Educating Scholars: Doctoral Education in the Humanities

By Ronald G. Ehrenberg; Harriet Zuckerman et al. | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 10
Publications: Patterns and Influences

The biggest factor slowing down progress on my
dissertation was publishing articles.

—A history student who began in 1993
and was still pursuing a PhD in 2003

I got my job based on the quality of my disserta-
tion, and I would have been more competitive if
I'd had publications prior to receiving the PhD. A
good-enough dissertation is not good enough to
get a job, and once you have a job, you don't have
time to write.

—A 1989 anthropology PhD who began in 1982

ONE OF THE primary goals of PhD programs in the humanities is to prepare doctoral students to be contributors to the production of new knowledge. We turn in this chapter to an analysis of the publications experiences of humanities PhD students during graduate school and during their early careers. Our analyses are based on self-reports of publication experiences that the respondents to the Graduate Education Survey (GES) provided. Given the well-known problems with self-reported publications data, we sought to validate the reported publication records by comparing them with annual records for a sample of individuals; we found that self-reports and actual counts were quite similar.1

1 Because of the confidentiality conditions under which the GES was conducted, only
those Mellon Foundation staff members specifically approved to access the names were per-
mitted to do this checking and only on the condition that the results be kept confidential
regarding any individual findings. Out of a random sample of 100 cases, in 60 cases self-
reports were validated. For 21 other cases, it was possible to confirm that the respondents
had published the reported number of articles, but it was not possible to confirm whether
these articles were accepted for publication within three years of PhD receipt. Finally, there
were only six cases in which it appeared that the self-reports overstated the number of pub-
lications. As for the remaining cases, either they were not appropriate for the sample—
claimed zero and had zero publications—or Foundation staff were unable to locate them;
thus they are not counted as either confirmed or unconfirmed.

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