Survey OverviewBullet 1 Key Survey InformationBullet 2 Survey DesignBullet 3 Data Collection and ProcessingBullet 4 Survey Quality MeasuresBullet 5 Data Availability and ComparabilityBullet 6 Data ProductsBullet 6 Contact Information

1. Survey Overview (FY 2015 Survey Cycle) Top of Page.

  1. Purpose: The Survey of Science and Engineering Research Facilities is a congressionally mandated survey. It is the primary source of information on the amount and cost of space at science and engineering research facilities located at U.S. research-performing colleges and universities. The survey is the basis of public data used by Congress, higher education associations, state governments, academia, and architectural and engineering firms.
  2. Data collection authority: The information is solicited under the authority of the National Science Foundation Act of 1950, as amended, and the America COMPETES Reauthorization Act of 2010. The Office of Management and Budget control number is 3145-0101, expiring on 31 August 2018.
  3. Major changes to recent survey cycle: Changes were made to the fields of science and engineering (S&E) and to the lists of disciplines included in the fields in order to better coordinate field totals in national academic surveys. The Crosswalk of Survey Fields of S&E to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) 2010 Classification of Instructional Programs (CIP) was deleted. Question 19 on survey completion time was also deleted.

2. Key Survey Information Top of Page.

  1. Frequency: Biennial.
  2. Initial survey year: 1986.
  3. Reference period: FY 2015.
  4. Response unit: Establishments. U.S. academic institutions reporting at least $1 million in R&D expenditures in the Higher Education Research and Development (HERD) Survey from the National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics (NCSES) within the National Science Foundation (NSF).
  5. Sample or census: Census.
  6. Population size: 570 in FY 2015.
  7. Sample size: Not applicable.
  8. Key variables: Key variables of interest are listed below.

3. Survey Design Top of Page.

  1. Target population: Research-performing colleges and universities in the United States with $1 million or more in research and development expenditures in S&E in the prior fiscal year.
  2. Sample frame: This survey is a census. The population is identified through the HERD Survey of the previous fiscal year. In the FY 2015 survey cycle, there were 570 academic institutions, of which 559 (98%) responded.
  3. Sample design: All eligible units are surveyed.

4. Data Collection and Processing Top of Page.

  1. Data collection: The FY 2015 survey was conducted by Westat under contract to NCSES. Surveys are distributed to institutional coordinators at each institution. These coordinators are individuals knowledgeable about the requested information who collect the responses from various offices and submit the information to an NCSES contractor. The data collection period was October 2015 through April 2016.
  2. Data processing: Several procedures were used to ensure data quality. For example, the Web survey contained numerous programmed edit checks that alerted respondents to inconsistent or missing data via edit messages. These included alerting respondents if their individual data did not sum to the total. Also, once respondents submitted their final data, a second set of edit checks was conducted. Finally, comparisons were made between an institution's FY 2015 data and the previous year's data. Respondents were contacted regarding any apparently inconsistent, missing, or unclear data.
  3. Estimation techniques: This survey is a census. Imputation was performed for missing items from nonresponding institutions in order to make population estimates.

    Data missing as a result of item nonresponse were imputed using a regression-model approach with the following predictors: (1) institutional control (private or public), (2) highest degree granted (doctorate or nondoctorate), (3) existence of a medical school, (4) R&D expenditures for the prior fiscal year, and (5) total net assignable square feet (NASF) for the prior fiscal year. In addition to the core predictors, regression models for specific survey items included data from responses to other survey items and to their FY 2013 data, where available.

5. Survey Quality Measures Top of Page.

  1. Sampling error: This survey is a census, so no sampling error exists.
  2. Coverage error: Coverage is high because institutions meeting the population requirements are identified from the HERD Survey. Institutions were investigated individually to ensure there was no duplication.
  3. Non-response error:

    Unit nonresponse—For the FY 2015 cycle, 98% (559 out of 570) of the academic institutions responded to the survey.

    Item nonresponse—The FY 2015 survey had limited item nonresponse.
    Nonresponse ranged from 0% to 2% for 98% of the items. The remaining five items had nonresponse rates ranging from 3% to 4%. Nonresponding institutions (unit nonrespondents) were not included in the item nonresponse calculations.

  4. Measurement error: The most likely source of measurement error results from institutions estimating the requested data. Respondents may estimate their data for several reasons, including estimating data that are not included in the institution's database or because some figures are estimates by their nature (e.g., out-year budget figures).

    Measurement error may also occur because institutions may define their database elements differently from the definitions used on the survey. For example, an institutional database may identify research space based on a primary-use criterion, whereas the survey requests that space be prorated according to all uses. The survey question on the condition of research space is a subjective question that may be rated differently across respondents.

6. Data Availability and Comparability Top of Page.

  1. Data availability: Survey data are compiled for the defined fiscal year, the preceding fiscal year, and planned activities for two succeeding fiscal years.
  2. Data comparability: This survey was first conducted in 1986. Small improvements were made to the survey questions over time. Though data comparability was generally not effected, any specific impact is accounted for in the technical notes for each survey. The FY 2001 survey was very limited and comprised of only two questions that corresponded to questions in the prior survey cycles.

    The questionnaire was extensively redesigned for implementation in the FY 2003 survey. A comprehensive description of the redesigned survey can be found in Redesign of Survey of Science and Engineering Research Facilities: 2003. To the extent possible, the FY 2003 survey was redesigned for comparability over time.

    Questions were added on computing and networking capacity beginning with the FY 2003 survey cycle. Following each survey cycle, the computing and networking capacity questions in Part 2 of the survey were evaluated for current relevance and updates in technology. The computing and networking capacity questionnaire was discontinued prior to the FY 2015 survey cycle after an in-depth investigation concluded that it was no longer feasible, appropriate, or cost-effective to proceed with collection of these data.

    Changes were made to the fields of S&E and to the lists of disciplines included in the fields for the FY 2007 and FY 2015 surveys in order to better coordinate field totals in national academic surveys. The changes for FY 2007 were extensive enough that comparisons with pre-2007 data at the S&E field level are not advised. S&E field level data are comparable for 2007 to the present.

7. Data Products Top of Page.

  1. Publications: Detailed tabular data from this survey are published biennially in the series Science and Engineering Research Facilities. The most recent report in this series is available at Information from this survey is also included in Science and Engineering Indicators.
  2. Electronic access: Microdata beginning with the FY 2003 survey are available in the NSF WebCASPAR data system. Due to a confidentiality pledge, microdata from this survey for years 1988 through 2001 are not available.

8. Contact Information Top of Page.

For additional information about this survey, please contact the Project Officer.

Michael T. Gibbons
Project Officer
Research and Development Statistics Program
National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics
National Science Foundation
4201 Wilson Boulevard, Suite 965
Arlington, VA 22230

Phone: (703) 292-4590