Data Sources

Data Collection Methods, Participation, and Permissions

Prior to the interviews at each site, participating institutions received a letter of introduction and copies of the interview scripts. Each institution was asked to seek the support of a designated contact person to forward these materials to prospective interview participants.

Interviews provide the majority of project data, and researchers recorded the interviews using digital audiovisual equipment. Participants vocalized their consent to the recording at the beginning of an interview session. In total, 965 individuals from across the spectrum of higher education participated in the interviews, including: 30 university presidents or vice presidents; 42 provosts, vice provosts, or associate provosts; 189 deans, associate deans, or assistant deans; 129 directors, chairs, or department heads; 386 faculty members; 189 students or fellows. Of these 965 interviews, 881 were digitally recorded, resulting in a collection of over 1,100 hours of video.

The SPARC project has IRB Not Regulated status (HUM00080799 and HUM00112280). 598 video interviews were transcribed for further analysis, and interviewee names were removed from the transcripts to preserve confidentiality and direct identification. Interviewees were then contacted by email, provided with the details of how their interview transcripts would be used, the opportunity to review their transcripts, and the option to remove their interview from any public access.

Where is it used?

Interview questions, responses, and derived variables form the core data for the SPARC repository. The responses cover a range of topics ranging from definitions of arts research to leadership advice, program descriptions, and student success. The data may be accessed via full-text search, faceted browsing of categories, click-through visualizations of topics, and an API.


The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) is the core postsecondary education data collection program for the National Center for Education Statistics, a part of the Institute for Education Sciences within the United States Department of Education.

Where is it used?

The IPEDS dataset is used to provide institutional-level metadata for the SPARC interview responses. The Carnegie Classifications used in these metadata are from the 2010 classifications.