One useful suggestion to come out of the recent APA session on academic rankings at the Central Division here in Chicago was the observation, made first, I think, by sociologist Kieran Healy, that because departments care about their PGR reputation, the Report can be used to promote valuable objectives. (Kieran's study of the detailed data from the 2004 and 2006 surveys was also revealing, indicating how robust the results were across both specialties and department rankings, but that' s a subject for a different day.) Around 2000, I took advantage of this to urge departments to publish detailed placement information, on the model of what a few departments (like Arizona and Michigan) then had on-line. Although some faculty resented at the time the prospect of being identified in the PGR as non-compliers, the end result was that every ranked PhD program in philosophy now has fairly detailed placement information on-line, as do all the unranked programs whose websites I've visited. That simply wasn't true back in 2000.
Peter Railton and others suggested that another area where we need better information concerns attrition rates from PhD programs. Students often ask about this, and to my knowledge, no program has put this information on-line. (If I'm wrong, please post a link in the comments.) So let me suggest that attrition rates should be the new "job placement" imperative: programs that post detailed attrition rate information on-line, and let me know, will be singled out on the blog for recognition. Those that do not publish such information over the next year or so will also be singled out in the next PGR.
I welcome suggestions in the comments for what information should be included, but let me suggest something like this as a template:
10 PhD students began the program in 2005, seven men and three women. Three students dropped out in the first two years (two men, one woman), and two additional students left after earning an M.A. (one man, one woman). Of the five remaining students, four have completed the PhD, and one remains in the program.
Such information coudl be provided for each class, going back, say, to 2000 and continuing through to a year or two ago. Departments might also break out the attrition and completion rates for minority students.
Again, suggestions about how to report the data are welcome. And if any department already reveals this information on their web site, please do post a link. Signed comments preferred, as usual, but all comments must include a valid e-mail address.