The publication of the latest rating of doctoral programs by the National Research Council (NRC 1995) has sparked great interest among university faculties. For some, the results vindicated years of focused efforts to improve their department's capacity, performance, and image. For others, it generated frustration because of the small change in scores from previous NRC rankings. And for still others, the NRC report occasioned soul-searching or defensive rationalization, including complaints that the reputational rankings did not reflect the “true” quality of the faculty (Magner 1995).
The NRC study conducted surveys of faculty in each of 41 scientific fields to learn about each doctoral-granting faculty's reputation for scholarly quality (93Q) and for the effectiveness of their doctoral program (93E). In addition, the NRC gathered information about the performance of departments (number of publications, citations to the publications of faculty, and external funding) as well as some other characteristics of the faculty (number of faculty, number of full professors) and doctoral student enrollments (number of students enrolled, number of Ph.D.'s granted in recent years). With these data, it is possible to explore the extent to which reputations are responsive to the performance of the faculty as well as to other department characteristics.