Below are frequently asked questions regarding conducting research with Lancaster ISD.
Who can conduct research with Lancaster ISD?
University or College Faculty and Staff, Research Institutions and Agencies may submit proposals to conduct research within LISD during the application submission window. Graduate students in college or university classes with multiple students conducting research, independent or supervised research projects, or an action research project may submit proposals to conduct research in LISD during the application submission window.
Who needs to submit proposals for review by Lancaster ISD Research Review board (RRB)? Which research studies require approval?
All research, requiring either primary or secondary data, conducted within Lancaster ISD campuses or with Lancaster ISD staff must be approved by the Lancaster ISD RRB regardless of whether the project has received an exemption from the researcher's institution's IRB. The Lancaster ISD RRB does not provide exemptions.
How long does the approval process take?
The RRB will begin reviewing proposals submitted by the submission deadline of each month.
How long is the approval valid?
The approval is valid for one calendar year from the date of approval, unless the time period specified by the researcher is shorter.
What if I am proposing to do a study that takes longer than a year?
The initial application should be for one year. All research projects must be reviewed annually. A new application is not required; a Research Modification Form specifying an extension to the timeline should be submitted. There is no fee for submitting this form for a previously approved study.
Do I have to wait until my institutional review board (IRB) has completed its review before submitting to this committee?
Yes, the Lancaster ISD requires that researchers include their institutional IRB approval letter upon submission of their application materials. The only exception is if the IRB will not approve the study without approval from the district. In these cases, the RRB has the ability to conditionally approve a proposal.
Is the process any different for me if I happen to be a Lancaster ISD employee?
Lancaster ISD employees need to follow the same protocol as outside researchers. The only difference is the application fee is waived for district employees who are fulfilling the requirements for a master's or doctoral degree.
I already have access to student data as a Lancaster ISD employee. Can I extract the data myself?
No. All use of district data for research purposes must first be approved by Lancaster ISD RRB.
What do you mean by "benefits to Lancaster ISD?"
External research proposals must demonstrate clear and direct educational value to the district and not just to the profession of education in general. The potential direct benefit to Lancaster ISD must outweigh demands on district resources, particularly on staff and student time. Lancaster ISD strongly encourages and gives priority to external research projects that contribute to or complement the district's research agenda and strategic plan.
What are reasons why a proposal would be rejected?
There are several reasons why a proposal may be rejected. Reasons listed below are some of the most common reasons.
- No clear and direct educational value to the district
- Does not comply with state and federal laws (e.g., FERPA and PPRA)
- Conflict with testing window
- Too disruptive to campuses or central office
- Too costly in terms of school resources (e.g., time, personnel, supplies)
- Poor research design
- Lack of sufficient information about the study (program, population, research methods, etc.)
- No district sponsor (applicable to some proposals)
- Missing requirement RRB forms
If a proposal is not accepted, will I be told the reasons why?
Yes, the board will provide the reasons to the applicants for which their proposals are not accepted.
Does approval by Lancaster ISD RRB guarantee I will be able to get access to campuses?
No, approval by Lancaster ISD RRB does not guarantee access to campuses. School administrators have the authority to deny access to researchers. As a result, the RRB requires researchers to obtain Principal Consent Forms from campuses in which the proposed study will take place and submit them as a component of the application package.
To save time, may I contact people in the district to solicit their participation in my research while the proposal is undergoing review?
No, researchers may not contact personnel in the district prior to research approval by the RRB. The only exceptions are for researchers who are attempting to obtain a district sponsor or principal consent in order to complete their application.
Is there any way to expedite the process so I can meet my deadlines?
No, all proposals must follow the submission protocol as described in the Research website.
What other obligations and responsibilities does the researcher have to Lancaster ISD in return for its cooperation?
Researchers are responsible for reporting their findings to the district and also keeping their data securely stored. Research findings can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org
What are some of Lancaster ISD's research priorities?
How can I avoid delays in the review process?
Submit all relevant materials on time, reduce data collection demands, avoid demands for sensitive data, and submit well ahead of project start time to allow possibility of modification.
Who can serve as a sponsor?
For research studies that involve implementation of new classroom tools or technology, learning or teaching techniques, or educational materials or curriculums, the appropriate Lancaster ISD department must review and approve the use of all materials before application submittal (e.g., Special Education, Early Childhood, or Academic Services Department). The sponsorship must be authorized by the Executive Director or Director of the appropriate department for the given research study. Please note that having a Lancaster ISD sponsor does not guarantee the research application will be approved.
What are the responsibilities of the sponsor?
The sponsor coordinates efforts, responds to school and parent questions regarding issues and concerns about the project, and must review and approve the use of all the research materials before the proposal can be submitted to the RRB.
Are there application fee waivers?
The application fee is only waived for district employees who are fulfilling the requirements for a master's or doctoral degree.
What happens if my research proposal involves a request for campus or district data?
Campus and district level data are available for public use (TEA, Lancaster ISD district website, Research website). Student-level data can be requested only after the research proposal has been approved. The researcher will need to submit a Data Sharing Agreement (DSA) using a district provided template which will then be reviewed by Lancaster ISD Legal Services.
When do I need to pass a background check and how do I obtain one?
Researchers that are collecting primary data on Lancaster ISD campuses MUST complete a background check. To obtain a background check, please visit the Lancaster ISD HR Department page and fill out a Volunteer Form.
Can researchers ask a teacher to administer a survey in the classroom?
No. District resources (i.e., personnel, equipment, time, supplies) cannot be used for outside research. It is considered a misappropriation of public funds.
Can researchers conduct research during instructional time?
The only instance in which research is allowed during instructional time is when the research has a district sponsor from the appropriate department.
Can teachers conduct research with their own students?
No, teachers may not conduct research with their own students, unless for the sole purpose of improving or informing their teaching strategies.
Are teachers or other school staff required to participate in research that the principal has approved?
No, all district personnel reserve the right to refuse to participate in any research. Researchers are required to provide active consent forms to potential participants. Consent forms must clearly state that potential participants have the right to refuse to participate or withdraw from participating at any time during the research.
When do you need active consent from teachers?
Active consent is required from teachers if researchers plan to collect primary data, such as surveys, interviews, and observations, from teachers.
Obtaining Informed Consent and Assent
What information should be included in a consent form for research participants?
We strongly encourage researchers to utilize consent forms provided by the district. However, if researchers elect to do their own, the eight elements listed on the district template MUST be included in the consent letter.
What information should be included in a form for parents/guardians to give permission for a child to participate in research?
Please consult our Parent/Legal Guardian Consent Form located on the Research website Forms page for information that should be included.
Does the researcher need active consent (permission) from parents/guardians or other subjects? When is parent/guardian consent (permission) not required?
Yes. Active consent is required. The only time parental/guardian consent forms is not required is when/if students are 18 years of age or older.
If a researcher has parent/guardian permission, must the child participate in the research?
No, the child ultimately has the right to refuse to participate in outside research.
Is parent/guardian permission needed for students who are not minors (those who are 18 years or older)?
Not unless the student has a disability that restricts him or her from making an informed decision.
Can the informed consent procedure ever be waived?
Active informed consent is never waived for studies involving primary data collection.
Can a research participant be consented over the phone?
No, a signed active consent is required.