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Our Work

The National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics (NCSES) leads and supports research to improve insights and discoveries in support of its mission, the federal statistical system, and research communities. As a principal statistical agency within the National Science Foundation (NSF), our specific work is strategic and nuanced, working to advance our mission to collect, interpret, analyze, and disseminate objective data on the science and engineering enterprise within a global context.

NCSES maintains an active research agenda that guides practice, strategy, and internal decision-making. Our research is conducted in a variety of ways. Although some of our work is driven by NCSES staff, other investigations partner with our data collection contractors and external collaborators. Explore highlights of our current research initiatives below.

NCSES's Commitment to Quality

NCSES encourages staff to pursue research interests independently and through strategic collaborations. One area of focus in recent years has been record linkage of NCSES data with other sources to answer new questions about STEM doctorate holders and other topics of interest. NCSES also conducts methodological experiments on our surveys to improve data collection procedures, with a particular focus on reducing costs and improving nonresponse. In addition, NCSES routinely conducts qualitative testing of survey questions and questionnaires to continuously improve our survey instruments.

Existing Research Partnerships

NCSES partners with several organizations in support of its research program.

  • Our Broad Agency Announcement (BAA) provides research opportunities primarily to U.S. institutions of higher education and their collaborators to conduct a variety of research projects that support the strategic objectives of NCSES and partner federal statistical agencies. Much of what appears on the annual BAA is informed by the Research Agenda. More information can be found on our Funding Opportunities page.

  • Our partnership with the Coleridge Initiative includes data science training, record linkage, and other evidence building research. We encourage researchers to use NCSES data to explore questions about STEM pathways and science policy. Our aim is to enable collaborative knowledge creation and discovery through a variety of programs. To view past projects associated with this partnership, please visit our FAQ page.

  • NCSES coordinates with the Federal Committee on Statistical Methodology (FCSM) to support research and data quality. NCSES financially supports the FCSM grant program coordinated by NSF’s Methodology, Measurement, and Statistics program.

  • We provide technical consultation on the development of the government-wide probability-based online panel, Ask US. More information will be provided on this project as it develops.

  • Our partnership with the University of Virginia Biocomplexity Institute seeks to improve official statistics using “big data.”

Continuing Innovations

All major funding decisions for NCSES are guided by our Research Agenda. Some of our major research areas include:

  • Privacy and data protections
  • Innovative use of auxiliary data
  • Reducing respondent burden
  • Understanding sexual orientation and gender identity in STEM

NCSES also uses experimental online panel surveys, called bridge panels, as an internal mechanism for research. With these bridge panels, a subsample of our survey population is used to test survey improvements, such as new versions of survey questions and new methods of data collection. If testing shows positive results, these changes will be implemented in the next wave of the survey.

Visit our FAQ page for more information. You may also contact us at