Initiating a Research Project

The UT Dallas Education Research Center (UT Dallas ERC) welcomes proposals from qualified researchers seeking to conduct research projects that would benefit from access to the Texas Education Research Center restricted, individual-level data collection.

To initiate an ERC project, the UT Dallas ERC submits a proposal for review by the Education Research Center program’s Advisory Board, which meets quarterly to approve new projects. Proposals are frequently submitted for projects to be conducted by researchers from other institutions, who may then, upon approval, conduct their projects using the confidential data at the UT Dallas ERC facility.

Before bringing new project proposals before the ERC Advisory Board, the UT Dallas ERC is required by the State to assess and screen projects for research design, importance for education in Texas and the need to use individual student data. Additionally, as the ERC Advisory Board is only able to consider a limited number of new proposals at each meeting, the UT Dallas ERC must at times select project proposals from among those submitted to bring forward at each meeting.

As the Education Research Center is required to be self-supporting, it is necessary for us to assess access fees for cost recovery on a per project basis for the use of the facility. Please refer to the access fee schedule for details.

First Steps

It is recommended that interested researchers who wish to explore using ERC data for a project initiate the process by sending an inquiry by e-mail to the director, briefly outlining the goals of the research, main research questions and the data of interest. Further instructions and guidance for the formulation and submission of a proposal will then be provided. Once submitted, proposals will be reviewed at the UT Dallas ERC and any recommendations for revisions will be provided to the researcher before accepted proposals are brought before the ERC Advisory Board for approval at the next quarterly meeting.

Upon Receiving Approval

Research projects approved by the ERC Advisory Board are generally authorized for a period of two years. If external funding has been obtained for the project, however, the proposal may request authorization for the duration of that funding up to a maximum of five years. After their initial period of authorization, projects may petition the Advisory Board for an extension of up to two years. The total authorized period for a project, however, cannot normally exceed five years.

Researchers whose proposals are approved by the Advisory Board will then be provided with access to the data authorized for their project and may schedule visits to the Education Research Center to conduct their research after they finalize payment of the applicable access fees, sign the necessary confidentiality agreement, and complete orientation and a required FERPA training class.

Conducting Research

The data collection at the UT Dallas Education Research Center includes individual student data that is considered confidential under the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). This data is held on behalf of the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, the Texas Education Agency, and the Texas Workforce Commission. The UT Dallas ERC is authorized to host and facilitate the use of this data for State-approved research projects under an agreement with the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, which is charged with the operation and oversight of the Education Research Center program. As such, there are stringent conditions governing the use of the data collection:

  • All access and use of the ERC data must occur within the secure research center facilities and be confined to the sequestered computing systems within the UT Dallas ERC.
  • Any results to be removed from the UT Dallas ERC environment must first be submitted for review by the UT Dallas ERC staff. Materials or information on the secure UT Dallas ERC systems can only be made accessible outside of the UT Dallas ERC through this review process.
  • Only results and information that contain no confidential student information, per ERC guidelines, may be removed from the UT Dallas ERC environment.
    • No materials may be released that divulge information about groups of fewer than five students.
    • No materials may be released from which information about groups of fewer than five students could be inferred or computed.
  • Researchers may only access the specific ERC files that were approved for use in their project proposal by the Advisory Board.
  • In addition to the review of results, all finished researched products must be submitted for final review for FERPA compliance by the UT Dallas ERC before release or dissemination. Such materials submitted for review will be handled in the utmost confidence.
  • Researchers producing reports, articles or other research products using ERC data must provide a short policy brief describing their results for dissemination to the sponsoring state agencies.

For additional questions about the UT Dallas Education Research Center, visit our FAQ page. The director would also be delighted to answer any questions you might have about initiating a project or conducting research at the UTD Education Research Center.

Lecturer giving a presentation.