The objective of this data collection effort is to understand what share of PhD graduates from U.S. chemistry departments become faculty members themselves (in research-intensive universities), and differences across schools. To reach this objective, we (read about us here) collected data on students graduating from U.S. chemistry graduate programs between 2008 and 2010, and matched their names to a 2015 list of chemistry faculty in research-intensive universities. We then computed the share of graduating students who had become faculty by 2015, by graduating department. The resulting placement measures are not perfect, and any suggestions for improvements are welcome.
The database “Proquest Dissertations and Abstracts” was used to obtain the list of chemistry dissertations complete between 2008 and 2010. Proquest Dissertations and Abstracts includes the names of students, the year and university of graduation as well as a subject classification for the thesis, among other information. While the database itself is generally thought to be quite comprehensive, it does not clearly indicate from which department the student graduated. This implies that one must deduce whether it was a chemistry dissertation from the subject classification.
For lists of chemistry faculty, we relied on the “ACS Directory of Graduate Research” available online at dgr.rints.com. This resource, meant to help prospective graduate students choose a graduate program, has an extensive listing of faculty members in U.S. PhD-granting chemistry, chemical engineering and biochemistry programs. The ACS Directory of Graduate Research was used to create a list of faculty members in U.S. research intensive universities, where research intensive is defined as “R1” or “R2” in the Carnegie classification.
An important limitation is that it does not list faculty members outside the U.S. as well as in non-chemistry departments where PhD chemistry graduates may find employment as university faculty with a focus on research.
The list of graduate students was matched to the list of faculty using last names, initials, first names, year of graduation and university of graduation. The matching algorithm is robust enough to handle cases of variations in spelling of first names, inconsistent reporting of middle names or individuals changing last names.
Limitations of the placement data
The placement data presented here have a few important limitations.
First, some truncation bias arises from the fact that faculty placements are observed as of 2015, while the list of students include students who graduated relatively recently (say 2010) and may have obtained a faculty position in 2016 or 2017, or may obtain a faculty position in the future.
Second, the placement data fails to capture placement in non-chemistry departments that may employ chemistry PhD students, as well as placements outside the U.S.
Third, students outside chemistry departments may be mistakenly assigned to the chemistry department if the subject classification of their thesis is close to chemistry; and this could impact the placement measures.