Postdocs at Federally Funded R&D Centers: Fall 2017
These data were compiled from the Survey of Postdocs at Federally Funded Research and Development Centers (FFRDCs): Fall 2017. The survey is intended to identify all FFRDCs that employed postdoctoral researchers (postdocs) as of October 1 of the survey year and to collect aggregate information on the demographic characteristics and fields of research of the postdocs employed at each FFRDC. The FFRDC Postdoc Survey began in 2005 and is administered in odd-numbered years as part of the Survey of Graduate Students and Postdoctorates in Science and Engineering, which is sponsored by the National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics within the National Science Foundation and by the National Institutes of Health.
The most recent Master Government List of FFRDCs can be found at https://www.nsf.gov/statistics/ffrdclist/. For data on R&D expenditures at FFRDCs, see the R&D Expenditures at FFRDCs report series at https://www.nsf.gov/statistics/ffrdc/. For data on federal R&D obligations and funding to FFRDCs, see the Federal Funds for R&D report series at https://www.nsf.gov/statistics/fedfunds/.
Purpose. The Survey of Postdocs at Federally Funded Research and Development Centers (FFRDC Postdoc Survey) is a census of all FFRDCs in the United States that employed postdoctoral researchers (postdocs) as of the survey reference date.
Data collection authority. The information collected in the FFRDC Postdoc Survey is solicited under the authority of the National Science Foundation Act of 1950, as amended, and the America COMPETES Reauthorization Act of 2010. The Office of Management and Budget control number is 3145-0062 and expires on 31 October 2020.
Survey contractor. RTI International.
Survey sponsors. The FFRDC Postdoc Survey is conducted as part of the Survey of Graduate Students and Postdoctorates in Science and Engineering, which is sponsored by the National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics (NCSES) within the National Science Foundation and by the National Institutes of Health. The Department of Energy provided funding until 2010.
Key Survey Information
Initial survey year. 2005.
Reference period. 1 October 2017.
Response unit. Establishment.
Sample or census. Census.
Population size. 42 FFRDCs.
Sample size. Not applicable.
Target population. The survey target population includes all FFRDCs that employed postdocs as of 1 October 2017.
Sample frame. The survey is a census of all FFRDCs in the Master Government List of FFRDCs in the United States as of March 2017. The list is maintained by NCSES (https://www.nsf.gov/statistics/ffrdclist/). NCSES maintains the master list by querying all federal agencies annually to determine changes, additions, or deletions to the list. FFRDCs are engaged in basic research, applied research, development, or management of R&D activities, on direct request of the government or under a broad charter from the government—in both cases, under the monitorship of the government. FFRDCs are operated, managed, and administered as separate organizational units in a parent organization or as separately incorporated organizations. They receive the majority of their financial support (70% or more) from the federal government, usually from one agency, and are expected to have a long-term relationship with their sponsoring agency.
Sample design. Not applicable.
Data Collection and Processing Methods
Data collection. On 2 February 2018, before starting data collection, prior survey coordinators were contacted via e-mail to confirm whether they were still the most appropriate contact. Additional follow-up contacts through e-mails and telephone calls were made to staff at those FFRDCs that did not immediately confirm the contact person. These efforts resulted in identifying a contact person for all returning FFRDCs. On 6 February 2018, FFRDC directors were sent a letter inviting their FFRDC to participate in the 2017 survey. The director of the newly added FFRDC received a similar letter but was asked to nominate a coordinator. On 15 February 2018, the FFRDC coordinators received a survey launch e-mail that provided them with their Web access information and indicated the due date of 29 March 2018. A series of survey reminders was sent to coordinators, and all but four FFRDCs had replied by the requested due date. The survey was closed out on 31 May 2018, after determining that one FFRDC was not going to respond.
Mode. Self-administered online questionnaire (Web).
Response rates. All but one of the 42 FFRDCs responded to the survey, including 22 of 23 FFRDCs that employed postdocs. Thus, the overall FFRDC response rate was 98%, and the response rate for FFRDCs that employed postdocs was 96%. The response rate calculations adhere to American Association for Public Opinion Research standards for computing response rates.
Data editing. All the data submitted by the FFRDCs were reviewed to ensure that all data fields were completed and that data were internally consistent. Any FFRDC with cell counts that were more than 20% above or 20% below its corresponding prior-year data was flagged for edit verification. In cases where survey staff determined that confirmation was needed, FFRDC respondents were contacted by telephone or e-mail and asked to correct and resubmit the survey data.
Imputation. Carry-forward imputation and nearest-neighbor imputation were used in cases where an FFRDC did not respond or only provided an overall total for the survey.
Weighting. Not applicable.
Variance estimation. Not applicable.
Survey Quality Measures
Sampling error. Not applicable.
Coverage error. There is no coverage error for this survey other than that, if any, from the Master Government List of FFRDCs maintained by NCSES.
Nonresponse error. The nonresponse error is minimal; all but one FFRDC responded to the survey. The item nonresponse rate ranged from 4% to 9%.
Measurement error. The most likely source of measurement error is from respondents’ misreporting of information. To minimize reporting errors, substantial changes in counts and inconsistent data in the survey responses are subject to follow-up contacts to verify changes and correct anomalies in the data. The survey Web instrument was also designed to allow respondents to indicate that they have postdocs but do not have the information about them for a particular grid, which allows missing information to be distinguished from the reporting of zero counts.
Data Comparability (Changes)
Changes in survey coverage and population. In addition to the 41 FFRDCs included in the 2015 and 2017 FFRDC Postdoc Surveys, 1 FFRDC was added in the 2017 round, and 1 FFRDC included in the 2015 round no longer exists. The Homeland Security Studies and Analysis Institute was phased out in 2016 and thus not included in the 2017 survey. The Homeland Security Operational Analysis Center was created in 2016 and added to the FFRDC Postdoc Survey for 2017.
In 2012, the Frederick National Laboratory for Cancer Research (FNLCR) was reorganized and renamed from the National Cancer Institute at Frederick, and it revised its postdoc reporting to include only FFRDC contract employees. Consequently, the total number of postdocs reported by the FNLCR dropped from 286 in 2010 to 25 in 2012. All comparisons of FFRDC postdoc data spanning this period need to account for these differences.
Changes in questionnaire. None.
Changes in reporting procedures or classification. Not applicable.
Ethnicity. The Office of Management and Budget provides guidance to collect Hispanic ethnicity separately from race. In this survey, Hispanic ethnicity refers to whether an individual is of Hispanic or Latino descent.
Federal financial support. Postdoctoral support provided by a federal agency such as the Department of Defense, Department of Energy, National Institutes of Health, or National Science Foundation.
Field of research. The area in which a postdoc’s research was focused. It may or may not be the field in which a postdoc received his or her degree.
Hispanic or Latino ethnicity. Individuals of Cuban, Mexican, Puerto Rican, South or Central American, or other Spanish culture or origin, regardless of race.
Largest source of support. The source of funds that provides the largest amount (highest percentage) of financial support for postdocs.
Nonfederal financial support. Support from state and local government; support from institutions, such as stipends; support from foreign sources, such as foreign governments, foreign firms, and agencies of the United Nations; and support from other U.S. sources, such as support from nonprofit institutions, private industry, and all other nonfederal U.S. sources.
Postdoctoral researchers (postdocs). The definition of a postdoc varies by institution. Respondents were instructed to use their institution’s definition of a postdoc. NCSES defines a postdoc as meeting both of the following qualifications:
- Holds a recent doctoral degree, generally awarded in the last 5 years, such as a PhD or equivalent (e.g., ScD, DEng); a first professional degree in a medical or related field (e.g., MD, DDS, DO, DVM); or a foreign degree equivalent to a U.S. doctoral degree.
- Has a limited-term appointment, generally no more than 5–7 years, primarily for training in research or scholarship and working under the supervision of a senior scholar in a unit affiliated with the institution.
Temporary visa holders. Individuals in the United States on temporary U.S. resident visas.
U.S. citizens and permanent residents. U.S. citizens, including those from Puerto Rico and the U.S. territories, and permanent residents holding permanent U.S. resident visas (Green Cards).
U.S. territories. American Samoa, Guam, the Federated States of Micronesia, the Northern Mariana Islands, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Suggested Citation and Acknowledgments
National Science Foundation, National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics. 2019. Postdocs at Federally Funded Research and Development Centers: Fall 2017. Detailed Statistical Tables NSF 19-310. Alexandria, VA. Available at https://ncses.nsf.gov/pubs/nsf19310/.
The 2017 Survey of Postdocs at Federally Funded Research and Development Centers was conducted as part of the Survey of Graduate Students and Postdoctorates in Science and Engineering with funds from the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the National Institutes of Health. RTI International conducted the survey, under contract number NCES-1445223.
RTI prepared the tables. RTI staff members who made significant contributions include Caren Arbeit and Patricia Green. Under NSF contract number NSFDACS17T1045, Roxanne Snaauw reviewed the table composition and Margaret Johnson performed editorial quality control.
This report was developed and coordinated by Michael Yamaner of the Human Resources Statistics Program, National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics (NCSES), NSF, under the direction of John Finamore. Emilda Rivers, division director, and Samson Adeshiyan, chief statistician, reviewed and provided overall guidance.
Read more about the source:
Survey of Postdocs at Federally Funded Research and Development Centers.
Browse previous publications on the Postdoctorates at Federally Funded R&D Centers page.