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Deepening our understanding of academic inbreeding effects on research information exchange and scientific output: new insights for academic based research

Abstract

This paper analyzes the impact of academic inbreeding in relation to academic research, and proposes a new conceptual framework for its analysis. We find that mobility (or lack of) at the early research career stage is decisive in influencing academic behaviors and scientific productivity. Less mobile academics have more inward oriented information exchange dynamics and lower scientific productivity. The analysis also indicates that the information exchange and scientific productivity of academics that changed institutions only once do not differ substantially from that of “mobile inbred academics”. This emphasizes the need for mobility throughout scientific and academic careers and calls for policies to curtail academic inbreeding.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    It is important to note that in the US higher education system, the mobility of silver-corded academics is a process that can be associated with some kind of “sponsored” mobility with mutual expectations of return. This sort of mobility is not usual or expected in the Portuguese higher education system.

  2. 2.

    For example, the three year publication period is asked by the National Science Foundation, Survey of Recent Doctorates, and in the National Study of Postsecondary Faculty (NSOPF) by the National Center for Education Statistics survey.

  3. 3.

    Such categorization strategy has been recently followed by the European Commission to facilitate the identification of researcher’s careers stages to foster recruitment and mobility among higher education, public and industry sectors in the European Research Area (see EC 2011).

  4. 4.

    A space for an open question was inserted for the respondents to add comments, in case they thought that their career path did not correspond one way or the other to the existing four options. This option was rarely used, and when it was used, it meant confirming choices already made concerning one of the four proposed career options.

  5. 5.

    The 3 month period of geographical mobility is adopted by international organizations such as the OECD, UNESCO and EUROSTAT as the minimum mobility period outside the institution (Auriol et al. 2010).

  6. 6.

    Tables report regression coefficients. Thus, any magnitudes reported are calculated after estimating marginal effects.

  7. 7.

    Analysis is not included in the article, but can be requested from the authors.

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Acknowledgments

The author is grateful for the comments and suggestions provided by David Hoffman, Austin T. Lacy, and Vincent Dautel, the two reviewers of this article, and the participants of the 2011 Atlanta Conference on Science, Technology, and Innovation Policy and the 2011 European Sociological Association Conference.

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Correspondence to Hugo Horta.

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Horta, H. Deepening our understanding of academic inbreeding effects on research information exchange and scientific output: new insights for academic based research. High Educ 65, 487–510 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10734-012-9559-7

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Keywords

  • Academic inbreeding
  • Mobility
  • Doctoral socialization
  • Academic profession
  • Information exchange dynamics
  • Scientific productivity