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Do successful PhD outcomes reflect the research environment rather than academic ability?

Belavy, Daniel, Owen, Patrick and Livingston, Patricia 2020, Do successful PhD outcomes reflect the research environment rather than academic ability?, PloS one, vol. 15, no. 8, pp. 1-14, doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0236327.

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Title Do successful PhD outcomes reflect the research environment rather than academic ability?
Author(s) Belavy, DanielORCID iD for Belavy, Daniel orcid.org/0000-0002-9307-832X
Owen, PatrickORCID iD for Owen, Patrick orcid.org/0000-0003-3924-9375
Livingston, PatriciaORCID iD for Livingston, Patricia orcid.org/0000-0001-6616-3839
Journal name PloS one
Volume number 15
Issue number 8
Article ID e0236327
Start page 1
End page 14
Total pages 14
Publisher PLOS
Place of publication San Francisco, CA
Publication date 2020-08-05
ISSN 1932-6203
1932-6203
Keyword(s) Supervisors
Citation analysis
Bibliometrics
Undergraduates
Scientific publishing
Analysis of variance
Careers
Employment
Science & Technology
Multidisciplinary Sciences
Science & Technology - Other Topics
RESEARCH PRODUCTIVITY
STUDENTS
IMPACT
Summary Maximising research productivity is a major focus for universities world-wide. Graduate research programs are an important driver of research outputs. Choosing students with the greatest likelihood of success is considered a key part of improving research outcomes. There has been little empirical investigation of what factors drive the outcomes from a student's PhD and whether ranking procedures are effective in student selection. Here we show that, the research environment had a decisive influence: students who conducted research in one of the University's priority research areas and who had experienced, research-intensive, supervisors had significantly better outcomes from their PhD in terms of number of manuscripts published, citations, average impact factor of journals published in, and reduced attrition rates. In contrast, students’ previous academic outcomes and research training was unrelated to outcomes. Furthermore, students who received a scholarship to support their studies generated significantly more publications in higher impact journals, their work was cited more often and they were less likely to withdraw from their PhD. The findings suggest that experienced supervisors researching in a priority research area facilitate PhD student productivity. The findings question the utility of assigning PhD scholarships solely on the basis of student academic merit, once minimum entry requirements are met. Given that citations, publication numbers and publications in higher ranked journals drive university rankings, and that publications from PhD student contribute approximately one-third of all research outputs from universities, strengthening research infrastructure and supervision teams may be more important considerations for maximising the contribution of PhD students to a university’s international standing.
Language eng
DOI 10.1371/journal.pone.0236327
Indigenous content off
HERDC Research category C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal
Copyright notice ©2020, Belavy et al.
Free to Read? Yes
Use Rights Creative Commons Attribution licence
Persistent URL http://hdl.handle.net/10536/DRO/DU:30141597

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Every reasonable effort has been made to ensure that permission has been obtained for items included in DRO. If you believe that your rights have been infringed by this repository, please contact drosupport@deakin.edu.au.