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  1. Free, publicly-accessible full text available February 23, 2023
  2. Using analysis of variance on a sample consisting of 1,499 US students across 21 US PhD programs, we show that there is no significant difference in the time it takes US male and female physics PhD students to complete their degree programs. This result comes in spite of a statistically significant 18 percentile point gap in median GRE-P scores between genders. Additional analyses reveal that there is no statistical difference between US students reported as White, Black/Hispanic/Multiracial/Native American, and Asian. Expanding our sample to also include 1,143 Non-US students, we find a small but significant effect of citizenship status on time to PhD completion where the average time for Non-US students to complete a physics PhD is about two months less than their US student counterparts. These results show that in spite of known gaps in standardized admissions exams between genders, these differences are not reflected in subsequent graduate school performance. Our findings reinforce the need for graduate admissions committees to go beyond quantitative metrics and conduct a holistic assessment of an applicant's potential to perform research effectively and to earn a PhD.
  3. Braun, Derek (Ed.)
    Maintaining your research team’s productivity during the COVID-19 era can be a challenge. Developing new strategies to mentor your research trainees in remote work environments will not only support research productivity and progress toward degree, but also help to keep your mentees’ academic and research careers on track. We describe a three-step process grounded in reflective practice that research mentors and mentees can use together to reassess, realign, and reimagine their mentoring relationships to enhance their effectiveness, both in the current circumstances and for the future. Drawing on evidence-based approaches, a series of questions for mentees around documented mentoring competencies provide structure for remote mentoring plans. Special consideration is given to how these plans must address the psychosocial needs and diverse backgrounds of mentors and mentees in the unique conditions that require remote interactions.
  4. null (Ed.)
    Purpose Rising rates of anxiety and depression and the varied costs of these conditions indicate a clear need to create learning environments in which graduate and professional students can more readily thrive. However, the absence of multi-institutional, multi-disciplinary evidence about mental health in graduate education has obscured a clear picture of which populations, contexts and social dynamics merit focused attention and resources. The purpose of this study is therefore to analyze prevalence and risk factors associated with anxiety and depression among a large sample of graduate students, with special attention to how graduate education environments and interactions may be associated with mental health. Design/methodology/approach This paper offers the first multi-institutional, multi-disciplinary analysis of depression and anxiety among US graduate and professional students. Using a sample of 20,888 students randomly sampled within 69 universities, the author compares depression and anxiety prevalence among fields of study with hierarchical cluster modeling. Then, using a conceptual framework that links social support, role strain and self-determination theories, the author estimates fixed effects multivariate logistic regressions to measure how depression and anxiety are associated with experiencing racial discrimination, support from friends and family, perceived competitiveness in one’s classes, and comfort speaking with one’s professors about mentalmore »health. Findings Graduate students who endure frequent racial discrimination have odds of screening positive for depression and anxiety that are 2.3 and 3.0 times higher, respectively, than those who never experience discrimination. Support from family and friends moderates these relationships and perceived competitiveness exacerbates them. LGBTQ students and students who self-report that finances are a struggle or tight also have higher odds of depression and anxiety. Students in the humanities, arts and architecture have significantly higher prevalence of depression and anxiety than the sample as a whole. Originality/value The paper offers broadest base of evidence to date about patterns that are usually experienced at the individual level or analyzed institution-by-institution and field-by-field. Specifically, the author identified social dynamics, fields of study and populations where attention to wellbeing may be especially warranted. The conceptual framework and multivariate results clarify how organizational and individual factors in graduate students’ mental health may be intertwined through competitive, discriminatory, or supportive interactions with peers, faculty, family and friends. Findings clarify a need for awareness of the contexts and interactions that graduate students experience as well as individual factors that are associated with student wellbeing.« less
  5. This study aims to understand the effectiveness of typical admissions criteria in identifying students who will complete the Physics Ph.D. Multivariate statistical analysis of roughly one in eight physics Ph.D. students from 2000 to 2010 indicates that the traditional admissions metrics of undergraduate grade point average (GPA) and the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) Quantitative, Verbal, and Physics Subject Tests do not predict completion as effectively admissions committees presume. Significant associations with completion were found for undergraduate GPA in all models and for GRE Quantitative in two of four studied models; GRE Physics and GRE Verbal were not significant in any model. It is notable that completion changed by less than 10% for U.S. physics major test takers scoring in the 10th versus 90th percentile on the Quantitative test. Aside from these limitations in predicting Ph.D. completion overall, overreliance on GRE scores in admissions processes also selects against underrepresented groups.