance studies may begin either in January, April, July or October.

Proposed duration of study

  • The SRP recognises that two or more years of surveillance of a very rare condition may be required to provide adequate cases for study.  However, a study will normally be accepted for an initial period of one year.
  • Continuation thereafter is subject to annual review by the SRP, bearing in mind the progress of the study, the number of new proposals received, and the importance of ascertainment through the APSU as opposed to any other means available to the investigators. Justification of the proposed duration should be included in the supporting statement.

Why are the proposed research questions important ?

Please include information which indicates:

  • known incidence / prevalence data
  • the current definition or diagnostic criteria and methodology used to determine these criteria
  • the ways in which this study will:
    • Contribute to scientific knowledge
    • Affect outcome and clinical management of the condition
    • Guide policy development, planning of prevention strategies and/or allocation of health resources?

    References should be given at the end of the application.

    Please give the reasons why the apsu is the best alternative for conducting your research and any other relevant information.

    The following questions needs to be asked of your study:

    • Does your study require national ascertainment to develop a sufficient cohort?
    • Does it require incident cases?
    • Do outpatients as well as hospitalised patients need to be assessed?
    • Are the patients in your study likely to be referred to a specialised paediatrician?
    • Will there be a follow-up study which can be performed through the APSU?

    Research methods

    Please provide the information requested in this section.  The SRP needs to be convinced that the methods used in the study are essential to answer the study’s research questions and that the methods are practically possible and will not overburden the mailing list.

    Ethical approval

    State the research ethics committee to which the proposal has been submitted and the date on which approval was given.  If approval has not yet been given, state when the decision will be known.

    Funding and organisational arrangements

    Give a brief outline of arrangements made to allow completion of the study, such as administrative, scientific and computing support.

    The SRP requires that studies have sufficient staff to ensure that questionnaires are mailed to notifying clinicians within one week of the APSU contacting the study group about a case notification. Sufficient staffing to enable follow-up of questionnaires that are not returned within one month of mailing is also necessary.  A detailed budget is not required.


    • Questionnaires should be as brief and simple as possible, so as not to impose an excessive burden on the paediatrician.
    • Investigators are welcome to discuss questionnaire design with the APSU Executive and copies of questionnaires used by existing studies are available on request.  Please see the example questionnaire (PDF file: KB).
    • Two A4 pages is usually adequate for the questionnaire.  Reasons for requiring a longer questionnaire must be outlined in the application.
    • The Australian Paediatric Surveillance Unit should be included in the headings of questionnaires and covering letters along with the name of the chief investigator’s research base.
    • Note on the example questionnaire the inclusion of:
       - Reporting clinician’s APSU code AND Surname to distinguish between 2 clinicians with the same surname
       - Patient’s initials, date of birth and postcode which form their unique identifier code
       - Month/Year of report
    • The sample questionnaire provides some ideas on how questionnaires should be designed:
      (Note, the questions to determine “ethnicity” given on the example questionnaire are in line with Australian Bureau of Statistics coding and will therefore allow comparisons to be made with national data).
    • Specialist terms or abbreviations which may not be familiar to paediatricians should be explained in full.
    • A letter of introduction should be sent with the questionnaire and a thank you letter should be sent on return of the questionnaire.  This is vital in keeping the continued support of the clinicians.
    • Respondents should be asked to return the questionnaire even if they are unable to complete all items.
    • Please do not ask the clinician detailed questions in the questionnaire which are more appropriate to a follow-up study.  Remember a short questionnaire will maximise response rate.