Answers to Frequently Asked Questions

This compilation of questions and answers was developed in response to issues raised on this site's "Ask a Question" page as well as those raised in other forums.  In addition, visit the NRC FAQ for more discussion.


Q: NRC Survey Criteria
What is the criteria for Ph.D. program inclusion in the NRC survey?

A: In order to be included in the NRC survey, programs must have produced five or more Ph.D. degrees over the last five years (2001-02 thru 2005-06) and be mapped to the NRC defined taxonomy.

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Q: NRC Ratings
Will the NRC Assessment produce ratings of doctoral programs?

A: Yes. For more details of the approach that the Committee is taking, see the NRC Links.

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Q: Program Faculty List Purpose
How will the faculty list be used?

A: The NRC survey is in start-up mode and survey details may change. Below is the current NRC explanation of how they will use the faculty list:

PROGRAM FACULTY RATIONALE PROVIDED BY NRC: The program faculty list (core, new and associated) is fundamental to this study since it identifies the faculty members who participate in doctoral education in the program. The program should provide only the names of individuals who are core, new, or associated members as defined in the question. Home department, rank, and tenure status of faculty members are not collected elsewhere and are available from an institution’s central data system. Number of dissertation committees is the metric that will allow the assessment to apportion a faculty member’s time across programs when they are associated with more than one. E-mail address is critical, since that will be the way to contact faculty to administer the faculty questionnaire.

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Q: Program Faculty - Core, New, and Associated
Who do I list as faculty members for a program?

A: The study defines three kinds of program faculty. Core and New faculty will receive individual surveys. Associated faculty will not receive individual surveys.

1. CORE program faculty. These are faculty members who have served as a chair or member of a program dissertation committee in the past 5 academic years (2001-02 through 2005-06) OR who are serving as a member of the graduate admissions or curriculum committee. The faculty member must be currently (2006-07) and formally designated as faculty in the program and not be an outside reader who reads the dissertation but does not contribute substantially to its development. Include emeritus faculty only if the faculty member has, within the last 3 years, either chaired a dissertation committee or has been the primary instructor for a regular Ph.D. course.

2. NEW program faculty. Currently employed (2006-07) faculty members, have joined the faculty in 2003-04 or later, and are not serving on dissertation committees or on graduate admissions or curriculum committees. They are expected to become involved in the Ph.D. program.

3. ASSOCIATED faculty. Faculty who have chaired or served on program dissertation committees in the past 5 years (2001-02 through 2005-06), have a current (2006-07) faculty appointment at your institution, but who are not designated core or new faculty in the program. They should not be outside readers, or faculty currently employed at other universities. Include emeritus faculty only if the faculty member has, within the last 3 years, either chaired a dissertation committee or been the primary instructor for a regular Ph.D. course.

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Q: Faculty not employed by the University
May faculty who are not employed by the university be considered program faculty?

A: Faculty who are not employed by the university may still be considered associated faculty for a program as long as they hold some type of university appointment. For example, a faculty member with an adjunct appointment who works in industry or at a national lab may be considered associated faculty if she has served on a dissertation committee in the past 5 years. Adjunct faculty may not be classified as core faculty.

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Q: Emeritus Faculty
Should emeritus faculty be included in the study?

A: For the most part, emeritus faculty should not be included in the study. The study aims to collect data from faculty actively involved in graduate education as a means of evaluating and benchmarking program quality. Since the degree to which emeritus faculty are involved in doctoral education varies among institutions, inclusion of emeritus faculty may be appropriate in some cases. Only emeritus faculty who have, within the last three years, either chaired a dissertation committee, been the Ph.D. supervisor, or served as the primary instructor for a doctoral course listed in the catalog for credit should be included in the study.

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Q: Outside Reader
What is the definition of an "outside reader"?

A: An "outside reader" is someone who serves on the dissertation committee but who does not contribute substantively to the development of the dissertation. Some institutions require that an individual from outside the department, or even outside the institution, serve on the dissertation committee. Individuals who have not had significant impact on the graduate education in the program should not be included as program faculty.

In contract, faculty members often serve on dissertation committees outside of their programs because they have specific knowledge that is needed by the student to properly develop the dissertation. This situation may be particularly common in fields where there is more overlap among programs (as in the Life Sciences) or when a faculty member has expert knowledge of a particular technique or research area which can not be found within the program. Faculty who serve a particular role or need on a dissertation committee despite being outside of the program and contribute significantly to the development of the dissertation should be included as associated faculty.

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Q: Joint Appointments
What about faculty members with joint appointments?

A: A faculty member may be listed as a core faculty member in those programs in which he or she is formally designated as faculty. For example, if a faculty member holds a joint appointment in History and Classics and serves on dissertation committees in both fields, she may be listed as a member of the core faculty in both the History program and the Classics program. The faculty member's publications and citations will be apportioned among programs based on the number of dissertation committees she has served on in each program.

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Q: Dissertations Committees Count
What does the dissertations count mean?

A: NRC wants to know, for each program faculty, core, new, and associated, the number of dissertation committees each faculty has CHAIRED, and the TOTAL number of dissertation committees each faculty has SERVED on as a member or a chair.

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Q: Faculty productivity distributed to multiple programs
How will faculty research productivity be distributed when the faculty member is a core member of more than one Ph.D. program?

A: Per the NRC -
The Committee held a lengthy discussion of how to allocate faculty publications and citations in the case where a faculty member participates in more than one doctoral program. It recognized that, for most cases, faculty members tend to publish in the field of the program(s) in which they are core faculty—and it is in this field (or fields) that they also serve as chair or principal adviser of dissertation committees. The allocation, however, also needs to recognize the efforts of faculty members in fields beyond their own. The allocation formula should have the quality that it encourages the development of faculty lists that accurately include faculty who are truly active in a program and supports listing of truly multidisciplinary faculty. With this in mind, the Committee designed a formula.

Faculty productivity (citations and publications) will be allocated by the following formulae:

a. For faculty members who are core in a program(s) that falls within the NRC taxonomy

Ai = (5Pi + ni + 5d)/Ói (5Pi + ni + 5d),

Where Ai is the share of publications and citations allocated to the faculty member in program i;

Pi is the number of committees in program i for which the faculty member serves as chair or principal adviser;

ni is the number of committees in program i on which the faculty member serves in a capacity other than chair or principal adviser;

d is a variable that takes on the value 1 if the faculty member is a core faculty member in program i and is 0 otherwise.


b. For faculty members who are core in a program in a non-included field but are listed as associate faculty in an included one:

Ai = (5Pi + ni )/Ói (5Pi + ni + 5 ).

c. New faculty members will have all their publications and citations allocated to their core program(s) since they will not yet have a record of dissertation committee service.

These allocations can be calculated directly by Mathematica from the faculty lists. IC’s will have an opportunity to review the resulting allocations.

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Q: Faculty E mail Address
Why are faculty e-mail addresses needed?

A: Faculty names and e-mails will be used by the NRC to send individual faculty surveys in early fall quarter 2006.

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Q: Interdisciplinary Program Assessment
How will interdisciplinary programs be assessed within the multiple NRC fields?

A: For multidisciplinary programs, we want to be sure that users of our data know the fields covered by the program. We will list all the associated fields and link each field to the program data. Choosing a "primary field" is a matter of convenience. It is not consequential, given our plans for cross-listing. When it comes to assessment there are still some unknowns, yet we want to focus on the program, because that is what a student applies to. We do not want to disaggregate programs into their component fields, but we do want to indicate the field coverage of multidisciplinary programs. 8/11/06

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