WREN welcomes inquiries from researchers interested in collaborating on primary care research topics. This page can serve as a “roadmap” for investigators.

For practical guidance on working with WREN, please read this recent WREN publication.

What Kinds of Projects?

WREN is interested in the entire gamut of primary care research, particularly that which engages practicing clinicians in the research process, as we believe that participation in practice-based research enhances critical thinking skills and quality of patient care.


  • Disease natural history/disease surveillance
  • Clinical research/clinical trials
  • Health care delivery
  • Public health/Clinician/Patient engagement

What is the Process?

Investigators interested in exploring WREN collaboration are encouraged to contact the WREN Director at the earliest possible time in the research process. The Director will be able to give investigators immediate feedback about WREN interest, feasibility and funding requirements.

  • Interest: Is the topic relevant to primary care practice? Will the research results add value to the practice of primary care medicine?
  • Feasibility: Can the project be carried out without disrupting the care process? Is the burden on the practices light enough to guarantee successful completion?
  • Funding: All projects must have funding adequate to the completion of all WREN-related research activities.

The best time to contact WREN is during formulation of the research question.

The worst time to contact WREN is two weeks before a grant is due, asking for a letter of support.

The WREN Steering Committee approves all WREN research projects.

Investigators are encouraged to review the criteria used by the Committee.

Tips for Investigators

Investigators should address the following issues when formulating their primary care research questions and designing research projects to answer them.

  • Describe how the results will promote the WREN mission to improve the health of the people of Wisconsin.
    • Is this practice-based research? If not, justify your request to WREN
    • How will you involve WREN staff and/or participating clinicians or clinic staff in manuscript authorship?
  • Is the primary outcome patient-oriented, or patient-important? If yes, how?
  • Describe the project’s target population, and justify your inclusion and exclusion criteria.
  • Discuss how the results, if positive, will be sustained in the context of usual care.
  • Describe how this study will impact practices.
  • Describe your funding source, award size, and resources available for WREN.

Research Study Evaluation Criteria

1) Is the RESEARCH QUESTION relevant and important?

  1. Is this practice-based research (PBR)? or would this study be better conducted elsewhere?
  2. Is the topic important? Are WREN clinicians interested in participating?
  3. Is this collaborative research, e.g., will one or more WREN members be involved in study design, conduct, analysis, and/or co-authorship?

2) Are the OUTCOMES patient-oriented?

  1. Patient-oriented: outcomes that matter to patients, including improved symptoms, decreased mortality, improved quality-of-life or decreased costs.
  2. Disease-oriented: surrogate outcomes (histopathologic, laboratory or physiologic outcomes that may or may not translate into patient-oriented benefits).

3) Is there adequate GENERALIZABILITY?

  1. Are exclusions based solely on safety and logistical (e.g., inability to comprehend or complete study requirements) considerations?

4) Are the results potentially SUSTAINABLE for practices?

5) Is the study FEASIBLE?

6) Is the FUNDING adequate?

Wisconsin Research & Education Network (WREN)