Data Policies

Policies on Release and Distribution of Institutional Data

    Read about: 

    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 Commission of Higher Education (NECHE).  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 COFHE) also produce reports. Reports containing data from COFHE 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 Provost.

    B. External Requests to Use Members of Wellesley College as Research Subjects   

    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 (i.e., not Wellesley College faculty, staff or students) who are listed as the principal investigator must receive institutional approval from the Office of Institutional Research (OIR) and the Office of the Provost as well as human subjects approval through the Wellesley College Institutional Review Board (IRB).OIR coordinates the institutional review of external requests to use Wellesley College members as research subjects.

    External researchers listed as co-principal investigator with a Wellesley College PI must also seek institutional approval from OIR if the Wellesley College PI does not meet all of the following criteria:

    1. the faculty/staff member would be a co-author on any publication or presentation resulting from the research.
    2. the faculty/staff member has an integral role in the conceptualization, design, and write-up of the findings.
    3. the faculty/staff member oversees all data collection from research participants who are students, faculty, or staff at Wellesley College.


    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 ( 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
    • Statement of intent to reference Wellesley College  in publications resulting from the study
    • CV’s of principal investigator(s) and individuals who would have contact with Wellesley College subjects
    • Source of funds for the study

    External researchers wishing to conduct research must seek approval from the Director of the Child Study Center.

    External researchers may contact the Office of Institutional Research for assistance. OIR will handle notification of review. OIR will consult with administrative units, departments, and programs affected by the research study or listed as the sources of funds prior to approval. If approved in this first step, proposals must then be reviewed by the Institutional Review Board.

    References to Wellesley College in publications resulting from studies conducted by external researchers must be negotiated in advance with the Office of the Provost.

    II. Human Subjects Review conducted by the Institutional Review Board

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


    C. Administrative Studies and Surveys   

    Administrative units should consult with the Office of Institutional Research (OIR) when designing studies or surveys of their programs and/or services. OIR can assist administrative units with determining the following:

    • Timing of the study
    • Sample size and characteristics
    • Research or survey questions
    • Method or data collection
    • Data analysis/dissemination plan

    OIR will assist in the administration of the study and data analysis on a case-by-case basis. 

    Administrative units using outside contractors to conduct a study must submit a request via the OIR Data Request Form and select Custom data request for Wellesley faculty/staff. OIR coordinates with LTS and other departments to obtain and compile institutional data on a case-by-case basis.

    OIR will handle notification of review. OIR will consult with the Office of the Provost prior to approval.


    D. Access to Institutional Data for Students and Student Groups   

    Students who wish to use institutional data to complete a requirement for a specific course must make this request through the faculty member teaching the course. The faculty member must complete the OIR Data Request Form, and provide a description of the course requirement, and the names of the students who will be using the data. OIR will contact the faculty member to confirm the course requirements and the need for these data. Requests for institutional data to meet course requirements must be submitted at least two weeks prior to the end of classes for the semester. Requests received after this date will not be considered.

    Students and student groups seeking to use institutional data for planning and other purposes must have their request sponsored by an academic department or administrative office that can confirm their need for the data. The data request must be submitted by the administrative office or academic department that agrees to sponsor the request and must state their unit’s intention to share data with students. OIR will contact the department chair or the head of the administrative office to confirm the request and its intention to share data with students before approving the request.

    Students who wish to use Wellesley students, faculty, or staff as research subjects or who wish to use institutional data for research purposes related to a faculty member’s funded research or an individual research project must submit a request via the OIR Data Request FormOIR will confirm with the student’s faculty advisor before approving the request. Access to Wellesley College data for original research that may lead to publication must be negotiated in advance with the Office of the Provost.

    Institutional data is defined in Section A of this policy. OIR will provide aggregate data and will review requests for data at the unit record level on a case-by-case basis.


    E. Responsible Use of Institutional Data  

    Institutional data provided on the areas of the College’s websites that are accessible to the general public are considered public information. Institutional data provided on areas of websites that require individuals to submit their authentication credentials is intended for the sole use and benefit of members of the Wellesley community and are considered restricted and non-public information.  

    Data available on College websites that that cannot be shared with the general public will be identified appropriately. The College discourages the sharing of restricted and non-public information beyond the Wellesley community. Individuals or groups of students, faculty, and staff who wish to share restricted and non-public information must obtain permission of the Office of the Provost and the Office of Institutional Research. Individuals or groups of students, faculty, and staff who share restricted and non-public information without the express written consent of the College shall be subject to disciplinary action.

    Student records data, institutional survey data, commercial or regulatory survey data, official college documents, or other institutional data that has been provided to members of the Wellesley community as part of an official data request shall be used only for the purposes stated on the data request form. Individuals who share such data beyond the stated use without the express written consent of the College shall be subject to disciplinary action.

    Members of the Wellesley community who receive institutional data as part an official data request are responsible for informing the Office of Institutional Research if these data are lost or stolen or if the data has been copied or stored on a computer or other electronic device that is lost or stolen.