New Policies on Surveying NASP Members
By Steven Landau, Jeffrey L. Charvat, Ellie L. Young, & Eric M. Mesmer
NASP members periodically receive invitations to participate in surveys conducted by NASP workgroups, university faculty, and students working on their theses or dissertations. The NASP Research Committee is charged with reviewing proposals seeking permission to conduct research with NASP members. The large number of such requests, an increased awareness of methodological and ethical concerns involved in some of these proposals, plus evidence of unintended consequences resulting from a high number of member surveys have come to the attention of the Research Committee. As a result, the committee recently revised its research policies regarding member access. This article provides a brief overview of the new policies and the procedures for requesting access to NASP members for research purposes.
The Research Committee has maintained detailed records on the number, type, and disposition of requests it receives to conduct research with NASP members. These data, combined with anecdotal evidence ranging from direct feedback from members to reduced response rates to studies, suggest that some members may be feeling overburdened by the number of participation requests they receive. Despite the fact that researchers are required to have approval from their institutional review boards (IRB) prior to submission, the Research Committee has also noted that many submitted proposals lack adequate mechanisms to ensure protection of research participants.
The new research policies are designed to (a) ensure NASP members are protected from harm, (b) increase the likelihood of good response rates to official NASP research efforts, (c) ensure that only methodologically sound research is approved, and (d) ensure that only studies that are likely to make a significant contribution to the science and/or practice of school psychology are approved. These new policies include the following: (a) requests for mailing labels to conduct surveys of members will be considered using a competitive review process, (b) the number of requests approved will be limited, and (c) faculty advisors will be required to sign off on requests submitted by their students. The policy prohibiting the release of members’ e-mail addresses has not changed.
Effective June 15, 2011, requests for mailing labels will be considered in review cycles with deadlines yet to be established (the deadlines will be posted on the NASP website at the address below). Researchers may request up to 1,000 mailing labels. Requests will be evaluated on a competitive basis. Only those proposals with potential to advance school psychology will be considered competitive. The total number of mailing labels approved per cycle will be limited. Reviews will include consideration of the potential risk of harm that may accompany participation in the study. Please note that approval by the researcher’s IRB does not guarantee that the study will meet the committee’s standards. Because of the many methodological weaknesses inherent in conducting online surveys, requests to recruit NASP members for research participation via NASP Listservs or Communities will not be considered.
These policies will help ensure that members view invitations to participate in research as safe opportunities to contribute to the advancement of research in school psychology, rather than as a burden or inconvenience. For more information on the new policies, please see the documents at http://www.nasponline.org/about_nasp/researchpolicies.aspx.
Steven Landau, PhD, is cochair of the Research Committee and professor of psychology at Illinois State University. Jeffrey L. Charvat, PhD, is staff liaison to the Research Committee and NASP director of research. Ellie L. Young, PhD, is chair of the Research Committee and associate professor of psychology at Brigham Young University. Eric M. Mesmer, PhD, is cochair of the Research Committee and assistant professor of psychology at Radford University.