• Guilford County Research Review Committee


    The Guilford County Schools Research Review Committee is responsible for ensuring that research conducted within GCS follows ethical, legal, and quality guidelines. Please carefully review this page prior to submitting a research request.


    • Does my project need approval from the Research Review Committee?

    Projects that are part of an employee’s typical job responsibilities and better classified as “feedback,” such as course evaluations of Professional Development, observations of teachers made by principals, reviewing school-wide data at Leadership Team meetings, or completing needs assessments of one’s own staff, do not need Research Review Committee approval. Projects run by school employees that involves only participants within their unit (i.e., school or department/division) and are intended to be used only within the unit, do not need approval from the Research Review Committee, but should be completed under typical supervision (e.g., principals, department heads, etc.). Exceptions to this include: 1) Research being used as part of obtaining a degree at a higher education institution (e.g., Master’s project, Dissertation), which should follow the external research process, and 2) Research with the aim of publication (e.g., in academic journals, conference presentations, websites, news outlets, etc.), which should follow the internal research process.


    • My project needs to be reviewed by the Research Review Committee. Should I follow the external research or internal research process?

    Research requiring approval falls into two categories: External and Internal. External research is defined as any research being completed by 1) an agency external to Guilford County Schools (such as a university, nonprofit, or private agency), 2) an employee of GCS to fulfill academic research requirements, or 3) an employee of GCS in collaboration with an external agency. Internal research is defined as research being completed by a GCS employee without connection to any outside agencies, but which requires collecting data in multiple schools or departments, or for which publication of the research is intended.


    Click HERE for instructions and details on seeking External Research approval.


    Click HERE for instructions and details on seeking Internal Research approval.


    Applications for both External and Internal research are reviewed by the Research Review Committee throughout the year. It is recommended to submit your thoroughly completed application as soon as possible, however, as the Research Review Committee does not guarantee that your project will be reviewed prior to your intended start date.


    • What types of projects are generally approved, and which are generally rejected?

    The following is a list of review criteria that is used to determine whether GCS will approve a research project:

    1. Research ethics: Research applications with ethical problems or that do not include all necessary protections for participants (e.g., consent/assent forms, clear description of risks, explanation of incentives) will be rejected.
    2. Feasibility of implementation: Research whose methodology is unlikely or impossible to implement (e.g., if the requestor lacks the resources to complete the research as written, or if the number of participants exceeds reasonable expectations, or occurs outside the scope of practicality) is generally rejected by the RRC.
    3. Risk and intrusion: Research applications involving gathering intimate details from students, parents, or staff (e.g., mental or physical health, sexual orientation, political party support, wealth, etc.) is generally rejected by the RRC. Likewise, any methodology that involves more than negligible risk to participants will be rejected by the RRC.
    4. Benefit to GCS: Research conducted within Guilford County Schools must have a direct benefit to the students, parents, and/or staff within the system. If similar data is already being collected within GCS, the RRC may reject the proposal or may offer applicant access to the data already collected. The RRC requires that all approved research submit summary documents (e.g., reports, papers, etc.) after research is concluded.
    5. Cost of participation: Both physical resources (e.g., physical space, materials, etc.) and human resources (time to participate, disruption of typical schedules) are considered by the RRC. Research whose benefits do not outweigh the costs of participating will be rejected by the RRC.
    6. District data requirements: Research applications requiring GCS to provide institutional data on students, families, or staff, must consider legal and privacy requirements such as FERPA (https://www2.ed.gov/policy/gen/guid/fpco/ferpa/index.html), PPRA (https://studentprivacy.ed.gov/content/ppra), and IDEA (https://sites.ed.gov/idea/). Requests that do not sufficiently protect student, family, or staff privacy will be rejected by the RRC. Requests that are large in scope and require significant contributions from GCS staff to produce may be rejected due to the human resource costs as identified in (5).
    7. Quality of materials: The RRC considers whether research application materials are clearly and consistently written, free of errors, and complete. Applications not meeting standards in these areas may be rejected by the RRC.


    Clearly designed and carefully created projects with minimal costs for participation that provide benefits to GCS that are unique or not already collected through other means, are likely to be approved. Projects requiring significant input from GCS employees, families, or students, or that does not provide unique and broadly beneficial information, is likely to be rejected.


    • My research project has been approved. What happens next?

    Research which has been granted approval will be allowed to follow the specific methods and timelines that were included in the application. Any changes to these processes must be submitted to and approved by the Research Review Committee. Guilford County Schools reserves the right to cancel approval for any project due to special circumstances (e.g., changing guidelines resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic). If this occurs, the researcher will be notified by e-mail regarding expectations and next steps (e.g., whether changes in methodology are possible for continued approval or whether the project must stop entirely). At the conclusion of research activities, the Research Review Committee requires that final documents (such as reports, research articles, etc.) are provided by researchers for use by GCS.


    • How does the COVID-19 pandemic affect this process?

    Current guidelines followed by Guilford County Schools do not allow for individuals who are not employees or students to enter GCS buildings. Any research which meets other criteria but requires individuals to enter GCS buildings will be rejected at this time. Increased responsibilities and time commitments of GCS staff and students resulting from the pandemic means that any research requiring additional commitments from staff, students, or families, is more likely to be rejected than prior to the pandemic.


    Any questions about this process should be submitted to: researchreview@gcsnc.com


    Current Research Review Committee Members:

    Kurt Reutter, Chair

    Clark Wright

    Jimmy Leak

    Trisha Mitchell

    Alex Tabori


    Are you a GCS employee who is interested in helping review research for Guilford County Schools? Send an e-mail to researchreview@gcsnc.com to indicate your interest!

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