Research Approval

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In an effort to reduce research fatigue studies involving the solicitation of Illinois students are to be registered with the Office of the Dean of Students through the Student Affairs Research Approval (SARA) process. The primary goal is to ensure that no one student subpopulation receives more than three solicitations per academic semester. Additionally, the Division of Student Affairs wants to ensure the well-being of students by reviewing survey instruments for distressing or illegal activities and ensuring proper referrals are made available. Routine end of the semester class evaluations, surveys sent by voluntary associations to their own members, surveys sent to members of a voluntary e-mail list, electronic collection of information required for employment or matriculation, subject pool participants for class credit, and electronic communications between faculty and students are excluded from the SARA process. This process is overseen by Brian Farber (, Executive Assistant to the Associate Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs/Director of Auxiliary Services. The following restrictions apply to all student data gathering on campus:

The following restrictions apply to all student data gathering on campus:

  • Approval to release student emails for research purposes must be obtained from the Office of the Dean of Students before being requested from the Division of Management Information.
  • Documentation of approval or exemption for the study from the Illinois Institutional Review Board (IRB) is required.
  • Complete populations of any subgroup(s) will not be approved and therefore it is strongly recommended that consultation with the Assistant Provost for Management Information ( or the Director of Assessment & Planning for Student Affairs occurs before submitting an IRB application.
  • The Division of Information Management charges for creating lists of students or faculty/staff. However, charges will be waived for Illinois dissertation projects. See their website for details at
  • Per Illinois Faculty Senate Policy (pdf) established on September 8, 2012 students cannot be solicited to participate in a research project the week before or the week of finals unless it is a course requirement. In addition, deadlines for submission of SARA applications will be November 1st for the Fall semester and March 31st for the Spring semester every year. Please allow five business days for processing.
  • University policies also limit follow-up email reminders to three.
  • Third party surveys must adhere to the Faculty Senate Policy (pdf) governing electronic surveys and questionnaires.
  • Generally, a SARA form should be submitted if any of the following conditions apply:
    • Survey or study will involve students to whom researcher does not provide direct services or instruction
    • Information will be shared off-campus (Institutional Review Board approval is also required)
    • Survey or study will involve more than 1000 students
    • Researcher does not have an academic appointment at Illinois
  • Requests from non-University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign researchers will be considered on a first-come first-served basis and whether they duplicate, seriously conflict, or in competition with other surveys also being conducted by university administration or Illinois faculty.
  • Non-Illinois research projects are limited to three per semester.
    • Documentation of IRB approval or exemption from their home campus will be required
    • All the restrictions listed above also apply to these researchers

The Director of Assessment & Planning will review all applications and if required will negotiate research study administration windows, types, or number of participants. If an accommodation cannot be reached a SARA application will be denied. SARA approval will not be granted if one of the following conditions exist.

  • Three research projects already target a specific student subpopulation and the numbers targeted for these solicitations equal the total number of individuals in the subpopulation.
  • A project is similar to previously approved studies in the previous or current semester and it targets the same subpopulation of students.
  • If all enrolled undergraduate or graduate students are slated to receive 3 or more solicitations in one semester.
  • University administration plans a substantial study that is similar or has overlapping student populations to a study seeking Student Affairs Research Approval.
  • The timing of the administration of the survey is too near to the end of the semester.
  • Any research with the primary purpose of marketing to students for a profit.

Priorities set by campus administration take precedent over any research studies and all Student Affairs Research Approval policies.

Research Approval Form (doc)

Policy reviewed and approved by Associate Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs.

Policy reviewed and approved by Assistant Provost for Management Information.

Policy reviewed and approved by Director of Office for the Protection of Research Subjects.