Monday, December 5, 2011

Ph.D completion time as a statistical variable

Seth Olsen brought to my attention an article Examining the Relationships among Doctoral Completion Time, Gender, and Future Salary Prospects for Physical Scientists in the Journal of Chemical Education.

It is based on a survey of more than 3000 Ph.D graduates of physics and chemistry in the USA. It claims there is a correlation (for men but not women) between Ph.D completion time and future salary. It also debates whether completion time is a good measure of the scientific merit of the graduate (the shorter the better) and the quality of the program (the longer the better!).

I found I was rather skeptical of many of the claims, values, and assertions in the article. [I also wonder about the reliability of the statistical methodology but am not claiming I could do any better...]. Nevertheless, the article is worth reading because all of the issues it raises and the literature that it surveys.

I welcome any comments on the article.

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