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Procedures and Timelines for the NRC Assessment of Research Doctorate Programs

Revised 1/31/07

The NRC Assessment involves a multi-stage data collection process which is designed to gather information relevant to the description of the environment of doctoral programs and the quality of programs assessed in a multi-dimensional framework. This page describes that data collection process, revised deadlines, and the interdependencies among instruments, as well as alternatives that will be available for data input.

One alternative for data submission is batch mode. For institutions with a small number of programs, it is probably preferable if the data were entered using the web interface. However, for institutions with a large number of programs, specifications for batch file submission have been developed and they are as follows:

The file layout for submission of items on the Institutional Questionnaire can be found at Institutional Questionnaire File Format. Instead of using the file layout provided in 1, the Completion Tables for the Institutional Questionnaire can also submitted as a table in an Excel spreadsheet, and the table can be accessed at Institutional Completion Table. Demographic and contact data that appear in the Faculty and Student spreadsheet can be submitted in batch format by using the file layout found at Faculty and Student Data.

Stage 1. Collection of the program list. A password protected spreadsheet is available on the web. It states the criteria for program eligibility and asks the institutional coordinator to list the institution’s programs by field in the NRC taxonomy. The first field named will be used for program ranking. This spreadsheet is critical for all other data collection. This instrument is final.

Stage 2a. Collection of Faculty names by program. These spreadsheets are generated once the program names are submitted. There is one spreadsheet per institution, with a worksheet for each program. They ask for faculty names and contact information, type of involvement in the program (core, new, or associated), tenure status, demographic information, specialization, and numbers of dissertations chaired and served on in the past five years in the program. Not all fields need to be completed, but the type of involvement in the program, number of dissertation committees, and contact information for each faculty member are required to process the spreadsheets. Data for this spreadsheet may be submitted by uploading it to the MPR website or in a batch file. The specifications for this file are posted on the NRC website. This spreadsheet is critical for distribution of the faculty questionnaire whether it will be pre-populated centrally or not. This spreadsheet is final. The deadline for faculty spreadsheets is December 15, 2006. After December 15, 2006 faculty lists may be submitted by web entry as part of the Program Questionnaire.

Stage 2b. Collection of the names of admitted to candidacy students in 5 fields. If the institution offers a program in any one of five fields (economics, English, chemical engineering, neuroscience, and physics), a spreadsheet is available for recording student names and contact information in that program. . Data for this spreadsheet may be submitted by uploading it to the MPR website or in a batch file. The specifications for this file are posted on the NRC website. This spreadsheet is critical for distribution of the student questionnaire. This spreadsheet is final and should be submitted by December 15, 2006.

Stage 3a. Collection of Institutional Data. This is a short web-based questionnaire. In addition to questions about health care, collective bargaining, and new programs, it contains a completion matrix for broad fields for five racial/ethnic groups. The completion matrices need not be submitted at the same time as the rest of the questionnaire. The deadline for submission is April 1. This instrument is final.

Stage 3c. Collection of Faculty data on the faculty questionnaire. This questionnaire requests information about program affiliation, committee service, prior employment, educational background and postdoctoral training, recent scholarly activity, recent doctoral students, demographic information, and a subjective question about the importance of a variety of program characteristics to the quality of a doctoral program. A faculty member will receive only one questionnaire in his or her core program. Some elements on this questionnaire may be pre-populated with information available centrally, if these data are sent to MPR. The pre-populated questionnaire will then be sent to the faculty member for verification and completion. Faculty data that are not publicly available cannot be accepted if they have not been verified by the faculty member. They will be sent in waves from the following address: nrc-assessment@bhew.nas.edu. To meet this deadline, MPR must have your faculty lists by February 1, 2007. Please discuss specifications for pre-populated items with your MPR liaison. This web questionnaire was final on November 15 and specifications for pre-population were available in early January. The completed questionnaires are due from faculty no later than February 22.


Stage 3d. Collection of Student data in five fields. This questionnaire requests information from admitted to candidacy students in five fields (economics, English, chemical engineering, neuroscience, and physics). Areas covered include: prior education, post-graduation plans, professional development, resources, and demographic characteristics. This questionnaire is “experimental” in the sense that we will not report data from it by program if we receive low response rates. The web instrument was final on November 15. Data collection will begin in mid-March, 2007. The completed questionnaires are due from students no later than April 30, 2007.


Stage 4. The Rating Questionnaire. This questionnaire will be administered to a random sample of faculty selected form among who completed the faculty questionnaire in each field. Each respondent will receive a list of program faculty for a sample of 15 to 20 programs. In addition to that list, the respondent will be provided with the following program specific data:

1. Program URL

2. Racial/ethnic diversity of the faculty (percent non-white).

3. Gender diversity of the faculty (percent female).

4. Number of Ph.D.s per year over the last five years

5. Percentage of entering students who complete a doctoral degree in seven years or less

6. Time to degree

7. Percentage of students placed in academic positions (from NSF)

The respondent will be asked his or her degree of familiarity with the program and, if so, how he or she would rate the quality of the graduate program on a five-point scale. This questionnaire will be administered in March and April and due no later than April 30, 2007. Faculty members who have not completed the faculty questionnaire and expressed willingness to be a rater on the questionnaire will not be permitted to be raters.