helpful and should be retained. However, the “Other” category should be further analyzed and a choice of “Website” should be added as a category.
Additional data could be collected from NIST personnel and former or current NIST RAs. Such data could be used to answer such questions as:
What mechanisms do NIST personnel and RAs use to interact with potential applicants and
Which mechanisms seem to work best?
Has there been any effort to focus specifically on diversity? How?
Such research could be undertaken via a combination of expert panels or surveys of NIST staff and current or former RAs to answer the first and third questions and to provide information for an assessment of the second question. Information should also be collected on the costs for individual outreach efforts (e.g., money spent on advertisements, time spent meeting with graduates) to compare to the benefits (how many applicants come from each individual outreach type).
A second step to facilitate an evaluation of outreach efforts is to identify metrics for quantifying value obtained from different outreach strategies, such as hits to the website or number of graduate students met with at professional meetings.
Examine individual outreach strategies for return on investment. This could include such strategies as assessing the NIST website for usability and informational content or assessing the return on advertising in publications. As part of the assessment of the NIST Web site, NIST could consider adding contact information for research advisors to facilitate a dialogue between potential applicants and relevant NIST staff.
Finally, consider whether there might be other outreach strategies that are being underused currently, and which might have potential value, such as direct mail to deans, department heads and other university administrators.
In addition, it is important to determine if any groups of graduate students—and potential applicants—who would make good candidates for the NIST/NRC RAP are unaware of the Program and how one applies. It would be difficult to craft a random sample of graduate students, but a limited survey might be possible.
NIST should conduct an evaluation of individuals who decline offers of Research Associateships. This could be done as a telephone interview or via a survey. As there are only a few people who decline each cycle, the burden would be relatively small. Two basic questions should be asked of those who are awarded but decline: (1) why are you declining, and (2) what are you planning to do instead?
The NRC should amend the application form. The number of fields should be reduced, in particular by collapsing very similar labels and by removing labels that are for multiple fields (e.g., “Biophysics Physics Biochemistry”). At least with regard to Ph.D. fields, an example of a smaller field list is found in the NSF’s Survey of Earned Doctorates (see Appendix B).
The NRC should update the DataRAP database to replace organizational names (e.g., institutes or labs) that no longer exist at NIST with current equivalents.