Dissertators with Distantly Related Foci Face Divergent Near-Term Outcomes

32 Pages Posted: 21 Sep 2020 Last revised: 10 Jan 2022

See all articles by Kevin Kniffin

Kevin Kniffin

Cornell University - Charles H. Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management

Andrew Hanks

The Ohio State University

Xuechao Qian

Ohio State University (OSU)

Bo Wang

Ohio State University (OSU)

Bruce A. Weinberg

Ohio State University (OSU) - Economics; Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA); National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Date Written: September 2020

Abstract

Institutional leaders have long championed interdisciplinary research; however, researchers have paid relatively little attention to the people responding to such calls and their subsequent career outcomes. With the benefit of two large datasets spanning from 1986 through 2016, we show that interdisciplinary dissertations have become consistently more common in recent years as institutional leaders have highlighted the value of boundary-spanning research for solving important and emergent problems. With the benefit of survey data from a near-complete population of all dissertators in the US starting in 2001 through 2016, we observe a consistent upward trend in interdisciplinary dissertations. Unfortunately, we show that these interdisciplinary dissertators have experienced a comparably persistent penalty when considering salaries for their first year after earning the PhD. We also show that among interdisciplinary dissertators, individuals in lower-paying fields tend to earn more when choosing distantly related topic-combinations whereas researchers in higher-paying fields tend to be most rewarded for staying within relatively narrow disciplinary silos.

Suggested Citation

Kniffin, Kevin and Hanks, Andrew and Qian, Xuechao and Wang, Bo and Weinberg, Bruce A., Dissertators with Distantly Related Foci Face Divergent Near-Term Outcomes (September 2020). NBER Working Paper No. w27825, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3696193

Kevin Kniffin (Contact Author)

Cornell University - Charles H. Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management ( email )

Ithaca, NY
United States

Andrew Hanks

The Ohio State University ( email )

130A Campbell Hall
1787 Neil Ave.
Columbus, OH OH 43210
United States

Xuechao Qian

Ohio State University (OSU) ( email )

Blankenship Hall-2010
901 Woody Hayes Drive
Columbus, OH OH 43210
United States

Bo Wang

Ohio State University (OSU) ( email )

Blankenship Hall-2010
901 Woody Hayes Drive
Columbus, OH OH 43210
United States

Bruce A. Weinberg

Ohio State University (OSU) - Economics ( email )

410 Arps Hall
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Columbus, OH 43210-1172
United States
614-292-6701 (Phone)
614-292-3906 (Fax)

Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA)

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

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Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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