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Notice of Intent To Extend an Information Collection

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National Science Foundation.


Notice and Request for Comments.

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Under the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995, Public Law 104-13 (44 U.S.C. 3501 et seq.), and as part of its continuing effort to reduce paperwork and respondent burden, the National Science Foundation (NSF) is inviting the general public or other Federal agencies to comment on this proposed continuing information collection. The National Science Foundation (NSF) will publish periodic summaries of proposed projects.

Comments: Comments are invited on: (a) Whether the proposed collection of information is necessary for the proper performance of the functions of the agency, including whether the information shall have practical utility; (b) the accuracy of the agency's estimate of the burden of the proposed collection of information; (c) ways to enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information to be collected; and (d) ways to minimize the burden of the collection of information on respondents, including through the use of automated collection techniques or other forms of information technology.


Written comments on this notice must be received by February 8, 2011 to be assured consideration. Comments received after that date will be considered to the extent practicable. Send comments to address below.

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For further information or for a copy of the collection instruments and instructions, contact Ms. Suzanne H. Plimpton, Reports Clearance Officer, National Science Foundation, 4201 Wilson Boulevard, Suite 295, Arlington, Virginia 22230; telephone (703) 292-7556; or send e-mail to Individuals who use a telecommunications device for the deaf (TDD) may call the Federal Information Relay Service (FIRS) at 1-800-877-8339 between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m., Eastern time, Monday through Friday.

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Title of Collection: Survey of Earned Doctorates.

OMB Approval Number: 3145-0019.

Expiration Date of Approval: May 31, 2012.

Type of Request: Intent to seek approval to extend an information collection for three years.

1. Abstract: The National Science Foundation Act of 1950, as subsequently amended, includes a statutory charge to “* * * provide a central clearinghouse for the collection, interpretation, and analysis of data on scientific and engineering resources, and to provide a source of information for policy formulation by other agencies of the Federal Government.” The Survey of Earned Doctorates is part of an integrated survey system that meets the human resources part of this mission.

The Survey of Earned Doctorates has been conducted annually since 1958 and is jointly sponsored by six Federal agencies in order to avoid duplication. It is an accurate, timely source of information on one of our Nation's most important resources—highly educated individuals. Data are obtained via paper questionnaire or Web survey from each person earning a research doctorate at the time they receive the degree. Data are collected on their field of specialty, educational background, sources of support in graduate school, debt level, postgraduation plans for employment, and demographic characteristics.

The Federal government, universities, researchers, and others use the information extensively. The National Science Foundation, as the lead agency, publishes statistics from the survey in several reports, but primarily in the annual publication series, “Science and Engineering Doctorates” and the Interagency Report “Doctorate Recipients from U.S. Universities.” These reports are available in print and electronically on the World Wide Web.

The survey will be collected in conformance with the Privacy Act of 1974. Responses from individuals are voluntary. NSF will ensure that all individually identifiable information collected will be kept strictly confidential and will be used for research or statistical purposes, analyzing data, and preparing scientific reports and articles.

2. Expected Respondents: A total response rate of 92.3% of the 49,562 persons who earned a research doctorate was obtained in academic year 2008/2009. This level of response rate has been consistent for several years. The respondents will be individuals and the estimated number of respondents annually is around 46,000 (based on 2009 data).

3. Estimate of Burden: In 2012, approximately 51,000 individuals are expected to receive research doctorates from United States institutions. The Foundation estimates that, on average, 20 minutes per respondent will be required to complete the survey. The annual respondent burden for completing the Survey of Earned Doctorates is therefore estimated at 17,000 hours, based on 51,000 respondents.

Additional time is needed to complete the Missing Information Letter (MIL), which is sent to any survey respondent who did not provide data on any of eight “critical items” (year of Master's, year of Bachelor's, postgraduation location (state or country), birth date, citizenship status, race, ethnicity, and gender) on their original response. Most MILs address fewer than eight missing items. Based on past results, the average respondent is expected to spend two minutes completing the MIL. The SED receives an average of 2,000 completed MILs each survey round, for an annual MIL completion burden estimate of 67 hours.

In addition to the actual survey, the SED also requires the collection of administrative data from participating institutions. The Institutional Contact at the institution helps distribute the survey, track it, collect it and submit the completed questionnaires to the SED survey contractor. Based on focus groups conducted with Institutional Contacts, it is estimated that the SED demands no more than 1% of the Institutional Contact's time over the course of a year, which computes to 20 hours per year per individual contact (40 hours per week × 50 weeks per year × .01). With 530 programs participating in the SED, the estimated annual burden to Institutional Contacts of administering the SED is 10,600 hours.

Therefore, the total annual information burden for the SED is estimated to be 27,667 hours. This is higher than the last annual estimate approved by OMB due to the increased number of respondents (doctorate recipients).

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Dated: December 6, 2010.

Suzanne H. Plimpton,

Reports Clearance Officer, National Science Foundation.

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[FR Doc. 2010-31008 Filed 12-9-10; 8:45 am]