Access to Faculty, Students, and Staff for Research Purposes

Guidelines and Procedures Regarding Access to University of Toronto Faculty, Students, and Staff for Research Purposes

June 2006 (Revised September 2007)

Summary: These guidelines provide the principles and processes for researchers who wish to conduct research with students, staff and faculty at the University of Toronto or to gain access to data about students, staff and faculty held by the University of Toronto. The aim is to prevent survey fatigue, protect confidentiality and employee rights, and ensure that access does not conflict with any current or planned research to be conducted by the University or its administrative/academic units.


A great deal of research involving members of the university community is conducted at the University of Toronto. Most of this research is governed by regulations within individual faculties and departments, and by regulations and procedures set forth in the Tri-Council Policy Statement on Ethical Conduct for Research Involving Humans (1998). The Office of the Vice-President, Research has a Research Ethics Board (REB) that must approve most research.

Researchers wishing to access data held by the University or its units on its faculty, staff, or students, and those wishing to conduct surveys with all faculty, staff, or students at the University of Toronto, need to obtain prior approval from the Office of the Vice-President and Provost. Examples of research covered by this provision would include requests for data held on the Repository of Student Information (ROSI), the Human Resources Information System, or collected through surveys such as the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE). In addition, surveys of all faculty, staff, or students which ask them about their responses to or experiences with the University require prior approval from the Office of the Vice-President and Provost. The reason for this prior approval is that the university conducts surveys of its members and it is important to avoid conflict among the surveys, repetition, and the possibility of “survey fatigue” which would reduce the percentage of people responding. This would not include surveys for internal administrative purposes such as registrarial surveys nor would it include a survey by a student of their classmates or by a faculty member of their students.

Any research proposals from people or organizations that are not members of the University of Toronto community must also be submitted to the Office of the Vice-President and Provost.

Procedures for Obtaining Permission

Those research projects that require prior approval before submission to the REB should submit the following:

  • Study title
  • Title and names of authors
  • Brief description of the research including objectives and timeline
  • Details of sampling methodology for research involving institutional data.
  • Description of participants and their recruitment and/or description of data requested.
  • Provision of funding for any costs incurred by the University in providing access or data.
  • Completion of a confidentiality agreement (see template).

While the process of ethics review will make certain that the privacy of individual participants will be protected and that appropriate measures for confidentiality and consent are followed, review by the Office of the Vice-President and Provost will guarantee that:

  • Students, staff, and faculty are not being unduly surveyed or receiving repeated requests for participation in research studies.
  • Access to potential participants can be provided in a way that maintains appropriate confidentiality.
  • Requests for data protect the confidentiality of students, staff, or faculty and are in accordance with the purpose for which the data was initially collected.
  • The proposal ensures that applicable laws, contractual requirements, and University of Toronto policies are respected.
  • Adequate arrangements have been made to fund any costs incurred in fulfilling researchers’ requests.
  • The research is timely and appropriate and does not conflict with the plans and priorities of the University or its administrative/academic units.

No access to data or students/faculty/staff will be allowed for commercial purposes. Timeline delays may be recommended to prevent the conflict of this research with other research studies which may be underway or with research studies which are being conducted by the University of Toronto.

A letter of permission will be issued and must be included with the submission to the relevant University of Toronto Research Ethics Board.


Researchers collecting data which falls within the two categories outlined above must speak with the Office of the Vice-President and Provost about their project in the planning stages. Contact details are provided below.

Upon receipt of a complete study protocol, a response and/or letter of permission will be provided within two weeks.


Requests for access to University of Toronto students, faculty, and staff for research purposes should be sent to