Institutional Research & Planning

Locating Data for Assessment and Other Research

The Office of Institutional Research and Planning (OIRP) is available to help faculty and staff identify, locate or gather information for assessment and other research. In those cases where existing data is insufficient to answer a question, the OIRP has been designated as the central campus coordinating body for all Administrative and Academic Unit Support Surveys. This central coordination is important in order to minimize the survey burden on constituencies.

The OIRP adheres to the Human Subjects Protection Protocols used by Marist’s Institutional Review Board (IRB) and all proposed research studies involving human subjects are approved by them.

The Office primarily focuses on studies pertaining to the College’s effectiveness. As time allows, the Office may be available to assist with data gathering for faculty research. Generally, faculty are responsible for the design, IRB approval process, and data analysis phases of their research projects. For this type of project, the OIRP may act as a facilitator for data collection.

Phase 1: Consultation

The consultation phase will help to clarify the purposes and outcomes of the requested study. A face-to-face meeting will be conducted between personnel from the OIRP and the requestor.

The meeting will accomplish three objectives:

  • Determine the purpose of the study and clarify the research question(s) that the study will be designed to answer. What are the specific timeframes for design, fielding, and analysis?
  • Methodological options and the pros and cons of each in light of the research question will be offered by the OIRP.
  • Details of the study will be discussed including but not limited to:

Questions to be asked

  • Questions that are not directly tied to answering the research question will not be  asked in the survey. Planning the analysis in the consultation phase will help to streamline the survey and increase response rate.

Type of data collection to be used (web, paper-based, focus groups)

Time required to develop data collection instrument

  • Paper surveys regardless of length take longer to create than web surveys. Typical turnaround time for a paper survey is 2 to 3 weeks.
  • Web surveys range in complexity. A survey consisting of 25 questions or less will take one week to design. Longer surveys will take 2 to 3 weeks. Online surveys can be custom programmed. For example, the survey can skip questions or ask additional questions based on answers to other questions. Programming can take and  additional week, so a survey that requires this will take 2 to 3 weeks to design.

Time required to collect data

  • The amount of time required to field the survey depends on the medium. Paper surveys take longer to field because you have to physically collect the completed survey.
  • Web surveys are generally taken in the first two days of receiving an invitation. After about two days, response rate dramatically declines making it necessary to distribute a “reminder” to generate responses. Typical field time for an online survey is 3 weeks which consists of an initial invitation and 2 reminders.

Participants (faculty, staff, students)
Confidentiality, anonymity
Methodology to invite participation
Distribution of incentives
Required response rate for results to be statistically significant
Responsibility for data analysis
Responsibility for final written report

Phase 2: Study Design

In the study design phase, the OIRP will use the information from the consultation phase to create an appropriate study for the research question.

The typical timeframe for study design is 1 – 3 weeks. The timeframe depends on the complexity, type of study and the current workload of the office.

The representative from the OIRP will present a document to the requestor containing:

  • Time estimate for completion of the each phase of the study
  • Description of the study design
  • Description of the mutual responsibilities of the requestor and the OIRP

This initial document of understanding will be signed by the requestor and a representative of the OIRP.

All studies potentially involving human subjects require Marist Institutional Review Board (IRB) review. The IRB is the final authority on whether or not a project requires their approval, and the research protocol should be forwarded to them as soon as possible for their approval. As long as there are no material changes to the research protocol, this document should be attached to the IRB form. Please contact Elizabeth Teed at extension 2458 for more information on IRB approval. Approval generally takes less than a week.

Phase 3: Study Implementation

Upon receipt of the document of understanding and the IRB approval (if required) letter, the OIRP will begin implementing the protocol as approved.

In the cases where the study protocol includes a survey, IR will send either the paper based survey or a link to the web based survey to the involved parties for review. This review should take no longer than 1 week. The review is to make sure the survey contains all of the elements that were agreed upon in the design phase.

The final stage of survey design is a final check of the survey by IR. For a paper based survey, IR will double check for spelling errors and errors in wording. For web surveys, IR has a checklist to check spelling, scales, logic if there is programming, and general flow through the survey. No web survey will be launched until this check is complete. This process takes 1 day.

Phase 4: Fielding the Survey

The OIRP will follow the protocol described in the document of understanding.

In some cases, the response rates for surveys will not yield a sufficient sample to get results that have an acceptable sampling error for the population of interest. Surveys may stay open past the scheduled dates if the response rate is lower than what is expected. If this is the case, in consultation with the requestor, the OIRP will undertake additional efforts to increase sample size.

Phase 5: Data Analysis/Report

The role of the OIRP in the data analysis will be specified in the document of understanding.

  • In some cases, the OIRP will simply be providing data to the researcher.
  • In the majority of cases, the OIRP will provide a written report meeting the specifications in the document of understanding.

The analysis will be determined on a case-by-case basis and will take between 1 and 2 weeks depending on the complexity of the research study.