AcademyHealth is proud to announce the fourth annual HSRProj Research Competition for Students hosted by AcademyHealth and the National Information Center on Health Services Research and Health Care Technology (NICHSR) of the National Library of Medicine (NLM). This annual competition invites students to use data from the Health Services Research Projects in Progress (HSRProj) database in conjunction with other sources to identify research priorities in health services and systems research.


Download this checklist of requirements to guide your submission 

  • Choose one of the following five research areas:
    • Breast Cancer
    • Diabetes
    • HIV infections
    • Opioid-related disorders
    • Suicide
  • Due to ongoing upgrades across NLM products, you may get different results when you use different combinations of search terms and operators (punctuation). Therefore, we advise that you use the following model search strings for each of the five research areas. 
    • “Breast cancer” 
    • Diabetes OR diabetic OR diabetics
    • “HIV infections”
    • Opioid*
    • Suicid*
  • Find 250 most recent research projects for the research area in the HSRProj database
    • Only include projects that fund research and not training, conferences, infrastructure, and other non-research purposes
    • For each project, look at the project description and data sources to confirm that they are research projects 
  • Review the 250 research projects (your data set), and identify the top 3-5 research priorities and funding sources  
  • Write an abstract (up to 500 words) that describes the steps you took to conduct your search and answer the questions
    • What are the current research and funding priorities of the research area you selected? 
    • How do you think these priorities within your chosen research area should change in the future? 

Submission Requirements

All projects should follow the instructions above and include the following:

  • A research statement that explains the rationale behind the current research priorities of the field of chosen research area.
  • A methods statement that clearly explains how the HSRProj database was deployed and the search methodology.
  • A statement of findings/conclusions and recommendations, including a justification of the significance of the topic.
  • Data visualization(s) (no more than three) that illustrate the findings in an engaging and comprehensive manner (e.g. graphs, charts, models, infographics). 

Eligibility Criteria 

Due to funding restrictions, students must be enrolled in a U.S.-based program to be eligible to apply for the competition. 

To be eligible, students must: 

  • Be enrolled in an undergraduate or graduate program in health services research, communication science, data science, informatics, information science, public health, health economics, statistics, or a related field;
  • Work alone or in groups of no more than three;
  • Work with an academic advisor (and it is strongly encouraged, but not required, for students to seek out university librarians for advice on your project); and
  • Use the HSRProj database in their submission.

Judging Criteria

In the initial phase, a set of judges drawn from the diverse fields that comprise health services and systems research will score each structured abstract based on the following criteria:

  • Use of the HSRProj database and relevant HSRProj attributes;
  • Clarity of the explanation of methods; and
  • Creativity, clarity, and impact of the data visualization(s).

From the pool of submissions, the judges will select five finalists to present a ten-minute web-based project synopsis. Finalist presentations will highlight the research purpose, methodology, findings, conclusions, and data visualizations. Presentations are expected to take place during the week of April 13, 2020. The winning project, and four honorary mentions, will be announced in early May.

How to Apply

The submission window for this competition is closed.

Submissions are to be made through the application webform. A complete submission needs to include:

  • The application form with each team member's and faculty advisor's information;
  • A structured abstract for the project of no more than 500 words, using the judging criteria as a guide; and
  • Up to three data visualizations that illustrate the authors' approach and findings.

NOTE: There will be NO exceptions to the February 28 deadline. Finalists will be notified of their selection by the first week of April.


The winner or winning team will be invited to present their research as a featured poster at the 2020 AcademyHealth Annual Research Meeting in Boston, MA, on June 13-16, 2020. The winning team will receive a stipend that will go towards registration, travel, and lodging costs for the 2020 AcademyHealth Annual Research Meeting to be divided among members. 

In addition, the winner(s) will be invited to work with AcademyHealth staff to write a blog post to be featured on AcademyHealth’s website describing their project and experience. AcademyHealth will seek consent from each winning team member before posting their headshots and bios to the AcademyHealth website.   


If you have a question about the competition please contact hsrproj@academyhealth.org


The following resources may be helpful in conducting background research for choosing a topic. The list of resources was developed by HSRProj staff and affiliates' personal recommendation and experience and are all freely available:

Systematic review resources

Data visualization resources

About HSRProj

HSRProj is an openly accessible, searchable database of information on ongoing and recently completed health services, systems, and policy research projects. HSRProj provides a snapshot of who is funding and conducting cutting-edge research, highlighting newly funded projects long before their final results are published.

HSRProj is a joint effort of AcademyHealth and the Cecil G. Sheps Center for Health Services Research at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. It is funded by the National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. 

The stipend is supported in part by the National Library of Medicine (NLM), National Institutes of Health (NIH) under cooperative agreement number UG6LM012340 with the University of Maryland, Health Sciences and Human Services Library. The winning team’s submission is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.