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Where do universities recruit researchers?

February 2020, New publication and interactive application

Where do university researchers come from? How many remain at the same institution where they began doing research? How many have come from elsewhere? Does the tendency to employ researchers originally from the same place markedly differ across universities from different countries? How does this tendency differ between disciplines and over time?

From the author affiliations in the Scopus citation database, we found how many researchers are currently based at the same university they were affiliated with at the beginning of their research careers. If their early articles were published under a different organization, we traced whether this was in the same country or abroad.

We do not directly measure ‘academic inbreeding’ in the sense of universities hiring their own graduates, because due to differences in publishing practices, a researcher’s early articles may not have been published under his or her alma mater. However, in many disciplines, particularly natural sciences, this is likely to be the case.

Our findings are presented for eleven large disciplines and our comparison covers eighteen major universities in fourteen countries, including the new EU member states of the Visegrad group: the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland and Hungary.

Generalizations are difficult to make, as each discipline looks a bit different. Overall, however, the most inward-looking institutions in employing researchers prove to be the national flagship universities in the Visegrad countries. In contrast, hiring researchers originally from outside is most prevalent in the leading universities in the United States and the United Kingdom, such as Princeton and Oxford.

The Visegrad universities appear to be similar in their tendency to employ researchers originally from the same university to KU Leuven, the University of Vienna and Lund University in many disciplines. The main dividing line does not seem to follow the traditional ‘East vs. West’ differences, but rather tends to highlight the gap between the institutions at the top of global university rankings and the rest.
Not surprisingly, the flipside of employing researchers whose research careers began at the same university is low internationalization. Cosmopolitan universities in smaller countries have the highest shares of researchers with foreign’ origins, particularly ETH Zürich, which contrasts with a strong national focus in universities in the Visegrad countries.

This analysis is original and its results are not available elsewhere. The findings should be of interest not only to research managers, academics and doctoral students who are based at the universities in the study, but also to policy-makers and the broader public. Human resources management issues tend to be often underrated in research evaluations, although they are a key factor in the development of universities.

The whole study can be downloaded here Where do universities recruit researchers?

To enter the application, click here



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