Research Guidelines & Protocol
AHEAD supports scholarship that is consistent with the mission and values of the organization and offers researchers the opportunity to survey or otherwise engage the membership in empirical pursuits. The following protocol supports the formulation of research proposals and details the process by which proposals are approved for dissemination by the organization. In reviewing proposals, AHEAD may give priority to those received from Association members. In addition, AHEAD reserves the right to limit the number of members to whom a research instrument is submitted and/or the number of proposals accepted so as to reduce possible issues of survey fatigue. Summary information on research proposals accepted by AHEAD for dissemination to members will be available on the AHEAD website.
Guidelines for Research
- Research must clearly align with the mission and values of AHEAD and be relevant to the field and the AHEAD membership.
- All research proposals must ensure the confidentiality and anonymity of individuals who participate in the study.
- Proposals should in most cases include approval from the researcher’s Institutional Review Board (IRB). Proposals not having IRB approval need to include a clear and supported rationale for acceptance.
- Research should be specifically directed to the AHEAD membership, not to those with whom they interact (e.g., students). AHEAD will not approve proposals intended to survey students with disabilities. Researchers interested in surveying students with disabilities should contact the AHEAD central office to be referred to professional staff to discuss strategies for reaching this population. Research must be conducted and concluded within a reasonable time frame, typically one calendar year.
- Most proposals consist of requests to conduct survey research with the AHEAD membership. There are however no restrictions on the research methods that may be used in proposed research.
- In keeping with AHEAD’s commitment to electronic access, survey instruments distributed to members must be useable and fully accessible. Note that many commercially available instruments such as Survey Monkey have some features that are not accessible to persons who use screen readers. (See information below regarding survey accessibility and review by AHEAD.)
Procedures and Review Process
- Researchers must submit a completed application and a one-page abstract of their proposed study. The abstracts of accepted proposals will be posted on the AHEAD website. Researchers will be given the opportunity to update abstracts during the course of the study if needed. As part of the application process, researchers must agree to submit a summary of results and implications of the study once it is completed.
- Proposals will be reviewed by the AHEAD Research Review Panel on a rolling basis. Researchers should expect a reply within four to six weeks of submitting the proposal.
- Researchers will be notified via email of the status of their requests.
Procedures for Implementation of Accepted Research
- Invitation to participate. AHEAD will be responsible for disseminating electronic invitations from researchers to the membership. The association will not publicly release e-mail addresses to researchers. The schedule for dissemination will be determined by AHEAD based on the Association’s calendar of priority activities and initiatives.
- Survey accessibility. All surveys must be fully accessible. Upon acceptance of the research proposal, AHEAD will assess the instrument and notify the research of any access issues.
- Summary results. To ensure that researchers honor their agreements to share summary information of their research, AHEAD will collect a $200 refundable deposit before surveys are disseminated. This deposit will be refunded to the researcher in full when AHEAD receives the required one to two-page summary of research results and implications.