LU students, faculty, and staff who plan to conduct research at institutions, organizations, facilities, or events—schools, churches, businesses, conferences, etc.—that are unaffiliated with the University are required to seek written permission from those outside groups to utilize them for research studies. This will involve requesting permission in person or writing a permission request letter to the appropriate party. It is the responsibility of the researcher to determine from whom to seek permission.
The IRB provides a permission request letter template on its webpage at http://www.liberty.edu/academics/graduate/irb/index.cfm?PID=20088, and we invite researchers to utilize the template to prepare their permission requests. The permission request letter does not need to be submitted to the IRB.
A sample scenario might involve a researcher who plans to conduct his or her study at a public school(s). The researcher would need to gain written permission from the district superintendent and provide a copy of that permission to the IRB. Although the superintendent may require the researcher to also gain permission from the school principal, documentation of the principal’s permission would not be necessary for IRB approval.
Researchers should request that permission letters be provided on approved letterhead and include the signature(s) of the appropriate official(s). Permission documentation that is not provided on letterhead with signature(s) (i.e., emailed permission) will have to be confirmed by the IRB. Confirmation is accomplished by email or a phone call to the party listed on the permission documentation.
Permission letters should consist of a broad statement indicating that the researcher will be allowed to conduct his or her study procedures at a specific facility or function. If the individual providing permission lists permissible procedures on the permission letter, the researcher should make sure that he or she has been granted permission to conduct all of the procedures outlined on the IRB application. If the researcher is not granted permission to conduct all of his or her planned procedures, the IRB will not be able to grant its approval, and the researcher may need to reconsider and possibly revise his or her planned protocol and IRB application.
If a facility refuses to grant permission prior to the researcher receiving LU IRB approval and the researcher has completed all requested IRB revisions to his or her research application, the IRB will conditionally approve the research application and issue a conditional approval letter to the researcher for the specified research study. Conditional approval WILL NOT allow the researcher to begin recruiting participants and collecting data, but the researcher will be able to provide the conditional approval letter to the appropriate official(s) to gain the needed permission letter.
Once received, permission letters will need to be submitted to the IRB. We will not be able to issue a complete approval prior to receiving all necessary permission letters. Copies of permission letters may be submitted by email as scanned pdfs to firstname.lastname@example.org; by fax to 434-522-0506; or by mail, campus mail, or hand delivery to Green Hall, suite 1837. The IRB will save and file the letters with the researcher’s application and supporting documents and issue an approval letter enabling the researcher to begin his or her research study.
Studies will not receive complete IRB approval until all permission letters are submitted.