Affiliations: [a] RTI International, Atlanta, GA, USA | [b] RTI International, Washington, DC, USA | [c] RTI International, Research Triangle Park, NC, USA | [d] National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics, National Science Foundation, Alexandria, VA, USA
Corresponding author: Jonathan Gordon, 2987 Clairmont Road NE, Atlanta, GA 30329-4434, USA. Tel.: +1 770 407 4952; E-mail: [email protected]
Abstract: The Survey of Graduate Students and Postdoctorates in Science and Engineering is an annual census of U.S. academic institutions granting research-based postsecondary degrees in science, engineering, and health fields. Sponsored by the National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics within the National Science Foundation and by the National Institutes of Health, the survey underwent a major redesign in 2017 with the goal of improving data quality while simultaneously reducing reporting burden. The key elements of the redesign effort included the use of digital file transfers for data reporting, separate collection by degree level (master’s and doctoral) of data for graduate students, and the move to a more common coding scheme to describe academic disciplines. The major challenges of this data collection involve the voluntary participation of respondents, the complexity in providing the requested data, variability in the availability of administrative records, and differences in the reporting capabilities of responding institutions. This paper focuses on these challenges and how they were addressed in the redesign process. Results from a 2016 pilot data collection as well as preliminary results of a 2017 data collection are presented to illustrate the impact of the redesign on data quality and respondent burden.
Keywords: Administrative data, survey redesign, data quality, respondent burden