Surveying of U of T Students, Faculty, Librarians, Staff, and Alumni by U of T Researchers, Guideline on

October 2020

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: Ethical Conduct for Research Involving Humans (2018). The Office of the Vice-President, Research and Innovation maintains Research Ethics Boards (REBs) that must approve most research involving human participants.

This guideline establishes additional procedures for prior approval of proposed surveys of U of T students, faculty, librarians, staff, or alumni that will be undertaken for research purposes by U of T students, faculty, librarians, and staff.

This prior approval is being required given that the University also conducts quality assurance surveys of its community members, and it is important to avoid conflict among surveys, repetition, and the possibility of ‘survey fatigue’ that might reduce responses.

All requests to survey U of T postgraduate medical education fellows (‘medical residents’) should be sent to the Vice-Dean, Post-MD Education within the Temerty Faculty of Medicine, at adpgme@utoronto.ca, rather than through the process outlined in this guideline.  (Requests to survey MD program students use the process in this guideline.)

Types of surveys covered


The Guideline applies to U of T students, faculty, librarians, instructors, researchers, and staff members proposing to undertake a survey of U of T students, faculty, librarians, instructors, researchers, staff, or alumni, where the survey will be undertaken for a research purpose.

The Guideline does not apply to U of T researchers wishing to conduct qualitative focus groups, participant observations, or interviews of U of T students, faculty, librarians, staff, or alumni.

The following types of surveys undertaken by U of T students, faculty, librarians, and staff do not fall within the scope of this guideline:

  • surveys undertaken for internal administrative purposes, or for quality improvement purposes;
  • surveys administered by instructors to their own students in a course that they are teaching, even if the survey is conducted for a research purpose;
  • surveys that have been approved by a U of T division’s own divisional survey or research approvals process and where the only individuals being surveyed are those in the division which has provided approval;
  • course evaluations;
  • participant feedback from events; and
  • surveys conducted for the purposes of accreditation of an academic program or for academic quality assurance purposes.

Members of the University who are seeking to conduct surveys for internal quality improvement purposes and who are concerned that their survey may potentially overlap with other surveys in the field are welcome to submit their proposal to survey.approvals@utoronto.ca for feedback on other surveys being administered in the proposed survey period.

Process


Approval to survey U of T students, faculty, librarians, instructors, researchers, staff, or alumni does not replace the need for research ethics board approvals where required by board guidelines. U of T researchers should normally submit their proposals for review under this Guideline prior to sending it to the U of T REB for approval of the research proposal itself.

Researchers wishing to conduct a survey that falls under this guideline should complete the approval request form, with relevant materials attached, found at https://uoft.me/SurveyApprovals

Requests will be reviewed by the Vice-Provost, Students (for requests to survey students); the Vice-Provost, Faculty & Academic Life (for requests to survey faculty, librarians, or instructors); the Vice-President, Human Resources and Equity (for requests to survey staff); and/or the Assistant Vice-President, Alumni Relations (for requests to survey alumni), or their delegates. Only one form needs to be completed for each research proposal, even if multiple groups of participants (e.g., faculty and students) are being surveyed.

Researchers will receive written approval of the proposal to conduct the survey which should be included with their proposal to the U of T REB.

Timeline


Researchers will normally receive confirmation of approval or feedback on their request within three weeks of submission of a complete approval request form. Decisions under this Guideline will be final.

Any questions or concerns regarding this guideline should be sent to: survey.approvals@utoronto.ca.