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ALI Assessment Committee: Approvals

Materials archive from ALI Assessment Committee Events. This is intended to be the sharing location for materials hosted on other sites, like YouTube, institutional repositories, and their like.

Identify Stakeholders for Approval

Assessment requires approval, whether from your department organization or institutional review board or IRB. Determine stakeholders who need to provide approval for your assessment project at its many stages: Ideation, proposal, and findings review and implementation. 

Know your Message

Use your statement of purpose for conducting the assessment as a touch point for your program. Use the statement to:

  • convey your message to stakeholders for why the assessment matters
  • plan communication to your stakeholder community throughout the assessment process

Institutional Review Board (IRB)

The Institutional Review Board (IRB) was created in part to monitor human based research to ensure ethical practice when research is conducted with human beings. Two considerations are primary when beginning to conduct assessment.

  1. Is this research? Are you seeking to gather information for quality improvement in your work? Are you gathering information that you will generalize and share with others outside of your organization? Information and data collected that will be generalized and disseminated through various scholarly communication channels is more likely to meet the definition of research. Systematic review of publications, data that has been de-identified, or data for improvement of procedures are examples of work that is typically not classified as research.
  2. If the work you are doing meets the definition of research, and you are working with human subjects, an IRB approval for conduct of research on human subjects may be needed. The IRB seeks to protect the rights and privacy of humans involved in research by assuring ethical practice and disclosures. Contact your institution's IRB if you have questions.

Examples of Institutional Stakeholders

Even if you are not conducting research that requires IRB approval, you may have other stakeholders whose approval is imperative for the success of your assessment. Some examples:

  1. Your library assessment team
  2. Your library administration and chain of supervisory command
  3. Any departments with ties to your assessment distribution or review (deans, chairs, faculty)
  4. Campus or library IT who may support the infrastructure you will use to collect and process and securely store data
  5. Budget managers when funding is needed for software or services
  6. Funding agencies who may hold you accountable for the quality of your assessment
  7. Service providers who will receive the outcomes and recommendations from your assessment and be expected to generate or implement recommendations

It may be helpful to identify:

  • Clients (those who are served),
  • Stakeholders or community (those who benefit),
  • Your alliance or partners (those who support) and
  • Family or friends (those who inspire and intervene).

From: Burke, J., & Prater, C. A. (2000). I'll grant you that: A step-by-step guide to finding funds, designing winning projects, and writing powerful grant proposals. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.

Project Management and People Skills

Understanding your project and stakeholders is an essential part of assessment. Some soft skills come into play when getting approval for conducting assessment within your organization. Consider assessing your own abilities in these areas and work to improve or sharpen skills as needed.

  • Basic group dynamic theory
  • Methods to increase collaboration
  • Methods to manage data conflict (when different stakeholders want the assessment results to present divergent “stories”)
  • Building capacity/buy-in for projects
  • Team management skills
  • Project management skills
  • Methods to optimize creativity and productivity of a group

Erickson, S., and S. Passonneau (2014), Addendum: Five Knowledge and Skill Areas for Assessment Librarians, in Library Assessment Conference, edited by S. Durso, S. Hiller, M. Kyrillidou, and A. Pappalrdo, pp. 132–133, Association of Research Libraries, Seattle, WA.

Recommended Resources

LibQUAL+ Procedures Manual - ( - this resource is specific to the ARL LibQUAL+ module, yet in the overview it provides best practices you can extrapolate for conducting your own assessment.

"ACRL Proficiencies for Assessment Librarians and Coordinators", American Library Association, January 23, 2017. (Accessed April 15, 2019) Document ID: 498fde98-4c4b-fc94-a5f7-9b6decd8a2e9

"Proficiencies for Assessment Librarians and Coordinators." (PDF) Presentation slides from 2016 ARL Library Assessment Conference, Proceedings document. Includes information on skills and proficiencies beneficial to library staff who conduct assessment.