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Notice of Intent to Establish an Information Collection

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National Science Foundation.


Notice and request for comments.


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 information collection. The NSF will publish periodic summaries of the 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 May 9, 2013, to be assured consideration. Comments received after that date will be considered to the extent practicable. Send comments to address below.

For Additional Information or Comments: Contact Suzanne H. Plimpton, NSF Reports Clearance Officer, National Science Foundation, 4201 Wilson Boulevard, Suite 295, Arlington, Virginia 22230; telephone (703) 292-7556; or send email to Individuals who use a telecommunications device for the deaf (TDD) may call the Federal Information Relay Service (FIRS) at 1- 800-877-8339, which is accessible 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year (including Federal holidays).

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Title of Collection: Early Career Doctorates Survey

OMB Approval Number: 3145-NEW

Expiration Date: Not applicable.

Type of Request: Intent to seek approval for new information collection.

1. Abstract: Established within the NSF by the America COMPETES Reauthorization Act of 2010 § 505, codified in the National Science Foundation Act of 1950, as amended, the National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics (NCSES) serves as a central Federal clearinghouse for the collection, interpretation, analysis, and dissemination of objective data on science, engineering, technology, and research and development for use by practitioners, researchers, policymakers, and the public. The Early Career Doctorates Survey will become part of an integrated survey system that meets the human resources part of this mission.

The Early Career Doctorates Project was established to gather in-depth information about early career doctorates (ECD), including postdoctoral researchers (postdocs). Early career doctorates are critical to the success of the U.S. scientific enterprise and will influence U.S. and global scientific markets for years to come. Despite their importance, current surveys of this population are limited, and extant workforce studies are insufficient for all doctorates who contribute to the U.S. economy. The NSF's Survey of Earned Doctorates and the Survey of Doctorate Recipients are limited to individuals who received research doctorates from U.S. academic institutions, thereby excluding individuals who earned professional doctorates and those who earned doctorates from institutions outside the United States but are currently employed in the United States. The NSF's Survey of Graduate Students and Postdoctorates in Science and Engineering (GSS) provides aggregate level data for all postdocs and nonfaculty researchers regardless of where they earned the degree. However, the GSS is limited to science, engineering, and selected health (SEH) fields in U.S. academic institutions and their related research facilities and is collected at the program rather than the individual level.

Through its multi-year Postdoc Data Project, NCSES determined the need for and the feasibility of gathering information about postdocs and ECD working in the United States. Efforts to reliably identify and gather information about postdocs proved difficult due to substantial variation in how institutions characterize postdoc appointments. As a result, NCSES expanded the target population to include all individuals who earned their first doctorate within the past 10-years, defined as ECD. Expanding the population to doctoral degree holders ensures a larger, more consistent and reliable target population. Unique in scope, the key goals of the ECD Project are:

  • To broaden the scope and depth of national statistics on the ECD population both U.S. degreed and non-Start Printed Page 21163U.S. degreed, across employment sectors and fields of discipline.
  • To collect nationally representative data from ECD that can be used by funding agencies, policy makers, and other researchers to better understand the labor markets and work experiences of recent doctorate recipients.
  • To establish common definitions for different types of ECD (e.g., postdocs, junior faculty, and other nonfaculty researchers) that can be applied across and within employment sectors.

The current focus of the Early Career Doctorates Project is to conduct a survey of ECD working in three areas of employment: U.S. academic institutions, Federally Funded Research and Development Centers, and the National Institutes of Health Intramural Research Programs. NCSES, under generic clearance (OMB #3145-0174), has conducted a methodological study to test a data collection strategy that uses institutional contacts as the conduit for questionnaire dissemination to ECD in the above employment settings. This data collection strategy will be used in the survey of ECD (ECDS). The ECDS will be a two stage sample survey design.

Beginning in August 2013, NSF will collect lists of ECD from 201 institutions nationwide, then sample and survey 8,250 ECD from these lists. Sample members will be invited to participate in a 30-minute web-based questionnaire. The survey will cover: Educational achievement, professional activities, employer demographics, professional and personal life balance, mentoring, training and research opportunities, and career paths and plans. Participation in the survey is voluntary. All information will be used for statistical purposes only.

The NSF will publish statistics from the survey in several reports, including NCSES' Science and Engineering Indicators report. These reports will be made available in print and electronically on the NSF Web site. Restricted-use and public use data files will also be developed.

The survey will be collected in conformance with the Privacy Act of 1974 and the Confidential Information Protection and Statistical Efficiency Act (CIPSEA). Responses from individuals are voluntary. The 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: There are four types of respondents to the ECDS: institutional high authority (HA), list coordinator (LC), ECD contactor (EC), and individual ECD. At the first stage of sampling, the ECDS will select 201 institutions. At each institution, a high authority (HA) will authorize the institution's participation in the study, designate a list coordinator (LC) and an ECD contactor (EC), and provide a letter of support for the survey. The primary responsibility of the LC is to prepare a list of ECD employed at the institution. The LC will provide a list of all ECD, that is, individuals working at their institution who earned their first doctorate or doctorate-equivalent degree within the past 10 years, including postdocs, nonfaculty researchers, tenured or tenure-track faculty members.

In the second stage, the EC will notify the sampled individual of their selection and NSF will survey these individuals. The ECDS is intended to cover both U.S. and Non-U.S. degreed and U.S. and Non-U.S. Citizens. The ECDS will sample 8,250 ECD from 201 institutions. It is expected that 80% of the sampled ECDs will participate, yielding 6,600 ECD respondents.

3. Estimate of Burden: In the methodological study, HAs required 1 hour on average to complete these tasks while the LCs required an average of 6 hours to fulfill their duties. Assuming that 100% of the institutions will participate, we estimate the total HA burden to be 201 hours and total burden for LCs is 1,206 hours. Most ECs were able to complete this task in less than 30 minutes in the methodological study. It is expected that 5% of the sampled institutions will choose to have NSF contact the ECD directly without involvement of ECs. We estimate a total burden of 96 hours for ECs.

NCSES estimates that respondents will take 30 minutes on average to complete the questionnaire based on the time to completion data from the methodological study. Assuming 6,600 respondents, we estimate the total burden for ECD to be 3,300 hours.

Taking into account all four respondent types (HAs, LCs, ECs, and ECD), we estimate the total respondent burden to be 4,803 hours. The below table showed the estimated burden by stage and respondent type.

ECDS Estimated Burden by Stage and Respondent Type

Respondent typeMinutes per respondentNumber of respondentsEstimated total hours
Stage 1: Frame Creation
High Authority (HA)602011 201
List Coordinator (LC)3602011 1,206
Stage 2: ECD Survey
ECD Contactor (EC)302012 96
Early Career Doctorate (ECD)308,2503 3,300
1 Assumes 100% of the institutions will participate.
2 Assumes 5% of the institutions will have NSF contact the ECD directly without involvement of the EC.
3 Assumes an 80% response rate.
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Dated: April 3, 2013.

Suzanne H. Plimpton,

Reports Clearance Officer, National Science Foundation.

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[FR Doc. 2013-08153 Filed 4-8-13; 8:45 am]