Research Ethics Review Committee (RERC)

What is the Research Ethics Review Committee (RERC)?

The Research Ethics Review Committee (RERC) is an internal group within GLSEN that has been designated to review and monitor research that involves human subjects (i.e., people). Like other institutional review boards (IRBs), the RERC plays an important role in protecting the rights and welfare of people involved in GLSEN research. The RERC ensures that any research conducted by or associated with GLSEN follows established ethical principles that are aligned with GLSEN’s mission.

What does the RERC do?

The RERC has the authority to approve, require modifications in order to secure approval or disapprove research proposals that are submitted to the RERC for review. The RERC generally reviews research proposals submitted by the GLSEN Research Institute (e.g., GLSEN National School Climate Survey) as well as proposals submitted by GLSEN affiliates for research to be conducted as part of their GLSEN responsibilities. The RERC also reviews proposals by non-GLSEN researchers who wish to recruit participants for their research within the GLSEN organization that are related to GLSEN’s mission, which is to provide a safe and inclusive school environment for all LGBTQ+ students in K-12 grades, regardless of their sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression.

Who are the Research Ethics Review Committee members?

The RERC consists primarily of individuals outside of GLSEN who have a deep understanding of research, and the ethics of conducting human subjects research. The RERC currently consists of six members:

Madelaine Adelman, PhD

Faculty at Arizona State University and RERC chair
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Daniel Gardner, PhD

Faculty at Hunter College, CUNY

Ed Brockenbrough, PhD

Faculty at University of Pennsylvania
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Michael Hall

Faculty at Dutchess Community College, SUNY
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Susan Pelosi, LCSW

Psychotherapist & Clinical Social Worker
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Jim Persinger, PhD

Faculty at Emporia College
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When should you contact the Research Ethics Review Committee?

You should contact the RERC at RERC@glsen.org if:

  1. You are affiliated with a GLSEN chapter or another GLSEN entity (e.g., GLSEN National Student Council) and are planning to conduct research involving human subjects as part of your GLSEN responsibilities (if you are not sure whether the proposed activity constitutes research with human subjects, also contact the RERC);
  2. You are affiliated with a GLSEN chapter or other GLSEN entity and want to promote your own non-GLSEN research study through GLSEN, including your own or other GLSEN chapters;
  3. You are a researcher outside of GLSEN who wants to promote your research study through GLSEN.

Note that GLSEN would only consider promoting outside research if it is related to GLSEN’s mission.

If you are not sure what constitutes human subjects research, the following is a list of what might constitute human subjects research:

  • You want to administer an online or in-person survey to human subjects (e.g., LGBTQ+ high school students, elementary school teachers, parents with school-aged children, etc.).
  • You want to conduct interviews that involve human subjects (e.g., LGBTQ+ high school students, elementary school teachers, parents with school-aged children, etc.).
  • You want to conduct focus groups that involve human subjects (e.g., LGBTQ+ high school students, elementary school teachers, parents with school-aged children, etc.).
  • You want to use already existing data that involve human subjects (e.g., LGBTQ+ high school students, elementary school teachers, parents with school-aged children, etc.);
  • You plan on publishing findings from data you collected based on any of the above methods.

If you are still not sure if your proposed activity constitutes research, please contact the RERC at RERC@glsen.org as soon as possible so that an RERC member can help you determine whether your activity requires RERC review.

Note that if you are interested in using any existing data from GLSEN’s research, by and large we do not provide our datasets to researchers outside of GLSEN. Please contact the RERC at RERC@glsen.org if you have further questions.

What are some GLSEN activities that do not require RERC approval?

The following are examples of GLSEN chapters or other entities that engage in GLSEN activities that do not require RERC approval:

  1. Internal polls of the board or volunteers or donors, about chapter strategy;
  2. GLSEN-approved evaluation forms for professional development workshops;
  3. Collecting data for internal use only such as those listed above, and not publishing the findings.

If you are still not sure if your proposed activity constitutes research, please contact the RERC at RERC@glsen.org as soon as possible so that an RERC member can help you determine whether your activity requires RERC review.

Now that you have contacted the RERC, and your study or proposed study meets any of the above criteria, what is the next step?

If you are affiliated with a GLSEN chapter and are planning to conduct research involving human subjects as part of your GLSEN responsibilities, you will need to complete the RERC Proposed Research Application Form.

If you are affiliated with a GLSEN chapter and want to promote your own non-GLSEN research study through GLSEN, you will need to complete the RERC Research Promotion Application Form.

If you are a researcher external to GLSEN who wants to promote your own research study through GLSEN, and your study is related to GLSEN’s mission, you will need to complete the RERC Research Promotion Application Form.

Please submit your completed application to RERC@glsen.org.

You have completed the application form, and have sent it to the RERC. How long will it take to receive a decision from the RERC?

If you completed the RERC Proposed Research Application Form, the RERC chair will review your application and determine whether it will require a review by the full committee.

If it is determined that the application does not require full committee review, then the process should take no longer than 3-4 weeks for the RERC chair to send you a decision.

If the application is determined to require full RERC review, the committee meets once a quarter (January, April, July, and October) to review applications. Please provide your completed application one month prior to the full committee meeting date, so that the committee members have sufficient time to thoroughly review your application. You will receive a decision from the RERC chair within 1-2 weeks following the full committee meeting.

Once your study is approved, you will receive an official approval letter from the RERC chair. Note that the approval letter is valid for one full year from the date of approval. If you have not completed your study within one year following the date of approval, and want to continue conducting the study, your study will have to be renewed.

What if I want to renew my study because it has not yet been completed and it has been one full year since my study was approved by the RERC?

You will need to complete the RERC Continuing Review Form. Once you submit your completed Continuing Review Form, you should receive a decision from the RERC chair within one week.

Please submit your completed form to RERC@glsen.org.

I have completed my study. Is there anything else that I need to do?

Yes. You will need to complete the RERC Close Out Form. Once you submit your completed Close Out Form, you should receive a response from the RERC chair within one week that your study has been closed.

Please submit your completed form to RERC@glsen.org.