Chapter 2: Adequacy and Condition of Research Space


Highlights . . .

Background

Information focused solely on the amount of S&E research space and its growth or decline over time is insufficient for understanding whether there is enough space to conduct any form of research, and whether the condition of that space is suitable for conducting particularly sophisticated research. Assessments of both the quantity and quality of existing research space made by respondents at each institution in 1996, and over time, are examined below.

The Survey Questions

Respondents were asked to rate the adequacy of the amount of research space in each field at their institution by choosing one of the following (see Item 2 of the survey in Appendix C):

A
Adequate amount of space: sufficient to support all current S&E research program commitments in the field;
B
Inadequate amount of space: not sufficient to support the needs of your current S&E research program commitments in the field; or non-existent, but needed; or
NA
Not applicable or no space needed in this field.

For each field, respondents indicated the condition of research space by reporting the percentage of space falling into one of the following categories (see Item 3 of the survey in Appendix C):

A
Suitable for use in the most scientifically competitive research in the field;
B
Effective for most levels of research in the field, but may need limited repair/renovation;
C
Requires major renovation or replacement to be used effectively (includes categories D and E from 1994 survey); or
NA
Not applicable or no research space in this field.

To determine the overall amount and percentage of space that was rated in each of the above-listed categories, the amount of research space in each field (reported in Item 1a) was multiplied by the percentage of space reported in each of the above categories and totaled across fields. If a university had 1,000 net assignable square feet (NASF) of research space in physical sciences and 30 percent of that space "requires major repair," 300 NASF (1000 *.30) were considered to require major repair. These calculations were performed for each field for each institution, and they were summed to provide the total amount of space in each category.

Data Considerations

The survey measures both the adequacy of the amount of S&E research space and the condition of this space in each S&E field. Responses are based upon the assessments of a variety of different individuals, including the survey coordinator at the institution, as well as deans and other administrators. It must be noted that the two questions designed to gather information about the adequacy of the amount of research space and its condition elicit more subjective responses than do other survey items.

Furthermore, the wording and response choices of both of the above questions differ slightly from the version used two years earlier. In 1994, five categories were listed to elicit assessments of the amount of research space available, and five categories measured the condition of S&E research space. That being the case, changes in the percentages of institutions reporting the adequacy and condition of their research space must be interpreted cautiously.

For the first time, the 1996 survey asked respondents to report additional space needed to support current S&E research program commitments. They also were asked to indicate the amount of space rated as needing major renovation or replacement, which is funded and scheduled to be renovated or replaced. Responses to these questions, included as parts of Items 2 and 3, are presented in Chapter 6.

Findings

Was the Amount of S&E Research Space Sufficient for Current Research Commitments?

Reports of inadequate research space varied across field and institution type. The percentage of institutions indicating that the amount of available S&E research space was inadequate ranged from 30 percent for mathematics to 66 percent for the medical sciences in medical schools (Table 2-1). Over half of all institutions reported inadequate amounts of space in the medical sciences in medical schools (66 percent), engineering (57 percent), the medical sciences outside of medical schools (57 percent), the physical sciences (54 percent), the biological sciences outside of medical schools (53 percent), and agricultural sciences (52 percent). Nearly half of the institutions reported inadequate amounts of space in five additional fields: the social sciences (47 percent); the biological sciences in medical schools (46 percent); earth, atmospheric, and ocean sciences (46 percent); the computer sciences (44 percent); and psychology (44 percent). About one third (30 percent) of the institutions reported that mathematics, the remaining field, had inadequate research space.

The top 100 institutions were most likely to indicate inadequate research space in the biological sciences outside of medical schools, with 61 percent reporting this to be the case. Three other fields were reported to have inadequate research space by over half of the top 100 institutions: the physical sciences (56 percent), the social sciences (55 percent), and engineering (57 percent).

Medical sciences space was most likely to be reported as inadequate by the other doctorate-granting universities, both outside medical schools (65 percent) and within (69 percent). In fact, the percentages of those institutions indicating medical science space to be inadequate were much higher than for the top 100 institutions.

Two fields, the biological sciences outside of medical schools (52 percent) and the physical sciences (51 percent), were listed by over half of the nondoctorate-granting institutions as having inadequate S&E research space.

What Was the Condition of S&E Research Space?

Over a third (37 percent) of the S&E research space at research-performing institutions was rated as "suitable for use in the most scientifically sophisticated research." While 38 percent of the S&E research space at doctorate-granting institutions also was rated this way, as was 37 percent at the other doctorate-granting institutions, less than a quarter (24 percent) of the S&E research space at nondoctorate-granting institutions was reported in the highest quality category (Table 2-2).

Colleges and universities classified a total of 18 percent of their S&E research space as requiring either major repair/renovation or replacement. There was general consistency among the different types of institutions regarding the amount of S&E research space in this condition, with 19 percent of the S&E research space at the top 100 doctorate-granting institutions, 17 percent of the research space at other doctorate-granting institutions, and 18 percent of the research space at the nondoctorate-granting institutions requiring major repair/renovation or replacement.

Such similarities across institution types mask large differences in actual amounts of space. The 18 percent of space rated as needing major repair/renovation at the top 100 universities, for instance, actually represents 17.6 million NASF, whereas the 18 percent of space rated in the same category at nondoctorate-granting institutions represents only 1.1 million. In total, the nation's research-performing institutions reported that 24.5 million NASF of research space required major repair/renovation or replacement.

How Much S&E Research Space in Each Field Required Either Repair/Renovation or Replacement?

Similar to 1994, in 1996, institutions reported research space in the agricultural sciences to have the greatest need for repair/renovation or replacement. Of the 22 million NASF of S&E research space in the agricultural sciences (Table 1-6), 5.3 million NASF were assessed as requiring repair/renovation or replacement (Table 2-3). This space is approximately one quarter of the total S&E research space in that field. This relatively large need is concentrated in a small number of institutions (only 20 percent of all research-performing institutions had research space in the agricultural sciences).

Institutions also indicated (in 1996) that 4 million NASF of engineering research space required repair/renovation or replacement. Medical sciences in medical schools contained 3.6 million NASF, and the biological sciences outside of medical schools and the physical sciences each contained 3.4 million in need of repair/renovation or replacement.

Since 1988, the amount of research space requiring repair/renovation or replacement in many of the S&E fields increased. In the agricultural sciences, the amount increased from 3.6 million NASF in 1988 to 5.3 million in 1996. In every year of the survey, the agricultural sciences were reported to be the field with the greatest amount of space in this condition. The amount of S&E research space in the biological sciences outside of medical schools requiring repair/renovation or replacement increased from 2.4 million NASF in 1988 to 3.4 million in 1996. Engineering space in this condition grew from 2.2 million NASF to 4.0 million.


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