Guidelines for Conducting External Research in Lincoln Public Schools

Lincoln Public Schools is proud to be a research-based school system, and we partner with researchers on projects related to teaching and learning. The LPS Research Review process ensures that research in LPS follows ethical, safety, and data privacy guidelines, and is aligned with the goals and mission of Lincoln Public Schools. This page provides resources for researchers regarding the LPS research approval process.

  1. Requests to conduct research in the Lincoln Public Schools must be submitted in writing to the Lincoln Public Schools Research Review Committee (send submissions to Rob McEntarffer, the supervisor of Assessment and Evaluation – 
    • Requests received by the 1st of each month will be processed by the 15th.
    • Requests should be submitted at least one month prior to the intended data collection start date in LPS.
    • No new research will be approved to begin during the first month of school or the 4th Quarter.
    • If you are a researcher affiliated with the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, please review the Lincoln Public Schools (LPS) Approval Processes guidance.
  2. Definition of external research: if data are collected from LPS Staff or students with the intention of sharing research findings outside LPS (including publications, conference presentations, or college/graduate school class projects). 
  3. Include in research requests:
    • A cover letter that summarizes the request. The cover letter must contain the name, address, telephone number, agency affiliation (if there is one), and signature of the primary investigator.
    • A brief description of the study that addresses the objectives of the research, rationale upon which the research is based, a summary of procedures, and timelines. The description can be included in the cover letter or can be attached.
    • Detailed information about what would be expected of the Lincoln Public Schools staff and/or students, including:
      • A list of schools included in the study, or an estimate of the number of schools if specific schools have not yet been selected
      • An estimate of the number of staff and students who will participate and how they will be selected
      • What activities/data collection will be required
      • How much time will be required
      • When activities will take place
    • Copies of all data collection instruments and interview questions to be used. 
    • Informed Consent and Assent forms: if data are collected from LPS staff or students, informed consent (staff, parents/guardians) and assent (student) forms need to include notice of the right to not participate in such surveys. Consent and assent forms for research with students should include a explanation that deciding not to participate in the research will not impact student learning, relationships with their teachers, or their grades. SAMPLE Parent Informed Consent/Student Assent
  4. Student surveys, interviews, and other data collection instruments that include questions about the following topics may prevent project approval:
    • political affiliation or beliefs of the student or the student’s parent
    • mental and psychological problems potentially embarrassing to the student or the student’s family
    • sex behavior and attitudes
    • critical appraisals of other individuals with whom the student has close family relationships
    • legally recognized privileged or analogous relationships, such as those of lawyers, physicians
    • religious practices, affiliations or beliefs of the student or the student’s parent
    • income
  5. The primary investigator must make data collection instruments available for review by parents/guardians of students involved in the research prior to their administration and for a reasonable period of time following administration.
  6. The primary investigator will be notified in writing about approval for data collection in LPS.
  7. Participation by schools and individual teachers in approved studies is voluntary. Schools and teachers may ask to see the letter of approval before agreeing to participate.
  8. Typical reasons research may not be approved are:
    • Arrangements for obtaining consent of parents/guardians or staff are missing or judged not adequate to insure informed consent.
    • Too much instructional time is required.
    • Too much teacher time is required.
    • Too much administrator or office staff time is required.
    • The research includes a student activity or data collection that is not developmentally appropriate or that may put a student at risk.
    • Procedures to insure the confidentiality of responses are inadequate.
    • The research conflicts or interferes with a district data collection effort or an external research project that has previously been approved.
    • Procedures conflict with aspects of district curriculum or instructional efforts. 
    • The content of the research is either objectionable or is judged not appropriate for a school setting.
    • The investigator has failed to meet his or her obligations to the district in a previous study.
    • The proposed research activities are scheduled for either the first month or the last quarter of the school year. (Only under exceptional circumstances will studies be approved to be conducted during these timeframes.)
    • The request was received too late in the school year or without enough lead time to reasonably allow for a review before the study was to begin.
  9. Priority will be given to research led by LPS staff, is of interest to LPS staff, or that has direct application for the improvement of education practices.
  10. If the request is not approved by the district, the primary investigator may revise and resubmit the request based on feedback from the LPS Research Review Committee. 
  11. The researcher(s) need(s) to contact the principal of the schools in which research will be conducted and seek permission before proceeding. 
  12. Upon completion of the study, the primary investigator will provide the LPS Research Review Committee with a summary of findings and, upon request, provide a complete report of procedures and findings.
  13. The primary investigator will provide the LPS Research Review Committee with advance copies of all articles and all presentations at national or regional conferences based on research using data collected in LPS. 
  14. The district may require reimbursement for the costs associated with compiling information and data for external research.