R =Research. Research is defined as “a diligent and systematic inquiry or investigation into a subject in order to discover or revise facts, theories, applications, etc”.
Since the focus of SBIR/STTR is funding for your research, you need to fully explain to the funding agency what that research will be. Yes, all parts of your proposal are important, but the meat of your proposal needs to be your Research Plan (also known as a Work Plan). This is what the agency is going to pay you to accomplish.
The plan needs to be a step-by-step outline of not only what you will do, but also how you will actually do it, who will do it, how the predicted results will move the overall idea forward, where it will be done, and when it will be accomplished–a timeline for completing the work. Every aspect of your research needs to be spelled out exactly; do not make the reviewer guess or assume! Time after time companies fail to realize how detailed it needs to be.
Writing out a clear plan also helps you think through your overall goals. Once you start detailing, you might discover you need to modify your strategy to actually meet your desired objectives, or you might need to scale back your research to complete it within budget and time-frame. Creating a detailed Research Plan will help your company–whether you receive the SBIR/STTR Award or not.