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How competitive are U.S. science, engineering, and health doctoral students?

Tracking the achievements of U.S. science, engineering, and health doctorates

Challenge

The Survey of Doctorate Recipients (SDR) provides demographic, education, and career history information from individuals with a U.S. research doctoral degree in science, engineering, or health (SEH). Conducted by the National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics (NCSES) within the National Science Foundation (NSF), these data inform education policies and curriculum, as well as the science and engineering enterprise.

Solution

Westat handles the sampling, data collection, and post-collection processing, including coding weighting and imputation, as well as analytic reports.

To provide these data, Westat follows a sample of 120,000+ SEH-degree holders located across the globe to collect and update information about their educational and occupational achievements, as well as updates in their career movement. We regularly engage in a variety of locating efforts to keep contact information up to date, such as conducting database searches of a range of public records to find sample members who relocate between cycles.

Westat uses a multimode data collection approach, reaching out to the SDR sample members by mail, email, and phone. Sample members can respond via an online web questionnaire, a telephone interview, or a paper questionnaire. More than 90% of respondents complete the online form; more than 10% of these respondents complete their form using a mobile device.

Our multimode management system (M3) allows sample members to start in one electronic mode and change to another electronic mode seamlessly, picking up at the last unanswered question. M3 manages a complex protocol tailored by specific subgroups, as well as experimental conditions.

Since almost 15% of the sample resides outside of the U.S., Westat provides extended helpdesk services to make it easy for respondents to reach out to us at their convenience with any questions or comments.

In addition to creating restricted- and public-use files for cross-sectional and longitudinal analysis, Westat also provides analysis support and creates several topical analysis InfoBriefs, with some briefs tailored specifically to longitudinal analysis.

Results

The SDR is a key survey effort to inform U.S. competitiveness in science, engineering, and health education.

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