year. Although the use of a question on field of bachelor’s degree in the ACS sample design will be highly beneficial for targeting potential sample members, it will also pose complexities for integration of the new variable with other previously used variables in the design. The continuous nature of the ACS also raises questions about the frequency with which the NSCG should be conducted and the sample refreshed, either for the entire college graduate population or for subgroups, such as immigrants and other new populations or those with low response rates.
The use of the ACS as a sampling frame for the NSCG and other National Science Foundation (NSF) surveys raises several technical issues. The continuous nature of the ACS poses opportunities for frequent updating of the NSCG sample frame, while the limited size of 1 year’s ACS sample (relative to the long-form sample) requires accumulation over several survey rounds to provide a frame of suitable size for oversampling rare populations, such as minority college graduates by field of science and engineering (S&E) degree. These issues must be addressed and considered in the development of an implementation plan to begin in fiscal year 2009.
The conversion to the ACS opens the possibility of reconsidering the target population for the survey. The fact that the questions on the ACS are much like the questions on the census long form mitigates against major changes, but the addition of the field-of-degree question (in either format) permits a rethinking of the target population. The current surveys in the Scientists and Engineers Statistical Data System (SESTAT) cover U.S. residents with bachelor’s and higher degrees in science and engineering, including:
recent (past 2 academic years) U.S.-earned-S&E-degree recipients, a population that is currently identified in the National Survey of Recent College Graduates (NSRCG) and the Survey of Earned Doctorates (SED);
not-recent U.S.-earned-S&E-degree recipients (those tracked in the NSCG);
U.S. residents without S&E degrees who work in S&E occupations (also tracked in the NSCG); and
new immigrants to the United States with all S&E bachelor’s and higher degrees earned outside the United States (currently obtained only through the initial postcensal NSCG).
In SESTAT, there is special attention on minority populations with separate estimation capability by race and ethnicity, gender, disability status, and U.S. or foreign citizenship.