Importance of Participation

Importance of participation

A high response rate among institutions and graduates is essential to the statistical integrity of the data. High-quality data ensure that analyses and policy decisions are based on all research doctorate recipients. Further, participation in the SED ensures your institution’s doctorate recipients are represented in the Doctorate Records File, a data bank on U.S. doctorate recipients reaching back to 1920.

Data from the SED can be used by institutions to compare their graduates with national statistics. Using recent data, researchers have learned:

  1. Women’s share of doctorates awarded has grown over the past two decades in all broad fields of study. In 2019, women earned half or more of the doctorates awarded in life sciences, psychology and social sciences, education, humanities and arts, and other non–science and engineering (S&E) fields.
  2. In 2019, Black or African American doctorate recipients were the largest minority population in education and in other non-S&E fields. Hispanics or Latinos and Blacks or African Americans earned a larger proportion of doctorates in psychology and social sciences and in humanities and arts than did other minority groups.
  3. In the past 10 years, the overall proportion of S&E doctorate recipients taking postdoctoral researcher (postdoc) positions in the United States immediately after graduation declined from 55% to 46%. The proportions of doctorate recipients taking postdoc positions in life sciences, physical sciences, and earth sciences, mathematics and computer sciences, and engineering declined during this period, while the proportion in psychology and social sciences and in non-S&E fields increased.
Benefits of participation

The results of this annual survey provide an objective basis for policy decisions that aim to improve our system of doctoral education. Maintaining a high response rate is essential to the statistical integrity of the SED data and, thus, to the legitimacy of the policy decisions that rely on these data. Consequently, the SED project team works closely with each Graduate School Dean and their staff to help them distribute and collect the SED in ways that facilitate student cooperation without creating undue burden.

In addition to contributing to an accurate and complete data resource, participation in the SED gains your institution access to an institution profile (containing summary information) and an institution dataset.