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 Products

1. Survey Overview (2013 survey cycle) Top of Page.

  1. Purpose:The Survey of Postdocs at Federally Funded Research and Development Centers is intended to identify all FFRDCs that employed postdoctoral researchers (postdocs) and to collect aggregate information on the demographic charateristics 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 Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health.
  2. Data collection authority: National Science Foundation Act of 1950, as amended, and the COMPETES Reauthorization Act of 2010 and collected under Office of Management and Budget control number 3145-0077, expiration date 30 September 2014.
  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: 40 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 2013.
  2. Sample frame: The Master Government List of FFRDCs in the United States, maintained by NSF (
  3. Sample design: Not applicable.

4. Data Collection and Processing Top of Page.

  1. Data collection: The FFRDC Postdoc Survey data are collected via a Web instrument. Before data collection begins, past survey respondents at each FFRDC are contacted via e-mail to confirm whether or not they are still the most appropriate contact person. The FFFRDC Web 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 are complete and that data are internally consistent. Data from any FFRDC that are more than 20% above or 20% below that FFRDC’s corresponding prior-year data 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 are asked to provide additional information or to correct data.
  3. Estimation techniques: No estimation is necessary as the survey is a census of all eligible FFRDCs and has a 100% response rate.

5. Survey Quality Measures Top of Page.

  1. Sampling error: Not applicable.
  2. Coverage error: There is no coverage error for this survey. FFRDCs were identified through the master list of FFRDCs maintained by the National Science Foundation.
  3. Nonresponse error: None.
  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, 2010, 2012 and 2013. The FFRDC survey data were first published in 2010.
  2. Data comparability: The FFRDC postdoc counts in 2012 and 2013 are not comparable with the counts reported in 2010 and prior years. The Frederick National Laboratory for Cancer Research (FNLCR) revised their postdoc reporting to include only FFRDC contract employees after it was reorganized and renamed from the National Cancer Institute of Frederick in 2011. Consequently, the total number of postdocs reported by the FNLCR dropped from 286 in 2010 to 25 in 2012 and 18 in 2013. All comparisons of FFRDC postdoc data spanning this period need to account for this difference.

7. Data Products Top of Page.

  1. Publications: NSF releases the data from this survey through InfoBriefs and Detailed Statistical Tables in the National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics publication series Postdoctorates in Federally Funded R&D Centers.
  2. Electronic access: Data files for the 2010, 2012, and 2013 surveys are available on request. For the data from prior years, 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.

Kelly H. Kang
Project Officer
Human Resources Statistics Program
National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics
National Science Foundation
4201 Wilson Boulevard, Suite 965
Arlington, VA 22230
Phone: (703) 292-7796