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Academic Research Requests for PRSA and PRSSA Membership Lists

Application: Academic Research Request to Use PRSA and PRSSA Membership Lists

PRSA is committed to advancing thought leadership in the profession. Fostering quality research conducted by scholars and professionals that will advance the theory and practice of public relations is critical to achieving this goal. Research projects often call for surveys of public relations practitioners. The following provides details on the policies and procedures for gaining access to PRSA and PRSSA member email lists.

Research proposals will be evaluated quarterly by a committee of experienced professionals and academics, overseen by the Research Committee chairs. The purpose of the Research Committee is to work with scholars and professionals to ensure quality research that benefits our PRSA or PRSSA members and advances the profession. To accomplish this, the Research Committee will review survey proposals submitted for distribution to PRSA and PRSSA members. When considering whether to accept a survey, the Research Committee assesses factors such as the relevance and appropriateness of the survey to the PRSA or PRSSA membership, the benefit of the survey results to PRSA or PRSSA members, the history of similar surveys sent to the PRSA or PRSSA membership, the number of surveys scheduled, and the survey’s organization and design. Therefore, this is a highly selective process and submitted research must follow all guidelines. Surveys will be distributed strategically so PRSA or PRSSA members are not inundated with surveys. The review process for using PRSA or PRSSA mailing lists will be rigorous, but it will not be a blind review. Any survey that has the potential to impact the reputation of PRSA will be flagged and sent to the appropriate staff member managing the research function for review who will determine if the risk to PRSA is sufficient such that the research should not be submitted to PRSA members; any such decision by staff not to proceed with a given research project is subject to review by the PRSA Chair at the request of the submitting researcher(s).

PRSA staff will work with researchers of approved projects to pull appropriate samples of members email addresses. Electronic communication will be sent to members from PRSA including a link to the survey instrument provided by the researcher. The invitation email will indicate that the PRSA Research Committee has reviewed the research. Researchers will have one calendar year for project completion from the date of distribution, and a one-page executive summary must be completed by that date.  “Completed” means submitting a research manuscript to the Public Relations Journal (PRJ) There is no guarantee that the paper will be accepted for publication in PRJ, but the journal retains the right of first refusal for articles written using data from surveys sent to PRSA or PRSSA members.

Requests must include the following five items, or they will not be reviewed:

  • A completed application form;
  • An Institutional Research Board (IRB) approval certificate from the individual’s university, or a signed document indicating why IRB approval has not been completed (IRB approval must be received before distribution)
  • A copy of the proposed online survey invitation email
  • A copy of the proposed survey instrument (showing skip logic is used); and
  • A 3-5 page project description written clearly and concisely containing:
    • A brief description of the relevant literature
    • A justification for the survey constructs identifying any previous studies they are based on with explanations for any changes
    • Research questions or hypotheses with a list of which survey items apply to each
  • At least one member of the research team MUST be a member in good standing of PRSA.

Researchers will be instructed to follow these guidelines:

  • Provide clear instructions.
  • Provide a realistic time of how long the survey will take to complete.
  • Review for spelling and grammatical errors.
  • If applicable, include filter questions at the beginning to eliminate unnecessary respondents.
  • Review the length of the survey; longer surveys typically receive lower response rates.
  • Delete unnecessary, repetitive questions or statements.
  • Make demographic questions mutually exclusive and exhaustive.
  • Ensure all questions are relevant to the purpose of the study.
  • Check questions for clarity and understandability.
  • Provide and use appropriate skip logic.
  • Ensure confidentiality by removing any potential identifying questions.
  • Remove questions that a public relations professional or student would not have the knowledge to answer.

Researchers will be instructed to review once the application is completed:

  • Did you complete the application?
  • Do you adhere to the above guidelines?
  • Do you have IRB approval?
  • Is this study best suited for a PRSA or PRSSA sample?

Research Review Process:

  • Requests will be accepted throughout the year, but will be held until the appropriate submission deadline as detailed below. Four review periods each year will be designated for the approval/denial of research proposals for use of the PRSA membership list. Deadlines for submissions are as follows:
    • Jan. 15 (for submissions to be reviewed by Feb. 15).
    • April 15 (for submissions to be reviewed by May 15).
    • July 15 (for submissions to be reviewed by August15).
    • Oct. 15 (for submissions to be reviewed by Nov. 15).
  • The research committee will vote to accept, reject, or return the survey as a revise and resubmit. A revise and resubmit survey is due within 30 days from notification so it can be reviewed at the next PRSA Research Committee meeting. Any changes to a survey after initial review are not allowed without a re-review.  Approved requests will be sent to the PRSA Board of Directors Liaison for the Research Committee. If no comments are received within 15 days, the request will be approved. 

Approved by PRSA Board of Directors, March 2013.

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