External Research Requests

External research is initiated or led by organizations, agencies or individuals from outside the SCDSB. An external research project may only begin following approval from the SCDSB’s External Research Review Committee (ERRC). The ERRC ensures that applications to conduct research with the SCDSB meet all protocols for ethics and privacy protection of its students, parents/guardians and/or staff. The ERRC rigorously reviews all applications to ensure compliance with SCDSB criteria.

To apply, review the SCDSB Research Review Checklist, then complete and return the SCDSB's external research application form. Inquiries about external research may be directed to [email protected].  

Please see the dates below for ERRC application deadlines, which have been aligned with ERRC meetings.

Please note: The ERRC does not meet during the summer months (June-August). The last meeting of the school year (May) will be reserved for reviewing applications for the following school year. You are welcome to submit an application over the summer; however, you may not receive a response until after the first meeting of the new school year (October).

2023-24 school year


Deadline for application ERRC meeting date 
 Sept. 1, 2023  Sept. 29, 2023
 Sept. 29, 2023*  Oct. 27, 2023*
 Oct. 27, 2023  Nov. 24, 2023
 Jan. 5, 2024  Jan. 26, 2024
 March 1, 2024**  March 29, 2024
 May 3, 2024  May 31, 2024***

*This meeting is tentative and dependent on the number of applications received between Sept. 2 and 29, 2023.
**This is the last date to submit applications for the 2023-24 school year.
***Only applications for the 2024-25 school year will be reviewed during this meeting.

Application process

Application packages are reviewed by the chair of the ERRC upon receipt. Should the chair require clarification from the applicant, they will be contacted before their application is submitted to the committee for review.  

Applicants must review the SCDSB Research Review Checklist before submitting an application. This checklist outlines the five key criteria used by the ERRC when completing a review. Once the applicant has reviewed the checklist and ensured that their project aligns with the SCDSB’s criteria, they are invited to complete and submit the Application to Conduct Research in the Simcoe County District School Board.


If an application is approved by the ERRC, the chair of the committee will provide a letter of approval and connect external research project team members with the respective SCDSB leader(s) for further discussion related to the board's capacity to support the project at the current time.

An approval from the ERRC in no way obligates principals, staff, students or their families to take part in any research. An approval serves to inform potential participants, including school administration, that an external research project has met all required ethics protocols. School administrators may choose to not participate in a research project at their own professional discretion. The decision for non-participation by school administration will be supported and upheld by Research and Decision Support Services and the ERRC. 

The applicant will be contacted within one week of an ERRC decision. Arrangements for the research project will then be made through the principal investigator (PI) and the school administrator (or their delegate). Participation from any individual or group is strictly voluntary, and all consent forms should clearly state that participants may refuse to participate or may withdraw from the study (without consequence) at any time. 

Key considerations for applicants before submission

All instructions for applicants are clearly provided on the application form. The following are key considerations for all applicants: 

  • Under freedom of information legislation, information collected for school records is not obtained with the expectation of disclosure to independent researchers. 
  • The SCDSB will not allow for identification of individuals or groups in external research projects. External research projects proposing to use data collection (e.g., surveys, focus groups, etc.) will only be considered if participants are completely anonymous
  • Any person who will have direct involvement with students must provide certification of a Criminal Background Check Vulnerable Sector Screening (CBC-VSS) prior to commencement of the study and must have been obtained within the previous six months
  • The rights and well-being of study participants must be protected
  • The school board will not be named in any project reporting
  • No SCDSB school or staff is identified in any report
  • Parental permission is required for any research with or about students. Permission must be informed consent (e.g., a consent form) 
  • Projects will not be approved to start during the month of September at elementary and secondary schools, or during the first month of the second semester at secondary schools, and must be completed by May  
  • Data collection (surveys, focus groups, interviews, observations, etc.) must be completed by May of the school year that the project has been approved. 
  • Demands on schools and study participants are to be minimal. Little conflict with students’ academic program would occur 
  • Any adverse events are to be reported to the SCDSB Research and Decision Support Services department within 24 hours of the occurrence
  • Permission to conduct research in the SCDSB can be withdrawn at any time
  • Approval to conduct research is for one year. A renewal may be requested from [email protected]

Frequently asked questions


Who may apply?

Applications are accepted from:

  • masters or doctoral thesis candidates (including SCDSB staff)
  • institutionally funded projects
  • externally funded projects
  • community or agency organizations
Does my research need to be reviewed by the SCDSB ERRC?
All research that is utilizing SCDSB staff, students, parents/guardians, and/or data requires a research application to the ERRC. To submit a proposal, please review all information outlined above.
How long does it take for a project to be reviewed by the SCDSB ERRC?
Our ERRC meeting dates and application deadlines are listed above. Once a project has been reviewed at the committee, you will receive a response from the ERRC within one week of the meeting date. This response may be in the form of an approval, non-approval, or an approval with revisions. 
Can I collect identifying information to link participants to data collection for my project?
No. Projects will be automatically rejected if the methodology requires the external research project team to obtain any identifying information from staff, students, and/or parents/guardians (e.g., names, OENs, email addresses, phone numbers). 
What happens if my project is approved by the SCDSB ERRC?
Once a project has received ethics approval from the ERRC, the SCDSB research team will connect the external research applicant with the SCDSB lead who would be informed about the external research project, as it falls within their portfolio. The applicant will be put in contact with this SCDSB staff lead, through the ERRC chair, before proceeding with their external research project. The ERRC grants ethics approvals, however there are other considerations around external research projects such as staffing capacity, feasibility, scope, and alignment to the SCDSB Strategic Priorities. 

Please note that the final decision to participate in a proposed research project rests with SCDSB leaders and school principals. All research is voluntary; staff, students, and parents/guardians have the right to decide if they would like to participate. 
Where can I get more information?
For more information, please contact [email protected]