Academic support network reflects doctoral experience and productivity
Faculty of Engineering and Natural Sciences, Sabanci University, 34956, Istanbul, Turkey
2 Center of Excellence in Data Analytics, Sabanci University, 34956, Istanbul, Turkey
Accepted: 14 November 2022
Published online: 22 November 2022
Current practices of quantifying academic performance by productivity raise serious concerns about the psychological well-being of graduate students. These efforts often neglect the influence of researchers’ environment. Acknowledgments in dissertation subsections shed light on this environment by providing an opportunity for students to thank the people who supported them. We analysed 26,236 acknowledgments to create an “academic support network” that reveals five distinct communities that support students along the way: Academic, Administration, Family, Friends & Colleagues, and Spiritual. We show that female students mention fewer people from each of these communities, with the exception of their families, and that their productivity is slightly lower than that of males when considering the number of publications alone. This is critically important because it means that studying the doctoral process may help us better understand the adverse conditions women face early in their academic careers. Our results also suggest that the total number of people mentioned in the acknowledgements allows disciplines to be categorised as either individual science or team science as their magnitudes change. We also show that male students who mention more people from their academic community are associated with higher levels of productivity. University rankings are found to be positively correlated with productivity and the size of academic support networks. However, neither university rankings nor students’ productivity levels correlate with the sentiments students express in their acknowledgements. Our results point to the importance of academic support networks by explaining how they differ and how they influence productivity.
Key words: Science of science / Network science / Text mining / Scientific careers
© The Author(s) 2022
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