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National Science Foundation National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics
Using the American Community Survey as the Sampling Frame for the National Survey of College Graduates

Introduction

 

Congress has mandated the National Science Foundation (NSF) "to provide a central clearinghouse for the collection, interpretation, and analysis of data on scientific and engineering resources and to provide a source of information for policy formulation by other agencies of the Federal Government" (NSF Act of 1950, as amended; 42 U.S.C. 1862). A critical component of this mission is information on the science and engineering (S&E) workforce. NSF thus reports information for the United States based on data collected on the number, characteristics, and employment of the S&E workforce. Additionally, the Science and Engineering Equal Opportunities Act (Public Law 96-516) gave a further mandate to NSF to ensure that obtaining information on women, minority group members, and persons with disabilities in the S&E workforce were important considerations in data collection and analysis.

NSF has obtained such information in the past in large part through its National Survey of College Graduates (NSCG), conducted for NSF by the U.S. Census Bureau. The NSCG is a critical component of NSF's Scientists and Engineers Statistical Data System (SESTAT), an integrated database derived from three surveys using multiple frames to collect data on scientists and engineers in the United States. Between 1960 and 2000, the long form of the decennial Census provided the sampling frame for the NSCG or its predecessors. Because the long-form component of the decennial Census was eliminated in 2010, an alternative sample frame for the NSCG was needed. The American Community Survey (ACS) replaced the long form and remains the only feasible alternative sample frame for the NSCG, and NSF has received authorization to utilize the ACS for this purpose.

This paper presents ideas on how to use the ACS data as the replacement for the decennial long-form sampling frame. The discussion goes further to present other quality enhancements possible when using the ACS for improving the NSCG, including survey design options that could lead to survey and data quality improvement. Additionally, there is discussion of the potential analytic uses that are possible with the ACS. It was prepared by the National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics (NCSES) as part of the background material for the Panel on Assessing the Benefits of the American Community Survey for the NSF Division of Science Resources Statistics, Committee on National Statistics, National Research Council. The final report of the panel, published in 2008, Using the American Community Survey for the National Science Foundation's Science and Engineering Workforce Statistics Programs, can be found at http://www.nap.edu/catalog.php?record_id=12244.

 
Using the American Community Survey as the Sampling Frame for the National Survey of College Graduates
Working Paper | NCSES 12-201 | August 2012