Academic genealogy

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An example of an academic genealogy, the supervisorial relationship between Dutch topologist Johannes De Groot and his namesake, also a Dutch topologist descended from the senior De Groot via four different paths of academic supervision

An academic, or scientific, genealogy, organizes a family tree of scientists and scholars according to dissertation supervision relationships.

The academic lineage or academic ancestry of someone is a chain of professors who have served as thesis advisors of each other, ending with the person in question. Many genealogical terms are often recast in terms of academic lineages, so one may speak of academic descendants, children, siblings, etc.

There are sites such as the Mathematics Genealogy Project[1][2] devoted to documenting academic lineages for specific subject areas. However, not all the links recorded in databases of this type are formal advisor-advisee relationships; for instance, the University of Cambridge did not require a formal doctoral thesis until 1919, and academic genealogies that include earlier Cambridge students tend to substitute an equivalent mentor.

Academic genealogies are particularly easy to research in the case of Spain's Doctor degrees, because until 1954 only Complutense University had the power to grant Doctorates. This means that all holders of a Doctor degree in Spain can trace back their academic lineage to a Doctoral supervisor who was a member of Complutense's Faculty.


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