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  • 1 Astronomy Program University of Maryland College Park 20742 MD USA 20742 MD USA
  • 2 Physics Department University of California Irvine 92717 CA USA 92717 CA USA
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Abstract  

A comparison has been made of the long-term careers of complete samples of astronomers who earned their PhD's at one prestigious (P) and one nonprestigious (NP) university. The sample sizes are 106 (degrees 1952–88) and 94 (degrees 1966–88) respectively. For both groups, the vast majority are still engaged in some aspect of astronomy or closely related sciences (90% and 74% respectively). But the fraction still engaged primarily in astronomical research and advanced teaching at PhD-granting universities and observatories is 65% for the prestigious and only 32% for the non-prestigious institution. The half-lives as members of the research publishing community are more than 30 yr vs. less than 20 yr for P vs. NP astronomers. Very little of the difference is attributable to the different distributions of dates of degrees in the two samples. A subsample of the P astronomers age-matched to the NP ones has 66% still engaged is astronomical research and advanced teaching; a large difference in publishing half-lives also persists in the subsamples with degrees since 1966.