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Long-term careers of astronomers with doctoral degrees from prestigious vs. non-prestigious universities

Abstract

A comparison has been made of the long-term careers of complete samples of astronomers who earned their PhD's at one prestigious (P) and one nonprestigious (NP) university. The sample sizes are 106 (degrees 1952-88) and 94 (degrees 1966-88) respectively. For both groups, the vast majority are still engaged in some aspect of astronomy or closely related sciences (90% and 74% respectively). But the fraction still engaged primarily in astronomical research and advanced teaching at PhD-granting universities and observatories is 65% for the prestigious and only 32% for the non-prestigious institution. The half-lives as members of the research publishing community are more than 30 yr vs. less than 20 yr for P vs. NP astronomers. Very little of the difference is attributable to the different distributions of dates of degrees in the two samples. A subsample of the P astronomers age-matched to the NP ones has 66% still engaged is astronomical research and advanced teaching; a large difference in publishing half-lives also persists in the subsamples with degrees since 1966. © 1991 Akadémiai Kiadó.

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