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Fielding an accepted TESS proposal

  1. What is provisional acceptance?
  2. What is the requirement for institutional review board (IRB) documentation?
  3. What happens after I get human subjects approval?
  4. When will I receive the data from my experiment?
  5. For how long will I have exclusive access to the data from my proposal?
  6. What are my obligations to TESS after I receive my data?
  7. Will my proposal also be made available online?

What is provisional acceptance?

When the review process results in a positive judgment for a proposal, we say that it is provisionally accepted. After TESS makes such a judgment, we notify the contact author with a letter of congratulations.

Provisional acceptance is necessary but not sufficient for data collection to begin. Two additional steps must be taken: the proposal must obtain human subjects approval and it must have a successful trial run.

What is the requirement for institutional review board (IRB) documentation?

As with any empirical research done by faculty or graduate students, TESS cannot place an experiment on a data collection instrument, until it has in hand a document indicating that the project has received human subjects approval from a university human subjects committee or internal review board (henceforth, we use the term IRB to refer to such administrative bodies.)

This documentation must be sent to TESS electronically to us at tess@

There are no exceptions to this rule. There are also no circumstances in which TESS or its data collecting subcontractors can provide IRB reviews. IRB approval is the sole responsibility of the investigators.

We encourage investigators to obtain IRB approval as soon as possible. The longer a researcher waits to get such approval, the longer will be the delay in collecting their data.

NORC provides extensive information for use when applying for IRB approval of studies conducted using its panel (including TESS experiments).

If your project is deemed non-exempt from review by your institution’s IRB, a representative of your institution will need to sign an Inter-Institutional Agreement (IIA) with NORC that establishes your institution as the reviewer of record. NORC will provide a template agreement that you are welcome to use.

To repeat, if a proposal is accepted for placement on a TESS data collection instrument and if the investigators cannot obtain IRB approval, then it is ineligible for inclusion on a TESS data collection instrument.

What happens after I get human subjects approval?

You will be asked to submit a project description that can be used to obtain pricing information from NORC and that can be used to program the instrument. It is very important that this project description provide not only the questions but a clear description of the randomizations used and which groups of respondents receive which questions. The basic template for the needed project specification is here. The project specification should be provided in Microsoft Word or other standard word processor format (not as .pdf, as this is harder for programmers to work with).

With the order of final acceptance as their guide, the co-PIs will exercise discretion in combining individual investigators' modules into a given version of the Internet data collection efforts. The TESS PI's and data collection subcontractors will work closely with individual scholars to make sure their modules are appropriately situated within larger instruments.

For programming an instrument, multimedia materials will need to be provided to NORC in accordance with their specifications. Please provide a file with the best image quality and least compression possible. Preferred file types are as follow:

Video: .mp4 or .ogg

Audio: .wav or .mp3

Image: .jpg, .gif , tif, .pct, .psd, .tga, .eps, or .ai

When will I receive the data from my experiment?

Our goal for investigators who have their proposals accepted is for them to enter the field and have the data back in their hands as soon as possible. We anticipate projects will take about six weeks from the time the final description of the approved project is received from investigators and when the data are delivered. As soon as your experiment is conducted, we will send the data to investigators along with subjects' demographic information and an electronic codebook.

For how long will I have exclusive access to the data from my proposal?

You will have exclusive access to the data for one year after the data are delivered. After that time, the data will become available to others via TESS's partnership with the Open Science Foundation. Our goal is to encourage you, the original researchers, to analyze, present, and publish your results as quickly as possible while making innovative data available to the larger scientific community.

Researchers sometimes augment TESS data collection by providing supplemental funds from other sources. TESS policy is that all data from studies for which it provides any funding are posted, regardless of the fraction covered by TESS and the fraction covered by other sources.

What are my obligations to TESS after I receive my data?

All publications using TESS should include the following citation: "Data collected by Time-sharing Experiments for the Social Sciences, NSF Grant 0818839, Jeremy Freese and James Druckman, Principal Investigators."

Investigators must also agree to prepare a summary description of their results including frequency tables for control and treatment groups presented in a uniform tabular format (which TESS will supply) by the end of the one year period in which the data are embargoed from other users. We will post the report immediately on our website and circulate news of the findings via e-mail lists and press releases.

To increase the speed at which new knowledge is made broadly available, we also require the investigators to notify us of any working papers or publications based on the experiments. We then provide links to such papers on

Will my proposal also be made available online?

Starting with proposals submitted/resubmitted after July 15, 2014, TESS will be posting accepted proposals for fielded projects online at the same time it posts the raw data. That is, one year after the data are delivered to investigators. We do this because of the growing interest in pre-registration of studies. While TESS studies do not contain all the elements of pre-registration, our investigators have from the beginning of TESS been articulating their hypotheses before fielding their study, and the policy change credits their doing so.


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