About the 2017 Survey

Data collection for the second iteration of the Census was the same as the 2013 version. Using a generated list of non-profit and public, four-year institutions in the United States from the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS), members of the research team visited institution websites to gather the email addresses of writing program, writing center, and writing across the curriculum directors; in cases where institutions did not have explicitly titled directors, we gathered email addresses for the people most likely to have those responsibilities. We then sent these professionals an invitation to participate in the survey. We repeated this process for non-profit and public, two-year institutions, with a slightly modified survey.

The research team revised the 2017 survey based on respondents’ feedback on the 2013 survey. Some questions from the 2013 survey were dropped and others were added. Instead of sending out one large survey, the research team broke the survey into separate sections and sent the sections to the appropriate contacts. This led to a revision in the organization of the elements of the responses in the database to account from different sites of writing. The method for displaying certain information was also adjusted to allow for ease of use.

After the closure date of each survey, the research team cleaned the data and when questions emerged, the research team contacted respondents for clarification. To protect the privacy of respondents and to ensure that the identity of schools could not be deduced, if a question had fewer than ten responses, it was omitted from the database. In order to give users of the database the most beneficial data, we did not include the incomplete or non-applicable responses with each question. This means the “n” for each question will vary.

The 2017 Census database includes data from 623 of the 1315 four-year institutions invited to participate (a 47% response rate) and from 104 of the 829 two-year institutions (a 13% response rate). The number of invitations decreased between 2013 and 2017 both because of school closings, and because of better discernment whether a school had any undergraduate education. The NCW does not include medical schools, law schools, or other institutions that cater only to graduate students. Schools needed to complete at least one section of the Census survey to remain in the database.