Help wanted: Highly cited researchers needed for high-ranking positions at research institutions

Aug 05, 2010

At a time when great jobs are hard to find, here's good news for the under-qualified: A new article appearing in the FASEB Journal shows that being a highly cited researcher may not be a primary qualification for taking on leading management positions at research institutions. This study provides empirical evidence suggesting that a glass ceiling may exist at research institutions where top-cited scientists either do not pursue executive management positions or are not accepted when they apply.

"The participation of highly cited scientists in the top leadership of universities is limited, said John Ioannidis from the Ioannina School of Medicine, Greece, who wrote the report. "This could have implications for the research and overall mission of universities."

Ioannidis drew this conclusion after evaluating whether top highly cited scientists are likely to occupy top university leadership positions (presidents or chancellors in the US; vice-chancellors in the UK). Of the current leaders of 96 U.S. high research activity universities, only 6 presidents or chancellors were found among the 4009 U.S. scientists listed in the ISIHighlyCited.com database.

Of the current leaders of 77 UK universities, only 2 vice-chancellors were found among the 483 UK scientists listed in the same database. In a sample of 100 top-cited clinical medicine scientists and 100 top-cited biology and biochemistry scientists, only 1 and 1, respectively, had served at any time as president of a university. Among the leaders of 25 U.S. universities with the highest citation volumes, only 12 had doctoral degrees in life, natural, physical or computer sciences, and 5 of these 12 had a Hirsch citation index m < 1.0.

"The saying that 'those who cannot do, teach' comes to mind, except in the case of research, it appears that those who cannot do highly cited science, run universities," said Gerald Weissmann, M.D., Editor-in-Chief of the . "All jokes aside, this paper is disturbing that—in the broadest sense—the top management of many research universities has had little experience with success in the lab."

Explore further: James Watson's Nobel Prize to be auctioned

More information: John P. A. Ioannidis. Is there a glass ceiling for highly cited scientists at the top of research universities? FASEB J. doi:10.1096/fj.10-162974

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RobertKarlStonjek
not rated yet Aug 05, 2010
Rather than choosing people who have degrees in business and management related disciplines, universities and other institutions select scientists who have no skills or training in the position to which they are elected/hired. Would you be happy with a chemist heading a physics lab? But you'd be happy with a chemist in a professional management position?

In business and industry, with no government subsidy or guaranteed subscription is in evidence, successful scientists and engineers almost never end up on the board ~ board members must be experienced in the job they are about to take on, not in some unrelated field, no matter how good they were...

BTW the only scientist to run a country was Margaret Thatcher (Chemistry).

There are some notable exceptions, but there are also many businesses to go belly up with highly intelligent scientists at the helm...
frajo
not rated yet Aug 06, 2010
If you devote your life to science there's not much motivation to waste a considerable amount of your time for management and administrative duties. Not even for more money.

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