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Feb 5 -- The National Science Foundation (NSF) invites public comments by March 8, 2021 on its request for OMB approval of the Survey of Earned Doctorates (SED) for 2022-2023.  
 
The SED is sponsored by the National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics (NCSES) within the National Science Foundation (NSF) in collaboration with the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the U.S. Department of Education (ED), and the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). Data are obtained primarily via Web survey from each person earning a research doctorate at the time they receive the degree. Graduate schools help distribute the SED to their graduating doctorate recipients. This request to extend the information collection for three years is to cover the 2022 and 2023 SED survey cycles.
 
The SED is a census of all individuals receiving a research doctorate from an accredited U.S. academic institution in an academic year (AY) beginning 1 July and ending 30 June of the following year. Based on the historical trend, NCSES expects that approximately 57,000 individuals will receive a research doctorate from U.S. institutions in AY2022, and approximately 58,000 in AY2023. NCSES estimates the response rate will be 92 percent for both the 2022 and 2023 SED survey cycles. In addition to the survey completion of individuals receiving their research doctorates, the SED requires the collection of administrative data such as graduation lists from approximately 600 Institutional Coordinators at the participating institutions who help to distribute the Web survey link, track survey completions, and submit information to the SED survey contractor.
 
The one change to the 2022 survey cycle involves revisions to the COVID-19 impact question items that were added to the 2021 SED to measure its impact on the doctorate recipients degree completion and postgraduation plans. Once the planned cognitive testing of the revised COVID-19 questions is completed, the final set of questions for inclusion in the 2022 and 2023 SED will be submitted for OMB approval.  
 
The SED began in academic year (AY) 1958 to collect data annually on the number and characteristics of individuals receiving research doctoral degrees from accredited U.S. institutions. Since then, all individuals receiving such doctorates are asked to complete the survey. A research doctorate is a doctoral degree that (1) requires the completion of an original intellectual contribution in the form of a dissertation or an equivalent culminating project (e.g., musical composition) and (2) is not primarily intended as a degree for the practice of a profession. The most common research doctorate degree is the PhD; in 2019, 98.4% of research doctorates awarded were PhDs. Doctorate recipients of professional doctorate degrees such as MD, DDS, JD, PharmD, and PsyD are not included in the survey, unless they also received a research doctorate.  

The instrument is designed to collect information about recent doctorate recipients’ education histories, funding sources, and postdoctoral plans. The results of this annual survey are used to assess characteristics and trends in research doctorate education and degrees. This information is vital for education and labor force planners within the federal government and in academia.
 
Each academic year, the results of the SED become part of the Doctorate Records File (DRF), a complete database of more than 2 million U.S.-educated doctorate recipients from 1920 to the present. Doctorate-granting institutions participating in the SED may request cumulative microdata files going back to 1920 and preliminary data for the current academic year of their own institution’s doctorate recipients. During the 2019 and 2020 survey cycles, NCSES responded to over 100 requests for data by graduate deans, other academic administrative offices, and individual researchers. Requests were made for institutional datasets, bachelor’s and master’s degree origins data, and preliminary institution data files. Universities help administer the SED, and in return they have access to their data; it is a mutually beneficial data collection effort.
 
Researchers can apply for access to selected SED microdata under the NCSES Restricted-Use Data Licensing Agreement (https://www.nsf.gov/statistics/license/) if publicly available data do not address their specific needs. The NCSES Licensing Agreement, executed between an institution and NCSES, requires implementing stringent security procedures to ensure the protection of confidential data against unlawful disclosure.  
 
SED webpage: https://www.nsf.gov/statistics/srvydoctorates/
2022-2023 SED submission to OMB: https://www.reginfo.gov/public/do/PRAViewICR?ref_nbr=202102-3145-002 Click on IC List for draft survey, View Supporting Statement for technical documentation.
FR notice inviting comments: https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2021/02/05/2021-02449/agency-information-collection-activities-comment-request-survey-of-earned-doctorates   
 
Point of contact: Kelly Kang, Project Officer, Human Resources Statistics Program, National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics (703) 292-7796 kkang@nsf.gov

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