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What Are the Steps in the IPEDS Data Collection Process

Step Description
Step 1: Data Entered by Data Providers (keyholders and/or coordinators)

For each of the three survey collection periods throughout the year (Fall, Winter, and Spring), respondents from institutions enter data by direct entry or file upload into the IPEDS Data Collection System (DCS).

Step 2: Editing Survey Data

Once data have been entered into the Data Collection System, a series of edit checks are processed. These edit checks result in a list of issues that must be resolved by the respondent before the particular survey can be ‘locked.’

Step 3: Locking of Survey Data

Once all of the edits have been resolved, the survey is ready to be locked by the keyholder. Locking the survey indicates that the data for that survey component are complete and correct.

Step 4: Migration to Collection Level Data Center

After data are locked for a particular survey, the data are copied over to the Collection Level Data Center (available only through the Data Collection System).

Through the Collection Level Data Center, any respondent whose data have already been migrated can see their own data, as well as the data for all of the other institutions that have already been migrated.

Step 5: Move to Data Center ‘Additional Early Release’

Data are moved from Collection Level Data Center access to the ‘Additional Early Release’ level of the IPEDS Data Center (login required) when results from the quality control (QC) procedures on the migrated data have been reviewed and accepted. These QC procedures are designed to check that edits within the IPEDS Data Collection System are working properly, data are being migrated correctly, and that institutions that have data anomalies have provided valid explanations to verify such anomalies.

This process is generally completed about 2 months after all institutions' data have been migrated. Early Release data are provided for peer analysis only, and should not be used to provide aggregate estimates.

Step 6: Public Release of IPEDS Data

The public release of IPEDS data is the final step for each survey cycle. The data come in two forms. Tables are produced as part of an online publication called "First Look" and the data are moved from the Early Release level of the Data Center to the Publicly Released are of the Data Center, which can be accessed by the general public without the need for a username or password.