IRB Guidance: Site Permission
This page addresses when permission from a study site is required.
Confirmation of permission from an appropriate person of authority must be obtained for research that involves the use of site resources (e.g., data source) or engagement in research procedures on site. Written permission is most typically required for sites that would be considered private and not open for general public/commercial use. Permission can be in the form of a hard copy letter or by email.
- Community groups
- Medical offices or clinics
- Private companies, Non-Profits, or Non-Government Organizations
- Religious institutions
- Federal, state, or local governance institutions or offices
Examples of sites and procedures for which written permission is typically NOT required include:
- Public business/meeting centers (e.g., interviews conducted at Starbucks, library meeting room, or local park)
- Posting flyers in public/common places (e.g., public bulletin board on campus)
Elements of permission documents should typically include:
- Protocol title and/or number;
- Name of research team members;
- Scope of the research and all activities to be conducted at the site;
- Name of the site; and
- Person providing permission (title, contact information).
- Other stipulations, as required by the site, such as requiring documentation of IRB approval.
- Approval time period, if limited.
- Any explicit restrictions to permission (e.g., interviews must be conducted during non-contract hours).
- Inform the site of the appropriate features of the project so the site's person of authority can make an informed decision.
- Inform the site of the need for documentation of permission.
- Obtain the written permission prior to beginning any research activities at the site and keep the correspondence for your records.
- Maintain a current permission letter with the study file if the approval period is limited.