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National Science Foundation National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics
Contents

General Notes

Data Tables

Appendix A. Technical Notes

Appendix B. Survey Materials

Suggested Citation, Acknowledgments



Julia D. Oliver,
Project Officer
(703) 292-7809
Human Resources Statistics Program

NCSES Home
Graduate Students and Postdoctorates in Science and Engineering: Fall 2006

 


Appendix A. Technical Notes

 

Survey Universe

The data collected in the 2006 Survey of Graduate Students and Postdoctorates in Science and Engineering represent national estimates of graduate enrollment and postdoctoral employment as of fall 2006 in all U.S. academic institutions that granted master's degrees or research doctorates in any science, engineering, or selected health field.[1] The survey collects data for all branch campuses, affiliated research centers, and separately organized components, such as graduate or medical schools. The survey universe consisted of 707 reporting units at 586 graduate institutions: 495 reporting units at 374 doctorate-granting institutions and 212 reporting units at 212 master's-granting institutions.[2]

Data on graduate science and engineering (S&E) enrollment and postdoctoral appointees have been collected annually since 1966. However, data from 1966 to 1974 are not directly comparable with data from 1975 to 2006 due to changes in both the S&E fields and the types of institutions covered in the survey. From fall 1966 through fall 1971, the National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Traineeship Program collected data from a limited number of doctorate-granting institutions and requested data only on S&E fields supported by NSF. The NSF Universities and Nonprofit Institutions Studies Group began collecting these data with the fall 1972 survey. Between 1972 and 1974, eligibility definitions were changed to include selected health fields and to increase the number of S&E fields surveyed; the survey was also broadened to include all institutions known to have programs leading to a doctorate or master's degree in science and engineering.

Table A-1 shows the number of institutions, reporting units, and departments by degree level covered by the GSS, as well as the estimated total enrollment for each year between 1966 and 2006.

  • Data for 1966–71 reflect totals for the NSF Graduate Traineeship program only and are not comparable with data from 1972 through 2006.
  • Data for 1972–74 reflect changes in eligibility definitions, which affected both S&E fields and types of institutions surveyed. These data are not comparable to data collected before 1972 or after 1974.
  • Data for 1984–87 from master's-granting institutions were collected on a sample basis. Enrollment data for this period have been adjusted to account for the sampling and reflect estimated universe totals.
  • Data for 1975–2006 are intended to represent consistent coverage of science, engineering, and selected health fields. In 1989 NSF revised the coverage of S&E fields in the survey. This resulted in the exclusion of some fields, and the data for 1975–88 subsequently were revised to reflect this change. Since 1988 the survey has attempted to cover all institutions with master's or doctoral programs in science, engineering, or selected health fields and has excluded institutions that do not have any such graduate programs.

Tables A-2 and A-3 present data on departmental coverage by S&E and health-related fields for doctorate- and master's-granting institutions for the years 1999–2006.

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Survey Instruments

The GSS survey instruments (paper and Web versions) consist of NSF Form 811 and NSF Form 812. Form 811 is a list of departments, programs, research centers, or health-care facilities specific to each institution in the survey. Form 812 is a series of questions that obtains counts of students and data on key characteristics of interest, such as race/ethnicity, sex, citizenship, and source of funding.

There were no significant changes to the content of the 2006 survey from previous survey years. However, a number of changes were made to the format of the survey instruments. These changes include the following:

  • Reformatting the paper questionnaire so that instructions were close to the questionnaire items
  • Including a detailed glossary of terms used in the GSS for both the paper and the Web-based versions of the survey
  • Modifying the Web survey to make it easier to submit data via the file upload function
  • Reformatting the school coordinator materials into a single package

The GSS forms are sent to the school coordinator. In that package are two sets of materials: one for the school coordinator's completion and another that may be completed by the school coordinator or delegated to departmental respondents for completion.

The school coordinator package consists of a booklet that incorporates the following:

  • A cover letter to the school coordinator
  • The ID and password for the school coordinator to use in responding to the survey through the Web-based data collection system
  • Instructions to the school coordinator on how to update the school's prior year's list of departments, programs, research centers and health-care facilities (Form 811) and administer the survey (Form 812)
  • A question on how the data provided by the institution were derived (e.g., from a computerized central records system, automated systems relying on departmental input, a hand-tabulation at the institutional level, a hand-tabulation at the departmental level, or a combination of the above sources)

In addition, the school-coordinator package contains a crosswalk showing representative National Center for Education Statistics Classification of Instructional Program (CIP) codes corresponding to each science, engineering, and selected health field as defined by NSF.

The departmental respondent package consists of a booklet that incorporates the following:

  • A cover letter to the departmental respondents
  • The questionnaire, which includes instructions
  • A glossary of terms used in the survey

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Survey Procedures

Each fall the GSS (both paper and the Web version) is sent to a school coordinator appointed by the educational institution. The survey packets were mailed by 11 November 2006 with a requested due date of 31 January 2007. The Web survey was opened on 26 October 2006. The survey procedures used in the 2006 GSS were the same as those used in previous cycles.

School coordinators are requested to review the departmental listing provided in the survey packet on NSF Form 811 and indicate any changes in their school structure, such as departments newly formed, phased out, split, or merged, and to check off any departments that had neither graduate students nor postdoctorates (for which survey forms would therefore not be submitted). School coordinators submit revised Form 811s via the Web survey or by mail to the survey contractor for use as a checklist in tracking departmental responses.

Form 812 is completed by either the school coordinator or departmental respondents and returned to the survey contractor for data entry, editing, and tabulation. The survey contractor refers arithmetic errors, inconsistencies between items, and sharp year-to-year fluctuations to the school coordinators for correction or clarification.

The majority of coordinators indicate they use a combination of sources to provide the data they report on the GSS. Over the years, the use of computerized systems has shown a small but gradual increase.

School coordinators and departmental respondents have had the option of providing data using the Web-based data collection system since the 1998 survey. In 2006, 644 of the 707 reporting units used the online option.

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Response Rates

The 2004, 2005, and 2006 response rates are not directly comparable with response rates reported for prior years. Response rates from 1975 through 2003 were calculated for reporting units (schools) and departments but not for institutions. For schools, the response rate was calculated as the total number of responding schools divided by the total number of eligible schools. A school was considered responding if one or more of its eligible departments responded. The departmental response rate was calculated as the number of departments not requiring full imputation divided by the total number of eligible departments. A department was considered responding if it reported at least one data item.

In 2004 the response-rate calculations were changed for schools and departments, and a response-rate calculation was developed for institutions. These new response-rate calculations adhere to the American Association for Public Opinion Research's (AAPOR) standards for computing response rates.[3]

Criteria for distinguishing categories of response (complete, partial, nonresponse) for 2004 forward are as follows:

Department. A department is considered a complete respondent if it reports complete row and column totals in Items 5, 6, 7, and 8 of the survey. A department is considered a partial respondent if it reports only grand totals for Items 5, 6, 7, and 8. A department is classified as a nonrespondent if it does not meet the criteria for complete or partial respondents.

Reporting Unit. A reporting unit is considered a complete respondent if 90% or more of its departments provide data (are not nonrespondents, as defined above for departments). Response is considered partial if more than 50% but less than 90% of its departments provide data. A reporting unit is considered a nonrespondent if less than 50% of its departments provide data. The same criteria are used to categorize institutional response.

In 2006, 10,814 (87.8%) of the total 12,320 eligible departments were considered complete respondents. An additional 1,177 (9.6%) were considered partial respondents, reporting only grand totals to items 5, 6, 7 and 8. A total of 329 departments (2.7%) were considered nonrespondents.

Of the 707 reporting units surveyed in 2006, 665 (94.0%) provided complete responses, 14 (2.0%) provided partial responses, and 28 (4.0%) were nonrespondents.

Of the 586 institutions surveyed in 2006, 547 (96.3%) were complete respondents, 12 (2.0%) were partial respondents, and 27 (4.6%) were nonrespondents.

Table A-4 shows departmental response rates for 1975–2006. For comparison purposes, two sets of response rates are shown for 2004–06. The first set follows the response-rate calculation used from 1975–2003. The second set follows the response-rate calculation introduced in 2004, which adheres to AAPOR standards. For example, in 2006, 329 departments were considered nonrespondents under the new response-rate calculations, whereas only 302 would have been considered nonrespondents under the older method.

Imputation techniques were used to fill in missing data for departments in 2006. Tables A-5 and A-6 show the total number of departments in doctorate- and master's-granting institutions, the imputed number of full- and part-time graduate students enrolled, the imputed number of postdoctoral appointees, and imputation rates for 2004, 2005, and 2006. Tables A-7 through A-12 provide imputation rates and imputed data by specific data items for 2006.

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Changes in Data Items

Over time, changes have been made to the content of the survey to keep it relevant to the needs of data users. Such changes prevent precise maintenance of trend data; therefore, some data items are not available for all institutions in all years. Major changes in the data collected (with the year changes became effective) include the following:

Data Collection

1975 Graduate institutions that granted only master's degrees were asked to provide estimates for the number of full- and part-time students and the number of postdoctorates and/or research associates.
1976–77 Data for master's-granting institutions were collected on an abbreviated form of the survey (short form), which did not collect data on citizenship of graduate students.
1978 Doctorate-granting institutions received a short form of the survey collecting selected data items; master's-granting institutions were not surveyed. The 1978 figures shown in the tables for total enrollment and full-time enrollment for master's-granting institutions represent estimates based on 1977 and 1979 data.
1979 All graduate institutions were surveyed using the same form; the full-scale survey was resumed.
1984–87 The survey design was changed to a stratified random sample with a certainty stratum that included all doctorate-granting institutions, all master's-granting historically black colleges and universities, and all land-grant institutions. The remaining master's-granting institutions were divided into two sample strata based on enrollment size. Enrollment data for 1984–87 have been adjusted to reflect universe totals.
1988 Surveying the entire eligible survey population was resumed for the first time since 1983–84.
2005 Due to Hurricane Katrina, data for Tulane University and Loyola University were not included, and Louisiana State University data are for the Graduate School (Baton Rouge) and Health Sciences Center (Shreveport) only; the two New Orleans campuses were closed. Data from these schools were not available and were not imputed.

Sex

1976–77 Master's-granting institutions were requested to provide data on all graduate students by sex.
1978 Doctorate-granting institutions received a short form of the survey collecting selected data items, which did not request any information on sex; 1978 figures in the tables represent estimates based on 1977 and 1979 data. Master's-granting institutions were not surveyed.
1979 Data on sex were requested for all graduate students at all institutions.
1993 The survey began collecting race/ethnicity data by sex.

Race/Ethnicity

1979 The survey began collecting race/ethnicity data as an optional data item; collection of this information became an official part of the survey in 1980.
1993 The survey began collecting race/ethnicity data by sex.
1999 The survey presented respondents with new race/ethnicity categories. The Asian/Pacific Islander category used in previous years' surveys became two categories: Asian and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander. In addition, the survey included two new categories: More Than One Race Hispanic/Latino and More Than One Race Non-Hispanic/Latino. The 1999 survey excluded the Other category included in previous years' surveys.

In each of the 7 years of collecting these data, only about 8% of the departments have reported data in any of the new categories. For this year's table production, as in the previous 6 years, the data reported in the new categories are combined into previous survey categories. The data are combined for the tables as follows: the Asian and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander categories form the Asian/Pacific Islander category; the One Race Only Hispanic/Latino and More Than One Race Hispanic/Latino categories form the Hispanic category; and the More Than One Race Non-Hispanic/Latino and Unknown or Did Not State categories form the Other or Unknown category.

Citizenship

1972–77 The survey collected citizenship data for graduate students enrolled full time in doctorate-granting institutions.
1975–77 Citizenship data were not collected from master's-degree-only institutions for either full- or part-time students.
1978 Doctorate-granting institutions received a short form of the survey, which did not collect any citizenship data; 1978 figures in the tables represent estimates based on 1977 and 1979 data. Master's-granting institutions were not surveyed.
1979 The survey began collecting citizenship data for all full-time graduate students.
1983 The survey began collecting citizenship data for graduate students enrolled part time.

First-Time Enrollment

1999 The survey began collecting data on first-time enrollment by race/ethnicity, but data collected by the 2000 survey were the first of these data released.

Graduate Student Support

1978 The survey did not collect data on mechanisms of support but did collect sources of support for full-time students. Because actual mechanisms of support were unknown, data were reported only as Other. Master's-granting institutions were not surveyed.
1979 The survey began collecting separate data on mechanisms of support for fellowships and traineeships (prior years combined these mechanisms). It also started to collect information on "other nonfaculty research staff with doctorates" along with the information collected on postdoctoral appointees.
1985 The survey began collecting separate data on students receiving their primary support from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
1996 The survey began collecting separate data on students receiving their primary support from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.
1999 The survey began collecting separate data on students receiving their primary support from the U.S. Department of Energy.

Data Revisions

During the fall 1988 survey cycle, a review of the survey universe and of the S&E definition resulted in the exclusion of departments that were not primarily oriented toward granting research degrees. A number of departments—mostly those in the field of "Social sciences, not elsewhere classified"—were found to be primarily engaged in training teachers, practitioners, administrators, or managers rather than researchers; thus, they were no longer eligible for the survey. During the 1989–2006 survey cycles, this process continued, and all ineligible departments identified were removed to ensure trend consistency for the entire 1975–2006 period. These changes resulted in a reduction in total enrollments and social science enrollments for all years. Table A-13 shows the net effect on enrollment data of these adjustments over the years.

Each survey cycle since fall 1992, the classification of an institution's previous-year enrollment data has been changed to reflect the institution's degree-granting status (master's or doctorate) in the current survey cycle. Over the years, a number of master's-granting institutions have become doctorate-granting institutions, and their enrollment data were reclassified from master's- to doctoral-degree status. This shifted numerous institutions (and students) from master's-granting to doctorate-granting categories for years before 1992. Shifting enrollment to doctorate-granting institutions partially offsets decreases in enrollment that occur when ineligible departments are removed in the survey universe review process; thus reductions in enrollment have been smaller at doctorate-granting institutions than at master's-granting institutions.

Since the 1992 survey cycle, the definition of medical schools has included only those institutional components with membership in the Association of American Medical Colleges. Data collected before 1992 are not comparable with data collected for the fall 1992 and subsequent surveys.

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Notes

[1] The research doctorate is a research degree that (1) requires an original contribution of knowledge to a science, engineering, or health-related field (typically, but not always, in the form of a written dissertation) and (2) is not primarily intended for the practice of a profession. For additional survey information and available data related to graduate student enrollment and postdoctoral appointees in science and engineering, see http://www.nsf.gov/statistics/srvygradpostdoc/.

[2] In this report, the term "reporting unit" is essentially equivalent to a school (such as a graduate school, medical or dental school, nursing school, or school of public health), an affiliated research center, a branch campus, or any other organizational component within an academic institution that grants a science, engineering, or selected health degree.

[3] See response rate 3 calculation, p. 29. American Association for Public Opinion Research. 2004. Standard Definitions: Final Dispositions of Case Codes and Outcome Rates for Surveys. 3rd ed. Lenexa, Kansas: AAPOR.

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Technical Tables Excel PDF
A-1 The NSF data collection series: 1966–2006 view Excel. view PDF.
A-2 Science, engineering, and health departments in doctorate-granting institutions, by detailed field: 1999–2006 view Excel. view PDF.
A-3 Science, engineering, and health departments in master's-granting institutions, by detailed field: 1999–2006 view Excel. view PDF.
A-4 Response rates for science, engineering, and health departments: 1975–2006 view Excel. view PDF.
A-5 Imputation for nonresponse in doctorate-granting institutions, by field and graduate enrollment or postdoctoral status: 2004–06 view Excel. view PDF.
A-6 Imputation for nonresponse in master's-granting institutions, by field and graduate enrollment or postdoctoral status: 2004–06 view Excel. view PDF.
A-7 Imputation rates of full-time graduate students in science, engineering, and health fields, by source and mechanism of support, and by female students: 2006 view Excel. view PDF.
A-8 Imputed full-time graduate students in science, engineering, and health fields, by source and mechanism of support, and by female students: 2006 view Excel. view PDF.
A-9 Imputation rates of graduate students in science, engineering, and health fields, by citizenship, race/ethnicity, enrollment status, and sex: 2006 view Excel. view PDF.
A-10 Imputed graduate students in science, engineering, and health fields, by citizenship, race/ethnicity, enrollment status, and sex: 2006 view Excel. view PDF.
A-11 Imputation rates of postdoctorates in science, engineering, and health fields, by source of support, and nonfaculty research staff with doctorates: 2006 view Excel. view PDF.
A-12 Imputed postdoctorates in science, engineering, and health fields, by source of support, and nonfaculty research staff with doctorates: 2006 view Excel. view PDF.
A-13 Graduate enrollment data as originally published and as modified through the fall 2006 graduate student survey cycle: 1975–2006 view Excel. view PDF.


 
Graduate Students and Postdoctorates in Science and Engineering: Fall 2006
Detailed Statistical Tables | NSF 08-306 | April 2008