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OSU Home » Graduate School » Spring 2007 Newsletter » NRC Survey Update

NRC Survey Update

It's finally done! OSU is joining more than 200 major research institutions around the country in celebrating the end of data gathering for the National Research Council (NRC) Assessment of Research-Doctorate Programs. In all, the survey accounts for 5,400 programs and almost 109,000 faculty nationwide.

This massive project was designed to create a resource for assessing the quality and characteristics of research-doctorate programs at institutions throughout the United States. When the results are released in December 2007, prospective students will be able to compare the features of departments and programs they're considering using detailed information on funding availability, faculty credentials, and many other considerations. The survey is expected to have a powerful impact on attracting graduate students, post-docs, and resources to OSU graduate programs.

Laura Petes
Left to right: Aimee Taylor, Ed Ray,
Lydia Newton, & Sabah Randhawa

Dean Sally Francis, who oversaw the project for the University, says it has been a huge undertaking, but well worth the time that hundreds of people have put into it. "This survey will help to establish OSU's research programs with those of other outstanding universities around the country," she says. "And unlike some reports on graduate education, this one will be built on facts, not just how well known a program might be."

The survey had three major components: a questionnaire on the university as a whole, a questionnaire for each of our 41 research doctorate programs, and a questionnaire for each of the core faculty members within those programs. That translated to 725 faculty questionnaires, given that many OSU professors are faculty to two or more graduate programs. Even before those questionnaires could be tackled, a steering committee spent several months determining how each faculty member and program fit the NRC taxonomy.

In March of 2006, the committee engaged Lydia Newton of the OSU Survey Research Center to manage the project. Working primarily with Aimee Taylor, a Ph.D. student in statistics, and Janet Morandi, Administrative Manager for the Graduate School, Lydia coordinated the gathering of data from surveys, student files, and a variety of other university resources. As the required information was assembled, she oversaw the work of "ironing out the wrinkles" and making it fit NRC protocols.

"Sometimes the process had us tearing our hair out," she said. "But it also exposed me to a lot of good people around the university. Given the importance of the study and what it can mean for OSU, I'm honored to have been one of the people who helped bring it to fruition."

Among those people, Lydia credits Phillip Brown of Enterprise Computing Services and Linda Bork of Human Resources for their time and expertise. Many department staff members who assumed responsibility for their program surveys also deserve recognition, she says.

At a party to celebrate the culmination of the project, OSU President Dr. Edward Ray thanked the staff, the steering committee, and all those who contributed to the project. He recalled the first NRC survey of research-doctorate programs in 1972, and subsequent surveys in 1982 and 1995.

"The reality is, NRC reports are what people look to when they want some scholarly reference, and there's a good chance this survey won't happen again for another 10 or 12 years," he said. "The work you've done here will have incredible impact and staying power. We're tremendously in your debt."

The NRC expects to compile the data and create an online, publicly accessible database by the end of 2007. In the second phase of the study in 2008, experts will analyze the data and contribute essays toward a final report.