Studienbedingungen und Berufseinstieg in der Biologie

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Seit 2007 werden im Kooperationsprojekt Absolventenstudien (KOAB) jährliche Befragungen von ehemaligen Studierenden durchgeführt. Dabei kooperieren ca. 70 Hochschulen mit dem International Centre of Higher Education Research (INCHER) an der Universität Kassel. Hierdurch konnten auch zahlreiche Erfahrungen und Bewertungen von Biologen gesammelt werden. Eine zusammenfassende Auswahl einiger Ergebnisse aus den letzten beiden Jahren wird nun präsentiert.

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Background: In Germany, more than half of the students complete a doctorate in the life sciences and medicine. Thus the doctorate, which is supposed to pave the way for a research career, also seems to perform other functions. In medicine, there is a cliché that students earn doctorates for reasons of prestige but in the life sciences, there is an assumption that you will not succeed on the labor market without a doctorate. To date, we know little about the actual motives for earning a doctorate and its perceived meaningfulness after graduation. Methods: Motives for obtaining a doctorate from both subject groups were analyzed using data from the E-Prom study (N = 1518). For medicine, additional data from the Bavarian Graduate Study MediBAS (N = 570) were analyzed. Qualitative interview data from the E-Prom study (N = 28) were used to better understand the motives for obtaining a doctorate in their substance and to compare them with the retrospectively perceived meaningfulness. Results: In medicine, the motives of “customariness” and feared “career disadvantages” predominate. Approximately half of the medical doctoral graduates had little or no interest to do research during or after the doctorate. In the life sciences, customariness and feared career disadvantages are important motives, too. However, research (career) interest also receives high and significantly higher approval than in medicine. Moreover, female medical graduates express significantly lower research and career motives; the latter also applies to the life sciences. The qualitative analyzes indicate a close connection between career paths and justifications of meaningfulness of the doctorate in the life sciences. In medicine, justifications of meaningfulness are closely related to initial motives for obtaining a doctorate. Hence, people who only pursued a doctorate to bear a title accordingly justified their doctorate’s meaningfulness merely with its acquisition. Conclusion: Our results stress the need for greater promotion of (academic) research careers among medical students, as well as the promotion of female careers in and outside of academic research. Further investigations are necessary to understand the exact mechanisms behind our results and to develop effective interventions.
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A lack of physician scientists as well as a high female dropout rate from academic medicine and basic life sciences is a concern in many countries. The current study analyzes academic career intentions within a sample of recent doctoral graduates from medicine and basic life sciences (N = 1109), focusing on research self-efficacy beliefs as explanatory variable of gender and disciplinary differences. To ensure that differences in research self-efficacy could not be attributed solely to objective scientific performance, we controlled for number of publications and dissertation grade. The results of multivariate analyses pointed to a strong and significant association between research self-efficacy and academic career intentions (ß = 0.49, p<0.001). The lower academic career intentions of medical doctoral graduates were no longer significant when controlling for research self-efficacy. Within the field of medicine , female doctoral graduates expressed lower research self-efficacy beliefs and academic career intentions. When controlling for research self-efficacy, the correlation between gender and academic career intention was no longer significant. In contrast, no gender differences were found within the basic life sciences with respect to neither academic career intentions nor research self-efficacy.
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