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Using Excel graphs to fuel your existential crisis

May 21, 2012

Here’s how I’m procrastinating these days:

One of the local grads is having an existential crisis. I’m never going to get a job. I should never have come here. I shouldn’t have gone to grad school period. etc. etc. We’ll all been there. I attempted to cheer her up just as she hit the  “no job if your advisor isn’t famous” gripe. During that exchange she took advantage of my well known weakness for wasting spending time playing around with stats and got me to make a few graphs. Ok, so you don’t have to twist my arm for me to spend time on some analysis having nothing to do with my research. That’s how I ended up as a “statistical consultant” for a local coffee shop (they paid me in delicious sandwiches). Anywho, grad student got me to make the following:

(click to greatly embiggen)

Thats of representation of where the profs at some “top 5” department go their doctorates. Each line is one faculty, where the left point is the rank of the department and the right point the rank of that persons graduate alma matter (rank via usnews). The red dashed line is the median faculty. So the higher the slope the more a department takes faculty from higher ranked programs.

For comparison here are three other departments

Why have we made these graphs? I have no idea. They look pretty and we wanted to actually know where the profs at a few departments had gotten their doctorates (rather than rely on rumor and reputations).

5 Comments leave one →
  1. postdoc mom permalink
    May 21, 2012 10:31 am

    what if you change the model to account for where someone did their postdoc? I’m in a slightly different field, but it seems like where a postdoc was done matters almost more than the PhD… but then again my field may also be different in that the name of the advisor matters more than the institution since many “big” name people are at state schools.

  2. May 21, 2012 11:48 am

    Now I’m wondering about the correlation between where people got your PhD and where they did their first postdoc… I’ve been told that pedigree (is that the word?) matters more for your postdoc than your PhD institution.

  3. drsandlin permalink
    May 21, 2012 12:01 pm

    Huh, this is really interesting. It makes me wonder about a lot of things, the post-doc factor being a big one. Also, was this for faculty who had earned tenure? It’s refreshing to be reminded that success is in the eye of the beholder- for all I know the faculty who went from top tier school to #60 is enjoying their job more than anyone else on that graph.

  4. May 21, 2012 12:22 pm

    Ignored the postdoc location because that data was harder to get. Many didn’t have listed and more than a few did not do postdocs (particularly the older folks). The postdoc data might look better if I did something like only looking at junior profs.

    I was also interested in looking at geography. How much a uni in one region hires from that region. Particularly inside hires. Of course a proper analysis of all this would be much more complicated than what I’ve thrown together so far. I am imaging some giant regression analysis.


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