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Institutional Review Board (IRB): Site Permissions

Recruitment through NU Resources

NU researchers may not use NU Commons to recruit participants for their research.  If you obtain NU Site Permission, then you can request access to resources, but these are not guaranteed.

Contact the IRB

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 Visit the IRB Office Hours page

Site Permissions

Site Permission can refer to physical sites, but the term also applies to virtual sites as well as other forms of private resources.

You will need to obtain permission if you plan to do any of the following:

  • Recruit in a closed and/or moderated social media group
  • Recruit from the private contact list of an organization, school, or business
  • Use the private resources of an organization, school, or business to recruit or collect data
  • Use the private resources of a site that has its own IRB (go to page for Research at a Site)
  • Utilize a US government or military site (go to page for US Government and Military Research)
  • OR Recruit and/or collect data on-the-ground in a country other than the United States (go to page for International Research)

Many NU students also hold professional roles in other organizations that serve as sites for studies. They may be employed at a site designated to be part of a study. Your role as an NU researcher is completely separate from any roles you may hold at the site. Access to people, resources, or data files you may hold in your non-NU role does not translate into permission to use that same access for your NU research.

When can I start obtaining these permissions?

If permission is needed for your study, you should make plans to obtain this permission before submitting your IRB application. Do not wait until DIS9903A/DIS9913A to begin the process of obtaining permissions.

In fact, as you are developing your dissertation proposal, you should reach out to your site to make sure that what you are proposing is feasible.

What if the site wants NU IRB approval first?

It is common for a site to want evidence of NU IRB approval before they will give approval for you to do research at their site. If that is the case, you should obtain something in writing (a letter, an email, etc.) from the site that states that they will not provide approval until NU IRB has approved the study. You will provide that written documentation from the site in your IRB application.

What does a permission entail?

You will need to obtain permission if a person/place/organization is going to provide you with a private list of contact information (such as email addresses) or you are planning to recruit in a private or closed social media group.

This type of permission should include the following information:

  • Name of place or person providing the contact information and title
  • Group name (if applicable)
  • Their email contact
  • A detailed list of what they are going to provide.

You also need permission if you will be utilizing any resources from a study site, such as physical, structural, or personnel resources. For example, if you are going to step foot on a Native American reservation or give interviews on a college campus, you would need to obtain site permission. Another example would be if a school district or business is going to do something for you, such as send recruitment materials on your behalf, allow you to use a room for your research, or let you recruit at a staff meeting.

The following people are the typical ones to provide permission:

  • Corporation: The CEO or their designee
  • Government Agency: This is complicated as it depends on the government agency. You should ask your management when preparing to conduct research at a government agency. 
  • K-12 School: The Superintendent or their designee, and the Principal(s) for the school(s)
  • Non-Profit Organization: Executive Director, Chairperson of the Board, or their designee
  • Social Media: The group administrator or moderator. There is not any distinction between public and private groups. Even public groups will have someone that has set the group rules. 

What should be included in the permission?

All permissions should include the following and must align with your recruitment materials and consent letter:

  • Name of person providing permission, their contact information, and their title
  • Eligibility/inclusion criteria for your participants
  • List of research activities expected of the participants
  • Any additional requests that you need the site to do for your study (e.g., distribute recruitment materials)

You can obtain permission as an email, a message, or a signed letter. For emails and messages, you can take a picture/capture a screenshot of the permission.  All needed permissions need to be uploaded to your IRB application.