Merit and placement in the American faculty hierarchy: Cumulative advantage in archaeology
ABSTRACT: If faculty placement in the American academic hierarchy is by merit, then it correlates with scholarly productivity at all career stages. Recently developed data-collection methods and bibliometric measures test this proposition in a cross-sectional sample of US academic archaeologists. Precocity—productivity near the point of initial hire—fails to distinguish faculty in MA- and PhD-granting programs or among ranked subsets of PhD programs. Over longer careers, on average archaeologists in PhD-granting programs outperform colleagues in lower programs, as do those in higher-ranked compared to lower-ranked PhD programs, all in the practical absence of mobility via recruitment to higher placement. Yet differences by program level lie mostly in the tails of productivity distributions; overlap between program levels is high, and many in lower-degree programs outperform many PhD-program faculty even when controlling for career length. Results implicate cumulative advantage to explain the pattern and suggest particularism as its cause.
Project description:Faculty at prestigious institutions produce more scientific papers, receive more citations and scholarly awards, and are typically trained at more-prestigious institutions than faculty with less prestigious appointments. This imbalance is often attributed to a meritocratic system that sorts individuals into more-prestigious positions according to their reputation, past achievements, and potential for future scholarly impact. Here, we investigate the determinants of scholarly productivity and measure their dependence on past training and current work environments. To distinguish the effects of these environments, we apply a matched-pairs experimental design to career and productivity trajectories of 2,453 early-career faculty at all 205 PhD-granting computer science departments in the United States and Canada, who together account for over 200,000 publications and 7.4 million citations. Our results show that the prestige of faculty's current work environment, not their training environment, drives their future scientific productivity, while current and past locations drive prominence. Furthermore, the characteristics of a work environment are more predictive of faculty productivity and impact than mechanisms representing preferential selection or retention of more-productive scholars by more-prestigious departments. These results identify an environmental mechanism for cumulative advantage, in which an individual's past successes are "locked in" via placement into a more prestigious environment, which directly facilitates future success. The scientific productivity of early-career faculty is thus driven by where they work, rather than where they trained for their doctorate, indicating a limited role for doctoral prestige in predicting scientific contributions.
Project description:To achieve faculty status, graduating doctoral students have to substantially outperform their peers, given the competitive nature of the academic job market. In an ideal, meritocratic world, factors such as prestige of degree-granting university ought not to overly influence hiring decisions. However, it has recently been reported that top-ranked universities produced about 2-6 times more faculty than did universities that were ranked lower , which the authors claim suggests the use of un-meritocratic factors in the hiring process: how could students from top-ranked universities be six times more productive than their peers from lower-ranked universities? Here we present a signal detection model, supported by computer simulation and simple proof-of-concept example data from psychology departments in the U.S., to demonstrate that substantially higher rates of faculty production need not require substantially (and unrealistically) higher levels of student productivity. Instead, a high hiring threshold due to keen competition is sufficient to cause small differences in average student productivity between universities to result in manifold differences in placement rates. Under this framework, the previously reported results are compatible with a purely meritocratic system. Whereas these results do not necessarily mean that the actual faculty hiring market is purely meritocratic, they highlight the difficulty in empirically demonstrating that it is not so.
Project description:Background:For students entering a science PhD program, a tenure-track faculty research position is often perceived as the ideal long-term goal. A relatively small percentage of individuals ultimately achieve this goal, however, with the vast majority of PhD recipients ultimately finding employment in industry or government positions. Given the disparity between academic career ambitions and outcomes, it is useful to understand factors that may predict those outcomes. Toward this goal, the current study examined employment status of PhD graduates from biomedical sciences programs at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus (CU AMC) and related this to metrics of predoctoral publication records, as well as to other potentially important factors, such as sex and time-since-degree, to determine if these measures could predict career outcomes. Methods:Demographic information (name, PhD program, graduation date, sex) of CU AMC biomedical sciences PhD graduates between 2000 and 2015 was obtained from University records. Career outcomes (academic faculty vs. non-faculty) and predoctoral publication records (number and impact factors of first-author and non-first-author publications) were obtained via publicly available information. Relationships between predoctoral publication record and career outcomes were investigated by (a) comparing faculty vs. non-faculty publication metrics, using t-tests, and (b) investigating the ability of predoctoral publication record, sex, and time-since-degree to predict career outcomes, using logistic regression. Results:Significant faculty vs. non-faculty differences were observed in months since graduation (p < 0.001), first-author publication number (p = 0.001), average first-author impact factor (p = 0.006), and highest first-author impact factor (p = 0.004). With sex and months since graduation as predictors of career outcome, the logistic regression model was significant (p < 0.001), with both being male and having more months since graduation predicting career status. First-author related publication metrics (number of publications, average impact factor, highest impact factor) all significantly improved model fit (?2 < 0.05 for all) and were all significant predictors of faculty status (p < 0.05 for all). Non-first-author publication metrics did not significantly improve model fit or predict faculty status. Discussion:Results suggest that while sex and months since graduation also predict career outcomes, a strong predoctoral first-author publication record may increase likelihood of obtaining an academic faculty research position. Compared to non-faculty, individuals employed in faculty positions produced more predoctoral first-author publications, with these being in journals with higher impact factors. Furthermore, first-author publication record, sex, and months since graduation were significant predictors of faculty status.
Project description:BACKGROUND:MD-PhD programs confer degrees that empower medical doctors with in-depth scientific skills to contribute to biomedical research and academic medicine, alongside clinical practice. Whilst the career options and research opportunities related to graduates following these programs in the US are well documented, little is known about their European counterparts. In this article, we studied graduates who had completed the MD-PhD program at the University of Geneva between 2010 and 2019. METHODS:A cross-sectional survey was performed in April 2019, targeting all medical doctors who had obtained the MD-PhD degree from the University of Geneva since 2010. Demographics, opinions, and career outcomes of the MD-PhD graduates were assessed through an online anonymous questionnaire. RESULTS:Twenty-one questionnaires were collected from 31 MD-PhD graduates (response rate 65.5%). Most respondents (57.1%) had performed an MD-PhD training in basic sciences; however, only 14.3% had pursued this type of research thereafter. Most of the respondents held a position at a University hospital (90.5%), although a significant number of them were no longer involved in research in their current position (28.6%). 85.7% mentioned obstacles and challenges in combining clinical duties with research. Despite this, the majority (85.7%) declared that the MD-PhD degree had given them advantages in their career path, granting access to clinical and academic positions, as well as funding. CONCLUSIONS:Graduates from the MD-PhD program in Geneva were for the most part, satisfied with their training. However, because of the challenges and obstacles in combining clinical duties with research, the implementation of research activities in their current position proved difficult.
Project description:Understanding how institutional incentives and mechanisms for assigning recognition shape access to a permanent job is important. This study, based on data from questionnaire survey responses and publications of 1,257 university science, biomedical and engineering faculty in Spain, attempts to understand the timing of getting a permanent position and the relevant factors that account for this transition, in the context of dilemmas between mobility and permanence faced by organizations. Using event history analysis, the paper looks at the time to promotion and the effects of some relevant covariates associated to academic performance, social embeddedness and mobility. We find that research productivity contributes to career acceleration, but that other variables are also significantly associated to a faster transition. Factors associated to the social elements of academic life also play a role in reducing the time from PhD graduation to tenure. However, mobility significantly increases the duration of the non-tenure stage. In contrast with previous findings, the role of sex is minor. The variations in the length of time to promotion across different scientific domains is confirmed, with faster career advancement for those in the Engineering and Technological Sciences compared with academics in the Biological and Biomedical Sciences. Results show clear effects of seniority, and rewards to loyalty, in addition to some measurements of performance and quality of the university granting the PhD, as key elements speeding up career advancement. Findings suggest the existence of a system based on granting early permanent jobs to those that combine social embeddedness and team integration with some good credentials regarding past and potential future performance, rather than high levels of mobility.
Project description:The landscape of graduate science education is changing as efforts to diversify the professoriate have increased because academic faculty jobs at universities have grown scarce and more competitive. With this context as a backdrop, the present research examines the perceptions and career goals of advisors and advisees through surveys of PhD students (Study 1, <i>N</i> = 195) and faculty mentors (Study 2, <i>N</i> = 272) in science, technology, engineering, and math disciplines. Study 1 examined actual preferences and career goals of PhD students among three options: research careers, teaching careers, and non-academic careers in industry, and compared the actual preferences of students with what they perceived as being the normative preferences of faculty. Overall, students had mixed preferences but perceived that their advisors had a strong normative preference for research careers for them. Moreover, students who ranked research positions as most desirable felt the most belonging in their academic departments. Further analyses revealed no differences in career preferences as a function of underrepresented minority (URM) student status or first-generation (FG) status, but URM and FG students felt less belonging in their academic departments. Study 2 examined faculty preferences for different careers for their advisees, both in general and for current students in particular. While faculty advisors preferred students to go into research in general, when focusing on specific students, they saw their preferences as being closely aligned with the career preference of each PhD student. Faculty advisors did not perceive any difference in belonging between their students as a function of their URM status. Discrepancies between student and faculty perceptions may occur, in part, because faculty and students do not engage in sufficient discussions about the wider range of career options beyond academic research. Supporting this possibility, PhD students and faculty advisors reported feeling more comfortable discussing research careers with each other than either non-academic industry positions or teaching positions. Discussion centers on the implications of these findings for interpersonal and institutional efforts to foster diversity in the professoriate and to create open communication about career development.
Project description:There is increasing evidence that science & engineering PhD students lose interest in an academic career over the course of graduate training. It is not clear, however, whether this decline reflects students being discouraged from pursuing an academic career by the challenges of obtaining a faculty job or whether it reflects more fundamental changes in students' career goals for reasons other than the academic labor market. We examine this question using a longitudinal survey that follows a cohort of PhD students from 39 U.S. research universities over the course of graduate training to document changes in career preferences and to explore potential drivers of such changes. We report two main results. First, although the vast majority of students start the PhD interested in an academic research career, over time 55% of all students remain interested while 25% lose interest entirely. In addition, 15% of all students were never interested in an academic career during their PhD program, while 5% become more interested. Thus, the declining interest in an academic career is not a general phenomenon across all PhD students, but rather reflects a divergence between those students who remain highly interested in an academic career and other students who are no longer interested in one. Second, we show that the decline we observe is not driven by expectations of academic job availability, nor by related factors such as postdoctoral requirements or the availability of research funding. Instead, the decline appears partly due to the misalignment between students' changing preferences for specific job attributes on the one hand, and the nature of the academic research career itself on the other. Changes in students' perceptions of their own research ability also play a role, while publications do not. We discuss implications for scientific labor markets, PhD career development programs, and science policy.
Project description:In 2015, a nation-wide effort was launched to track the careers of over 10,000 MD-PhD program graduates. Data were obtained by surveys sent to alumni, inquiries sent to program directors, and searches in American Association of Medical Colleges (AAMC) databases. Here, we present an analysis of the data, focusing on the impact of sex, race, and ethnicity on career outcomes. The results show that diversity among trainees has increased since the earliest MD-PhD programs, although it still lags considerably behind the US population. Training duration, which includes time to graduation as well as time to first independent position, was similar for men and women and for minority and nonminority alumni, as were most choices of medical specialties. Regardless of minority status and sex, most survey responders reported that they are working in academia, research institutes, federal agencies, or industry. These similarities were, however, accompanied by several noteworthy differences: (a) Based on AAMC Faculty Roster data rather than survey responses, women were less likely than men to have had a full-time faculty appointment, (b) minorities who graduated after 1985 had a longer average time to degree than nonminorities, (c) fewer women and minorities have NIH grants, (d) fewer women reported success in moving from a mentored to an independent NIH award, and (e) women in the most recent graduation cohort reported spending less time on research than men. Collectively, these results suggest that additional efforts need to be made to recruit women and minorities into MD-PhD programs and, once recruited, to understand the drivers behind the differences that have emerged in their career paths.
Project description:For decades, dental schools in the United States have endured a significant faculty shortage. Studies have determined that the top 2 sources of dental faculty are advanced education programs and private practice. Those who have completed both DDS and PhD training are considered prime candidates for dental faculty positions. However, there is no national database to track those trainees and no evidence to indicate that they entered academia upon graduation. The objective of this study was to assess outcomes of dental school-affiliated oral sciences PhD program enrollment, graduates, and placement between 1994 and 2016. Using the American Dental Association annual survey of advanced dental education programs not accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation and data obtained from 22 oral sciences PhD programs, we assessed student demographics, enrollment, graduation, and placement. Based on the data provided by program directors, the average new enrollment was 33, and graduation was 26 per year. A total of 605 graduated; 39 did not complete; and 168 were still in training. Among those 605 graduates, 211 were faculty in U.S. academic institutions, and 77 were faculty in foreign institutions. Given that vacant budgeted full-time faculty positions averaged 257 per year during this period, graduates from those oral sciences PhD programs who entered academia in the United States would have filled 9 (3.6%) vacant faculty positions per year. Therefore, PhD programs have consistently generated only a small pipeline of dental school faculty. Better mentoring to retain talent in academia is necessary. Stronger support and creative funding plans are essential to sustain the PhD program. Furthermore, the oral sciences PhD program database should be established and maintained by dental professional organizations to allow assessments of training models, trends of enrollment, graduation, and placement outcomes.
Project description:PURPOSE:Competing risk methodology was used to identify variables associated with promotion and attrition of newly appointed full-time instructors or assistant professors in U.S. MD-granting medical schools. METHOD:A national sample of U.S. MD-granting medical school graduates in calendar years 1997-2004 who received initial full-time instructor or assistant professor appointments from January 1, 2000 through December 31, 2012, was followed through December 31, 2013. Adjusted proportional subdistribution hazard ratios (aSHRs) measured the effects of demographic, educational, and institutional variables on promotion and attrition. RESULTS:The final study sample included 27,219 full-time instructors (n = 10,470) and assistant professors (n = 16,749). In all models (entire sample and stratified by initial rank), faculty who reported all other (vs. full-time faculty) career intentions at graduation and were underrepresented racial/ethnic minority (vs. white) faculty had lower aSHRs for promotion and greater aSHRs for attrition, whereas research-intensive (vs. non-research-intensive) medical school graduates, faculty at schools without a tenure track, and mentored K awardees had greater aSHRs for promotion and lower aSHRs for attrition. In all models, faculty with ? $100,000 (vs. no) debt at graduation had greater aSHRs for attrition. Among instructors, women had lower aSHRs for attrition than men, but among assistant professors, women had greater aSHRs for attrition. CONCLUSIONS:This study adds new knowledge about career trajectories of academic medicine faculty initially appointed as full-time instructors. Career development interventions and research mentoring during and after medical school and debt reduction programs could help increase academic medicine faculty retention and promotion.