Research involving University of Nevada, Reno students

Students’ decisions to participate in research studies must be voluntary, and free from explicit or perceived undue influence. Some recruitment situations, such as those involving University faculty and their students, may be inherently influential. For example, when the invitation to participate in a study is extended from an individual who is in a position of power such as a course instructor, the power differential may make it difficult for the student to decline the invitation. Incentives for participation in research may also influence students’ decisions as prospective participants in research.

Researchers Who Wish to Enroll Their Own Students

When investigators target populations that include students who receive instruction directly from one or more research team members, recruitment strategies must be designed to ensure voluntary participation. Students' decisions about research participation may not affect (favorably or unfavorably) grades, letters of recommendation, or other opportunities or decisions made by teacher/professor-researchers.

Requirements for researchers recruiting their own students for research:

  • The enrollment of minor students must comply with the regulatory requirements for research involving children.
  • Research involving use of student directory information must receive prior approval from the University Registrar.
  • Research involving educational records must comply with Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) requirements.
  • For research involving minor students, investigators must determine if Protection of Pupil Rights Amendment (PPRA) requirements apply.
  • Recruitment and consent materials must state that students' grades will not be affected by their decisions to participate or to decline to participate.
  • When offering extra credit for research participants, students must be given non-research alternatives to earn the same amount of credit. The alternatives must be equivalent in time and effort to the research participation.
  • The study should be designed to limit the professor-researcher's access to information about the enrolled participants until after grades are posted. If this option is exercised, recruitment and consent materials should describe the professor's limited access.
  • Researchers must clarify which activities are for the research (and therefore voluntary) and which are required classroom activities (i.e. activities that would occur without the research).

Research Credits through University SONA Systems

Investigators are advised to follow SONA student pool policies and procedures related to

  • student recruitment and enrollment,
  • schedule for amount of credit and anticipated time commitment for participation, and
  • notifying professors about their students' participation in a study.

If extra or course credit is mentioned during recruitment, the recruitment materials should specify the amount and "value" or type of credit that may be earned, and state that students will be given equivalent, non-research alternatives to earn equal credit. Similarly, consent materials should

  • state alternative activities are available for students who decline to participate in the research;
  • specify the amount and types of credit offered, and required unit of time per credit for both the research participation and the alternative activity; and
  • describe the parameters for earning the credit whether for the research or the alternative activity; and
  • explain how professors will be notified of their students' research participation (when applicable).

Extra or Course Credit from Individual Professors

Students may not be required to participate in research for extra or course credit. If extra or course credit is offered for research participation, a comparable non-research alternative must also be offered. The alternative to participating in the research must be comparable to the research participation in time, effort, and amount of credit or fulfillment of course requirements.