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Indeed the context of many students’ doctoral work remains very closely bound by what is going on in their home university department, and perhaps a little beyond. PhD students here have a medium research capacity (because they are still learning), and a low capacity in authoring and in teaching, where the roles for PhD students are inherently rather limiting. 11 suggests that they invest heavily in boosting their teaching capabilities from low to high, in expanding their management and administrative capabilities from zero to medium, and in improving their authoring to a medium rating.

These developments match similar changes in a wide range of business and government organizations towards more ‘flexibilization’ of staff by organizations, with individuals more commonly having a ‘portfolio’ career path with multiple components, rather than lifetime careers with a single employer. On an individual level, getting into one track or another often makes a large difference to the probabilities of subsequently publishing, but of course it is never decisive or fully determinant. At later stages people can shift between tracks, with initially teaching-track academics who undertake excellent research tending to move into more research-intensive universities over time.

3 shows how the detailed ISI WOK internal coverage of the social science disciplines changed over a decade and a half. There has indeed been a general substantial improvement in coverage of these disciplines, but one starting from a pretty low base. By contrast, in humanities subjects the ISI WOK’s inclusiveness has generally either declined or increased only slightly. Subjects bridging from the social sciences into STEM disciplines also show increases in internal coverage, but with smaller percentage changes because they start from a higher initial base.

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