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Taxonomy In any assessment of doctoral programs, a key question is: Which programs should be included? The task of con- structing a taxonomy of programs is to provide a framework for the analysis of research-doctorate programs as they exist today, with an eye to the future. A secondary question is: Which fields should be grouped together and what names should be given to these aggregations? CRITERIA FOR INCLUSION The construction of a taxonomy inevitably confronts limi- tations and requires execution of somewhat arbitrary decisions. The proposed taxonomy builds upon the previous studies, in order to represent the continuity of doctoral research and training and to provide a basis for potential users of the proposed analysis to identify information impor- tant to them. Those users include scholars, students, aca- demic administrators as well as industrial and governmental employers. Furthermore, a taxonomy must correspond as much as possible to the actual programmatic organization of doctoral studies. In addition, however, a taxonomy must capture the development of new and diversifying activity. Thus, it is especially true in the area of taxonomy that the recommendations that follow should be taken as advisory rather than binding by the committee that is appointed to conduct the whole study. These efforts are further compli- cated by the frequent disparity among institutional nomen- clatures, representing essentially the same research and training activities, as well as by the rise of interdisciplinary work. The Committee did its best to construct a taxonomy that reflected the way most graduate programs are organized in most research universities but realizes that there may be areas where the fit may not be perfect. Thus, the subject should remain open to review by the next committee. We recognize that scholarship and research in inter- disciplinary fields have grown significantly since the last study. Some of this work is multidisciplinary; some is cross- 19 disciplinary or interdisciplinary.) We could not devise a single standard for all possible combinations. Where possible, we have attempted to include acknowledged inter- disciplinary fields such as Neuroscience, Biomedical Engi- neering, and American Studies. In other instances, we listed areas as emerging fields. Our goal remains to identify and evaluate inter-, multi-, and cross-disciplinary fields. Once they become established scholarly areas and meet the thresh- old for inclusion in the study established by this and future committees, they will be added to the list of surveyed fields. The initial basis for the Committee's consideration of its taxonomy was the classification of fields used in the Doctorate Records File (DRF), which is maintained by the National Science Foundation (NSF) as lead agency for a consortium that includes the National Institutes of Health, U.S. Department of Agriculture, National Endowment for the Humanities, and U.S. Department of Education.2 Based on these data, the Committee reviewed the fields included in the 1995 Study to determine whether new fields had grown enough to merit inclusion and whether the criteria them- selves were sensible. In earlier studies, the criteria for inclu- sion had been that a field must have produced at least 500 Ph.D.s over the most recent 5 years and be offered by pro- grams that had produced 5 or more Ph.D.s in the last 5 years in at least 25 universities. After reviewing these criteria, the Committee agreed that the field inclusion criterion should be kept, although a few fields in the humanities should continue to be included even though they no longer met the threshold requirement. iBy "multidisciplinary" or "cross-disciplinary" research we mean research that brings together scholars from different fields to work on a common problem. In contrast, interdisciplinary research occurs when the fields themselves are changed to incorporate perspectives and approaches from other fields. 2National Science Foundation (2002).
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20 Recommendation 3.1: The quantitative criterion for inclusion of a field used in the preceding study should be, for the most part, retained i.e., 500 degrees granted in the last 5 years. The Committee also reviewed the threshold level for inclusion of an individual program and, given the growth in the average size of programs, generally felt that a modifica- tion was warranted. A minimal amount of activity is required to evaluate a program. This parameter is modified from the previous study- 3 degrees in 3 years to account for variations in small fields. The 25-university threshold is retained. Recommendation 3.2: Only those programs that have produced 5 or more Ph.D.s in the last 5 years should be evaluated. Two fields in the humanities, Classics and German lan- guage and literature, had been included in earlier studies but have since fallen below the threshold size for inclusion in terms of Ph.D. production. Adequate numbers of faculty remain, however, to assess the scholarly quality of programs. In the interests of continuity with earlier studies and the historical importance of these fields, the Committee felt that they should still be included. Continuity is a particularly important consideration. In the biological sciences, where the Committee redefined fields, the fields themselves had changed in a way that could not be ignored. Smaller fields in the humanities have a different problem. A number of them are experiencing shrinking enrollments, but it can be argued that inclusion in the NRC study may assist the higher-quality programs to survive. Recommendation 3.3: Some fields should be included that do not meet the quantitative criteria, if they were included in earlier studies. The number of degrees awarded in a field is determined by the number of new Ph.D.s who chose that field from the Survey of Earned Doctorates based on the NSF taxonomy. However, there is no external validation that these fields correctly reflect the current organization of doctorate pro- grams. The Committee sought to investigate this question by requesting input from a large number of scholarly and professional societies (see Appendix B). Beginning in December 2002, the proposed taxonomy was also presented in a public Website and suggestions were invited. As of mid- June 2003, over 100 suggestions had been received, end both the taxonomy and the list of subfields were discussed with the relevant scholarly societies. The taxonomy was also used in the pilot trials, and although the correspondence was not exact, the pilot sites found a reasonable fit with their gradu- ate programs. This taxonomy included new fields that had grown or been overlooked in the last study. It also reflected ASSESSING RESEARCH-DOCTORATE PROGRAMS the continuing reorganization of the biological sciences. The taxonomy put forward by the Committee, compared with the taxonomy for the 1995 Study, appears in Table 3-1. Inclusion of the arts and sciences and engineering fields preserves continuity with previous studies. Inclusion of agri- culture recognizes the increasing convergence of research in those fields with research in the traditional biological sciences and the legitimacy of the research in these fields, separate and independent of other traditional biological disciplines. The biological sciences presented special problems. The past decade has seen an expansion of research and doctoral training in the basic biomedical sciences. However, these Ph.D. programs are not all within faculties of arts and sciences, which was the focus of the 1995 Study. Many of them are located in medical schools and were overlooked in earlier studies. The Committee sought input from basic bio- medical science programs in medical schools through the Graduate Research Education and Teaching Group of the American Association of Medical Colleges to assure sys- tematic inclusion the next time the study is conducted. Recommendation 3.4: The proposed study should add research-doctorate programs in agriculture to the fields in engineering and the arts and sciences that have been assessed in the past. In addition, it should make a special effort to include programs in the basic biomedical sciences that are housed in medical schools. The Committee reviewed doctorate production over the period 1998-2002 for fields included in the Doctorate Records Field. It identified those fields that had grown beyond the size threshold, notably communication, theatre research, and American studies. In addition, it reviewed the organization of life sciences fields and expanded them some- what, reflecting changes in doctoral production and the changing nature of study. These decisions by the Committee, as mentioned at the beginning of the chapter, should not be viewed as binding by the committee appointed to conduct the full study. Recommendation 3.5: The number of fields should be increased, from 41 to 57. A number of additional programs in applied fields urged that they be included in the study. The Committee decided not to include those fields for which much research is directed toward the improvement of practice. These fields include social work, public policy, nursing, public health, business, architecture, criminology, kinesiology, and educa- tion. This exclusion is not intended to imply that high- quality research is not conducted in these fields. Rather, in those areas in which research is properly devoted to improv- ing practice, evaluation of such research requires a more nuanced approach than evaluation of scholarly reputation
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TAXONOMY TABLE 3-1 Taxonomy Comparison 1995 Study and Current Committee Major Fields 21 1995 Taxonomy 2005 Taxonomy Biological Sciences Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Cell and Developmental Biology Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior Molecular and General Genetics Neurosciences Pharmacology Physiology Engineering Aerospace Engineering Biomedical Engineering Chemical Engineering Civil Engineering Electrical Engineering Industrial Engineering Materials Science Mechanical Engineering Physical Sciences Astrophysics and Astronomy Chemistry Computer Science Geosciences Mathematics Oceanography Physics Statistics/Biostatistics Life Sciences Biochemistry, Biophysics, and Structural Biology Molecular Biology Developmental Biology Cell Biology Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Microbiology Genetics, Genomics, and Bioinformatics Immunology and Infectious Disease Neuroscience and Neurobiology Pharmacology, Toxicology, and Environmental Health Physiology Plant Sciences Food Science and Food Engineering Nutrition Entomology Animal Sciences Emerging Fields Biotechnology Systems Biology Physical Sciences, Mathematics, and Engineering Aerospace Engineering Biomedical Engineering Biological and Agricultural Engineering Chemical Engineering Civil and Environmental Engineering Electrical and Computer Engineering Operations Research, Systems Engineering, and Industrial Engineering Materials Science and Engineering Mechanical Engineering Astrophysics and Astronomy Chemistry Computer and Information Science Earth Sciences Mathematics Applied Mathematics Oceanography, Atmospheric Sciences, and Metereology Physics Statistics and Probability Emerging Fields Nanoscience and Nanotechnology Information Science continues
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22 TABLE 3-1 Contiunued ASSESSING RESEARCH-DOCTORATE PROGRAMS Major Fields 1995 Taxonomy 2005 Taxonomy Arts and Humanities Art History Classics Comparative Literature English Language and Literature French Language and Literature German Language and Literature (History listed under Social and Behavioral Sciences) Linguistics Music Philosophy Religion Spanish Language and Literature Social and Behavioral Sciences Anthropology Economics Geography History (Linguistics listed under Arts and Humanities) Political Science Psychology Sociology Arts and Humanities American Studies History of Art, Architecture, and Archaeology Classics Comparative Literature English Language and Literature French Language and Literature German Language and Literature History (Linguistics listed under Social and Behavioral Sciences) Music Philosophy Religion Spanish and Portuguese Language and Literature Theatre and Performance Studies Global Area Studies Emerging Fields: Race, Ethnicity, and Post-Colonial Studies Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Film Studies Social and Behavioral Sciences Anthropology Communication Economics Agricultural and Resource Economics Geography (History listed under Arts and Humanities) Linguistics Political Science Psychology Sociology Emerging Field Science and Technology Studies alone. It should also include measures of the effectiveness of the application of research. The Committee's view is that this task is beyond the capacity of the current or proposed methodology. It does recommend that, if these fields can achieve a consensus on how to measure the quality of research, the NRC should consider including such measures in future studies. The question can also be raised: Are the additional costs in both respondent and committee time of increasing the number of fields by 37 percent justified? To answer this question, it is useful to consider the benefits of the increase. First, the Committee believes that the current taxonomy reflects the classification of doctoral programs as they exist today. The Committee felt it was better to increase the number of fields through an expanded taxonomy than to force institutions to shape themselves to the Procrustean bed of an outmoded one. Second, the Committee was convinced that newly included large programs, such as communication, could benefit from having the quality of scholarship in their programs assessed by peer reviewers and that such informa- tion, as well as data describing the programs, could assist potential students who are making a selection among many programs. Third, the agricultural sciences are an area in which important and fundamental research occurs. They were excluded from earlier studies primarily because the focus of those studies was the traditional arts and sciences fields. Today, they are changing and are increasingly similar to the applied biological sciences. In addition, they are an important part of land-grant colleges and universities, an important sector of graduate education. On the cost side, the expense of gathering and analyzing data has fallen impres- sively as information technology has improved. The primary additional direct cost of increasing the number of fields is the cost of assuring adequate response rates.
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TAXONOMY NAMING ISSUES The Committee wanted its taxonomy to be forward- looking and to recognize evident trends in the organization of knowledge. One such example is the growth in inter- disciplinary research. This trend should be reflected in the study in a number of ways: the naming of broad fields, flex- ibility in the number of programs to which a faculty member may claim affiliation, and the recognition of emerging fields. The Committee recognized that activities in engineering and the physical sciences are converging in many respects. Recommendation 3.6: The fields should be organized into four major groupings rather than the five in the pre- vious NRC study. Mathematics and Physical Sciences are merged into one major group along with Engineering. As discussed above, the Committee urges that the agri- cultural sciences be included in future studies, because of their focus on basic biological processes in agricultural appli- cations and the importance of the research and doctorates in these fields, separate and independent of other traditional biological disciplines. This leads to the more inclusive name of "life sciences" for the group of fields that includes both the agricultural and biological sciences. Recommendation 3.7: Biological Sciences, one of the four major groupings, should be renamed "Life Sciences." The question of naming arises in all fields. Graduate program names vary by university, depending on when the program was established and what the area of research was called at that time. The Committee agreed that programs and faculty need some guidance, given a set of program names, as to where to place themselves. This can be accom- plished through the inclusion of subfield names in the taxonomy. Subfield names identify areas of specialization within a field. They are not all-inclusive but will allow students, faculty, and evaluators to recognize and identify the specific activities of complex fields. Programs in the subfields themselves will not be ranked individually. They will, however, permit the identification of "niche" as opposed to general programs for the purpose of subsequent analysis. The Committee obtained the names of subfields through consultation with scholarly societies, by requesting subfield titles on the project Webpage, and through inquiries sent out to faculty. These subfields are listed in Appendix E. Recommendation 3.8: SuLfields should be listed for many of the fields. Some programs will find that the taxonomy fits, but others may find that they have separate programs for a number of subfields, or conversely, have programs that contain two or more fields. The Committee recognized that these sorts of 23 problems will arise and asks that programs try to fit them- selves into the taxonomy. This will help assure comparabil- ity across programs. For example, a physics program may also contain an astrophysics subspecialty. This program should list its physics faculty as one "program" for the purposes of ratings and list its astrophysics faculty as another, separate program, even though the two are not, in fact, administratively separate. Programs that combine sepa- rate fields listed in the taxonomy will be asked to indicate this in their questionnaires and the final tables will report that the fields are part of a combined program. A task left to the next committee is to assure that the detailed question- naire instructions will permit both accurate assignment of faculty to research fields and accurate descriptions of pro- grams available to students. The flip side of this problem arises in the agricultural sci- ences. Many institutions have separate programs for each subfield. Their faculty lists should contain faculty names from all the programs, rather than separate listings for each program. These conventions, although somewhat arbitrary, make it possible to include faculty from programs that would otherwise be too small to rate. In all cases, faculty should then identify their subfields on the faculty questionnaire. This would permit analysis of the effect of rater subfield on ratings. FINDINGS FROM THE PILOT TRIALS Six of the pilot sites got to the point of administering the questionnaires and attempting to place their programs within the draft taxonomy. The taxonomy proved generally satis- factory for all the broad fields except for the life sciences. A particular problem was found with "molecular biology." It was pointed out that molecular biology is a tool that is widely used across the life sciences but is not a specific graduate program. The same is true, to a lesser extent, for cell biology. Given the trial taxonomy, many biological science programs are highly interdisciplinary and combine a number of fields. The Committee hopes to address this issue by asking respon- dents to indicate if faculty, who specialize in a particular field, teach and supervise dissertations in a broad biological science graduate program. Another problem was that the subfield listing was viewed as "dated." The Committee addressed this finding by query- ing colleagues at their own and other institutions and by ask- ing scholarly societies. This is an issue, however, that should be revisited prior to the full study. EMERGING FIELDS The upcoming study must attempt to identify the emer- gence of new fields that may develop and qualify as separate fields in the future. It should also assess fields that have emerged in the past decade. For purposes of assessment, these fields present two problems. First, although an area of
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24 study exists in many universities, it may or may not have its own doctoral program. Cinema studies, for example, may be taught in a separate program or it may exist in graduate programs in English, Theatre, or Communication, among others. To present data only about separate and named pro- grams gives a misleading idea of the area of graduate study. Second, the emerging areas of study may be transitory. Com- putational biology, for example, is just beginning to exist. It may become a broad field that will, in the future, include genomics, proteomics, and bioinformatics, or, alternatively, it may be incorporated into yet another field. The Commit- tee agreed that the existence of these fields should be recog- nized in the study but that they were either too new or too amorphous to identify a set of faculty for reputational com- parison of programs. Quantitative data should be collected about them to assist in possible evaluation in future studies. Recommendation 3.9: Emerging fields should be identi- fied, based on their increased scholarly and training activity (e.g., race, ethnicity, and Post-Colonial studies; feminist, gender, and sexuality studies; nanoscience; ASSESSING RESEARCH-DOCTORATE PROGRAMS computational biology). The number of programs and degrees, however, is insufficient to warrant full-scale evaluation at this time. Where possible, they should be included as suLfields. In other cases, they should be listed separately. Finally, the Committee was perplexed about what to do about the fields of area studies that focus on different parts of the world. These fields are highly interdisciplinary and draw on faculty across the university. By themselves, they are too small to be included, yet they are likely to be of growing importance as trends toward a global economy and its accompanying stresses continue. The Committee decided to create a broad field, "Global Area Studies," in the Arts and Humanities and to list each area as a subfield within this heading. Recommendation 3.10: A new broad field, "Global Area Studies," should be included in the taxonomy and include as suLfields: Near Eastern, East Asian, South Asian, Latin American, African, and Slavic Studies.
Representative terms from entire chapter: