Evaluative Agencies and Tools
The Carnegie Foundation’s analysis of research activity in doctoral granting institutions points to three key components: grant expenditures, doctoral production, and research staff support. In May of 2006, Carnegie classified Baylor University as a Research University with "high research activity" (RU/H). Baylor’s Vision 2012 Strategic Plan supported research in specific areas of the Humanities and Social Sciences. In addition, this vision led to investment in the construction of the Baylor Sciences Building (BSB) where the facility served as a "magnet" for attracting new faculty and students.
In the STEM areas (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) within the College of Arts & Sciences, research output in terms of number of publications, grant funding, and Ph.D. graduation rate has more than doubled during the Vision 2012 time period (2002 to 2012). However, Baylor’s institutional ranking has not significantly improved and progress in several critical areas in the sciences remains slow. Without substantial improvements in research productivity within the STEM areas no institution can achieve the Carnegie Research University with "very high research activity" (RU/VH) status.
Assessments in terms of publications and doctoral production indicate that Baylor’s Humanities and Social Science departments are much closer to reaching the Carnegie RU/VH benchmarks than the STEM departments (refer to Table 2.1). While the College of Arts & Sciences must emphasize gains in STEM research output, the strength of the Humanities and Social Sciences programs provides a foundation for the University’s future progress. In this context, Arts & Sciences will assess the strategies for the sustainability of masters programs and move forward with new initiatives for doctoral programs.
Academic Analytics (AA) is a database for comparing faculty research productivity in doctoral programs to research institutions across the country. Metrics include publications, citations, presentations, honors and awards, and research expenditures from Federal sources. Most of the science and mathematics doctoral programs at Baylor rank below the median, as measured by AA, and most Baylor STEM faculty fall within the 2nd to 5th quintile for faculty productivity. Though the AA data is limited in several ways, such as by a lack of accounting for the contributions of co-Principal Investigators on grant expenditures and an exclusive focus on Federal sources for grants, the College of Arts & Sciences aims for all programs to improve in the AA ranking over the next 10-year period. In addition, Arts & Sciences strongly encourages faculty who receive release time for research to seek Federal funding, whenever possible, and improve to the upper quintiles for the AA metrics applicable in each faculty member’s discipline.
National Research Council
In the past the National Research Council (NRC) has issued rankings for doctoral programs each decade. Those doctoral programs at Baylor ranked by the NRC in the 1990s improved somewhat in the NRC assessment between 1990 and 2000. Unfortunately, a number of our more recent doctoral programs in the sciences (Biology; Geology; and Ecological, Earth, and Environmental Sciences) have not been assessed in the NRC ranking. It is only in the last few years that these programs have graduated the minimum number of doctoral students to be considered by the NRC. Furthermore, it is unclear whether the NRC will continue to rank doctoral programs. In the absence of an NRC ranking, the academy will place greater emphasis on services, such as AA, and on the data provided by the National Science Foundation’s Higher Education Survey of Research and Development Survey to assess institutions in terms of research activity.