The Economics of University Lab Science and the Role of Foreign Graduate Students and Postdoctoral Scholars

29 Pages Posted: 8 Jan 2009

See all articles by Grant C. Black

Grant C. Black

University of Missouri at Saint Louis - Center for Entrepreneurship & Economic Education

Paula E. Stephan

Georgia State University - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Date Written: August 2008

Abstract

We document the role that students and postdoctoral scholars (postdocs) play in university research by analyzing authorship patterns for a six month period for articles published in Science having a last author affiliated with a U.S. university. The paper sample is composed of 133 papers with fewer than ten authors, for which we determine the status of all authors residing in the U.S., and for 159 papers regardless of the number of authors, for which we determine the status of first and last author. We find that 86.5% of papers-nearly seven out of eight (133 paper sample) - have either a current postdoc or a student as one of the authors. We find that 103 of the 138 first authors who are in the U.S. and whose position is known are either a postdoc or a student (74.6%).

We identify the ethnicity of authors, drawing on the ethnic-name database created by William Kerr (2008). We find that 59.1% of postdoc authors are neither English nor European and that 39.6% of the graduate student coauthors have neither English nor European names. At the paper level, we infer that 70 of the 133 papers (53%) have a foreign student or postdoc as a coauthor. We infer that almost 60% of the graduate student first authors are foreign and that non-citizens make up slightly more than 54% of the postdocs who are first authors. We conclude that international graduate students and postdocs are not only important in staffing university labs; they play lead roles in university research.

Suggested Citation

Black, Grant C. and Stephan, Paula E., The Economics of University Lab Science and the Role of Foreign Graduate Students and Postdoctoral Scholars (August 2008). Andrew Young School of Policy Studies Research Paper Series No. 09-02. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1323429 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1323429

Grant C. Black

University of Missouri at Saint Louis - Center for Entrepreneurship & Economic Education ( email )

607 Tower
One University Blvd.
St. Louis, MO 63121
United States

Paula E. Stephan (Contact Author)

Georgia State University - Department of Economics ( email )

P.O. Box 3992
Atlanta, GA 30302-3992
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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