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Sept 25 -- The National Science Foundation's National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics (NCSES) has asked OMB to approve the implementation of the 2021 National Survey of College Graduates (NSCG) and invites the public to provide comments by October 26, 2020.  
 
The NSCG is a unique source for examining various characteristics of college-educated individuals, including occupation, work activities, salary, the relationship of degree field to occupation, and demographic information. This survey provides information on individuals residing in the United States with at least a bachelor’s degree, including those who received degrees only from foreign institutions. The NSCG is a repeated cross-sectional survey conducted to provide data on the nation’s college graduates, particularly those in the S&E workforce. The NSCG samples individuals who are living in the United States, have at least a bachelor’s degree, and are less than 76 years of age. As of 2017, the NSCG fully implemented a four-panel rotating panel design, in which every new panel receives a baseline questionnaire, followed by three biennial follow-up questionnaires before rotating out of the survey.

When the American Community Survey (ACS) replaced the decennial census long form beginning with the 2010 Census, NCSES began using the ACS as the sampling frame for the NSCG and implemented a rotating panel design.  In this design, a new ACS-based sample of college graduates is selected and followed for four biennial cycles before the panel is rotated out of the survey. The use of the ACS as a sampling frame, including the field of degree questionnaire item included on the ACS, allows NCSES to efficiently sample subpopulations of interest (e.g., the science and engineering [S&E] workforce). The NSCG design oversamples cases in small cells of interest to analysts, including underrepresented minorities, persons with disabilities, and non-U.S. citizens. The goal of this oversampling effort is to provide adequate sample for NSF’s congressionally mandated report on Women, Minorities, and Persons with Disabilities in Science and Engineering.

Under the rotating panel design, the 2021 NSCG production sample will include 164,000 sample cases which comprises:
1)    Returning sample from the 2019 NSCG (originally selected from the 2013 ACS);
2)    Returning sample from the 2019 NSCG (originally selected from the 2015 ACS);
3)    Returning sample from the 2019 NSCG (originally selected from the 2017 ACS); and
4)    New sample selected from the 2019 ACS.  

About 74,000 new sample cases will be selected from the 2019 ACS. This sample size includes an increase of approximately 7,000 cases compared to the 2019 NSCG new sample to address lower expected response rates. The remaining 90,000 cases will be selected from the set of returning sample members.   
 
For the 2021 NSCG, the following modifications will be implemented:  
1.    The production sample size will increase from 147,000 to approximately 164,000 to allow the survey’s estimates to continue to meet the reliability requirements given the increase in sample attrition (see details in Section B.1.);
2.    A non-production bridge panel with a sample size of approximately 5,000 cases will be fielded in parallel to the production sample. This bridge panel provides a mechanism for NCSES to explore modifications to the NSCG core survey questions and quantify the potential impact on key survey estimates (see details in Section B.4);   
3.    An attempt will be made to identify accurate contact information for all sample members prior to the start of data collection (i.e., “upfront locating”);
4.    The contact strategy will be modified in two ways:
a.    A “prenotice” will be mailed to announce the imminent commencement of the 2021 NSCG, as had been done in cycles prior to the 2019 NSCG,
b.    The postal mailings will include response deadlines, based on research findings from the 2019 NSCG (see Section A.8. Contact Strategies Research);
5.    The NSCG questionnaire will include two additions:
a.    A checkbox will be added allowing respondents who provide a mobile phone number to opt in to receiving text messages in future NSCG cycles (see details in Section A.8),
b.    To understand the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on NSCG measures, we will modify the response options or add follow-up questions for eight existing NSCG questionnaire items; and
6.    Two methodological experiments will be incorporated: one experiment to investigate further enhancements to the adaptive survey design techniques being used and the other to examine the effects of mailing a prenotice about the 2021 NSCG to sample members (see Section B.4. and Appendices H and I).
 
The time schedule for 2021 data collection and publication is currently estimated as follows:

Data Collection     February 2021 – August 2021
Coding and Data Editing     May 2021 – December 2021
Final Edited/Weighted/Imputed Data File     February 2022
NSCG InfoBrief     Summer 2022
NSCG Public-Use Data File    Summer 2022

NCSES makes the data from the NSCG available through published reports, an online data tool, downloadable public-use files, restricted-use licenses, and the Federal Statistical Research Data Centers. The online data tool, available at https://ncsesdata.nsf.gov/sestat/sestat.html, allows users to create customized data tabulations using NSCG data. The NSCG public-use files are available for download through the NCSES data downloads web page at https://ncsesdata.nsf.gov/datadownload/.  

NSCG website: https://www.nsf.gov/statistics/srvygrads/
Submission to OMB:  https://www.reginfo.gov/public/do/PRAViewICR?ref_nbr=202009-3145-003  Click on IC List for survey instrument, View Supporting Statement for narrative on uses, methods, and timeline.
FR notice:  https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2020/09/25/2020-21156/agency-information-collection-activities-comment-request-2021-national-survey-of-college-graduates
 
Point of contact: Lynn Milan, NSCG Project Officer (703) 292-2275  lmilan@nsf.gov   
 
For AEA members wishing to provide comments, "A Primer on How to Respond to Calls for Comment on Federal Data Collections" is available at https://www.aeaweb.org/content/file?id=5806

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