1703.4.2 Research reports.
Supporting data, where necessary to assist in the approval of products, materials or assemblies not specifically provided for in this code, shall consist of valid research reports from approved sources.
2015 International Building Code, Chapter 2 Definitions, SECTION 201 GENERAL
[A] APPROVED SOURCE. An independent person, firm or corporation, approved by the building official, who is competent and experienced in the application of engineering principles to materials, methods or systems analyses.
DrJ Commentary: The "alternative to the code" approval process is generally performed by "an independent person, firm or corporation who is competent and experienced in the application of engineering principles to materials, methods or systems analyses.” The code definition of an "approved source" is identical to the definition of a registered design professional or professional engineer. These individuals are subject to professional licensing laws of the jurisdiction. Denial of a report or a design certified by a registered design professional's seal, without providing the specific reasons for denial with details in writing, is superseding a registered design professional's commerce, which restrains trade. If the registered design professional is not competent to do the work, the competency issues must be brought before the board of professional regulation. Please check with your jurisdiction's attorney for further information.