In this study, the current rectors of 197 universities (127 public and 70 non-profit foundation universities) in Turkey were examined in terms of their sociodemographic characteristics, career development, and academic qualifications (the number of published articles and citations and H-index). The data were collected via a prosopograhical approach from the official websites of the universities and the presidents, as well as the Web of Science and Scopus databases. The findings suggest that the presidents may be classified into two groups based on their sociodemographic characteristics, career development, and academic qualifications. In the first group are those rectors who are dominantly male, are graduates of Turkish universities, and have lower academic qualifications in terms of the number of published articles, citations of their published works, and their H-index. The social media posts of the members of this group show intense loyalty and support to Turkey’s governing ideology, and the academic performance of the universities managed by these rectors is poor. The second group of rectors is also male-dominant and is comprised of graduates of foreign universities. These individuals generally have backgrounds in engineering, medicine or administrative science, and higher academic qualifications in terms of the number of published articles, citations of their published works and their H-index. Their social media posts often include news related to students and their academic and scientific achievements. The academic performance of the universities managed by these rectors was also found to be high.
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This study summarizes the major axis of the historically academic freedom in Turkey for an international audience. Academic freedom experience of the modern university in Turkey, like its democracy, is full of numerous violations of academic freedom. Despite many reforms, purges and violations encountered every term have revealed that academic freedom is a fundamental moral and mindset problem (Özipek 2008). The issues of academic freedom in Turkey are regulated by university reforms in 1933, 1946, 1960, 1973, and 1981. Each of these university reforms coincides with socially and politically important periods. The 1933 reform took place in single-party period; the 1946 reform was introduced in the transition to multi-party life, and the reforms of 1960, 1973, and 1981 were passed at the times of military coup (Günay 2001). The current reform (!) was introduced in 1981. In 1992, the reform was revised, and the universities were granted partial rights to have a say in the appointment of the leadership and management positions to comply with democratization, academic freedom and autonomy (Seggie and Gökbel 2014). However, in 2016, the President of Turkey gave up this practice and became the only person who has the authority to appoint rector. Presently, it is difficult to say that there is academic freedom in Turkey as the rectors are being appointed only by the Presidency of Turkey.
For the details of this discussion, see Breakwell and Tytherleigh (2010).
H-index has some disadvantages. First of all, the point of reference is the number of citations, and the criticisms of other criteria that evaluate scientific publications based on the number of citations are valid here, as well. There is no periodic distinction in the H-index, so this marker may be higher for researchers with a longer career span (Bornmann et al. 2008). Therefore, it is more appropriate to use it for comparing researchers who have been involved in scientific activity for a similar period of time. Likewise, differences in research orientations among the disciplines lead to researchers having different H-indices; therefore, evaluations should be made within the discipline; the comparability of researchers in different disciplines is limited. Another point of discussion is the evaluation of the researchers according to only the H-index without regard for the total number of citations. For example, a researcher who has 200 published articles that are cited 500, 450, 250, 150, or 100 times. His/her H-index would be 20 if only 20 publications were cited more than 20 times. On the other hand, another researcher whose highest-cited publication has 35 citations, but the rest of his/her studies also have around 20–35 citations, even if s/he has 20 papers over 20 citations, his/her H-index would also be 20 (Doğan, 2005). However, the three main criticisms of the H-index do not apply to this study, as the age and academic career span of the rectors in Turkey are similar (SD = 6.18). Furthermore, the Turkish rectors’ H-indices are not significantly different in terms of their disciplines/fields (especially for the rectors with low H-indices). For example, most of the 105 rectors whose H-indices were between 0 and 2 came from disciplines/fields with high H-indices in the literature, such as engineering (13%), medicine (12%), and economics (12%). A detailed examination of Tables 6 and 7 shows that there is no distorted relationship between the number of publications and citations of the Turkish rectors, and the total citations are consistent with the H-indices.
The social media use and content of the rectors cover the time span between January and May 2019. The study considered Twitter posts, rather than all social media platforms, as it was determined that 93% of the rectors used Twitter actively. To analyze the posts, Twitter shares were transferred to a Word file, and the usage frequency was transferred to Excel using R (programming language). In the last stage of the analysis, the Twitter shares were analyzed via content analysis under three structures: “academic sharing,” “political sharing,” and “communication.”
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Karadag, E. Academic (dis)qualifications of Turkish rectors: their career paths, H-index, and the number of articles and citations. High Educ 81, 301–323 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10734-020-00542-1
- Academic qualification
- Higher education
- Turkish rectors
- Career development