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Research Practice Partnerships

students working in labNorthwestern University is dedicated to innovative research and civic engagement. These missions align to help surrounding school districts by providing innovative research on issues significant to them. We are uniquely positioned to advance research in diverse arenas such as policy, learning, and health and to improve our communities by attending to questions that are of direct and immediate need to them, questions which communities around the world face.

The School of Education and Social Policy's Office of Community Education Partnerships (OCEP) facilitates research practice partnerships between researchers and school districts, will be the districts' point of contact for data sharing, and a resource for both the school districts and researchers. Two of our strategic partnerships for research are Chicago Public Schools and Evanston School Districts, D65 and D202.

Learn more about our Research Practice Partnerships by visiting the NEERA site.

Expectations of Researchers

Researchers who agree to work on projects through OCEP will have the opportunity to directly inform local districts. Their projects will benefit from access to a high-quality, longitudinal data, partnership with key staff within the districts and larger communities, and dissemination of findings to area education leaders and practitioners.

Researchers who agree to become research practice partners will commit to:

  • Abiding by policies including respecting data privacy and sourcing district data through OCEP.
  • Ensuring reliability of research including providing supervision to inexperienced researchers.
  • Coordinating with other researchers as appropriate to streamline data collection, resolve timing or experimental conflicts, and share contextual information.
  • Collaborating with practitioners from design through publication including soliciting feedback on research design and reporting results in user-minded ways.
  • Keeping OCEP in the loop so that we can best facilitate current and future research.

Application Process and Data Access

The application process is outlined in more detail below, but in general, researchers should expect to work with OCEP before fleshing out a project. Upon generating an idea for a district research project, the researcher should briefly review the application partnerships documents and speak with members of the OCEP team. OCEP will provide guidance for and facilitate writing and receiving a district review of the initial project proposal. Assuming the district is willing to provide a letter of support, the researcher will then flesh out the details of the project and apply for IRB approval. OCEP will then facilitate drawing up the more detailed Statement of Work (SOW) for district consideration.

  1. Review the application partnerships documents (Northwestern employees only) and sign as appropriate
  2. Meet with OCEP Data Analysts at for guidance on the district's research interests, potential research questions, and contacts within the district.
  3. Use the Research Proposal Template to give sufficient detail on the project for OCEP and district(s) to evaluate it.
  4. Submit the proposal to OCEP for guidance and district review. OCEP will provide guidance and facilitation but does not approve or reject proposals. Be prepared to answer questions, make changes, or coordinate with other researchers as needed.
  5. Obtain background clearance, safety training, etc. as applicable.
  6. Apply for IRB approval.
  7. Draw up a Statement of Work (SOW) using the templates in the district Data Agreement. Districts approve, reject, or ask for modifications in SOWs.
  8. Compile the SOW and all other documents and submit to OCEP at

Access Application Documents (NU Employees Only)

Interested in Becoming a Partner?

If you are interested in becoming a partner send us an email and let us know you are interested.