Frequently Asked Questions
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Use staffing, financials, and services benchmarks to inform IT planning.
- What is the Core Data Service?
The EDUCAUSE Core Data Service (CDS) is a benchmarking service used by colleges and universities since 2002 to inform their IT strategic planning and management. The service comprises three parts: data collection via an annual survey, data access via a self-service reporting tool, and reports and analyses that summarize and analyze the submitted data.
- I need to learn more about CDS. What are my options?
See the About CDS web page for a general overview, including examples of how participating institutions use CDS data. The FAQ on this page provide specific answers about data contribution and access. Receive monthly news with CDS Update (log in or create an EDUCAUSE profile to manage your subscriptions).
- Who is eligible for CDS?
Any higher education institution can participate in CDS. View eligible institutions and 2016 participants. If your institution is not listed and you’d like to participate, please contact us.
- I need to talk to EDUCAUSE about CDS. Whom should I contact?
Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or 303-449-4430.
- What are the CDS roles for staff at participating institutions?
- Primary Representative at an eligible institution or system office—Authorized by default to input survey data (Author), to view peer data for modules the institution has completed (Reviewer), and to assign CDS authorities (Manager). The EDUCAUSE primary representative or designated CDS manager must accept the Appropriate Use Policy (AUP) on behalf of the institution or system office before data entry or access can begin.
- Manager—Authorized to assign CDS roles. The Primary Representative can delegate Manager responsibility to another staff member, who in turn can authorize Authors and Reviewers. The EDUCAUSE primary representative or designated CDS manager must accept the Appropriate Use Policy (AUP) on behalf of the institution or system office before data entry can begin.
- Author—Authorized to input survey data for the specified module(s). CDS Administrators retain Author responsibility for any module not delegated to another Author.
- Reviewer—Authorized to view peer data for modules the institution has completed. The Primary Representative and CDS Manager are automatically Reviewers. Authors do not automatically have Reviewer access. We encourage CDS Administrators to designate Authors as Reviewers, as well.
- How do I assign or change roles for CDS?
CDS Administrators can manage roles and grant permissions for adding or accessing data through Manage Roles page in the new CDS Portal. To access the CDS portal, click "Go to CDS Portal" in the "Get Started" section of the Add Data or Access Data web pages. Click on the "Manage Roles" button in the portal’s left navigation bar.
To add or change a CDS Manager: Click on the gear icon to the right of the word "Manager" in the CDS Administrators section. Search for the person to whom you’d like to assign the role, and click on the name.
To add or change Authors and Reviewers: The author and reviewer roles are managed by individual module in the Authors or Reviewers sections of the portal. To assign a role, find the person in the Authors or Reviewers section. When a module circle is filled-in red, the person is currently assigned to that module. A blank or white circle means the person is not assigned. Click on the module circle to assign or remove the role.
- I am the CDS Manager. How do I assign someone other than myself as a module author?
Follow the instructions above that follow "To add or change Authors or Reviewers." You do not need to remove yourself from the author role first.
- Why are there nine modules listed for reviewers and only five for authors?
In 2016, five modules are included in the survey and require authors. However, depending on which modules your institution completed in 2015, your reviewers may access both the modules you completed in 2015, as well as the modules you complete in 2016. For more information on the rotation of modules started with the 2016 survey, see #4 in the "Adding Data" section below.
- What are my CDS data access options?
Institutions that completed the CDS survey can visually explore and download survey data using custom peer groups. If your institution completed the CDS 2016 survey, you can access data in the CDS Portal. The link to the CDS Portal is located on the Access Data tab in the CDS website.
You can create a custom spreadsheet download of historic and current CDS data, select IPEDS data (institution-level characteristics, financial, and FTE data by institution), and CUPA-HR (salary estimates by IT position and Carnegie Classification) through the CDS Portal.
- How do I download and explore CDS data?
For instructions on how to download and explore CDS data, please review the User Guide.
- What are the CDS Core Metrics?
CDS Core Metrics are the most frequently used metrics for IT strategic management and planning. The core metrics, derived from multiple IPEDS and/or CDS questions, are valuable indicators of IT operational efficiency. View Core Metrics benchmarks at the Carnegie Classification level on the View Trends page
- I'm trying to access data but it says the Appropriate Use Policy must be accepted. What should I do?
You must accept the Appropriate Use Policy (AUP) before accessing CDS data. To do this, follow the instructions to accept the AUP within the CDS Portal.
- What CDS data is available?
Authorized individuals at participating institutions may access data for modules completed by their institution in 2016 as well as all historic CDS data on record.
- Who can access CDS data?
Only institutions that completed the 2016 survey have access to CDS data. At each participating institution, only CDS administrators (EDUCAUSE primary representatives and CDS managers) and individuals who have been designated the role of reviewer may access data. To be assigned as a reviewer, an individual must have an EDUCAUSE website profile. CDS administrators can assign the reviewer role through the Manage Roles page in the CDS Portal. All individuals with an EDUCAUSE website profile can request the reviewer role through the Manage Roles page in the CDS Portal.
- My institution completed CDS in the past. How can I view previously submitted data even if my institution is not a current CDS participant?
An institution's CDS administrators (EDUCAUSE primary representative and CDS manager) and assigned module authors have permission to view data. Go to the Add Data page in the CDS Portal. In the section for each module, use the "View Responses" dropdown to view each survey module you've completed since 2014.
- How do I give a colleague on my campus access to the data?
The CDS administrators (EDUCAUSE primary representative and CDS managers) at an institution may assign the reviewer role to other individuals at the same institution who have an EDUCAUSE website profile. CDS administrators can assign the reviewer role through the Manage Roles page within the CDS Portal. Individuals with the CDS survey author role must also be assigned to the Reviewer role to access CDS data. To access the CDS Portal, click "Go to CDS Portal" in the "Get Started" section of the Add Data or Access Data web pages.
- What is a peer group?
A peer group is a subset of institutions used in a custom report to analyze data only for the selected institutions. The system includes numerous prebuilt peer groups, including Carnegie Classifications, components of multi-campus systems, and members of certain consortia. You may also create your own custom peer groups based on institutional characteristics or by selecting specific institutions; these peer groups can also be shared with other individuals at your institution.
- Do I need to create new peer groups each year?
Your peer groups will carry over each year. However, we encourage you to review your peer groups each year to ensure that all institutions you wish to compare to are included. If an institution does not participate one year, they will remain in the peer group but without data for that year.
- What is Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS)?
IPEDS is the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System. It is a system of interrelated surveys conducted annually by the U.S. Department’s National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). IPEDS gathers information from every college, university, and technical and vocational institution that participates in the federal student financial aid programs. The Higher Education Act of 1965, as amended, requires that institutions that participate in federal student aid programs report data on enrollments, program completions, graduation rates, faculty and staff, finances, institutional prices, and student financial aid. These data are made available to students and parents through the College Navigator college search website and to researchers and others through the IPEDS Data Center.
- What IPEDS data is included in Core Data?
EDUCAUSE is providing a subset of IPEDS data for the convenience of Core Data Service participants, including geographic region, sector, level, degree offerings, institutional category, revenues, expenses, net assets, endowment assets, student FTE/headcount, faculty FTE/headcount, and more. Because there is a delay in the public release of IPEDS data, we are not always able to provide data for the same time period as specified in the Core Data Service survey.
- What is College & University Professional Association for Human Resources (CUPA-HR)?
CUPA-HR is the association for higher education human resources professionals. EDUCAUSE has forged a partnership with CUPA-HR enabling EDUCAUSE Core Data Service participants to access aggregated IT compensation data from the CUPA-HR Administrative and Mid-level salary surveys.
- When will 2016 data collection begin and end?
The 2016 survey was open from July to October. Extensions were available upon request.
- My institution is new to participating in CDS. Is there a quick way for us to get started?
Yes! Beginning in 2016, institutions that have not participated in CDS for the past three years will only be required to complete the CDS Quick Start module. The Quick Start module contains only the most basic and high-level organizational, staffing, and financial questions needed to compute CDS Core Metrics. Institutions eligible for the CDS Quick Start module that wish instead to complete the full IT Organization, Staffing, and Financing module should contact email@example.com.
- How should I prepare for completing the survey?
Primary representatives and CDS managers should begin with the Survey Preparation Checklist.
- Which modules do I need to complete to gain access to data in the CDS Portal?
To gain access to data in the CDS Portal your institution must complete the IT Organization, Staffing, and Financing module (the only required module). You will gain access to data in the optional modules only if you complete those modules.
- There are fewer modules this year. What happened to the modules on other topics?
To reduce respondent burden, CDS survey modules will be offered on a two-year rotation. The IT Organization, Staffing, and Financing (required), Information Systems and Applications (optional), and Capability and Technology Deployment modules will be offered every year. In addition, two to three optional modules will appear on an every-other year rotating basis. The CDS 2016 survey includes modules on Educational Technology Services and Information Security. The CDS 2017 survey will include modules on IT Support Services and Research Computing. The most recently available data for all modules will be accessible through the CDS Portal at all times. The CDS 2015 visual data dictionary contains survey content for off-rotation modules that will be accessible through the CDS Portal in 2017.
- The required module on IT Organization, Staffing, and Financing is different. What changed?
To improve data quality and reduce respondent burden, EDUCAUSE convened a working group to redesign the required portion of CDS. This module now only focuses on questions needed to contextualize IT spending, central IT funds available, central IT expenditures, central IT staffing, and distributed IT. The module has been shortened from 34 questions to 19 questions.
- Did the survey change for 2016?
Yes. You can view details on 2016 survey changes in the CDS 2016 Question Overview. Member input continues to drive changes that improve CDS. IT domain definitions and glossary terms were revised by the Data Quality Working Group. Findings from an EDUCAUSE/NACUBO Working Group exploring the costs of distributed IT have also been integrated in 2016.
- Can you explain how the 2016 modules map to the module numbers used last year?
Yes! 2016 modules are mapped to the numbers used prior to 2016 in the "Data Collection" section of the About CDS web page.
- Who can authorize me or a colleague on my campus to enter survey data?
The Core Data Administrators (EDUCAUSE Primary Representative and Core Data Manager) for your institution may assign access to enter data. Your Administrators are listed on the Manage Roles page of the CDS Portal. To access the portal, click "Go to CDS Portal" in the "Get Started" section of the Add Data web page.
- I am a Core Data Administrator for my institution. How do I authorize a colleague on my campus to enter survey data?
On the Manage Roles page of the CDS Portal, search for the individual to whom you’d like to assign authorship status, click the icon for the module topic you’d like to assign them to, and select “Remove existing author and assign new author.” If you do not find the person you are looking for in the assignment list, the person must create an EDUCAUSE profile before authorship can be assigned. To access the new CDS portal, click "Go to CDS Portal" in the "Get Started" section of the Add Data web page.
- I'm trying to complete the survey but it says the AUP must be accepted for my institution. What should I do?
One of the CDS Administrators for your institution must accept the Appropriate Use Policy (AUP) on behalf of the institution before data entry can begin. To do this, they must visit the CDS Portal from the Add Data page and follow the instructions to accept the AUP.
- Is there a set of definitions I should refer to while completing a module?
You can view definitions by hovering over underlined key terms within the online survey. You can also view all terms at once in the Glossary. You may also find the CDS IT domain definitions useful.
- What Fiscal Year (FY) data should be entered into the survey?
For the purposes of the 2016 survey, prior fiscal year is defined as the most recent fiscal year ending before July 1, 2016.
- I completed the survey in the past. Will my data be preloaded in the 2016 survey?
Yes. If you completed the survey in 2015, your responses will preload in the 2016 survey. However, past responses will preload only in questions that were not changed for 2016. If you open a 2016 module that you completed in the past and do not see responses in certain questions, it is because those questions are either new or updated for this year’s survey.
- Are there any special system requirements for completing the survey?
- I'm adding data in a module, and I don't see a "Next" button to advance the survey. How do I go to the next page?
This is a known issue specific to Internet Explorer. If you use IE, you may not see the "Next" button in the survey application. You can use the Table of Contents to navigate instead, or you may wish to use another browser client to work in the survey.
- I completed the survey in the past. How can I view previously submitted versions of the survey?
An institution's CDS administrators (EDUCAUSE primary representative and CDS manager) and assigned module authors have permission to view data in the CDS Portal. To access the portal, click "Go to CDS Portal" in the “Get Started” section of the Add Data web page. When you are in the portal, click “Add Data” in the portal’s left navigation bar. In the section for each module, use the "View Responses" dropdown to view each survey module you've completed since 2013.
- I've started completing a module but I need to come back and finish it later. How do I save my progress?
If the module has not yet been submitted, your responses are automatically saved. You can stop and start whenever you like.
- How can I jump from question to question?
You have several options. You can navigate to any question at any time by clicking the "Back" button in the lower right-hand corner of any survey page. You can click the Table of Contents button in the lower right-hand corner of any survey page. Or, you can use the Table of Contents navigation in the upper left-hand corner of any survey page.
Only click the "Next" button if you are finished with the answer to that question and are ready to submit it. Because most questions within the survey are required, clicking "Next" will force a response to a required question that you may not be ready to submit.
- How do I change responses in a submitted module?
There are a number of steps you must take to save changes to a previously submitted module. Your changes will only be saved if you follow these steps sequentially without closing your browser:
- On the Add Data page in the CDS Portal, click the "Retake Module" link for the module in question.
- Make your changes.
- Using the survey table of contents, go back to the beginning of the module.
- Click Next on each page of the module.
- When you see the "Module Completion Notice" message, your resubmission is complete.
- I just submitted a module but the dashboard doesn't show the module as submitted. Why?
Module status is refreshed on a regular interval. Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org if your module status has not updated within 30 minutes.
- If I start a module and then realize I don't want to submit it, what should I do?
It's fine to leave the module incomplete. Please indicate that you do not plan to submit the module by selecting “no” for the “My institution plans to complete this module” radio button on the Add Data page in the CDS Portal.
- Can I print my submitted modules?
Yes. Once your module shows up as complete on the Add Data page in the CDS Portal, a "View Current Year Responses” link will appear in the set of actions for that module. This link will allow you to view the submitted responses for that module. You may also print the final page you see after submitting each module. If you completed CDS in the past, you will also see links to previously submitted surveys for your institution.
- How can I track participation in my peer group and encourage other campuses to participate?
You can use the invitation function on the CDS portal dashboard. First, access the CDS portal through the Access Data page. Click on the "Invite Peers to Participate" link in the dashboard's "Contribute" section. You can choose to view status and invite links for prebuilt peer groups or any custom peer groups you have saved. Select the "Invite" link by each institution you want to contact and send the autogenerated e-mail text.