Except for requests from the news media, which should go through the Marketing & Public Relations Office, all external requests for official or public data should go through Research and Reporting. Whether the Research and Reporting office completes the request or coordinates the request with another office will be based on their expertise in the topic area, access to relevant NCTC data, and expertise in working with the particular NCTC data.
What is data?
"Data" refers to numerical summaries of aspects of our institution, for example, number of students enrolled, graduation rates, or percentage of faculty who are women. Examples of information that would generally not be considered data are directory information about staff or faculty, or narrative descriptions of programs, policies, or facilities.
What are official or public data?
Figures are considered official or public if they are mandated by state or federal guidelines (e.g. the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board or "THECB"; the national Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System, or "IPEDS"); are collected routinely by recognized higher education agencies or consortia; or will appear in publications that are widely available (e.g. admissions guidebooks).
Exceptions: With the exception of THECB and IPEDS reporting, mandated routine reporting specific to an individual area should be conducted by that area. The responsible official in that area should, however, consult with Research and Reporting whenever figures outside of that area (e.g. enrollments) are required for a form. Examples of reporting that should be conducted not by Research and Reporting, but by the appropriate office include: athletics reporting, crime reporting, tax forms, human resource work utilization reporting, etc. In general, straightforward office-to-agency reports should go through the appropriate office. If the information requested on a form may be of general interest or may be made public, it would be helpful if a copy were provided to Research and Reporting. When information may be used in various other ways, the Research and Reporting office should be involved.
Who gathers the data?
Whether a particular external request should be handled by Research and Reporting versus sent to another office for completion will be based on the Research and Reporting office's knowledge of the area, access to the data, and knowledge of the data. For example, currently most state and federal reporting are coordinated through Research and Reporting. This does not mean that the Research and Reporting office completes every form himself/herself. A number of forms are sent to other officials on campus for their response and returned to Research and Reporting for forwarding to the requesting agency. On these forms, it is generally the official who completes the form who signs off on it. Examples of this are the IPEDS-Finance Form and the IPEDS Library Form. The Research and Reporting officer does complete forms for other kinds of data, including student enrollments, degrees, degree programs offered, graduation rates, and student residency.
Area Knowledge: This guideline will depend on the staff in Research and Reporting and the role of institutional research at the College. An institutional researcher is bound by a professional code of ethics to not accept assignments outside of his or her realm of expertise. At the same time he/she should seek training in areas deemed by the institution to be important to the Institutional Research role. In areas where the Research and Reporting officer has some knowledge or expertise, it may be reasonable for him or her to fulfill a request. In areas where the Research and Reporting officer does not have expertise, it should be sent to the appropriate expert on campus.
Access to Data: In the situations where the Research and Reporting officer has little or no access to the particular type of data, he/she should not attempt to complete a request, but rather forward it to the appropriate office. One example of this is data about the Library. Currently, these data are not centrally maintained and are not accessible to the Research and Reporting office. Requests for such information will be sent to the Librarian or his/her designee. Access involves not only being able to retrieve data, but also access to the data coding and field definitions. Though the Research and Reporting office theoretically has access to all data in the Jenzabar system, it does not necessarily have a complete "dictionary" of what all the data fields mean, how they are populated, and how they relate to each other. Where this kind of mapping has not been made available, data, though technically accessible, cannot be used.
Knowledge of the Data: It makes sense for the Research and Reporting office to be the one reporting data that is commonly used by the Research and Reporting office, because in order to use these data effectively the Research and Reporting officer should be very knowledgeable about it. This is more than knowledge or expertise in a particular area - it is about knowing the particular data on this campus very well, both in form and in content. The Research and Reporting officer is therefore in a position to accurately provide meaningful information about these areas to outsiders.