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New Research on Political Science PhD Placement


Alex Engler
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So just to be totally upfront, this is somewhat self promoting, in that I am going to link to an article published the Georgetown Public Policy Review, which I run the online side of.

That being said, I have been on Grad Cafe as an observer quite a few times (it helped me chose Georgetown for my MPP), and the research contained herein is actually very interesting and highly pertinent to political science graduate students. The article discusses the skewed distribution of political science PhDs who get tenure track professorships. It really is useful information.

A highlight: "...eleven schools contribute 50 percent of the political science academics to research-intensive universities in the United States. Over 100 political science PhD programs are graduating students that will contest the remaining 50 percent of openings."

You can read the rest here (if the moderators find this appropriate): http://gppreview.com/2012/12/03/superpowers-the-american-academic-elite/

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So just to be totally upfront, this is somewhat self promoting, in that I am going to link to an article published the Georgetown Public Policy Review, which I run the online side of.

That being said, I have been on Grad Cafe as an observer quite a few times (it helped me chose Georgetown for my MPP), and the research contained herein is actually very interesting and highly pertinent to political science graduate students. The article discusses the skewed distribution of political science PhDs who get tenure track professorships. It really is useful information.

A highlight: "...eleven schools contribute 50 percent of the political science academics to research-intensive universities in the United States. Over 100 political science PhD programs are graduating students that will contest the remaining 50 percent of openings."

You can read the rest here (if the moderators find this appropriate): http://gppreview.com/2012/12/03/superpowers-the-american-academic-elite/

Ok, so what is your recommendation for people who do not attend the 11 schools or so that produce 50% of PhD's? Or not a top school in general? Just dont go? Prestige runs a muck throughout all of academia from UG on up. So if you dont go to a good UG, dont go to college?

While this research is good, it will prove what people already know. However, instead of stating the problem, what are solutions to the issue at hand? And please dont say..."well...go to HYPS"

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That's a perfectly valid response. I think the strength of this article is that it backs a common sentiment with hard data, but I don't expect anyone to be completely shocked by it.

To your question: I don't know. What I can tell you is that as it stands now, academic jobs seem very skewed. That being said, hopefully the sentiment that Justice Thomas advocates for gains some ground. Ideally, just talking about this issue will help hiring boards realize their biases, and thne focus more on demonstrated merit.

I'm informed on the research, though I'm not performing it myself, and there will be more developments as the working paaer progresses. I'll be sure to post those here.

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That's a perfectly valid response. I think the strength of this article is that it backs a common sentiment with hard data, but I don't expect anyone to be completely shocked by it.

To your question: I don't know. What I can tell you is that as it stands now, academic jobs seem very skewed. That being said, hopefully the sentiment that Justice Thomas advocates for gains some ground. Ideally, just talking about this issue will help hiring boards realize their biases, and thne focus more on demonstrated merit.

I'm informed on the research, though I'm not performing it myself, and there will be more developments as the working paaer progresses. I'll be sure to post those here.

Ok thanks for the response. I never had the opportunity to attend such institutions, though I would love to. I feel like this is the big pink elephant in the room. Everyone knows it but no one wants to address it. I guess exposing it more may lead to something being done about it...one can hope

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Getting this right will be difficult. The language as it appears on this link generally focuses on prestige, but there are other things that go into placement. Obviously quality of training and selection effects of high-quality students make this a nightmare. How would you measure training? How would you get the data on which students applied to and were accepted to where?

So, while applicants should always look down the tree to see what they'll look like at the end of their training, they should temper their response to this particular piece a bit. I'm sure it will improve as it develops.

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To currentpsstudent: You're right, and that's the real difficulty of this research question. There is data out there that can be used as reasonably of a proxy for 'student quality' going into admissions, but they are hard to get (I'll have to ask the authors if they intend to buy it). Indicators of 'quality of training' may not even exist, though I certainly could be wrong.

To blackcoffee64: Yes. Again, I'm not doing the research, but the regression results in the working paper will control for class population.

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