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Programs The PhD Production Process

  1. Jul 15, 2012 #1
    David W. Breneman from Amherst College in Massachusetts wrote a paper for his doctoral dissertation in economics titled "The PhD Production Process". He is writing it from the viewpoint of an economist, so in it he analyzes the motives of professors as well as of graduate students concerning the PhD program. He then synthesizes these motives to provide a picture of departmental behavior that is according to him descriptive of the current situation in most university graduate departments.

    I have seen his paper recommended by many who provide advice to graduate students. I myself am an undergraduate, but I read this paper out of sheer interest, and recommend it to all as an added piece of scientific (rather than anectodal) advice. It is an interesting read, considering that it is both a doctoral dissertation, as well as a piece of valuable information to people who are contemplating that path. It should not be your only source of advice however.

    So for those who have read the paper, discuss.

    The paper is available below:
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 15, 2012 #2
    Fascinating. It's also extremely interesting as a bit of economic history, since it was written in the mid-1960's when the world was very different. I don't think that it would be of much immediate usefulness to a current Ph.D., but you can try to take the analysis and apply it to different conditions.

    There are two variables which I think are important which the paper didn't go deeply into:

    1) funding. physics departments are funded in ways that are radically different than French departments
    2) feedback and environmental effects. The paper just did a "snapshot", but it didn't consider how graduating Ph.D.'s would lead to overproduction
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