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Executive Administrative Services

Research and Development Department

External Research

For additional information or to submit a request to conduct external research, please contact:

Research and Development
PO Box 13081 - Capitol Station
Austin Texas 78711-3084


External Research Review Calendar

The TDCJ reviews new project proposals on a quarterly basis. Proposal packets must be submitted to TDCJ at least one month prior to the planned quarterly review for consideration. Failure to submit an adequately completed application packet by the due date will result in the proposal being reviewed in the quarter the packet is deemed complete. For complete proposal packet details, please utilize the Applying to Conduct Research and Application Material Requirements sections below.

External Research Review Calendar
Quarter Application Due Date Review Period
(September – November)
Last Friday of October Last full week of November
(December – February)
Last Friday of January Last full week of February
(March – May)
Last Friday of April Last full week of May
(June – August)
Last Friday of July Last full week of August


Useful Definitions

What constitutes a research project?

“Research” is a systematic investigation, including research development, testing, and evaluation, designed to develop or contribute to general knowledge. The administration of survey instruments, program evaluations, and outcome studies is considered research.

Research may be academic or biomedical in nature and may include the collection of new data or the use of existing data pertinent to the employees, clients, or operations of the TDCJ.

Who can conduct a research project with the TDCJ?

TDCJ permits any individual(s) to apply for approval to conduct external research. For the purposes of the TDCJ, anyone who participates to any degree in a project as a research team member (including graduate research assistants) will be considered either a Principal Investigator (PI) or Co-Investigator (Co-PI).

“Principal Investigator” (PI) refers to the investigator who leads and directs the study and has ultimate responsibility for the integrity, design, conduct, and analysis of a research study in addition to their obligation to ensure the study is designed and conducted in compliance with applicable laws, regulations, and institutional policy governing the conduct of human subject research.

“Co-Investigator” (Co-PI) refers to a subset of key personnel who have special responsibilities on research studies as designated by a principal investigator (PI). While the PI has ultimate responsibility for the conduct of the research study, Co-PIs also are obligated to ensure the study is designed and conducted in compliance with applicable laws, regulations, and institutional policy governing the conduct of human subject research.


The External Research Process

What is the TDCJ External Research process?

The TDCJ External Research process is outlined below. This occurs in three phases: 1) the initial review phase, 2) active project phase, 3) closure phase.

Initial Review Phase
This phase may take up to 180 days.

  • Submit completed research packet with necessary components
  • Office of Inspector General (OIG) conducts a background investigation of PI and Co-PIs
  • Research and Development prepares research packet and internal documentation
  • Office of General Counsel (OGC) reviews project
  • Designated Division Directors review project
  • Deputy Executive Director reviews project
  • Project is approved or denied.

Active Project Phase
This phase is the entire length of time your data is being collected and used for publication or analysis.

  • Collect/receive data
  • Complete Progress Reports (ERF 22.11)
    • Initial progress report at 3 months
    • Subsequent reports every 6 months
  • Complete and present technical report(s) on project findings
    • A minimum of one technical report is required for each project
    • Research and Development will aid in the coordination of your technical report presentation with TDCJ personnel if needed
  • Publish or present your findings
    • Provide outward facing materials (manuscript drafts, presentations, posters, etc.) to Research and Development at least 30 days prior to submission/ presentation for review
  • Submit External Research Incident Reports (ERF 22.12) when applicable
    • Documents adverse events that occur during the course of an external research project

Closure Phase
This phase occurs when data collection/ reception has ended and all publications as well as presentations of project data have been completed.

  • Submit External Research Closeout Request (ERF 22.12)
    • Will serve as the final documentation of the technical reports, publications, presentations, and other materials your project has generated.
  • Designated Division Directors review project closure
  • Research and Development provides Project Closure Memorandum


Applying to Conduct Research

What documents are required to conduct research with the TDCJ?

The research applicant must submit the following documents to the Research and Development Department:

If requesting administrative data:

If conducting primary data collection:

  • Informed Consent Form (written at a 6th grade reading level)
  • Research Instruments to be used such as surveys, interview guides, observational protocols, etc.

Where do I send my completed application and documents?

Research and Development Department
PO Box 13081 – Capitol Station
Austin Texas 78711-3084


Application Material Requirements

What is the Full Research Proposal and what should it include?

The Full Research Proposal should be the document which is presented to the Principal Investigator’s Institutional Review Board in order to gain approval or exemption where the institutional review process is concerned, barring formatting adjustments made for readability. At a minimum, the Full Research Proposal should include the following:

  • A project overview
  • A short review of the literature
  • Project details
    • Purpose, goals, and objectives
    • Research design and methodology
    • Participant recruitment strategy (if applicable)
    • Clinical Trial Protocol (if applicable)
    • Data management plan
    • Harm mitigation strategy (for projects with human subjects)
    • Proposed timeline
  • Expected publications, presentations, and outward facing documents
  • Benefits to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice

What is the Informed Consent and what should it include?

Informed Consent is an individual’s express, written permission to participate in a research project after being provided sufficient information on a project which allows them to make a decision based on a reasonable understanding of what will happen to them, the expectations of their participation, and all possible consequences of participation in a given project.

Requirements for informed consent will vary from project to project and across institutions. While the components listed below will be required at a minimum for all research with human subjects under the employment or supervision of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, it is likely that biomedical projects will require additional information in the informed consent process.

  • A statement that the study involves research, an explanation of the purposes of the research and the expected duration of the subject’s participation, a description of the procedures to be followed, and identification of any procedures that are experimental.
  • A description of any reasonably foreseeable risks or discomforts to the subject.
  • A description of any benefits to the subject or to others that may reasonably be expected from the research (financial or otherwise).
  • A statement describing the extent, if any, to which confidentiality of records identifying the subject will be maintained.
  • An explanation of whom to contact for answers to pertinent questions about the research and research subjects’ rights, and whom to contact in the event of a research-related injury to the subject. This will necessarily include contact information for both the Principal Investigator and sponsoring organization.
  • A statement that participation is voluntary, refusal to participate will involve no penalty or loss of benefits to which the subject is otherwise entitled, and the subject may discontinue participation at any time without penalty or loss of benefits to which the subject is otherwise entitled.

More information on informed consent can be found in Code of Federal Regulations Title 45, Part §46 section 116 General Requirements for Informed Consent at U.S. Department of Health & Human Services.

What is an Institutional Review Board and what is required from them?

An Institutional Review Board (IRB) is a specially constituted review body established or designated by an entity to protect the welfare of human subjects recruited to participate in all research in accordance with Code of Federal Regulations Title 45 Part §46 as well as organizational standards and practices. This includes determining if research involves human subjects in accordance with 45 CFR and providing either a written approval or exemption for research projects that meet federal guidelines.

The Texas Department of Criminal Justice requires that projects receive a new Institutional Review Board approval or exemption annually. Expedited review boards for initial approval are only acceptable if projects are deemed to not involve human subjects.

The Texas Department of Criminal Justice does not offer IRB approval/exemption services for projects.


Frequently Asked Questions

Do I have to have to submit an Application to Conduct External Research (ERF 22.01) for everybody included in my project team?

Due to the sensitive nature of much of the information provided and obtained in research projects, the Texas Department of Criminal Justice requires that all members of the research team who collect, analyze, or otherwise may have access to the data submit an Application to Conduct External Research (ER 22.01) to facilitate the background investigation process.

Can an individual other than the Principal Investigator be the primary point of contact for a project?

Yes. Upon sending in your research application materials, please designate if you desire an individual to be the primary point of contact for a project and their contact information.

Can an inmate or employee receive compensation for participating in a research study?

Neither compensation nor incentives are allowed for participating in a research project. This policy applies to both inmates and staff of the TDCJ. The informed consent submitted by the principal investigator must include this stipulation.