Redefining what's possible.
If you are interviewing agency clients or using existing agency data, obtain a letter of cooperation from the agency outlining the purpose of the research and the parameters of confidentiality of the data. Consider drafting a letter for the agency to save agency personnel some work. The letter should be printed on agency letterhead and signed by an agency official. The School of Social Work’s policy is to obtain such a letter for full, minimal risk and exempt reviews and to keep the letter on file with your humansubjects clearance paperwork.
The letter of cooperation should represent the agency's familiarity with the Principal Investigator, the Principal Investigator’s affiliation with the University of Washington, the purpose of the study, and the agency's cooperation with the recruitment of subjects, access to agency records, and understanding of the confidentiality of data.
For example, if a Principal Investigator were recruiting subjects at an agency in order to interview them about their understanding of their role within the agency, the letter could say:
The XYC Agency would like to cooperate with Professor Smith at the University of Washington in recruiting subjects for her research. We understand that the purpose of this study is to better understand how employees view their role in a private, non-profit agency. [Some letters expound on the importance or significance of the results that may be obtained.]
In order to provide support to Professor Smith, we will send a letter to employees asking for volunteers and stating that whether or not employees volunteer will not affect their job with this agency. We understand that the interviews conducted by Professor Smith are confidential and that only she will have access to identifiable data. We will look forward to receiving the results of the study, when it is published.
The above letter states the parameters of confidentiality: (1) the investigator will have sole access to identifiable data and (2) the report that the agency receives will contain aggregated data.