This article is published in the November 2020 issue.

More than 150 Data Buddies Departments Reach Across the US and Canada


Map of the US and southern part of Canada with points marking locations of institutions participating in the Data Buddies Project.

CRA’s Data Buddies Project, managed by the Center for Evaluating the Research Pipeline (CERP), is a data collection and dissemination effort that collaborates with volunteering academic departments across US and Canadian universities and colleges. The project started as a pilot project in 2011 and has been growing in its reach since then. At present, 159 computing & technology departments from 150 institutions participate in Data Buddies, and more join each year. The map presented here shows the geographical distribution of the institutions participating in Data Buddies and identifies the department type in terms of the highest degree granted by the departments.

The project utilizes an annual, national level survey, the Data Buddies Survey (DBS), to gather large scale information from undergraduate and graduate students as well as non-degree earning and post-graduate individuals. DBS collects information regarding respondents’ academic and demographic background, various indicators related to recruitment and retention in computing, and career pathways.

Data collected from the students is then shared with the participating departments in customized aggregate level reports and made available to researchers through data sharing requests and to the general public through data visualizations, infographics, and aggregate level reports. DBS also collects longitudinal data from respondents who agree to take part in follow-up surveys.

DBS 2020 was launched on October 29, for the students in the DBS longitudinal sample, and was distributed to the participating departments on November 3. Alongside the start of the new survey cycle, CERP is also, for the first time, releasing a descriptive report on DBS 2019. This report will provide the community with a summary of the national sample characteristics and serves as a preview for future more extensive Data Buddies reports.

DBS is a unique resource for the computing community to understand the impact of various broadening participation efforts and to generate evidence-based best practices to inform future interventions. Departments participating in Data Buddies can track their students’ experiences in their degree programs and evaluate their activities and policies including their efforts for broadening participation in computing.

Visit https://turing.cra.org/cerp/data-buddies/ to find out more about the Data Buddies project, view sample department reports, and sign-up to become a data buddy.


horizontal CERP logoThis analysis is brought to you by the CRA’s Center for Evaluating the Research Pipeline (CERP). CERP provides social science research and comparative evaluation for the computing community. Subscribe to the CERP newsletter here.

This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under grant numbers (CNS-1246649, CNS 1840724, DUE-1431112, and DUE 1821136). Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.