NSF Secure Data Access Facility

The National Science Foundation awarded a contract to NORC to create a Secure Data Access Facility (SDAF) to house the Survey of Earned Doctorates (SED) and Survey of Doctorate Recipients (SDR) data and metadata and provide secure remote access and technical support to authorized researchers at the direction of the National Science Foundation (NSF)] and Division of Science Resources Statistics (SRS). The SED began in 1957–58 to collect data continuously on the number and characteristics of individuals receiving research doctoral degrees from all accredited U.S. institutions. The results of this annual survey are used to assess characteristics and trends in doctorate education and degrees. This information is vital for educational and labor force planners within the federal government and in academia.

The SED is sponsored by the following six federal agencies: NSF, National Institutes of Health, U.S. Department of Education, U.S. Department of Agriculture, National Endowment for the Humanities, and National Aeronautics and Space Administration. The Survey of Doctorate Recipients (SDR) is a longitudinal study of individuals who received a doctoral degree from a U.S. institution in a science, engineering, or health (SEH) field. The goal of the SDR is to provide policymakers and researchers with high-quality data and findings for making informed decisions related to the educational and occupational achievements and career movement of the nation's doctoral scientists and engineers. This group is of special interest to many decision makers because it represents the highest-educated individuals in the U.S. workforce.

NORC is leveraging the capabilities of the Data Enclave to securely host the data and provide assistance with dissemination of the survey data. NORC has continued to provide access to and update applications, data, and microdata in the NCSES SDAF. NORC updated the training materials to better reflect current access processes and environment appearance. NORC also began developing quiz/test elements for online training modules to enhance and substantiate knowledge retention.

The NORC Data Enclave team, in collaboration with Metadata Technology of North America developed and deployed the SED Tabulation Engine in support of the Secure Data Access Facility. The SED pilot data tool was created as a publically facing tool that provides online access to selected variables from the SED and uses multiple programs to create data tables and provide cell suppression on a real-time basis using a customized disclosure control mechanism to protect the identity of respondents when queries are returned on gender, citizenship, and race/ethnicity variables, and institution. Of particular note, between April 2011 and June 2012 domestic and international researchers have submitted nearly 7,000 unique queries to the tabulation engine.