A Portrait of Institutional Research Offices

The National Survey of Institutional Research Offices summary report is now available.

Survey Release Graphic.pngThis study was the first extensive survey of the field of IR in more than eight years. The findings provide a snapshot of IR offices and their available resources, capacities, and current work levels. The 251-question survey is the first iteration of a long-term strategy to gather information about the field. The vision is to develop a benchmarking initiative that will be instrumental in helping shape the role of IR in the changing higher education landscape. 

The survey was constructed with significant work of AIR members who provided ideas at the outset of the project and whose contributions included service as subject matter experts, peer reviewers, and pilot testers. This crowdsourcing approach ensured that the language and constructed items were understandable by, and reflective of, professionals working in IR and related data functions. As we revise the survey instrument for future use, we will continue to seek input and guidance from AIR members.

This summary report features one lens with which to examine the rich data that resulted from the survey. Findings include information about IR office reporting structures, staffing, responsibilities, and financial resources at not-for-profit institutions. This work confirmed much of what was already believed about institutional research; there are vast differences in IR capacity and organizational arrangements that are idiosyncratic to individual colleges and universities. The survey data allow us to understand these differences more clearly.

We know that many hands make light work, and continued collaboration with data consumers to explore this information with multiple lenses will further illuminate the resources and capacities of IR offices. In the coming months, we will outline a process for researchers to request use of these data in the aggregate.

Readers are encouraged to share the National Survey of Institutional Research Offices summary report with colleagues to further the conversation about the future development of IR. Understanding how IR offices change as postsecondary institutions increasingly use data to inform decisions will provide opportunities to contribute to effectiveness and efficiency in support of institutional missions.

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Total Comments: 1
Jeremy posted on 4/14/2016 3:13 PM
This is great. I really wish there were a tool that would let us play with the underlying data. It would be great to be able to slice it in ways that could help us understand it multidimensonally (especially in comparing the work of one's own IR office to others). This could really help us make the case for increasing resources to other senior leaders.