The Data Buddies Project
The Data Buddies Project is the means by which CERP reports important information to the community on the state of computing in higher education. CERP collects this data via the Data Buddies Survey (DBS). Explore this page to learn more about this project.
What is the Data Buddies Project?
The Data Buddies Project is a long-standing project of CERP and CRA. First started as a survey for intervention programs through a BPC-Alliance award to the CRA-WP (CNS-1246649), this project has grown to collect multi-level and longitudinal data. Knowledge production from this project is demonstrated through our publications, monthly infographics through CRN, and reporting to departments.
This project serves as an important resource for the computing community. Data collected via this project provide useful insights into student attrition and retention, factors that support the successful matriculation into graduate school and research careers, and means by which the field can broaden participation from individuals who identify with groups considered underrepresented in computing (includes all women, persons with disabilities, and people who are Black, Hispanic, Native American/Indigenous, and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander).
What is the Data Buddies Survey (DBS)?
The Data Buddies Survey (DBS) is the means by which this project collects data. DBS is an annual survey that collects data from individuals in computing and technology fields. Academic departments across the United States and Canada volunteer to distribute DBS to students in their degree program, while CERP also directly connects with other students and professionals in the field to complete the survey. CERP uses these data to track individuals’ educational and professional development over time, with the intention to promote evidence-based best practices for diversity, equity, and inclusion in computing and technology fields.
DBS is also used to compare intervention participants versus non-participants in our sample for evaluation purposes. If you are interested in having CERP evaluate your program through DBS, please contact us.
All CERP staff contribute to this project in one way or another. For questions about any aspect of this project, contact CERP Staff.
The Data Buddies Project is currently supported through National Science Foundation (NSF) awards CNS-1840724, CNS-2036717, DUE-1821136, sub-awards and contracts, and direct CRA contributions. Previous NSF awards that supported DBS include CNS-1246649 and DUE-1431112.
How to get involved
Participating in the Data Buddies Survey (DBS) is free for your department, thanks to support from the National Science Foundation. If your department is interested in participating, your department will need to dedicate one or more faculty or staff members to be the liaison. Typically the liaisons in the department are also responsible for distributing the survey out to students, but this is not always the case. The Department Chair or Head will be CC’d on communication.
Responsibilities of your department
- Dedicate at least one person to be the liaison
- Update CERP about changes in contact information and student enrollment numbers
- Send 2-3 emails per year to students for recruitment
- In rare instances, someone may need to support the Institutional Review Board (IRB) process.
What happens after you sign up
After you sign up for DBS, you will receive an email within a week from our department liaison who will confirm your participation. After we receive confirmation, we will begin the onboarding process (e.g., confirming contacts, enrollment numbers, initiating contact with the IRB).
CERP works with an external IRB (Solutions IRB) to review DBS. Our project is deemed Exempt (45CFR46.101(b)(2)). In addition to our review through Solutions IRB, the CERP team contacts your internal IRB to inquire whether additional review is necessary. CERP handles all negotiations with your IRB unless otherwise requested by the IRB.
Below is our typical timeline for DBS:
Resources for departments
The Data Buddies Survey (DBS) population is undergraduate, graduate, and non-degree seeking students; and professionals in computing and technology fields. The students can be declared computing majors or students who are taking computing-related coursework.
The DBS sample is obtained in two ways. First, CERP collaborates with computing departments across the United States and Canada to distribute the survey to students via an anonymized survey link. Second, CERP reaches out to participants of various programs (e.g. workshops, REUs) and individuals who agree to receive follow-up surveys directly from CERP.
The departments that participate in the Data Buddies Survey are volunteer departments that either sign up to become a Data Buddy or are recruited by CERP. These departments cover a range of various factors such as the department size, highest degree granted, geographic location, and MSI status. DBS departments do not need to be a CRA member to join.
DBS is implemented during fall and winter every year. The survey is administered online and distributed either by the participating departments or directly by CERP to those individuals who are in the follow-up sample.
DBS data are managed according to the CERP Data Management Plan, IRB guidelines, and CRA Privacy Policies. Respondents’ personally identifying information is encrypted and available exclusively to the project team’s senior personnel. Only de-identified data are used to conduct analysis. Minimum sample sizes are required for reporting demographics in department reports to avoid identification of students who responded to the survey.
DBS includes an opt-in raffle incentive that offers a random drawing of a number of gift cards to be delivered to the winners following the survey close date.
If participating departments are interested in offering additional incentives for their students, they can contact CERP in order to make appropriate arrangements.
Below is our list of raffle winners from the last two years!
Congratulations to Our Raffle Winners!
Raffle winners are affiliated with the following institutions:
Carnegie Mellon University
Montana State University
Northern Kentucky University
University of Illinois-Chicago
University of Maine-Orono
University of Texas-Austin
University of Virginia
Washington University-St Louis
Winston-Salem State University
Undergraduate student winners:
Momin M. Malik
Graduate student winners:
Yolián Amaro Rivera
DBS includes various measures tailored towards the different groups in the DBS population as applicable. Below is a non-exhaustive list of DBS measures.
Previous education and past experiences
- Academic background (e.g. pre-college CS and Math courses, completed degrees)
- Experiences related to computing (e.g. programming languages, software/hardware projects)
Current program details and experiences (for students)
- Enrollment information and reasons for matriculation and persistence
- Perceptions of degree program and institution
- Levels of academic and social support
- Degree of involvement in curricular, co-curricular, and extracurricular activities
Employment status and experiences (for non-students)
- Employment information (e.g., job type, title)
- Promotion and salary
- Attrition and persistence
General attitudes and beliefs regarding computing
- Perceptions of abilities, skill sets, and accomplishments
- Levels of identification with computing and sense of belonging
- Perceived support from professional network and mentors
Future plans and career aspirations
- Highest degree intentions
- Employment and graduate school plans
- Future career interests
- Career values and perceptions of computing careers
- Sexual orientation
- Marital status
- Socio-economic measures
- Parents’ education and career
Annual Department Reports
During the spring, Data Buddies Survey (DBS) departments receive customized reports each year they participate in the project*. These annual department reports include aggregated summary tables on how their students responded to the survey measures, and those responses are compared to students at structurally similar institutions.
The Annual Department Report includes:
- An executive summary page containing visualizations of key findings about students in each department.
- Detailed tables comparing your students’ responses to those of similar institutions
- Detailed tables comparing your students by gender and by racial/ethnic identity presented alongside of the same comparisons among students at similar institutions
Departments can further customize their reports by emailing a request to the CERP team. CERP will consider all requests on a case-by-case basis. There are two different time points when departments can submit a request to CERP:
- Prior to survey distribution, departments can propose either (a) small survey additions necessary for their department report or (b) request specialized survey links that will help group different samples of students together, which will later be used in reporting. In the case of point b, a department might request two different survey links for their majors and non-majors. During reporting, CERP will create the department report using those two groups.
- At the time of reporting, CERP can accommodate requests for specialized reports using data already collected via DBS. For example, some departments might request a different comparison group or are interested in seeing comparisons between different sub-groups of students by demographic characteristics.
Want to receive your own department report? Click here to join!
Annual Survey Reports
During the spring following the close of each survey cycle, CERP Staff produce an annual survey report that details some aggregated results across all participants. Click here to read the current report for the 2019 survey cycle.
Read past reports:
In addition to the annual department reports, CERP also produces other products using DBS data. Below are links to each of these types of products, which can also be found on the main CERP website and CRA pages.
* To protect students’ privacy, CERP only creates a department report when five or more students within a given department complete one of our surveys.
Our Data Buddies
This page includes the full list of volunteer departments who are currently active with the Data Buddies Project as of our fall 2020 survey. Elite academic units are defined as having a 20% or greater response rate for a given survey cycle.
Don’t see your institution on the list below? Click here to join!
|Institution Name||Department Name||Status||CRA Member|
|Allegheny College||Computer Science||Elite||Non-Member|
|Alma College||Mathematics and Computer Science||Elite||Non-Member|
|Arizona State University||School of Computing, Informatics, and Decision Systems Engineering||Elite||Member|
|Augustana College||Mathematics and Computer Science||Active||Non-Member|
|Baldwin Wallace University||Computer Science||Active||Non-Member|
|Barnard College||Computer Science||Elite||Member|
|Boston University||Computer Science||Active||Member|
|Brown University||Computer Science||Active||Member|
|California State University-Long Beach||Computer Engineering and Computer Science||Active||Non-Member|
|Calvin University||Computer Science||Active||Non-Member|
|Carleton College||Computer Science||Active||Member|
|Carnegie Mellon University||School of Computer Science||Active||Member|
|Case Western Reserve University||Computer and Data Sciences||Elite||Member|
|Clovis Community College||Computer Science||Active||Non-Member|
|CodeCrew Code School||Code School||Active||Non-Member|
|Colgate University||Computer Science||Elite||Member|
|Colorado State University||Computer Science||Active||Member|
|Columbia University||Computer Science||Elite||Member|
|Connecticut College||Computer Science||Active||Non-Member|
|Cornell University||Computer Science||Active||Member|
|Creighton University||Journalism, Media & Computing||Elite||Non-Member|
|Davidson College||Mathematics and Computer Science||Elite||Non-Member|
|DePaul University||Computer Science||Active||Member|
|Drew University||Mathematics and Computer Science||Elite||Non-Member|
|Drexel University||Computer Science||Active||Member|
|Duke University||Computer Science||Elite||Member|
|Eastern Washington University||Computer Science||Elite||Non-Member|
|Farmingdale State College||Computer Systems||Elite||Non-Member|
|Gallaudet University||Science, Technology, and Mathematics||Elite||Non-Member|
|George Mason University||Computer Science||Elite||Member|
|Georgia Institute of Technology||College of Computing||Active||Member|
|Grinnell College||Computer Science||Active||Member|
|Harvard University||Engineering and Applied Sciences||Active||Member|
|Harvey Mudd College||Computer Science||Elite||Member|
|Illinois Wesleyan University||Computer Science||Elite||Non-Member|
|Johns Hopkins University||Computer Science||Active||Member|
|Kansas State University||Computer Science||Active||Member|
|Kean University||Computer Science||Elite||Member|
|Landmark College||Mathematics and Computer Science||Elite||Non-Member|
|Lehigh University||Computer Science and Engineering||Elite||Member|
|Miami University-Oxford||Computer Science and Software Engineering||Active||Member|
|Middlebury College||Computer Science||Elite||Non-Member|
|Montana State University||Computer Science||Elite||Member|
|Mount Holyoke College||Computer Science||Elite||Member|
|New Jersey Institute of Technology||Computer Science||Active||Member|
|New Mexico State University-Main Campus||Computer Science||Active||Member|
|New York University||Tandon School of Engineering||Active||Member|
|North Carolina State University||Computer Science||Active||Member|
|Northeastern University||College of Computer Sciences||Active||Member|
|Northern Kentucky University||Computer Science||Elite||Member|
|Pacific Lutheran University||Computer Science||Elite||Non-Member|
|Pomona College||Computer Science||Elite||Member|
|Princeton University||Computer Science||Active||Member|
|Purdue University||Computer Science||Active||Member|
|Radford University||Department of Information Technology||Active||Non-Member|
|Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute||Computer Science||Active||Member|
|Rochester Institute of Technology||Computer Science||Active||Member|
|Rutgers University-New Brunswick Campus||Computer Science||Active||Member|
|Saint Mary’s College of Maryland||Mathematics and Computer Science||Active||Non-Member|
|Simmons University||Mathematics and Computer Science||Active||Member|
|Smith College||Computer Science||Active||Non-Member|
|Southern Connecticut State University||Computer Science||Elite||Non-Member|
|Southwestern University||Math and Computer Science||Elite||Non-Member|
|Stony Brook University||Computer Science||Elite||Member|
|SUNY College-Plattsburgh||Computer Science||Active||Non-Member|
|Swarthmore College||Computer Science||Active||Member|
|Temple University||Computer and Information Sciences||Active||Member|
|Texas A&M University||Computer Science and Engineering||Active||Member|
|Texas Southern University||Computer Science||Active||Non-Member|
|Texas State University||Computer Science||Active||Member|
|The Ohio State University||Computer Science and Engineering||Active||Member|
|Tufts University||Computer Science||Elite||Member|
|Union College||Computer Science||Active||Member|
|University of Alabama||Computer Science||Active||Member|
|University of Alabama at Birmingham||Computer Science||Elite||Member|
|University of British Columbia||Computer Science||Elite||Member|
|University of California-Riverside||Computer Science||Active||Member|
|University of California-San Diego||Computer Science and Engineering||Active||Member|
|University of California-Santa Barbara||Computer Science||Elite||Member|
|University of Central Florida||Computer Science||Active||Member|
|University of Chicago||Computer Science||Active||Member|
|University of Cincinnati||School of Information Technology||Elite||Member|
|University of Colorado-Boulder||Computer Science||Active||Member|
|University of Delaware||Computer and Information Science||Active||Member|
|University of Florida||Computer & Information Science & Engineering||Active||Member|
|University of Hawaii at Manoa||Information and Computer Sciences||Active||Member|
|University of Hawaii-Hilo||Computer Science and Engineering||Elite||Non-Member|
|University of Houston||Computer Science||Elite||Member|
|University of Illinois-Chicago||Computer Science||Elite||Member|
|University of Illinois-Chicago||Electrical and Computer Engineering||Active||Non-Member|
|University of Illinois-Springfield||Computer Science||Active||Non-Member|
|University of Illinois-Urbana Champaign||Computer Science||Elite||Member|
|University of Maine||School of Computing and Information Science||Elite||Member|
|University of Maryland-Baltimore County||College of Engineering and Information Technology||Active||Non-Member|
|University of Maryland-College Park||School of Information Science||Active||Member|
|University of Maryland-College Park||Computer Science||Active||Member|
|University of Massachusetts-Amherst||College of Information and Computer Sciences||Active||Member|
|University of Michigan-Ann Arbor||Electrical Engineering and Computer Science||Active||Non-Member|
|University of Minnesota-Twin Cities||Computer Science and Engineering||Active||Member|
|University of Mount Union||Computer Science||Elite||Non-Member|
|University of Nebraska-Kearney||Computer Science and Information Technology||Active||Non-Member|
|University of Nebraska-Lincoln||Computer Science and Engineering||Active||Member|
|University of Nevada-Reno||Computer Science and Engineering||Elite||Member|
|University of New Mexico-Main Campus||Department of Computer Science||Active||Member|
|University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill||Computer Science||Active||Member|
|University of North Carolina-Charlotte||Bioinformatics||Active||Non-Member|
|University of North Carolina-Charlotte||School of Information Science||Elite||Non-Member|
|University of North Carolina-Charlotte||Computer Science||Elite||Member|
|University of Northern Iowa||Computer Science||Active||Non-Member|
|University of Notre Dame||Computer Science and Engineering||Elite||Member|
|University of Oregon||Computer and Information Science||Elite||Member|
|University of Pennsylvania||Computer and Information Science||Active||Member|
|University of Pittsburgh||Informatics and Networked Systems||Elite||Non-Member|
|University of Pittsburgh||Computer Science||Elite||Member|
|University of Pittsburgh||Information Culture and Data Science||Active||Non-Member|
|University of Puget Sound||Mathematics and Computer Science||Elite||Member|
|University of Rochester||Computer Science||Elite||Member|
|University of San Diego||Computer Science||Elite||Non-Member|
|University of San Francisco||Computer Science||Active||Non-Member|
|University of South Carolina-Columbia||Computer Science and Engineering||Active||Member|
|University of South Florida-Main Campus||Computer Science and Engineering||Elite||Member|
|University of Southern Mississippi||School of Computing Sciences and Computer Engineering||Active||Member|
|University of Texas-Austin||Computer Science||Elite||Member|
|University of Texas-Austin||Electrical and Computer Engineering||Active||Non-Member|
|University of Texas-Dallas||School of Engineering and Computer Science||Active||Member|
|University of Texas-El Paso||Computer Science||Active||Member|
|University of Texas-San Antonio||Computer Science||Elite||Non-Member|
|University of Toronto||Computer Science||Active||Member|
|University of Utah||School of Computing||Active||Member|
|University of Virginia||Computer Science||Active||Member|
|University of Washington||Computer Science and Engineering||Elite||Member|
|University of Wisconsin-Madison||Computer Sciences||Elite||Member|
|Valdosta State University||Computer Science||Elite||Non-Member|
|Virginia Tech||Computer Science||Active||Member|
|Washington and Lee University||Computer Science||Active||Non-Member|
|Washington University-St Louis||Computer Science and Engineering||Elite||Member|
|Wayne State University||Computer Science||Elite||Member|
|Wellesley College||Computer Science||Active||Non-Member|
|Western Washington University||Computer Science||Elite||Non-Member|
|Whitman College||Computer Science||Elite||Member|
|Winston Salem State University||Computer Science||Elite||Non-Member|
|Worcester Polytechnic Institute||Computer Science||Active||Member|
|Worcester State University||Computer Science||Elite||Non-Member|
|Yale University||Computer Science||Active||Member|
Overview of Data Buddies Survey
Who is the intended respondent population of DBS?
DBS is intended for the following types of students in computing & technology-related degree programs: undergraduates, graduate students, and non-degree students. Introductory-level students and non-majors are also welcome to complete DBS.
Why should I participate in DBS?
By participating in DBS, your department is contributing to research that provides useful insights into student attrition and retention, factors that support the successful matriculation into graduate school and research careers, and means by which the field can broaden participation from individuals who identify with groups considered underrepresented in computing (includes all women, persons with disabilities, and people who are Black, Hispanic, Native American/Indigenous, and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander).
The department report you receive can be used to help inform policy at your institution. For example, institutions have used the comparative findings in the report to support their requests for more resources for underserved students by demonstrating that similar institutions show better outcomes on a particular topic.
Joining Data Buddies Survey
How much does it cost to participate in DBS?
DBS is free for your department.
How long does it take for students to complete DBS?
The survey takes approximately 20-25 minutes to complete.
Who from my department should complete the DBS sign-up form?
Any faculty or staff in the department can complete the DBS sign-up form. Ideally, the person who completes the form is someone who is willing to be a liaison for the project.
What is the role of the Department Chair for DBS?
When a department joins DBS, we ask that the Department Chair or Head be included in priority communications from CERP so that this person is aware of DBS activities within the department.
I am a PhD student. How can I get involved in Data Buddies for my department?
As a PhD student, there are several ways you can get involved in DBS. First, you can encourage your department to join the project. You can be included in our list of contacts to help keep the recruitment momentum going among faculty.
You can also get involved by completing the survey when your department begins recruiting students. At the end of the survey, you will be asked if you are willing to complete futures surveys from CRA. Please consider volunteering to continue contributing to our research efforts.
Can students sign up to volunteer for Data Buddies?
No, students cannot volunteer their department for DBS; however, you can get involved by encouraging your department to join the project. You can also get involved by completing DBS any time that you receive it (often called the CRA Annual Survey) and signing up to complete follow-up surveys from the CRA.
Data Buddies Survey Logistics
Is DBS a survey I can send out at any time in the year?
No. DBS is distributed once per year between the months of October and February. Exact distribution dates are determined each year by the CERP team.
Do I need to sign up for DBS each year?
No. Once you sign up for DBS, you are part of the project until you choose to withdraw your institution from participating in the project.
Can my department offer an additional raffle or incentive for students?
Yes, your department can offer an additional incentive in addition to the raffle offered by CRA. The CERP team does not coordinate the logistics of the department incentive unless you specifically request that we do so; however, CERP does ask that you inform us about the incentive so that any adjustments to the survey can be made. Please contact the CERP team about your department incentive and/or if you would like to request assistance with coordinating the logistics of your department incentive.
Can I skip a year?
Yes, you can skip a year at any time. If you need to skip a year, please contact the CERP team.
How do I become an "elite" DBS department?
You will become an elite DBS department if your department receives a 20% response rate or greater during a given survey cycle. We determine departments’ elite status at the end of each survey cycle. We announce the elite DBS departments in our annual end-of-survey article published in Computing Research News. Elite status does not carry over from year to year.
Data Buddies Survey Reports and Data
What information will my department report contain?
Your department report will include a Notes section to help you interpret the report and your results, an Executive Summary that will provide you with visualized highlights of your results, and chapters with summary tables displaying your students’ responses alongside a comparison group of student responses from similar institutions. Summary tables include statistical testing as appropriate.
Can my department have a different comparison group?
Yes, you may request a different comparison group for your department report. Please contact the CERP team to submit your department report request.
What response rate should my department have?
Response rates will vary depending on the size of your department. Most departments strive to receive at least a 20% response rate. It is important to note that the stronger your response rate, the more useful your department report will be. Department reports are not generated when there are less than five responses from students.
Can I request a DBS dataset from CERP?
Yes. If you are interested in receiving a de-identified, aggregated DBS dataset, click here for more information.
Can I request a copy of the DBS survey instrument?
Yes. If you are interested in receiving a copy of the DBS survey instrument, please fill out our DBS request form. If you use our survey instrument in any way, we request that you provide proper acknowledgement and attribution.
Can I include DBS in my Broadening Participation in Computing (BPC) Plan?
Yes, you can include DBS as an activity in either a Departmental BPC Plan or Project BPC Plan. CERP has provided a template on BPCnet.org for you to easily create and submit a BPC Plan.