The Participant Data Collection Approval Policy applies to University Life (UL) administrative faculty or professional staff planning to conduct or supervise an assessment that requires elicitation of data from campus constituents. This policy is limited to the approval process, occurring after initial method design and before actual data collection. The methods of data collection covered by this policy include: survey, interview, focus group, participant observation, role play, and simulation.
In order to maximize the effectiveness of internal data collection, it is imperative to have a system in place for managing the plethora of data collection taking place across the division. The primary purpose of this policy is to establish a review and approval process that ensures the quality of data collection instruments, improves operational efficiency, promotes transparency and accountability, and protects the Mason community. Through the review and approval process, the policy also addresses: 1) monitoring data collection frequency and redundancy and 2) data collection, storage and distribution protocol that protects confidentiality and facilitates access to data and findings.
- Campus constituents: Students, alumni, and employees of George Mason University
- Administrative faculty:
- Professional staff:
- Assessment Tool Access
- Existing Data Policy
- The Participant Data Collection (PDC) Form must be completed and submitted online to initiate the ULA review process for collecting data from Mason constituents as consenting participants.
- In order to facilitate completion of the online form in one sitting, it is strongly recommended that you first fill out the PDF version of the form and also have your assessment instrument draft ready to upload.
- Only UL administrative faculty/professional staff may submit the PDC form. If no UL admin faculty/pro staff are listed as Data Collectors, one must be designated as a Data Collection Advisor and submit on behalf of the non-admin faculty/pro staff Data Collector.
- Proposed data collection must clearly align with a UL strategic initiative or outcome.
- The PDC form is limited to one data collection process. If an assessment project requires two or more distinct data collection processes, they must be submitted separately on individual forms.
- If it is anticipated that identical data collection processes will occur in the same academic year, one form may be submitted for all repeated data collection processes.
- Data collection coordinators are strongly encouraged to submit the form and draft data collection instrument at least two months in advance of the proposed data collection launch date.
When collecting data in educational settings, it is important to make the distinction between assessment and research. Research is defined as a systematic investigation designed to contribute to generalizable knowledge and for publication. On the other hand, the intent of assessment is to improve a practice or program.
Regardless of the intent, all UL staff proposing to collect participant data must submit a PDC Form. Data collection that falls under the RDIA/IRB definition of human subject research must undergo a separate RDIA/IRB review process which is facilitated by ULA. Confirmation that the RDIA/IRB application is under review or approved must be received before ULA can provide approval to proceed with participant data collection.
- In reviewing PDC Form entries and attachments (e.g., instrument, e-mail invitation, marketing samples) and ULA considers:
- Duplication of Efforts: Can similar data collection proposal be combined? Are there existing data sources that contain the same information?
- Content and Design: Is there a clear connection between the stated outcome and the selected data collection method? Is the instrument well‐designed? Is it of reasonable and appropriate length? Are the questions easily understood and interpreted? How are sensitive topics handled?
- Timing: When will the survey be conducted? Does it overlap with other surveys of the same population or occur during blackout days?
- Participants: Who are the participants?
- Dissemination and Use of Information: Who will have access to the information? Will the findings help them implement improvements
- After review of all required information and materials (e.g., PDC form, IRB confirmation) is complete, ULA will email the applicant within two weeks its decision of: APPROVED, APPROVED WITH CONDITIONS, or DECLINED.
- When planning data collection timing, coordinators should first refer to the ULA-maintained Data Collection Schedule to help select optimal times for data collection.
- After receiving approval, the requestor must work with ULA to finalize the data collection, analysis, and distribution timeline. Scheduled start and end dates will be posted by ULA on the Data Collection Schedule.
- In cases where a general population sample and/or directory-level information (e.g., email, major) is requested, ULA will assist in providing representative random samples and/or directory-level information to the requester.
- ULA may require that data be collected and/or stored through official UL- or Mason-sponsored data management systems (e.g., Tk20, Campus Labs, Blackboard, Office 365, MESA) in order to maintain data security.
- All those approved to collect data via the PDC review process must submit final reporting requirements (instrument, data and findings) according to the approved timeline. If the data collection was connected to a unit/strategic initiative annual planning outcome, final requirements can be uploaded to Tk20. If the data collection was not included in annual planning, final requirements should be submitted through the UL Data Inventory Upload Form.
- In order to promote divisional transparency, efficiency, and effectiveness, PDC final reporting requirements will be made available in the UL Data Inventory. This inventory will be maintained on ULA’s website and consist of two levels of data access. Level 1, open to the general public, lists each project’s title, date, and unit. Clicking on any title leads to its Level 2 data, findings, and instrument. This level of access is restricted to UL employees only via Shibboleth. Coordinators must arrange an alternative way for non-UL participants to receive access to the data collection findings.