Submitting a Research Request

  • To conduct research in Broward County Public Schools (BCPS), research projects must be reviewed and approved through the District's IRB and Research Review process. This process has two distinct components that have been combined to eliminate redundancies and facilitate faster processing times:

    • IRB Review:  Ensures the protection of our students, parents, and staff by complying with FERPA and with other federal, state, and local privacy laws.
    • Research Review:  Ensures that Research Requests benefit the District and do not negatively impact staff and student instructional time and resources.
  • Process

    To conduct research in Broward County Public Schools (BCPS), research projects must be reviewed and approved through the District's IRB and Research Review process. This process has two distinct components that have been combined to eliminate redundancies and facilitate faster processing times:

    • IRB Review:  Ensures the protection of our students, parents, and staff by complying with FERPA and with other federal, state, and local privacy laws.
    • Research Review:  Ensures that Research Requests benefit the District and do not negatively impact staff and student instructional time and resources.

    I. Process Overview

    Prior to submitting a Research Request, it is important that applicants be aware that:

    • Research Requests are submitted online, which allows applicants to track the progress of an application through the review process.  No hardcopy documents are accepted.
    • Applicants not affiliated with BCPS, or employees seeking to conduct research for a dissertation or thesis, must first obtain IRB approval from a sponsoring institution. Proof of approval must be submitted with the application.
    • A team of District- and school-based staff reviews the proposed research methods, benefits of the research to BCPS, and impact of the project on staff time and resources.
    • Reviews take 6-8 weeks from the time all required documents are received. Processing time may be extended during blackout periods (e.g., statewide testing, holidays).
    • Archival requests, mandatory research from a granting agency, or requests from District partners with an approved Partnership Agreement will have shorter processing times.
    • Providing all of the required materials and documents in the format requested expedites the review process.
    • When a Research Request is approved, a District IRB Approval certificate is issued. This document must be presented to BCPS principals or District staff when requesting participation.
    • If approved research activities involve a school's staff, students, or parents, the principal must be contacted first to request participation prior to the initiation of any research activities.  In most cases, the principal has the right to decline participation.
    • Proposed research activities must have a minimal impact on school activities and classroom instruction, and should not be scheduled during blackout periods, such as at the beginning or end of the school year, or during statewide or local testing periods.
    • BCPS requires active informed consent for research involving students, where parents provide a signed, dated, written consent before their child may participate in the study.
    • Applicants are responsible for costs incurred for data requested from the District's Data Warehouse. Fees ($100/hr.) are based on the time required by staff to build data files.
    • Approvals are valid for one year. A Renewal Request is required for all studies, including multi-year studies, not completed before the annual expiration date.  Research not completed within the timeframe specified in the protocol approved on the original Research Request will require re-approval by participating schools and staff.

    II. Timeline

    Research Requests may be submitted continuously throughout most of the year. This process takes approximately 6-8 weeks from the time that all required documents are received, however, this process may be extended during blackout periods, which includes, but is not limited to:

    • The first and last two weeks of the school year,
    • State and local testing periods, and
    • State and federal holidays.

    III. Online Submission

    Research Requests are submitted online. No hardcopy documents are accepted. Submitting the Online Submission form initiates your Research Request. Simply click on the Online Submission link on the left of this webpage to access this form. This brief form asks for your contact information, name of organization or university, title of project, anticipated research dates and related information.

    After submitting the Online Submission form, applicants are asked to upload supporting documents for their Research Request. It is important to have all required documents completed and ready for uploading prior to starting the Online Submission form. The completed form and document uploads should be completed in one session because the process does not allow for saving and restarting a submission at a later time.

    IV. Required Documents

    The documents listed below are required to complete your Research Request. All documents should be uploaded in PDF format unless noted. Recall that reviews take 6-8 weeks from the time all required documents are received. As a result, the IRB and Research Review process timeline will be delayed if required documents are missing, information is incomplete, or documents requiring signatures (e.g., IRB approval letter, Conflict of Interest) are not signed.

    • Proposal to Conduct Research:  This is the primary document used by school and District staff to review your research protocol. This Microsoft Word document may be downloaded from the Forms section to the left. The completed form must be uploaded in Microsoft Word (.docx) format.
    • Conflict of Interest Disclosure:  Separate signed forms must be included for each member of the research team, including student advisors. This document may be downloaded from the Forms section to the left.
    • IRB Approval Letter/Authorization:  IRB approval from a sponsoring institution is required for all Research Requests. This document must be signed and dated on the letterhead of your sponsoring institution.
    • Informed Consent/Assent:  All consent/assent documents for research involving human subjects must be uploaded for students, parents, teachers, and staff (refer to the Common Rule for consent criteria and waivers). All consent/assent forms must include all requisite informed consent information as outlined in the Common Rule 46.116 and 46.117. BCPS requires active informed consent for research involving students, where parents provide a signed, dated, written consent before their child may participate in the study.
    • Measurement Instruments:  Upload all instruments to be administered in your study, including but not limited to: Surveys, questionnaires, assessments, focus group and interview questions and protocol, and other instruments.
    • Recruitment Materials:  If applicable, upload all relevant documents (e.g., announcements, flyers, posters, etc.).
    • Research Proposal: University student researchers must submit an electronic copy of their dissertation proposal as approved by the student's research committee.
    • Letter of Endorsement: University student researchers must also submit a signed letter from their research advisor on university letterhead that specifically includes statements confirming the review and approval of the student's research proposal by the research committee.
    • Ancillary Documents:  If applicable, upload additional supporting documents (e.g., letters of support from District staff, agreements, etc.).

    If documents or information are missing, the Principal Investigator will be contacted, and the review timeline may be delayed.

    V. Review

    After submitting the Online Submission form and uploading the required documents, District staff will review all documents to ensure the Research Request application is complete. The completed application will then undergo a preliminary IRB screening to ensure compliance with FERPA and PPRA standards. If further information or clarification is required, the Principal Investigator will be contacted. 

    Once approved for review, the Research Request will undergo an Exempt, Expedited or Full Board Review.  Additional information may be found at the IRB Levels of Review link to the left.

    Applications found to meet IRB requirements (i.e., FERPA and PPRA standards), as well and state and local privacy requirements, will be forwarded for review.  Reviewers with expertise relevant to the Research Request will be assigned. Reviewers may include:  Principals for the school level and type targeted by the research; subject area specialists to ensure that the proposed research is appropriate and the literature review is complete; and/or research staff members to ensure that the proposed research methods, scope and focus are appropriate. The review will include an assessment of:

    • Potential risks to subjects
    • Impact on instructional time, staff resources, and school operations
    • Quality of the proposed research: Is the problem well defined? Are the questions/hypotheses well developed and pertinent to the problem? Is the literature review complete? Is the method of analysis appropriate? Can the research accomplish its intended purpose?
    • Utility of the research to BCPS: Does the research focus on educational issues and concerns? Is the intrusiveness of the research outweighed by its potential benefit to the District (risk/benefit analysis)? Are the research activities compatible with a public school setting?

    For Research Requests requiring a Full Board Review, the Principal Investigator will be contacted and encouraged to attend a Full Board Committee meeting to address any questions that may arise from committee members.

    Requests to conduct research that fulfill all IRB requirements may be denied should reviewers find the impact on school operations, staff time and resources, and instructional time to outweigh the potential value of the findings to BCPS. 

    VI. Decision & Notification

    Based on reviewer feedback, a decision will be made to take one of the following actions:

    • The application will be approved.  In some cases, the Principal Investigator may be asked to revise the Proposal to Conduct Research or other documents to comply with BCPS or IRB policy, prior to approving the Research Request.
    • The application will not be approved. In this case, the response will outline the reasons why the Research Request was denied.

    Upon approval of a Research Request, a District IRB Approval certificate with the Protocol ID number is issued to the Principal Investigator. This document outlines the conditions of the approval protocol. The IRB Approval certificate must be provided to the principals of schools targeted for participation at the time that principals are approached to solicit their participation. Principals in BCPS have been instructed not to cooperate unless this document is presented when researchers request their participation.

    IRB approval does not constitute an endorsement for the research project. Approval provides permission to request the voluntary cooperation of BCPS staff.  The Protocol ID number should be used in all communications with schools and District staff to clearly identify the research as approved through the IRB and Research Review process.

  • Security Protocol

    As stipulated in the IRB Approval, all researchers and their team members must complete District security protocol to receive a Security ID Badge before entering a BCPS campus or sponsored school event, or having contact with staff, students, or parents under any circumstancesResearchers not completing these procedures before visiting a school site will have their IRB approval suspended.  Research involving archival data, or not requiring in-person contact with principals, staff, students, or parents, is exempt from these security clearance procedures.

    District security protocol requires researchers and each member of the research team to:

    After obtaining a Security ID Badge, the approved researcher may contact the principal(s) or District staff member(s) they have been approved to contact to request their voluntary participation in the research project. It is important to be aware that:

    • Security ID Badges expire with the expiration of the IRB approval.
    • The Security ID Badge assigned to each research team member for the approved research project is the property of The School Board of Broward County, Florida, and must be returned to the Student Assessment and Research Department upon completion of the approved research project.
    • Current BCPS employees with a valid Security ID Badge have already fulfilled the District's security clearance procedures.
    • Researchers failing to get a Security ID Badge prior to starting research activities at a school site will have their IRB approval suspended.

    The District's Security Clearance Office may be contacted at 754-321-2374 with any questions regarding security clearance procedures. If additional assistance is needed, please email IRB staff in Student Assessment and Research.

  • Starting Your Research

    Upon receiving the District's IRB Approval certificate and completing the Security Protocol, researchers may begin contacting principals or District staff identified in this document to request their participation. As stated previously, if approved research activities involve staff and/or students of a school, the principal must be contacted first to request participation prior to any contact with staff or students.

    When contacting principals to request their participation, a copy of the IRB Approval certificate must be provided to the principals of the schools targeted for participation at the time that they are approached to solicit their participation. Principals in BCPS have been instructed not to cooperate unless this document is presented when researchers request their participation. If contact with principals is conducted in person, all research team members must have completed security clearance procedures and received a Security ID Badge.

    After making contact with principals or staff of schools identified in the IRB Approval certificate and receiving the voluntary approval to participate, research activities may commence in accordance with the research protocol documented and approved in the Research Request's Proposal to Conduct Research.

    It is important to note that research activities in BCPS should have a minimal impact on school activities, classroom instruction, and staff time. Additionally, researchers should not schedule research activities during blackout periods, such as at the beginning or end of the school year, or during statewide or local testing periods.  BCPS Calendars may be found at the link to the left.

  • Data Requests

    Research Request applicants are responsible for costs incurred for data requested from the District's Data Warehouse. Data request fees are $100 per hour based on the time required by Student Assessment and Research staff to build the data files.

    Instructions for submitting a data request for an approved project may be found on the IRB Approval Certificate issued by the BCPS IRB. Upon receipt of the data request, Student Assessment and Research staff will generate an estimate of the staff time required to build the requested data files and will email an invoice to the Principal Investigator for approval.

    When the Principal Investigator approves the invoice, the data pull will be scheduled subject to the availability of Student Assessment and Research staff. The Principal Investigator will be notified when the files have been created. The files will be released upon receipt of payment. Checks should be made payable to "The School Board of Broward County, Florida" and mailed to IRB staff in the Student Assessment and Research Department. Data files must be securely transmitted to comply with FERPA and other federal, state and local data policies.

  • Continuing Review

    By the submission of a Research Request to the District's IRB and Research Review, the Principal Investigator agrees to abide by all conditions regarding the Continuing Review of the approved research project. These conditions include Change Requests, Renewal Requests, reporting of Adverse Events, and submission of the Final report, which are discussed below. Further information on Continuing Review may be found at the IRB link to the left.

    I. Change Requests
    As per the Common Rule, requests to change any aspect of the IRB approved project, including but not limited to changes in the research process, protocol, instruments, informed consent, or members of the research team, must be submitted to the District's IRB for approval before changes are implemented. The Change Request form may be downloaded from the Forms section to the left, and should be submitted electronically to IRB staff. Upon receipt, the Change Request will be forwarded to the relevant District and/or school-based staff for review. Particular attention will be paid to changes that have the potential to increase the risk to subjects. Approved research activities may not incorporate the requested changes until the Principal Investigator receives an IRB Change Request Approval certificate from the District.

    II. Renewal Requests
    The approval of an application is valid for a specific period of time which shall not exceed a period of one year. For projects that are not completed before the annual expiration date, the Principal Investigator must submit a Renewal Request Form to request an extension. No study-related activities may continue beyond the expiration date of the IRB approval in the absence of an approved renewal. A Renewal Request must be received at least one month in advance of the expiration date to ensure adequate review time. The Renewal Request form may be downloaded from the Forms section to the left, and should be submitted electronically to IRB staff. Research not completed within the timeframe specified in the protocol approved on the original Research Request will require re-approval by participating schools and staff. If approved, the Principal Investigator will receive an IRB Renewal Request Approval certificate from the District.

    III. Adverse Events
    As per the Common Rule, the Principal Investigator is obligated to report unanticipated problems or adverse events related to subject participation that occur in the context of ongoing or closed IRB-approved research projects. The Adverse Events form may be downloaded from the Forms section to the left, and should be submitted electronically to IRB staff. Upon receipt, the Adverse Events form will be forwarded to the relevant District and/or school-based staff for review.

    IV. Final Report
    A Final Report of your findings must be submitted electronically to the Student Assessment and Research Department no later than four months following the expiration date of the approved study. The Principal Investigator should email an electronic copy of the report to IRB staff.  The final report is the mechanism for communicating findings and showing value of the research to BCPS.  Failure to submit a final report may result in denial of future applications.

  • Tracking Project Status

    After submitting the Online Submission form and uploading accompanying documents, each Research Request is assigned a Protocol ID number, and applicants are asked to create a User ID and password.  The User ID and password allows applicants to track the progress of an application through the review process.

    To track the progress of your Research Request, navigate and sign in at the following link: https://bcps.browardschools.com/research/confirmation.asp.  For further information about your status, please email the IRB Administrative Contact.

  • Common Errors to Avoid

    1. Common errors that often accompany research proposals and research activities
      1. Confusing "anonymity" and "confidentiality"
      2. Promising confidentiality or anonymity when it cannot be guaranteed
      3. Failing to communicate clearly how the information contributed by the participants will be used
      4. Collecting data from children without proper authorization
    1. To avoid these errors and ensure that the rights of human subjects are protected
      1. Make every effort to understand the cultural and social values of all participants.
      2. Do not deprive students of instructional or training methods that are beneficial and normally available. Assigning students to a control group in which a treatment previously available is purposely withheld, to determine the effect of such deprivation, is one example of what not to do.
      3. Develop formal written agreements that explain the procedures to be followed by the researcher and the organization.
      4. Assure that communications and language are appropriate for age and background of the participants.
      5. Duly inform subjects of their participation.
      6. Inform participants of their rights.
      7. Secure appropriate written permission form relevant authorities for access to written records.
      8. When permission of parents/guardians is needed, they are to be informed of the implications of the research and a signed permission form must be secured to involve their children in the research.
      9. Establish a procedure to guarantee confidentiality for participants when possible.
      10. Do not disclose identities of participants when reporting research findings.
      11. Guard against the possibility that the collected data is used for any purposes different that those agreed to by the persons who provided the data.
      12. Ask respondents to identify themselves only when necessary.
      13. Inform the organization's staff and constituents of the purpose of the research.

  • Document Checklist

    The checklist below will assist you in preparing to submit your online Research Request. Reviews take 6-8 weeks from the time all required documents are received. As a result, the IRB and Research Review process timeline will be delayed if required documents are missing, information is incomplete or missing, or documents requiring signatures (e.g., IRB approval letter, Conflict of Interest) are not signed.

    • Proposal to Conduct Research:  This is the primary document used by school and District staff to review your research protocol. This Microsoft Word document may be downloaded from the Forms section to the left. The completed form must be uploaded in Microsoft Word (.docx) format.
    • Conflict of Interest Disclosure:  Separate signed forms must be included for each member of the research team, including student advisors. This document may be downloaded from the Forms section to the left.
    • IRB Approval Letter/Authorization:  IRB approval from a sponsoring institution is required for all Research Requests. This document must be signed and dated on the letterhead of your sponsoring institution.
    • Informed Consent/Assent: All consent/assent documents for research involving human subjects must be uploaded for students, parents, teachers, and staff (refer to the Common Rule for consent criteria and waivers). All consent/assent forms must include all requisite informed consent information as outlined in the Common Rule 46.116 and 46.117. BCPS requires active informed consent for research involving students, where parents provide a signed, dated, written consent before their child may participate in the study.
    • Measurement Instruments:  Upload all instruments to be administered in your study, including but not limited to: Surveys, questionnaires, assessments, focus group and interview questions and protocol, and other instruments.
    • Recruitment Materials:  If applicable, upload all relevant documents (e.g., announcements, flyers, posters, etc.).
    • Research Proposal: University student researchers must submit an electronic copy of their dissertation proposal as approved by the student's research committee.
    • Letter of Endorsement: University student researchers must also submit a signed letter from their research advisor on university letterhead that specifically includes statements confirming the review and approval of the student's research proposal by the research committee.
    • Ancillary Documents:  If applicable, upload additional supporting documents (e.g., letters of support from District staff, agreements, etc.).

Contact Information

  • Student Assessment and Research

    600 SE Third Avenue

    Fort Lauderdale, Florida 33301

    Phone: 754-321-2500

    Fax: 754-321-4290

    TTL: --

    Phone: --

    Richard Baum

    Director