Permission and Consent

Understanding the Difference

Permission

Permission is when you ask for access to a specific population for your study from someone who is in charge of that population.

Consent

Consent is when you inform your study participants of what you are doing for your research. This lets them know what you expect of them, how long it will take, and how they can contact you.


Permission

LU students, faculty, and staff who plan to conduct research at institutions, organizations, facilities, or events—schools, churches, businesses, conferences, etc.—that are unaffiliated with the University are required to seek written permission from those outside groups to utilize them for research studies.

Obtaining Permission

This may involve requesting permission in person or writing a permission request letter to the appropriate party. It is the responsibility of the researcher to determine from whom to seek permission.

If the individual providing permission lists permissible procedures on the permission letter, the researcher should make sure that he or she has been granted permission to conduct all of the procedures outlined on the IRB application.

  • Researchers should request that permission letters be provided on approved letterhead and include the signature(s) of the appropriate official(s).
  • Permission documentation that is not provided on letterhead with signature(s) (i.e., emailed permission) may have to be confirmed by the IRB. Confirmation is accomplished by email or a phone call to the party listed on the permission documentation.

Sample Scenarios

  1. The first scenario involves a researcher who plans to conduct his or her study at a public school(s). The researcher would need to gain written permission from the district superintendent and provide a copy of that permission to the IRB. Although the superintendent may require the researcher to also gain permission from the school principal, documentation of the principal’s permission would not be necessary for IRB approval.
     
  2. The second scenario involves a researcher who plans to survey members of a particular church. The researcher would need to gain written permission from the pastor of the church, and provide a copy of that permission to the IRB.

What to Include in a Permission Request Letter

Permission request letters should inform the person granting permission of the purpose of your study, what information or groups you are trying to gain access to, and that you will need documentation of their permission, should they choose to grant it.

When Permission is Not Given

If the researcher is not granted permission to conduct all of his or her planned procedures, the IRB will not be able to grant its approval, and the researcher may need to reconsider and possibly revise his or her planned protocol and IRB application.

Conditional IRB Approval

If IRB approval is required before permission can be given, the IRB can conditionally approve the research application and issue a conditional approval letter to the researcher for the specified research study.

Conditional approval will not allow the researcher to begin recruiting participants and collecting data, but the researcher will be able to provide the conditional approval letter to the appropriate official(s) to gain the needed permission letter.

Submitting Permission Letters

Once received, permission letters will need to be submitted to the IRB. We will not be able to issue a complete approval prior to receiving all necessary permission letters.

Copies of permission letters may be submitted by email as scanned pdfs to irb@liberty.edu; by fax to (434) 522-0506; or by mail, campus mail, or hand delivery. The IRB will save and file the letters with the researcher’s application and supporting documents and issue an approval letter enabling the researcher to begin his or her research study.


Consent

Consent takes place when a researcher provides Informed Consent information to potential participants.

Please Note: The informed consent document should not be used when seeking permission.