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Suggested Citation:"Summary." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2018. Measuring the 21st Century Science and Engineering Workforce Population: Evolving Needs. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24968.
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Summary

Reflecting the value of science and engineering in World War II and the Cold War, the United States created during the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s a capacity within the National Science Foundation (NSF) to collect, analyze, and disseminate information on the nation’s science and engineering workforce. The America COMPETES Act of 2010 reaffirmed these efforts and consolidated them within the National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics (NCSES) at NSF. NCSES is one of the principal statistical agencies in the United States and a leading provider of data on the nation’s science and engineering workforce. These data derive heavily from long-running surveys, including the Survey of Graduate Students and Postdoctorates in Science and Engineering, the Survey of Earned Doctorates, the Survey of Doctorate Recipients (SDR), the National Survey of College Graduates (NSCG), and a new Early Career Doctorates Survey (ECDS). The data inform congressionally mandated reports and are used extensively by policy makers, researchers, industry, the media, and others.

The NCSES surveys have represented a gold standard for data in this area, not only in the United States but also internationally, as the result of an active program of evaluation and improvement. In this vein, and responding to the rapidly changing nature of society and the science and engineering workforce, NCSES asked the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine to convene a panel to “review, assess, and provide guidance on NCSES’s approach to measuring the science and engineering workforce . . . [and] to develop a framework . . . that provides flexibility to examine emerging issues . . . while . . . allowing for stability in the estimation of key trends.”

Suggested Citation:"Summary." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2018. Measuring the 21st Century Science and Engineering Workforce Population: Evolving Needs. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24968.
×

The panel identified several priority areas of focus for NCSES to ensure that the data it provides remain robust and relevant in the coming decades. These priority areas are highlighted below. The report contains additional recommendations focused on further strengthening the NCSES science and engineering workforce surveys. The panel acknowledges that planning and implementing the building blocks of a new framework will require substantial investments of time and resources.

  1. The increasing fluidity and complexity of the career pathways of scientists and engineers necessitate placing increased focus and generating longitudinal data on the nature, determinants, and consequences of these pathways.

RECOMMENDATION 3-1: The National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics should place greater emphasis on following sample members longitudinally and obtaining survey data on the nature, determinants, and consequences of significant transitions in science and engineering career pathways.

RECOMMENDATION 4-1: The National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics should maintain and accelerate its efforts to develop sample designs that facilitate the increased generation and analysis of longitudinal data in the National Survey of College Graduates and the Survey of Doctorate Recipients, including the generation of appropriate weights and documentation for longitudinal analysis.

RECOMMENDATION 6-6: The National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics should facilitate the presentation of results of longitudinal analyses in the Science and Engineering Indicators and Women, Minorities, and Persons with Disabilities in Science and Engineering reports.

  1. Science and engineering career pathways increasingly involve international mobility.

RECOMMENDATION 3-2: The National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics should work toward survey design and questionnaire content that capture both the immigration of individuals from abroad into the U.S. science and engineering workforce and the emigration of individuals from the U.S. science and engineering workforce to other countries, including the nature, determinants, and employment outcomes of such movements. Specific questionnaire modules targeted to these groups could explore such issues.

Suggested Citation:"Summary." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2018. Measuring the 21st Century Science and Engineering Workforce Population: Evolving Needs. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24968.
×

RECOMMENDATION 4-2: The National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics should evaluate whether modeling techniques could be used to improve the sensitivity of the classification used to stratify the National Survey of College Graduates (NSCG) sample drawn from the American Community Survey, thereby making it more efficient to increase in the NSCG the sample of doctorate holders who obtained their degree from abroad.

  1. Fluid and complex career pathways create and are created by increasingly fluid and complex patterns in the acquisition of skills and training and the skills and training required in various jobs along the career pathway.

RECOMMENDATION 3-3: To address the desire of researchers and policy makers for in-depth information on such topics as training and skills obtained and needed, the National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics should explore and evaluate adding to its surveys topic modules that would vary from round to round or be asked only of subsets of the samples.

  1. The diversity of the workforce has been increasing rapidly, requiring increased attention to factors that facilitate or impede entry into and retention of groups historically underrepresented in the science and engineering workforce.

RECOMMENDATION 3-5: The National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics should assess the performance of the new questions on working conditions and work–life balance in the Early Career Doctorates Survey and should consider adding these questions to the National Survey of College Graduates and the Survey of Doctorate Recipients as well.

RECOMMENDATION 3-6: The National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics should develop for the surveys core questions and a more in-depth module on harassment and discrimination.

  1. To facilitate achievement of these substantive goals will require that NCSES continue its strong program of methodological research, with increased focus in two areas.
    1. Accelerate research on the use of administrative and other nonsurvey data to complement or replace survey data, reduce respondent burden, and reduce data collection costs. Research on the
Suggested Citation:"Summary." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2018. Measuring the 21st Century Science and Engineering Workforce Population: Evolving Needs. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24968.
×

feasibility of linkages to unemployment insurance earnings data may be most worthwhile to pursue.

RECOMMENDATION 3-7: The National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics should explore mechanisms for accelerating research on the use of alternative data sources to expand and supplement the information obtained from the science and engineering workforce surveys.

RECOMMENDATION 5-6: The National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics should evaluate the feasibility of using administrative data, such as unemployment insurance earnings data, to inform adaptive design, address nonresponse due to lack of contact information, conduct nonresponse bias analysis, and develop nonresponse weights.

  1. Continue ongoing research aimed at enhancing the cost effectiveness of the surveys.

RECOMMENDATION 5-1: The National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics (NCSES) should continue to research the optimal mix and sequence of contact, response modes, and incentives. Lessons learned from the National Survey of College Graduates should be evaluated in the context of the other surveys, particularly the Survey of Doctorate Recipients. NCSES should ensure that costs are tracked in sufficient detail, for both new and continuing participants, to enable sophisticated comparisons of the different options, along with the implications for data quality.

RECOMMENDATION 5-8: The National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics should evaluate the data processing methods used for the surveys to identify potential opportunities to increase efficiency and the timeliness of data releases.

  1. Continuing effort on the part of NCSES is needed to facilitate the dissemination of (1) reports and other information/data products and (2) microdata, especially longitudinal microdata files.

RECOMMENDATION 6-4: The National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics should continue making its work toward enabling longitudinal research based on the survey data a priority and should seek input from other agencies that provide access to longitudinal data.

Suggested Citation:"Summary." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2018. Measuring the 21st Century Science and Engineering Workforce Population: Evolving Needs. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24968.
×

RECOMMENDATION 6-5: The National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics should continue to emphasize the timeliness of its data releases and the provision of clear documentation of the data and should consider hosting an online forum or providing some other mechanism that can facilitate discussion among users of the survey data.

RECOMMENDATION 6-7: The National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics should evaluate options for expanding communications with former, existing, and new stakeholders to raise awareness of the usefulness of the survey data. State and local governments warrant special consideration, as do groups historically underrepresented in the science and engineering workforce.

Suggested Citation:"Summary." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2018. Measuring the 21st Century Science and Engineering Workforce Population: Evolving Needs. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24968.
×

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Suggested Citation:"Summary." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2018. Measuring the 21st Century Science and Engineering Workforce Population: Evolving Needs. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24968.
×
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Suggested Citation:"Summary." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2018. Measuring the 21st Century Science and Engineering Workforce Population: Evolving Needs. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24968.
×
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Suggested Citation:"Summary." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2018. Measuring the 21st Century Science and Engineering Workforce Population: Evolving Needs. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24968.
×
Page 3
Suggested Citation:"Summary." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2018. Measuring the 21st Century Science and Engineering Workforce Population: Evolving Needs. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24968.
×
Page 4
Suggested Citation:"Summary." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2018. Measuring the 21st Century Science and Engineering Workforce Population: Evolving Needs. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24968.
×
Page 5
Suggested Citation:"Summary." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2018. Measuring the 21st Century Science and Engineering Workforce Population: Evolving Needs. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24968.
×
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The National Science Foundation’s National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics (NCSES), one of the nation’s principal statistical agencies, is charged to collect, acquire, analyze, report, and disseminate statistical data related to the science and engineering enterprise in the United States and other nations that is relevant and useful to practitioners, researchers, policymakers, and to the public. NCSES data, based primarily on several flagship surveys, have become the major evidence base for American science and technology policy, and the agency is well respected globally for these data.

This report assesses and provides guidance on NCSES’s approach to measuring the science and engineering workforce population in the United States. It also proposes a framework for measuring the science and engineering workforce in the next decade and beyond, with flexibility to examine emerging issues related to this unique population while at the same time allowing for stability in the estimation of key trends

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