Policies on Release and Distribution of Institutional Data

Read about Wellesley's policies for:
A. Release and distribution of Wellesley data
B. External requests for use of Wellesley as a research subject


A. Release and Distribution of Wellesley Data

Four types of administrative information or documents are considered below, each with its own set of policy guidelines.

I. Results of surveys of individuals
II. Data from proprietary consortial reports and surveys
III. Commercial and regulatory surveys
IV. Reports and documents produced at Wellesley

I. Surveys of Individuals

Many groups survey individuals at Wellesley. Students are the most frequent subjects, but faculty, staff, and parents of students are asked to fill out surveys as well. Some surveys are conducted by educational consortia and are reported with comparative data from other institutions. The policies enumerated here apply to surveys conducted by Wellesley College administrative offices and faculty committees; these data are the property of Wellesley College.  Surveys conducted by faculty members, students, or other groups are not subject to these policies.

  1. The group conducting a survey is responsible for managing and releasing the data collected.

  2. Individual respondents are not identified in survey results. Results will only be made available in summary form, i.e. descriptive statistics and summary text.

  3. Summary results are made available on request to persons who completed the survey.

  4. Reports on the results of surveys are generally made available to members of the College community who request them.  However, in some circumstances the release of a survey report is restricted.  Any such limitation is noted on the first page of the report.  Presentations of material from survey reports honors any release limitations in the report.

  5. Data files from surveys are not made available except under special circumstances.

  6. Follow-up questions about survey summaries are answered at the discretion of the group conducting the survey, as the work needed to answer such questions can be very time consuming.

II. Consortial Reports and Surveys

Wellesley belongs to consortia that collect and share data from a number of institutions.  Consortium on Financing Higher Education (COFHE) shares data with the strict provision that Wellesley will release aggregate-level written information about other institutions or the consortium as a whole only to campus policy-makers (Senior Staff, Trustees, and faculty and staff on policy-making committees).  Violations of these terms of participation in the consortia can lead to expulsion from the consortia. Other consortia do not place strictures on information they collect.

  1. COFHE reports are distributed to the offices producing the information in the report, to the Office of Institutional Research (OIR), and to policy-makers as appropriate.

  2. COFHE reports are stored in secure locations.  Coding sheets which relate codes to specific institutions are stored separately.  If reports are available in computer readable form, the computers with access to them are not in a public, unsupervised area.

  3. Wellesley data from COFHE surveys of individuals is treated as surveys described in Section I.  Information on other institutions is distributed in written form only to policy-makers.

III. Commercial and Regulatory Surveys

Wellesley responds to many institutional surveys conducted by external organizations. This information is in the public domain after it has been released.  Some of these are mandatory surveys from regulatory bodies, such as Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS),  National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA),  and the New England Association for Schools and Colleges (NEASC).  Many other surveys come from commercial organizations, such as publishers of guidebooks and journals.  While not mandatory, the College completes many of the latter to ensure that Wellesley is described accurately in publications.  Some of these surveys are college-wide and require information from many areas within the college while others seek information from a single office or department. 

  1. Information from these surveys can be released to any member of the College community or to the public upon request.

  2. Information from these surveys may be distributed in reports produced by the College.

IV. College Documents

Many groups at Wellesley produce reports on various aspects of the College.  OIR produces the Factbook and has completed several projects that produced reports.  Other offices, college task forces, committees and other consortia (other than HEDS and COFHE) also produce reports. Reports containing data from COFHE and HEDS are not generally available, but can be distributed to policy-makers.

Access to Wellesley College data for original research that may lead to publication must be negotiated in advance with the Office of the Dean of the College.


B. External Requests to use Wellesley as Research Subject

Individuals who wish to conduct research using Wellesley College members must receive prior approval through an institutional review process, followed by a human subjects review process according to College IRB guidelines. Wellesley College faculty, staff, and students typically seek institutional approval through their academic department, followed by appropriate human subjects review. External researchers must receive institutional approval from the OIR/Office of the Provost and human subjects approval through the Wellesley College Institutional Review Board (IRB). The Office of Institutional Research (OIR) coordinates the institutional review of external requests to use Wellesley College members as research subjects.

I. Institutional Review conducted by OIR/Office of the Provost

For this first step in the review process, individuals should submit a one to two page proposal to the OIR (oir@wellesley.edu). Proposals to be reviewed by the OIR and the Office of the Provost should include:

  • Purpose of the study
  • Proposed sample specifications
  • Timing of the study
  • Method of data collection
  • Description of how results will be used
  • Explanation of any commercial application of study results
  • Reason why Wellesley College should be the study site
  • Data or other assistance needed from Wellesley College to conduct the study
  • CV’s of principal investigator(s) and individuals who would have contact with Wellesley College subjects
  • Source of funds for the study


Researchers may contact the Office of Institutional Research for assistance. The OIR will handle notification of review. If approved in this first step, proposals must then be reviewed by the Institutional Review Board.

II. Human Subjects Review conducted by the Institutional Review Board

Upon approval by the OIR/Office of the Provost, researchers should review the guidelines on the sponsored research website