Surveying GVSU Students & Personnel

Procedure for use of GVSU contact information for human subjects research:

GVSU encourages sound research by and about its students, faculty, and staff, but also respects the privacy and valuable time of those constituencies. Electronic communication presents a powerful and easy means of contacting potential participants for research, but that ease creates a potential for invasive or overwhelming contact by researchers. The following statements establish the conditions under which the university will provide support for research efforts that involve mass electronic communication to students, faculty, or staff.

  1. Requests for electronic contact for the purposes of survey, interview, or focus group research should be directed to the Office of Institutional Analysis (OIA). Please send a brief description of the proposed research, including the population(s) that you wish to contact, the subject and nature of the research, and the timing of contact (including any follow-up contacts).
  2. GVSU employees or contractors may not use their access to GVSU contact information or communication channels (e.g. Navigate, Slate, etc.) to recruit participants for human subjects research, unless they obtain explicit written approval from the Office of Institutional Analysis to do so (with exceptions noted in #6 below).
  3. OIA will review requests for compliance with FERPA and university policy. Consideration will also be given to issues of timing, burden on respondents, and overlap with other research projects.
  4. Research projects must be approved (or deemed exempt) by the GVSU Institutional Review Board (IRB). OIA approval does not imply IRB approval. However, OIA will provide a letter expressing its intention to provide support for use of GVSU contact information, which will be useful in support of the IRB proposal.
  5. OIA will make reasonable efforts to select an invitee population suited to a project's research needs.  However, recruiting samples cannot be selected on health or disability information.  Projects with such criteria will need to invite participants from a more generalized population and ask participants to voluntarily self-disclose their eligibility in a manner approved by the GVSU IRB.
  6. Research on small, clearly-defined groups that have a GVSU employee responsible for that group's oversight does not need to be approved by OIA. For example, a teacher can approve a survey of his/her class, a coach could approve a survey of his/her squad, etc. These projects do still need IRB clearance.
  7. The university encourages the use of random sampling to reduce the burden of requests on individual invitees. Researchers need to present a compelling rationale if they intend to contact entire populations (e.g. all faculty, all undergraduate students, etc.)
  8. The university will not release electronic contact addresses or other individually identifiable information directly to researchers. Instead, researchers' messages will be sent directly by the university's Information Technology department. E-mail messages will be sent so that replies go to an unmonitored and secure mailbox, and will include the following text:

    This message was distributed by Grand Valley State University on behalf of the investigator named above.  No e-mail addresses or other personally identifiable information have been disclosed to the investigator. The university does not use data about individuals' health or disability status for the selection of invitee populations for research.  If you have questions or concerns about this practice, please visit [URL for this document].

    Not all studies use repeated email contact attempts, and GVSU restricts the number of messages for those that do.  If you want to be exempted from further emails about this study, please forward this message to [email protected].

    As a GVSU student or employee, you cannot be required to participate in research as part of any academic course or employment duties. Your participation in this study must be voluntary and free of coercion. You are free to refuse to participate or may withdraw from participation at any time. If you agree to take part in this study, the researchers are responsible for protecting your privacy and the confidentiality of information you provide as required by federal and state regulations and GVSU policies. Distribution of this email does not imply Institutional Review Board (IRB) approval of this study; the IRB must review and approve (or deem exempt) all covered research involving human participants before a study can begin.
  9. After the contact is fully approved, the researcher must provide the following to OIA:

          a.   the exact text of the message to be sent;

          b.   the text to appear in the subject line;

          c.   the text for the "From" line (this should be a name or an organization, not an email address);

          d.   evidence of IRB approval.

Individuals with concerns about the protection of their privacy under this policy should please contact the Director of Institutional Analysis at [email protected] or (616) 331-8648.

Page last modified April 8, 2024