FAQs - Research Requests

1.  I would like to conduct research in relation to disability. May I receive some suggested topics?

The Research Department can readily provide a number of suggested topics upon request, which could be developed into research projects. Get in touch with us on research.sapport@gov.mt​ for further information and guidance.

2. I would like to disseminate a research participation invitation and collect data from Aġenzija Sapport, its staff members, service users and/or their relatives. How should I go about this?

One is encouraged to refer to the Research Requests - OverviewSubmitting a research request and Terms and Conditions​ respective pages for more information. One may also contact the Research section in order to get an idea as to whether or not Aġenzija Sapport has the required access to potential participants who fit the participation criteria and to gauge the feasability of the project. 

Invariably, a research request application form supported by the required documentation must be submitted to Aġenzija Sapport whenever any form of data collection is involved. 

The Research section reviews the research request and may ask the applicant to provide any clarifications and additional or revised documents. A decision regarding the request is then communicated to the applicant within four weeks from receipt of all complete documentation.

An approval must always be obtained prior to the Agency being able to disseminate any participation invitations to potential participants.

3. What are the possible outcomes of my research request?

A research request may be:​
  • Approved, meaning that the research participation invitation may be disseminated by Aġenzija Sapport to the potential participants;
  • Conditionally approved, whereby the applicant would be asked to fulfil one or more specified conditions (e.g., providing additional documentation or submitting revisions or changes to the research request or the supporting documents). Once these conditions are met, the request may be approved; or
  • Refused, meaning that the proposed project and data collection cannot be held with the Agency, its staff members, service users or relatives. Generally, a refusal is issued in cases of significant concerns, incomplete documentation or when the proposed data collection is not deemed to be feasible.

Importantly, the research participation invitation may not be disseminated by the Agency until a full approval is granted.

4. My research request has been approved. What are the next steps?

Once a research request approval is communicated to the applicant, the Research section will strive to identify those staff members, service users or relatives who meet the required participation criteria, in order to then disseminate the participation invitation to them.  

Importantly, no information whatsover about the potential participants, including any contact details, are passed on by Aġenzija Sapport to the person conducting the project or research. 

Those potential participants who receive the Information Letter & Consent Form document and who are interested in participating, would contact the student or the researcher themselves to take part in the research or would complete and send the pertinent questionnaire themselves should they decide to do so. 

Once the study or project is finalised, and, in the case of students, a grade has been allocated, the applicant shall submit a copy to Aġenzija Sapport.

5. My research request has been refused. What are the possible reasons for this?

A research request may be refused for a number of reasons, including, but not limited to:
  • There are no known potential participants within the Agency’s pool of staff members and service users who meet the study population requirements set out by the research parameters;
  • There are significant research design flaws or concerns with the proposed data collection;
  • The proposal raises ethical concerns which are not mitigated by any alleviating factors; etc.

6. Is participation by members of staff, service users and/or their relatives guaranteed?

No, whilst Aġenzija Sapport will make efforts to ensure the highest chances at recruiting research participants, there are a series of reasons for not being able to successfully recruit participants, including, but not limited to: 
  • The research design and participation criteria may require characteristics which are not commonly found amongst the Agency’s pool of professionals and clients; 
  • The potential participants who receive the participation invitation may not be interested or willing to contribute time and information to the project or research; 
  • The research may touch upon sensitive matters, which may discourage participants from contacting the external student or researcher;
  • The participation required may be perceived by those who receive the research invitation as complex or time-consuming; etc.

Whilst the Research section is tasked with disseminating the Information Letter and Consent Form document to reach the relevant study population, one must bear in mind that participation in research is always entirely voluntary and that the decision on whether or not to contact the student or the researcher to take part in the study and/or to complete any pertinent questionnaire is solely dependent on the potential participants themselves.

7. I would like to conduct a study with people with disability. Will I need an accessible format of the Information Letter and the Consent Form, and, if applicable, of the questionnaire?

Yes, an accessible format of any information that would be disseminated to or received by the potential research participants is necessary in order to conduct research with persons with disability, whenever applicable. Such documents, e.g., easy-to-read versions, need to be appropriate for the study population.