Data Collection, Outcome Measures,
and Analytical Tools
The need for such “demonstration” [of com-
pliance with the GEI guidelines] will require us,
in turn, to strengthen our [own] data gathering
and analytic capabilities on graduate student
progress and degree completion, a commitment
of staff resources and energies to institutional re-
search that we are pleased to make for such a
purpose … and will pose a continuous prod to
our academic departments to reexamine their
policies and expectations with regard to time-to-
doctorate and to take positive steps to reduce it
among their students.
—Provost at University X, 1996
THIS CHAPTER describes the raw materials on which this study is based, the measures it uses, and the analytic procedures it employs. It is divided into three parts. First, it focuses on the varieties of data on which the study draws. It spells out how the quantitative data on students and the qualitative reports from faculty members and administrators were collected. Part and parcel of the Graduate Education Initiative (GEI), these data constitute a substantial share of the evidence on which this study draws. This part also describes the Graduate Education Survey (GES) of students that was intended to complement the heavily demographic and descriptive data collected from the GEI's institutional participants. The results of the survey shed light on graduate students' experiences as they moved through their training. The second part of the chapter takes up an array of potential measures of students' progress and how they are calculated. It suggests uses that can be made of these measures (and their limitations) in order to facilitate the work of others who may wish to judge for themselves aspects of graduate education that are addressed here. Finally a brief introduction is provided to the principal statistical techniques we use in the study, aimed at readers who are unfamiliar with them.