Posted: October 10, 2017

Constructing a Taxonomy for Career Outcome Reporting


All universities face the challenge of tracking and reporting the career outcomes of their alumni, independently struggling to create an intuitive and comprehensive taxonomy that succinctly and unambiguously describes the career outcomes of their alumni. Without a commonly adapted language, institutional data cannot be effectively mined, compared, or evaluated, drastically reducing the potential impact of such data collection. To address this challenge, in Spring 2017, the Broadening Experiences in Scientific Training Consortium formed a working group to design a taxonomy of career outcomes that would reflect their combined experience in career development programming. Using the Science Careers myIDP career categories as its starting point for revisions, refinement, and additions to the categories, the working group added a subcategory, now called Job Functions and, recognizing the need for binning of the 24 Job Functions, suggested Workforce Sector as an entry point for classification. The resulting taxonomy was subsequently incorporated into another collaborative effort led by Rescuing Biomedical Research, which included a diverse set of representatives from AAU, AAMC, NIH, and academic institutions both internal and external to the BEST Consortium. The resulting career outcomes taxonomy is three-tiered, first prompting selection of a Workforce Sector, then a binning into broad Career Types, and finally a granular refinement into 24 Job Functions, defined by specific skillsets and/or credentials required for employment in that function. The end product is presented here and is an exceptional example of cross-organizational communication, collaboration, and compromise. This robust taxonomy can be used for alumni surveys and internal administrative classification. To accompany the taxonomy, the BEST group will develop a software platform for visual representation of career outcome data on publications and on websites. We have also developed a template survey for collecting career outcomes data from alumni; we will make download of these surveys publically available on the BEST Consortium website ( The Consortium anticipates that it will develop further suggestions for a fourth tier that refines each of the Job Functions.


Career Development, Alumni Tracking, Career Outcomes, Taxonomy


Abby Stayart, University of Chicago

Tamara Hutto, Emory University

Tracey Baas, University of Rochester

Chelsea Barbercheck, Boston University

Patrick Brandt, University of North Carolina Chapel Hill

Roger Chalkley, Vanderbilt University

Cynthia Fuhrmann, University of Massachusetts Worcester

Kathleen Gould, Vanderbilt University

Patricia Labosky, National Institutes of Health

Bill Lindstaedt, University of California San Francisco

Ambika Mathur, Wayne State University

Fred Meyers, University of California Davis

Scott Steele, University of Rochester

Inge Wefes, University of Colorado Anchutz

Keith Wilkinson, Emory University

Deirdre Brekken, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center

Chris Pickett, Rescuing Biomedical Research

Elizabeth Watkins, University of California San Francisco