RFP: Issue and Conference on Higher Education




The Russell Sage Foundation Journal of the Social Sciences invites paper submissions for its upcoming issue on higher education.

Although American universities dominate lists of the world’s top 100 research universities, postsecondary education in the United States as a whole is generally viewed as uneven at best. Recent international comparisons show that the United States has lost the lead it once had in average educational attainment, and cross-country comparisons of literacy and numeracy among adults suggest that Americans rank in the bottom half of OECD nations on many measures. Among the concerns expressed about the American system are rising tuitions and levels of student debt, large and growing disparities by socioeconomic status in attendance and completion, low levels of degree attainment in science and engineering programs in spite of large government investments, low levels of student effort at many institutions, outdated methods of instruction, and disproportionate growth of administration and administrative regulation. At the same time, participation of under-represented racial and ethnic groups has never been higher, and the college wage premium remains high. Paradoxically, while many observers believe that colleges and universities in the United States are failing to equip students with the skills they need to compete for jobs in a competitive world economy, others argue that faster growth in the number of college graduates would decrease income inequality.

The theme for this issue is the effectiveness of American higher education, a theme intended to be broad enough to include a variety of possible topics bearing on the current performance and future prospects of U.S. higher education institutions. Theoretically informed empirical papers from all social science disciplines are welcome, as are papers drawing on concepts and methods of multiple disciplines. Papers should uncover new knowledge; their methods may be qualitative, quantitative, or mixed. For this issue, the journal invites submission of empirical papers that uncover new knowledge bearing on the effects of practices, policies, and institutions in higher education. They may feature causal models, or they may be mainly descriptive.

These papers could address time-honored topics such as the effects of financial aid and admissions policies on access and degree completion, remediation efforts, peer effects on learning or campus culture, factors associated with attrition, faculty labor market issues, and cost functions. Or they could address empirical questions that have not previously been studied.

For more detailed information about this issue, including examples of analyses we anticipate would be of interest to the research and policy communities, please click here.

Anticipated Timeline
Prospective contributors should submit a CV and an abstract of up to two pages of their study no later than 5 PM EST on April 30, 2014 to journals@rsage.org. A prospective contributor may also submit up to five pages of technical supporting material, but this by no means required or expected. Please put “Higher Education” in the subject line and address the email to Suzanne Nichols, Director of Publications. Only abstracts submitted to journals@rsage.org will be considered. Each paper included in the issue will receive a $1,000 honorarium when the issue is published. All questions should be directed to journals@rsage.org.

Selected papers will receive notification by the end of May. A draft of selected papers will be due by October 30, 2014. A conference will be held at the RSF headquarters in New York City in mid-November or early December, 2014 to discuss the papers. Travel costs, food, and lodging will be covered by the foundation.