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NAW Institute for Distribution Excellence

Submit Research Proposals

The NAW Institute for Distribution Excellence publishes high-quality research that deals with topics of interest to wholesaler-distributors, their supply chain partners, academicians, consultants, and other interested parties. Results of NAW Institute-supported studies are published and made available to all of the above universes.

The NAW Institute supports work that includes a primary research component in order to advance the state of knowledge in wholesale distribution. No one research approach or methodology is favored over another as long as the form is appropriate to the objectives of the research. We encourage development of work that — in addition to the primary research component — includes a practical, prescriptive aspect that is written in business language. Our objective is to apply the primary research in such a way that it is usable by industry executives immediately.

The NAW Institute accepts both proposals and preproposals.


The preproposal is a letter that outlines the topics to be studied and the researcher’s preliminary research questions and approach. It is intended to elicit the NAW Institute’s reaction to the topic and research concept before the researcher invests substantial time in writing a full proposal. Nevertheless, the more complete the thinking in the preproposal, the more likely it is to receive encouragement and constructive comments. If there is any question about whether a project fits the NAW Institute’s priorities, or about the researchability of the topic, a preproposal should be the first step in seeking NAW Institute approval.

Full Proposal

A full proposal to the NAW Institute should be submitted in a standard format. Clarity and brevity are appreciated. Proposals of 5-10 pages are usually the most effective. Proposals should include:

  • A one-page summary
  • A background section giving a brief review of the relevant literature and a statement of why the proposed research is expected to contribute to the industry’s knowledge base and improve wholesale distribution business practice
  • A list of research questions describing the issues to be studied, the researcher’s initial insights or beliefs, and what should be learned from the study
  • A description of research design and methodology
  • A timetable, including key research dates and an expected completion date
  • A statement of expected outcomes or new knowledge, including how wholesaler-distributors will apply the knowledge in practical ways at their companies
  • A biography of the researcher.

Proposals may be submitted at any time to Patricia A. Lilly, Executive Director, NAW Institute for Distribution Excellence, 1325 G Street, NW, Suite 1000, Washington, DC 20005-3134. E-mail: plilly@naw.org.

Proposal Selection

A review committee composed of the NAW Institute Executive Director and professional staff will conduct the initial screening. Proposals that pass this screening are sent for further review to the NAW Institute for Distribution Excellence Board of Directors or a committee of the Board. Other individuals, such as NAW Institute Fellows, also may be called upon to review proposals. Researchers may subsequently be asked to revise and resubmit proposals.

Proposals are evaluated in terms of

  • Potential contribution to advancing the state of knowledge in wholesale distribution
  • Practicality of the research to improving wholesale distribution company business processes and profitability
  • The fit of the proposed topic with the NAW Institute’s research priorities
  • Originality of the proposed research
  • Quality of proposal development
  • Qualifications of the researcher(s) to conduct the project.

For more information, see the Author Guidelines.

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