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

1. Survey Overview (2017 Survey Cycle) Top of Page.

  1. Purpose: The Survey of Postdocs at Federally Funded Research and Development Centers is intended to identify all federally funded research and development centers (FFRDCs) that employed postdoctoral researchers (postdocs) as of 1 October of the survey year and to collect aggregate information on the demographic characteristics and fields of research of the postdocs employed at each FFRDC. The survey is conducted as part of the Survey of Graduate Students and Postdoctorates in Science and Engineering, which is sponsored by the National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics (NCSES) within the National Science Foundation and by the National Institutes of Health.
  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 (OMB) control number is 3145-0062 and expires on 31 October 2020.
  3. Major changes to recent survey cycle: None.

2. Key Survey Information Top of Page.

  1. Frequency: Periodic.
  2. Initial survey year: 2005.
  3. Reference period: 1 October of the survey year.
  4. Response unit: Establishment.
  5. Sample or census: Census.
  6. Population size: 42 FFRDCs.
  7. Sample size: Not applicable.
  8. Key variables: Key variables of interest are listed below.

3. Survey Design Top of Page.

  1. Target population: The survey target population includes all FFRDCs that employed postdocs as of 1 October of the survey year.
  2. Sample frame: The survey is a census of all FFRDCs in the Master Government List of FFRDCs in the United States as of March 2017. The list is maintained by NCSES (
  3. Sample design: Not applicable.

4. Data Collection and Processing Top of Page.

  1. Data collection: The survey data are collected via a Web instrument. Before data collection begins, prior survey coordinators at each FFRDC are contacted via e-mail to confirm their status as the most appropriate contact person. Directors at the FFRDCs are notified about the survey launch and those at newly established FFRDCs are asked to designate a contact person for the survey. The survey access information is then e-mailed to the appropriate contact persons.
  2. Data processing: All data submitted by the FFRDCs are reviewed to ensure that all data fields were completed, and that data are internally consistent. Data from any FFRDC that differ from the prior-year data at that FFRDC by more than 20% are flagged for review by the survey staff. If additional information or data corrections are needed, FFRDC respondents are contacted by telephone or e-mail and asked to provide additional information or to correct data.
  3. Estimation techniques: Weighting is not required because the survey is a census of all eligible FFRDCs. In 2017, carry-forward imputation and nearest-neighbor imputation were used to adjust for item nonresponse.

5. Survey Quality Measures Top of Page.

  1. Sampling error: Not applicable.
  2. Coverage error: There is no coverage error for this survey other than that, if any, from the Master Government List of FFRDCs maintained by NCSES.
  3. Nonresponse error: The survey typically has high response rates. In 2017 95.7% of FFRDCs provided complete or partial data with only one FFRDC not responding.
  4. Measurement error: Potential sources of measurement errors include incomplete administrative data or data misreported by the respondent.

6. Data Availability and Comparability Top of Page.

  1. Data availability: Postdoc data from FFRDCs are available for 2005–07, 2009–10, 2012–13, 2015, and 2017. The FFRDC survey data were first published in 2010.
  2. Data comparability: The FFRDC postdoc counts in 2012 and subsequent years are not comparable with the counts reported in 2010 and prior years because the Frederick National Laboratory for Cancer Research (FNLCR) revised its postdoc reporting to include only FFRDC contract employees after it was reorganized and renamed from the National Cancer Institute at Frederick in 2012. Consequently, the total number of postdocs reported by FNLCR dropped from 286 in 2010 to 25 in 2012. All comparisons of FFRDC postdoc data spanning this period need to account for this difference.

7. Data Products Top of Page.

  1. Publications: NCSES releases the data from this survey through InfoBriefs and Detailed Statistical Tables in the publication series Postdoctorates at Federally Funded R&D Centers (
  2. Electronic access: To obtain data files, contact the Project Officer.

8. Contact Top of Page.

For additional information about this survey, or the methodology report, contact the Project Officer listed below.

Michael Yamaner
Project Officer, Human Resources Statistics Program
National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics
National Science Foundation
2415 Eisenhower Avenue
Alexandria, VA 22314
Phone: (703) 292-7815