NCSES Redesigns SESTAT
Starting in 2013, the Scientists and Engineers Statistical Data System (SESTAT) consolidated the number of demographic surveys. SESTAT now includes data from the Survey of Doctorate Recipients (SDR) and the National Survey of College Graduates (NSCG) and no longer reports data for the National Survey of Recent College Graduates (NSRCG). NSRCG was discontinued after the 2010 survey because estimates of recent college graduates are now available through the NSCG.
Reasons for the change. A major impetus for this decision was the availability of the American Community Survey (ACS) as a sampling frame for NSCG. The National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics (NCSES) leveraged the use of ACS to add a large number of young graduates to the NSCG sample, which then offset the need to conduct NSRCG. The decision to redesign SESTAT was also based on the limited use of NSRCG as a stand-alone data file and the cost savings associated with discontinuing NSRCG and simplifying the SESTAT integration processes.
Collection of feedback from the science and engineering community. NCSES conducted extensive outreach efforts with a broad audience, including, but not limited to, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, Association for Institutional Research, Association of American Medical Colleges, Association of American Universities, Committee on Equal Opportunities in Science and Engineering, Council of Graduate Schools, NCSES Human Resources Experts Panel, National Center for Education Statistics, U.S. Census Bureau, and National Science Foundation. NCSES did receive feedback that NSRCG data related to educational pathways and to financial burden was valuable to the community. Thus, NCSES added young graduates to the NSCG sample and added questions to the NSCG on community college attendance and financial sources of support.
Evaluation of the potential changes. NCSES evaluated the redesign of SESTAT in regard to improving timeliness, quality, efficiency, and reducing overall survey costs. The decision to examine whether SESTAT should be redesigned was motivated in part by a Committee on National Statistics (CNSTAT) recommendation from a 2008 report on Using the American Community Survey for the National Science Foundation's Science and Engineering Workforce Statistics System. This CNSTAT recommendation encouraged the National Science Foundation (NSF) to use the opportunity provided by the introduction of the ACS to reconsider the SESTAT design.
Background. Since 1993, SESTAT has provided a unique source of information on the education and employment of the college-educated U.S. science and engineering (S&E) workforce by integrating three surveys: NSCG, NSRCG, and SDR. The establishment of SESTAT design was based on recommendations from a 1989 CNSTAT panel study report, Surveying the Nation's Scientists and Engineers—A Data System for the 1990s. This CNSTAT recommendation encouraged NSF to target the population of college graduates trained in S&E fields and those with employment in S&E occupation and to conduct the postcensal survey of college graduates, to conduct a survey for new graduating bachelor's or master's degree recipients, and to continue to support the ongoing Survey of Doctorate Recipients. The 2010 survey cycle introduced the first redesign of SESTAT during its nearly 20 years of existence.
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