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  1. 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 is comprised of 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.
  2. I need to learn more about CDS. What are my options?
    See the About CDS web page for a general overview. These FAQ provide specific answers about participation. Subscribing to the CDS Update newsletter will keep you informed about important dates, tools, and reports.
  3. How can I talk with other institutions about CDS?
    • Subscribe to the CDS discussion list.
    • Participate in CDS Forum webinars.
  4. Can institutions that are not EDUCAUSE members participate in CDS?
    In most cases, yes. Any eligible college or university may participate.
  5. I need to talk to EDUCAUSE about CDS. Who should I contact?
    Contact EDUCAUSE Member Services at or 303-449-4430.


  1. 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). The Primary Representative retains 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 Manager are automatically Reviewers. Authors do not automatically have Reviewer access. A CDS Administrator must designate an Author to also be a Reviewer.

Accessing Data

  1. What are my CDS data access options?
    If your institution completed the CDS 2013 survey, you can access data using CDS Reporting. The link to CDS Reporting is located on the Access Data page.

    CDS Reporting is a self-service tool enabling institutions that completed the CDS survey to create custom peer groups, view data in graphs and tables, download detailed reports, and look up responses to individual questions. CDS Reporting comes to you via a portal powered by SAS Business Intelligence (BI) tools. CDS Reporting requires neither experience with nor local access to SAS software.

    CDS 2011-2013 data can be downloaded into a spreadsheet using the Data Download Tab within CDS Reporting. You can also include data from IPEDS (institution-level characteristics, financial, and FTE data by institution) and CUPA-HR (salary estimates by IT position and Carnegie Classification) in your download.
  2. When will all CDS 2013 modules be available in CDS Reporting?
    All CDS 2013 data will be released in CDS Reporting by the end of January 2014.
  3. What changes were made to CDS Reporting for CDS 2013 data?
    • One-Stop Data Access. With the release of CDS 2013 data, both dashboard reports and spreadsheet download options are available in CDS Reporting.
    • Three-Year Trending. Dashboards and most detailed reports contain data from the 2011, 2012, and 2013 surveys to enable trending analysis.
    • Enhanced Peer Group Analysis. You can now view up to four peer groups at once in detailed reports.
    • Improved Question Labeling. The question labels in the data download spreadsheet are now more intuitive and easier to identify.
    • Question-Level Reports in Data Download. The new data download tab enables you to download data for a single question or group of questions. You can also search by topic or keyword to identify questions more easily.
  4. How do I use CDS Reporting?
    For instructions on how to use CDS Reporting, please review the Quick Start Guide.
  5. When will CDS 2013 data be available in CDS Reporting?
    CDS 2013 data will be available on December 4, 2013, beginning with Module 1 and the Core Metrics.
  6. I've just submitted the CDS survey for the first time. When can I get access to CDS Reporting?
    New survey submitters can access data in CDS Reporting on December 4.
  7. What are the CDS Core Metrics?
    CDS Core Metrics (formerly "comparative ratio analyses") 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. CDS participants may access these within CDS Reporting on the Core Metrics tab.
  8. I'm trying to access data but it says the AUP must be accepted for my institution. What should I do?
    Review the AUP to understand our expectations for use of CDS data and click the accept button to proceed to CDS Reporting.
  9. Can I access data from previous years' Core Data Service surveys?
    Yes. 2011, 2012, and 2013 data are available in CDS Reporting via dashboards, detailed reports, and the data download tab. Data from FY 2005-2009 is available in CDS Reporting for download only.
  10. How do I give a colleague on my campus access to the data?
    The Core Data Administrators (EDUCAUSE Primary Representative and Core Data Manager) for your institution may assign Reviewer access on the CDS Roles page. Individuals who have Author status must be assigned as a Reviewer to access data in CDS Reporting.
  11. What is a peer group?
    A peer group is a subset of institutions used in a custom report to download 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 Reviewers from your institution.
  12. 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.
  13. I completed CDS in 2012, but not in 2013. Can I still use CDS Reporting?
    No, CDS Reporting is only accessible to institutions that have submitted the current year’s survey.
  14. When I download the data to a spreadsheet, I get a Microsoft Excel warning. Is it safe to open the file? Is this a bug you can fix?
    Yes, it is safe to open. When you get the warning message, click Yes, and the file will open and operate as a regular Excel file. This is a SAS software issue, which we cannot fix at this time.
  15. 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 Web site and to researchers and others through the IPEDS Data Center.
  16. What IPEDS data is included in Core Data?
    EDUCAUSE is providing a subset of IPEDS data for the convenience of Core Data 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 survey.
  17. 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 participants to access aggregated IT compensation data from the CUPA-HR 2012 Administrative and Mid-level salary surveys.

Contributing Data

  1. When will 2013 data collection begin and end?
    Data collection for CDS 2013 began July 1 and closes closed September 27, 2013.
  2. What is new for 2013?
    • New Focus on Financials, Staffing, and Services. With the help of the CDS Advisory Group, EDUCAUSE refined the survey to focus on core metrics for IT financing, staffing, and services within a set of IT domains. These content "pillars" and IT domains provide a structure for survey organization and analyses.
    • More Timely Data. Most participating institutions have fiscal years ending in June. To collect the most recent financial data, the CDS survey will now run from July to September.
    • Fewer Required Modules. The survey itself is organized into modules to help an institution's CDS Administrators more easily disseminate survey questions across campus roles and departments. This year, only Module 1 is required; all other modules are optional.
    • A New Survey Tool. To address survey functionality issues raised by CDS participants last year, CDS 2013 was built in a new survey tool. In the CDS 2013 survey you'll be able to jump to any question at any time within each module. You can also view definitions by hovering over underlined key terms.
  3. How should I prepare for completing the survey?
    Primary representatives and CDS managers can start with the Survey Preparation Checklist and subscribe to the CDS Update newsletter to receive further resources and updates.
  4. Are there any special system requirements for completing the survey?
    Yes, you must enable Javascript in your browser.
  5. Which modules are required?
    Only module 1 is required for all institutions. This is a change (simplification) from 2012.
  6. 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 data entry access. Your Administrators are listed on the CDS Roles page.
  7. I am a Core Data Administrator for my institution. How do I authorize a colleague on my campus to enter survey data?
    On the Contribute Data page, locate the module you wish to assign, and click the "Reassign Authorship" link. 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 them.
  8. 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 Contribute Data page and follow the instructions to accept the AUP.
  9. 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.
  10. What Fiscal Year (FY) data should be entered into the survey?
    For the purposes of this survey, prior fiscal year is defined as the most recent fiscal year ending before July 1, 2013. This is different from the reporting for previous surveys.
  11. Is the FY reporting different from previous surveys?
    Yes. CDS surveys have always asked for some data from the prior fiscal year. The 2013 survey asks for ALL data based on the prior fiscal year, FY 2012-2013. Since the timing of the data collection period has been moved for 2013, this will result in a "skipped" fiscal year between the 2012 survey (which asked for FY 2010-2011) and the 2013 survey (which asks for FY 2012-2013). This shift in the data collection period will make CDS data more timely.
  12. Where can I find my institution’s responses to the 2012 survey?
    If your institution completed the CDS survey last year, you can reference your 2012 survey responses from the link in the upper right corner of each online survey page.
  13. I completed the Core Data Survey last year. How do I prepopulate this year's survey with the information I entered last year?
    To address survey functionality issues raised by CDS participants last year, CDS 2013 was built in a new survey tool. Survey content was also revised to increase the relevance of CDS data. Because of these changes, we were not able to prepopulate 2012 responses. However, if you completed CDS 2012, you can download your 2012 responses for reference (look for the link in the upper right corner of each online survey page). Some 2012 questions do correspond to 2013. The most complex of these are noted within the survey (Module 1, Questions 11 and 24). You can see the full list of corresponding questions in the CDS 2013 Question Overview.
  14. 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.
  15. 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.
  16. 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 Contribute Data page, click the "update your submitted response" 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.
  17. 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 EDUCAUSE Member Services at if your module status has not updated within four hours.
  18. If I start a module and then realize it is not relevant to my institution, what should I do?
    It's fine to leave the module incomplete. Your responses will only be counted if the module is submitted.
  19. Can I print my submitted modules?
    Yes. The first and easiest way is to print the final page you see after submitting each module. You can also print a module you've already submitted. Reopen the module by selecting "Update Submitted Responses." Click through the questions to the end using the Next button, and select the "Print the PDF Version" option.
  20. How can I encourage other campuses to participate?
    "Invite a colleague" functionality is embedded in the CDS website. Primary Representatives may invite colleagues to participate by going to the Contribute Data page and selecting the "View Participants" button. Any non-participating institutions will have an "Invite" link; click the link to customize and send the invitation message.

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